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Washington Post (March 14, 1997) -By Rajiv Chandrasekeran

By: George L. Wagner
 Computers, Support, & Consulting    

Here is a choice user response on the Article! Poor Chandrasekaran will probably whine like the other writers of late that he is being unfairly bashed -- just because he didn't have a clue about what he was writing about. <sigh>

Letter to the Editor and Author,

I read "Is School Out for Apple?" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. I was disappointed with the misleading nature and inaccurate statements found in this article. I have taken the time to point these out and tried to supply the supporting information that disputes these statements.

But when faced with equipping a second computer lab at his school a few months ago, Kelsch's choice was far tougher. Most of his students who have home computers have machines that run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, and are incompatible with the Apples. He was able to get better prices for Windows computers. And he started worrying about how well the financially beleaguered Apple would be able to maintain its machines.

I have several problems with this statement.

First, compatibility. Macintosh computers are able to read and write data from virtually any program whether from a Windows system, an Apple, II, or anywhere else. This is a feature that has been standard since 1989. In many cases, it is actually easier to use documents on the Mac than on a Windows system, even if it was created on a Windows program. Most major applications are available on both platforms, including industry standards like Word, Excel, WordPerfect, Netescape Navigator, Internet Explorer, PageMaker, Photoshop, etc.

Pricing. When publications such as Byte magazine demonstrate the superior performance of the Macintosh computers with the PowerPC microprocessors, it is hard to accept that the Windows systems were substantially cheaper than the Mac or Mac clones. Additionally, Gartner Group has published their study proving the cost savings of maintaining Macintosh systems vs. Windows-based systems. In addition, the Macintosh has a significantly lower training investment requirement, and has a longer lifespan than any other platform. Costs relating to computers are more than MHz per dollar, especially since the initial price is only a fraction of the actual cost. You also have to consider that there are many options included in the Macs that will require additional cost (and time) to add to the Windows systems. In your article, you state:

When principal Mark Kelsch needed to outfit the computer lab at Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring five years ago, figuring out what kind of machines to buy was a no-brainer: Apples.

Those Macintosh computers are no doubt still in use. That would be impossible if they had purchased Windows-based systems.

"If they've got Windows at home and their parents use Windows at work, I realized that I'm teaching wrong technology if I'm using Apples," Kelsch said.

If Mr. Kelsch is teaching Windows as technology, then he doesn't understand the true value of a computer. A student who has learned to use a Macintosh will be able to move to a Windows-based system with a minimum of problems because Windows is continually trying to become more Mac-like. A student who has learned on the Intel-based systems, may have NO experience with Windows 95, and probably learned a lot more about DOS than anyone should have to know. This student will require more training to learn Windows 95. The reality is that schools should be teaching students how to use technology to obtain information, create documents, and communicate. No one knows what computers will be like in 5 years, considering the changes that have taken place in the past 5 years. Anyone familiar with technology should agree.

According to the study, conducted by a firm called Quality Education Data, IBM-compatible computers' share of the school market grew from 27 percent to 39 percent in the 1992 to 1995 school years. (Most such computers use Windows.) In the same period, the survey found, the share of Apple machines dropped from 64 percent to 58 percent.

Most analysts were surprised that the educations market has remained strong despite thte endless negativity from columns such as this one. Comments from one article are restated in other articles even if the original statement has no merit. This makes it difficult for the [public] to determine the facts from the fiction.

Most analysts expect Apple to stay in business, but they and educators question the level of discounts, training and support the company will be able to give teachers after the company's latest round of cutbacks.

This statement has to one of the most ludicrous. You are basically saying that since Apple is cutting it's operational costs, it will now be HARDER for them to keep prices down? Basic Economics says that if costs are down, then prices go down, but profits can remain constant. Your taste for blood seems to have blinded you from the obvious.

Some local districts are going even further. To the south, in Prince William County, 80 percent of the more than 1,100 computers the school system is buying this year will run Windows. The remaining 20 percent will be Apples, said Jenelle V. Leonard, the district's supervisor for instructional technology.

If you want to go down this road, I can provide you with dozens of schools that I personally deal with that have recently, and have plans for 100% Macintosh purchases. Then again, I can also rattle off many businesses from small to corporate, that have a 50% or higher Macintosh presence, and have recently purchased more Macintosh equipment.

Pallavi Agarwal, 13, said the new computers make it possible, for the first time, to take schoolwork home, where her family has a computer that runs Windows. "I never used the [Apple] computers that much because I didn't want to have to type the stuff I was working on again when I got home," she said.

This just proves that the school has been lacking in their understanding. Students can very easily save their documents from the Macs on Mac or PC floppy disks for use on their home computers. This option has been standard for almost 10 years, regardless of the work processor, database, spreadsheet, or graphics program. It is as easy or easier than taking the files from a Windows system, since it is rare that the school and home computer have the same program and the same version.

Portable computer called the eMate 300, which is set to go on sale this spring for as little as $700. Instead of adding more features, the eMate will have a black-and-white screen, a comparatively slow microprocessor and small amount of memory.

Your lack of understanding of the eMate is obvious. It is not meant to replace the traditional computer, but instead to augment it by providing a reasonably price portable system that provides the basic necessities such as word processing, filing, spreadsheet, Internet, and communications. Since it does not have the overhead and demand of a traditional computer, it's "comparatively slow microprocessor and small amount of memory" should actually provide a very responsive system.

By the way, the eMate is not a black and white screen, but a gray-scale screen which will allow graphics support and full web browsing. You might want to check out the following sites to get more accurate information on the eMate.

Despite the constant bashing, Apples sales have been steady, and beginning to improve. They have, and are, reducing costs. They have the fastest computers available in the laptop, desktop, and high-end markets. They have the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty. They are financially strong, and will be able to support the changes currently in progress.

Created: 04/04/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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