Mac workplace penetration loosens Window's stranglehold on enterprise

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While the enterprise market remains a predominantly Windows-based environment, Macs are creeping into the workplace as the popularity of tablets driven by Apple's iPad slowly erodes the walls of Microsoft's once-impenetrable fortress.

Analyst Michael Silver, a Gartner Research vice president and research director, outlined the firm's outlook on the enterprise desktop space saying that not only is Window's dominance being threatened by tablets, but a shift in user demand is pushing an influx of Macs into the workplace, reports MacWorld.

Silver hedged his statements, saying that while IT managers can no longer ignore Apple's platform, "[the desktop] is still 90-something percent Windows," and "thin clients will have 4 percent or so by the end of the year."

Estimates see Mac's share of the enterprise market hovering at around 5 percent, but the consumerization of IT is slowly forcing companies to accept Apple's products as part of the everyday workflow. According to Gartner research, 60 percent of companies currently don't allow Macs in the office, though the tide is changing as 64 percent of businesses will likely allow them to be adopted over the next few years.

Leading the charge in bringing the Mac into the workplace is a combination of demand for Apple's mobile devices and a more affordable computing options for OS X. A recent study from Good Technology found that the top-six most-activated devices in enterprise were all Apple products, with the iPhone and iPad accounting for 79 percent of total activations.

Traditional views frown upon Apple's computer system because of higher perceived costs associated with using the platform. "It used to be, 'How do we keep Macs out,'" Silver said, but the prices have come down and the playing field has evened out.

While an average Mac setup runs $1,622, a Windows machine costs $1,513 and software makers charge slightly more for Apple-centric products. Average IT labor expenditure for Macs is lower with $636 compared to Windows' $781, however companies report a wide variety of experiences in this department.

Silver notes that the days of saying "no" to Mac in enterprise are coming to an end as Apple computers are seeing a surge in popularity with upper management and executives.

"Saying 'no' could be a career-ending decision," Silver said.