Mac v PC for Lawyers

Mac v PC for LawyersDoes it really matter?

Windows has been the most popular operating system since, well, it seems like time immemorial.

The ubiquitous operating platform is found in most businesses. However, in recent times, a surge in adoption of Apple based systems has reigned in Windows’ large market share, due largely to the development of the iPad. This now presents a real alternative to the discerning user. So what are the pros and cons of each platform?

For many years Windows ruled the roost for a number of basic reasons:

  • The fundamental software being run on office computers was only available for PCs
  • Windows-based machines couldn’t “talk” with Macs on the same network
  • PCs were more cost-effective
  • IT departments could more easily get new parts for a PC

These taken for granted advantages of the PC are becoming less important and in today’s marketplace lawyers and law firms are typically looking for a series of key components to perform their work effectively:

  • Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Outlook (or Google Apps)
  • Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Adobe Acrobat (or related PDF software)
  • Practice management software such as Lawware

The fact is that today, all these programs and apps are readily available and fully functional on both platforms and the days of cross platform compatibility issues are long gone.

What about Practice Management Software?

It used to be that practice management software was typically on Windows servers hosted on-site. Although this is still the case for a large number of firms, even for PMS the landscape has changed. The advent of cloud based practice management has meant that law firms can interact with their case files either in or out of the office with equal ease and regardless of OS. The cloud is still the domain of the smaller firm but this is set to change over the coming few years.

Mac v PC for LawyersNetworking?

Again, the cloud has intervened when it comes to the Mac v PC debate. The costs of on-premises servers and the need for their maintenance and associated staff costs makes them appear expensive by comparison with cloud based systems. Your own servers need to accommodate both Macs and PCs whilst the cloud does not discriminate when it comes to access from different platforms.

So what are the cost implications?

This is the one area where the PC still remains dominant. PCs are significantly cheaper to purchase, maintain and repair. And, whilst most pieces of peripheral or specialist software will run on both platforms, there are still software houses that do not produce Mac based versions of their goods.

Does it really matter?

Well, no, not any more. Macs can emulate almost everything done by a PC and sharing output across both systems is straightforward. The future is likely to see the continuing domination of the PC within the confines of the office for cost based reasons. But access to the same data from iPads, tablets and iPhones is likely to go hand in hand with that.

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