Moving Production Computers from Mac to PC

The trend today seems that corporate America wants their IT department dollars to handle everything that has a keypad attached to it. It is very fair to say that most, and by most I mean in the upper 90 percent area, IT professionals that support "the company" do NOT know their way around the MAC world and really have no understanding (why would they?) about RIPS, the reasons for static IP's, the reasons for no virus software, etc.

Whenever corporate IT enters a digital prepress department, they realize they don't get-it and usually are smart enough to let you do what needs to be done. However, the upper management (who totally have no clue) will continue to force the issue because IT should be handling anything with a keyboard. What I have done in this situation after getting nowhere with upper management understanding was say, "OK, let IT handle the prepress department". The next week IT installed some new servers and simply plugged all the Prepress computers into the existing corporate switch. Oh, did I forget to tell you they changed all the Mac's over to DHCP addressing too? The entire department went down as you can imagine and only after that happened did "upper management" listen why corporate IT should stay the hell away and segment prepress as it should be.

Today we have a very greedy corporate America looking to get five employees out of one - and they are doing it too because the employee is told everyday "how bad the economy is" and scared into submission. My advice to you is simply to ask why? What is to be gained by switching over to PC's? I see it as consolidating all IT support as a cost savings measure. Why do I need to pay a prepress manager when I already have computer experts I'm paying? You should advise them that software would need to be re-purchased and testing would slow production to a crawl and if they still can't lift their eyes from the calculator, just sit back and when nothing works anymore, tell your boss you called IT to fix the problem.
 

Cameron

Well-known member
There is a lot more questioning why in this thread then giving real issues that would pop up.. I too think about the switch all the time.. I would to have a better understanding as well.. open type fonts would help alleviate most of the font issues i would assume..

we only have two prepress machines, both mac.. .. the files we continally get from customers are more and more consistantly coming from word, wordperfect, publisher.. they are always problems.. so i just dont see why not.
 

bky

Member
Moving from Mac to PC in a prepress environment isn't something to be taken lightly. I've been in digital prepress for almost 30 years, and I currently work as a CTO for a $7M printer, and am fluent in both IT and prepress. I'm a die-hard Mac guy, but I do almost all the Windows support myself. Over the years, there are many conclusions I can draw from personal experience supporting both. I have a mixed environment with 6 Mac stations, 3 Mac Servers, 6 Windows Servers, and about 30 Windows desktops and laptops. If I attempted to switch to Windows-based prepress, here are things I would expect to see:

1. Windows PC's have a much shorter service life. Under Windows XP in a typical office environment, I begin to see significant performance problems after about 2 years. By the 3rd year, the problems are basically fatal, and requires a complete overhaul and reinstallation of Windows. If successful, I can see maybe another year of service life in a lower-level capacity. Effectively, functional replacement happens around 2 years for 50% of my Windows stations. At 3 years, it's closer to 75% non-functional, and mechanical replacement rate is 25% at this age. By year 4, I've turned over almost 100% of the Windows hardware for newer computers. By comparison, all 6 of my Mac stations are on year 5 and have not required a re-installed OS. In fact, some are carrying migration data and apps that are 8+ years old (Apple's transfer program is wonderful). I use several Windows XP systems in prepress, and they are all but unusable after 3 years as well. Apple, quite frankly, builds a mechanically solid machine in the Mac Pro series. Great ventilation is one reason, but the hardware just lasts longer too. I bought a lot of LCD monitors from Acer and Asus over the years. The Acer's are a fraction of the cost of Apple's LCD panels, but have 90% failure rate at 3 years (over 50+ units). My only two Apple LCDs are still running after 5 years, but they were 4X the cost of the Acers too. I've switched to Asus monitors, but the oldest of them are 2 years old and have not have any failures yet.

2. Windows PC's have drastically higher maintenance costs. While I can't put it into exact dollars, I can give you pretty accurate ratios based on my time. Even corrected for my user base, maintenance of a Windows XP machine is 15-18x of the prepress Macs. By "maintenance", I refer to updates, patches, user assistance with performance issues, virus, spyware, and protection, mostly related to the Windows XP operating system itself. Every single Windows machine I have has fallen to malicious software at some point (except my Windows Servers). This is more of a user issue, as they are reasonably protected by Symantec and Malwarebytes. A determined user can still easily infect their machines. The prepress Windows machines have faired better, but still have at least 10X the maintenance of the Macs. I spend about 20-30 hours per year fighting Windows viruses and malware. On the Mac, I spent zero hours in the last 10 years.

3. Uptime ratios heavily favor the Macs. Performance of the Macs compared to when new is virtually undiminished, while Windows performance degraded considerably over time (I'd say 20% per year is reasonable). Productivity is difficult to measure, but in an office environment, the difference in downtime between the two platforms is ridiculous. For me, an average office and prepress PC has between 5-10 hours of maintenance in the first year, rising about 50% per year afterwards. The Macs average less than one hour, some are close to zero. Stability: the Macs average 30-45 days between restarts, and the Mac servers probably average 6 months between patch-required restarts. Nothing running Windows last longer than a couple weeks before a restart, even the servers.

4. Prepress Mac workstation costs the same, if not less than similar workstation hardware for Windows. While office-grade Windows machines are dirt cheap, the Mac's are far more price-competitive on the higher end of the computing scale. A typical office-grade Windows 7 desktop for me is about $450 (including keyboard mouse) plus monitor. The cheapest Mac Mini I can get is $600 (lower hardware specs, and I need a keyboard/mouse), and Office costs more for Mac too. That is just one part of the TCO though.

On the upper end, a Mac Pro tower with 2.66Ghz Dual Quad-core (8-way) Neleham, 6Gb RAM, 640Gb drive, NVIDIA GT 120, etc runs about $4700. The Dell Precision T7500 Workstation with the same CPU, 4Gb RAM (max usable for Win 7 Pro, according to Dell?), 500Gb drive, 512MB NVIDIA Quadro FX 580, etc runs $4,900. It's hard to get an Apples-to-apples comparison, but if you are honest, you will find that Apple's high-end hardware is pretty reasonable, if not a bargain. Granted, you can skew the Dell's with lower end chassis for a lot of savings, but we know that Apple's well-engineered tower competes with the upper end of Dell's workstation line (Precisions). The Mac Pro is a nicely finished hunk of machined aluminum, and you really can't put that against a sheet-metal-and-plastic Dimension tower for heat-dissipation, airflow, and noise.

5. Multi-monitor setups are superior on the Mac than PC. Under XP, setting up multiple monitors required more software and is much fussier than the Mac's built-in ability. In all honestly, that may not apply under Windows 7, which I only have deployed in office environments (I'm not using Win 7 in multi-monitor prepress yet).

Some other factors to consider too: we take in 70% of our production output as customer generated files. The remaining 30% is generated in-house by staff designers. For incoming files, 95%+ are Mac-based, and most require Mac-based fonts and most lack image extensions. Quite frankly, we are driven by what the customer gives us. If they, overnight, decided to switch completely to Windows and MS Publisher, we'd buy a bunch of Windows systems and copies of MS Publisher. Whatever they run, we run. Right now, they run Macs, and so do we.

For that other 30% of content we create and design in-house, we have a choice of any app/platform in the building. After years of doing this, the Mac is simply faster and cheaper to get from idea to paper. Much of that is user comfort, but a lot of it is inherently in the productivity in the prepress environment on Macs, even though the software is the same. Trust me, if we could generate a better quality product in less time with Windows, I'd make the designers use it. Fact is, Windows isn't better, partially because of the maintenance and uptime ratios I mentioned earlier. Don't take my word for it: ad agencies and marketing departments know this too. This isn't just resistance to change by the designers either: look at how fast they switched to InDesign from Quark. Given something that is better, faster, or more transparent from design to paper, the creatives will adopt it en-mass, and practically overnight. Creative types are kinda lazy that way. Show me an enterprise full of Macs instead of Windows, and I will show you a lazy IT Director. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. IT and MIS are not value-added services. Prepress is.

One last thing I will emphasis, and it's the key to the enterprise Windows/Mac issue. IT departments want to stay IT departments. They want to keep their jobs, or even increase their staff if possible. Large departments become more powerful in the company, command higher budgets, and IT people hold tremendous job security. Windows, with it's high maintenance costs and short life cycle, represent constant, guaranteed work (in any given year, I replace at least 5 Windows machines). Deploying Macs over the enterprise would likely decrease TCO by a factor of 2X or more, while the original post's replacement of 90 Macs in the prepress department would likely result in 1-2 more IT hires. Either way, prepress department productivity goes down under Windows.

To the original poster, that's probably the most truthful answer to "Why?"
It's job security for the people who want you to switch.
If that sounds self-serving, its likely because it is.

Final Disclaimer: my experiences may be different from yours. Someone better skilled in Windows and less adept on Macs may find their time spent differently. Still, I wouldn't expect the TCO to tip towards moving to Windows-based prepress. Your mileage may vary.
 
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gordo

Well-known member
One last thing I will emphasis, and it's the key to the enterprise Windows/Mac issue. IT departments want to stay IT departments. They want to keep their jobs, or even increase their staff if possible. Large departments become more powerful in the company, command higher budgets, and IT people hold tremendous job security. Windows, with it's high maintenance costs and short life cycle, represent constant, guaranteed work (in any given year, I replace at least 5 Windows machines). Deploying Macs over the enterprise would likely decrease TCO by a factor of 2X or more, while the original post's replacement of 90 Macs in the prepress department would likely result in 1-2 more IT hires. Either way, prepress department productivity goes down under Windows.

To the original poster, that's probably the most truthful answer to "Why?"
It's job security for the people who want you to switch.
If that sounds self-serving, its likely because it is.

Amen. Under threat the the OP will shut this thread down if it turns into a MAC vs PCs thread, I must say that at my previous employer there were hundreds of PCs and MACs. The IT dept consisted of about 7 people dedicated only to the PCs. On the MAC side IT had no support personnel. The MAC users did their own support. That stuck in the craw of IT.

But if the decision has been made to switch from MAC to PC then, IMHO, IT should take the full responsibility for the success of the switch. No heroics from the OP. As someone else phrased it - "they will break it - they should fix it."

gordon p
 

bky

Member
But if the decision has been made to switch from MAC to PC then, IMHO, IT should take the full responsibility for the success of the switch. No heroics from the OP. As someone else phrased it - "they will break it - they should fix it."

gordon p

Isn't that part of the problem though? They WANT to fix it.
If your Saab mechanic tells you not to buy a Toyota, there might be a conflict of interest.

;)
 

davidmwe

Well-known member
OpenType fonts, switching platforms problems, preflight

OpenType fonts, switching platforms problems, preflight

Besides ease of use, familiarity and graphic design resources often more Mac orientated, the biggest problem, as Lukas Engqvist mentioned on page 1, are likely going to be fonts. If your Quark or InDesign layouts do not use OpenType fonts, you will have a very interesting and dangerous process on your hands. Not to mention, any conversion process may lead to a shift in used elements or objects, so be careful and of course preflight.
 

Norcrans

Well-known member
Thanks to all that have posted some good information so far.

I realize that my original post was pretty vague but it had to be that way. We are a globally owned promotional products company with many locations throughout the US and Europe and have very strict non-disclosure agreements. I'm more interested in knowing what struggles others have encountered than looking for answers on how to do a project like this and detailing our workflow piece by piece. We are a full blown printing facility that handles both internally produced files and customer supplied files from creation through printing and finishing.

That said what I can tell you is that all but 15 of the Macs we are running are PowerMac G5's that range in age from 3 to 6 years old. The other 15 are Mac Intel boxes. We are running the CS4 Design Premium Suite and OSX 10.4.11. The automation I was referring to are several different AppleScripts that have been written to help speed up everyday tasks and to also help error proof these tasks. I do know that most of these can be written to work on the PC but some may not be able to because of the tasks they do. We primarily use a pdf workflow and most of the pdf files that are produced are sent through a Kodak Prinergy system and the remaining files are routed through our digital presses. We are never on the bleeding edge when it comes to software. We usually let others work out the issues while we do testing and set up processes before moving on. We have CS5 but will probably not put it into full production for another year. We are also a fully color managed facility from monitors to proofing devices and press.

To give you an idea of why a drastic change like this scares me is because in a year our facility handles about 350 of our own stock jobs that we produce and sell, 600 custom jobs that are either produced in house or supplied by the customer and 250,000 what we consider sales order jobs. These are basically ad areas that are sold to be printed on the stock jobs we produce. And no I am not making these numbers up so you can see why something like changing out from a fully proficient and functional platform to an unknown workflow has me looking for others that may have taken on a task like this.

Some of the other facilities that are much smaller than us and not ink on paper facilities have made this transition and I hear mixed answers on how the changeover has gone. It depends on who you talk to and that is all I'll say about that.

Once again thanks for the input, there has been some great examples posted so far on how things have gone and what to look for.
 

arkay_desai

Well-known member
hi, recently we tried to migrate our work from MAC to PC. But we had an magor problem with fonts. If you are continue working with existing files, check with fonts availibility and compalibity for existing files. many softwares are available in market to convert MAC to PC fonts. check it out before migrating.

Arkay
 

maas

Well-known member
I worked for an Australasian publishing company as prepress manager for 6 years, in this time we set up our previously outsources production in house as well as move from a MAC to a PC platform, the reasons were many, a corporate decision with a PC company that covered the entire operation, the ability that PC's offer over Mac's in as far as locking down the workstation to meet the intended use and give the access requirements I.T.seemed fit to implement.

The whole Mac vs PC argument has been done to death and as far as i am concerned good operators are not platform dependant but life will get interesting when 64 bit becomes the norm and 32 bit snow leopard Macs become I.T. dept best friend, try finding 64 bit windows drivers for your old printers
 
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Mac OS 11 or Windows 10 it does not matter if you are switching from one or the other, it will mean PAIN.
People learn all the idiosyncrasies of an operating system & applications interaction with it over a long period of time, switch them over and they are lost.
They now have to invest time in discovering all of the new idiosyncrasies of the new system (whatever it is).
Training is too expensive for management to consider and so we are back to people experimenting (its how people learn) and that takes time.
Time is money as you are about to find out.
 

OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
The good thing about people is they can learn and adapt. No sense in trashing something that could make long-term sense just because it's going to be hard in the short-term.
 
I didn't read all posts here. However, my feeling is in this day it should not matter. When PDF was released years ago, the sole purpose was so that it was portable to any system. Now that there are powerful PDF workflows and Editors available, there really isn't a need to worry about native files, fonts etc... PDF embeds all of these things and having the full capability of editing PDFs in a PDF editor allows you to be more productive than ever. I work for Hybrid Software and we specialize in PDF workflows and editors. I have a few customers (label shops and folding carton printers) that have ditched their Macs for a more IT-friendly windows machine. I'm sure they had operators that didn't want to give up their Mac's but in the end, they all adapt.
 

pressIT

New member
I did not read through all the posts here either but I have more experience than I want regarding the issues with running Mac's connected to windows servers. I have been caught in the pickle between Apple and Microsoft...each pointing their finger at the other when encountering extremely slow file transfers between mac/windows OS. If you need to transfer large files across the network (or you are trying to work across the network) I would suggest going all Mac or all Windows...nothing in between.
 

OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
If you need to transfer large files across the network (or you are trying to work across the network) I would suggest going all Mac or all Windows...nothing in between.
I'd be fascinated to hear how a company could have an all-Mac network without it also being a "flat", unmanaged network.
 

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