weekend, I decided that I could afford a few leisurely hours to migrate
my work life—no, actually my entire online life—from my Dell Latitude
610 running Windows XP to my new MacPro Notebook running OS X
(Leopard). I was really looking forward to it.
I had already enjoyed the “Mac out of the box experience”—unpacking my new laptop, plugging it in and marveling at Steve Jobs’ signature power supply (with “ears” to loop the cord around, as well as the sliding hook on the cord that makes it easy to create a quick and tidy loop to get excess cord out of the way, and the magnetic connector that lets the plug click satisfyingly into the MacBook). I even marveled at Steve Jobs’ packaging. Who knew that styrofoam could be so elegant! I’m convinced that Steve J personally approved the styrofoam design. My husband and I joked about making a wall hanging out of it.
My Desired Outcomes
My Goals for this project were simple:
1. Learn how to use the Mac enough to be proficient and productive with the things I already know how to do on my PC.
2. Copy everything I need from my PC onto my Mac (which entails setting up the Virtual Machine for Windows) and transferring my operating environment and my files.
3. Get the Mac working with the printers I have.
4. Learn how to use the video editing environment on the Mac, which is one reason that I bought the machine (plus not wanting to move to VISTA—I’m one of those “hell, no I won’t go” people—I’ve had enough of Microsoft’s user experience).
5. And, for extra credit, maybe not THIS weekend, install a Linux Virtual machine with Joomla and begin experimenting with content management for our next-gen Web site.
And I’m NOT a techie! I can barely figure out how to turn my machine on!
However, I do have a good support network. So, on Friday, I alerted my band of Patty’s Pioneers—the true geeks/early adopters/long-time Mac/Linux users about what I was up to and received immediate reassurances and moral support. Go for it! They said, call us if you need us, and blog as you go...Then they took off with all kinds of wonderful, arcane advice—much of it having to do with the whole process of migrating my Windows XP environment to a Mac Virtual Machine.
First the Good News. I turned my MacBook on and it immediately found and connected to the WiFi in my weekend home (the same WiFi connection for which I have to “repair” my Dell WiFi modem each time I switch from one network to another). I took my picture with the built in camera and posted it to my Twitter feed. I poked at the icons in the dock, finding aesthetically-pleasing and useful gadgets, as well as apps that jump happily up and down as they launch. I reveled in the cover flow user interface for my files, enjoying the sex appeal of seeing applications and files float by, and the ease of previewing the contents of any file without launching the application. And I puzzled over the Finder—how did I want to set up my files? The advantage of having a clean slate is that you don’t have to live with the idiosyncrasies of past mistakes. But first things first. I needed to move in. I live in Firefox and Google (Mail, Calendar, Chat), so I recreated my online living room by banishing the Mac’s Safari browser and getting all my Firefox tabs set up so I have my familiar world view. Next, I tried printing a file. Piece of cake. Nothing to plug and play, no driver downloads. The Mac just recognized my printer and let me print to it.
MacOffice or PC Office. OK, now for the productivity apps. I agonized about this for a while. I knew that I wanted maximum compatibility with all of my Microsoft Office files and applications. I don’t have the time or inclination to fuss with conversions and possible loss of formatting, graphics, or macros. So I wanted to stick with my tried and true MS Office 2003 suite for now. I could have tried the MacOffice equivalent (MacOffice 2004), upgraded my Windows apps to 2007 to run on my Windows VM, or gone with the Mac version of the newest Microsoft apps. However, after reading the Mac forum discussions, I knew that MacOffice 2008 wasn’t an option. So, I decided to keep my MSOffice 2003 apps for the time being, migrate them to my new Mac using the Parallels Virtual Machine, and try living in my new hybrid “best of both” worlds. (Note that an Apple purist, like my brother, Jonathan, will be wincing—why bother moving to Mac if you’re not going to use best of breed Mac applications? Use MacMail. Use Safari. Try one of the many great word processing programs for the Mac. Use Keynote for presentations. That’s what real Mac folks do).
Now for the Bad News. Remember that I wanted to run both the Mac applications and my IBM applications on the Mac—one of the more seductive capabilities that makes it easy for die-hard PC users to make the switch to the Mac environment. I had ordered the Parallels Virtual Machine software and read the manual. The easiest approach seemed to be to migrate my entire PC environment—operating system, applications, and files—over to my MacBook Pro using the Parallels Transporter applet. There were three stumbling blocks:
1. Connecting my PC to my Mac. I tried three of the approaches recommended in the manual: connecting directly via Ethernet cable, connecting via WiFi, and connecting both to my WiFi router. (My local Radio Shack didn’t have a Firewire cable.). The only thing that worked was connecting both machines to the WiFi router. But the new Mac OS X/Leopard kept trying to block my connection to my PC. Finally, after some phone consultation with my Pioneer techie, we succeeded.
2. Using the Express transfer mode. Parallels recommends this approach if you are moving a standard build of Windows to your Mac. But it didn’t work for me. My PC didn’t have enough room left on the hard disk to build an entire image of the virtual machine. And, there’s no opportunity in the Express wizard to redirect where you want the image to be written.
3. Using the Advanced transfer mode. The other thing that didn’t work was initiating the transfer from my PC. So I wound up needing to “fake” my PC into starting the transfer, then initiating it on the Mac side, and pulling the files over to the Mac to build the VM there. But after three tries and three aborts, my patient tech advisor said to me, “Well, don’t feel bad, I’ve done this several times, and each time it took me several hours and a bit of fiddling.”
So, having run out of “free time,” and patience, I’ve put the VM project on hold and left my new MacBook Pro at home while I travel on business. It will be two weeks before I’m back and able to devote another weekend to completing the move from PC to Mac + Virtual PC. Next time, I’ll be following Scott Jordan’s advice. I’m going to build my Virtual Windows machine on a USB drive and then move it to the Mac that way. I’ll keep you posted.
Make Migration Easier! The moral of this personal saga is this: If Apple really wants to capture a large percentage of the current PC market by helping people migrate to Macs, they need to make it much easier for non-techie PC users like me to set up their combined Apple/PC environment on their Macs. One obvious solution would be to sell a preconfigured machine with both operating systems on it. Of course, many people would want that configuration to be XP, not Vista. A second option would be to work with Parallels and other VM providers to provide more foolproof migration paths and proactive support. (Yes, you can reserve time at a Genius Bar to have an Apple techie help you, but what if you’re not within an easy drive of an Apple store?) A best plan would be to offer proactive migration support. One of our clients—after discovering how difficult it was for its customers to migrate from one version of software to the next—set up proactive migration swat teams. They would detect when customers were ready to migrate their apps (after they downloaded the evaluation version of the next-gen software), contact them proactively, and offer proactive migration assistance.
I think Apple hopes that we’ll all move to a “pure Mac” environment. But, for many people, like me, we need to have the safety net of carrying our Windows environment over onto the Mac and then having the option of using either the new Mac apps or our familiar Windows apps. Over time, I’m sure most of us will probably migrate to a purer Mac environment.