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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

A few logistical questions before making the switch


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jjyank

 
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Hello. I have recently decided to make the switch from my (crappy) Dell laptop to a MacBook Pro. I need no convincing, but there are a few things I am unsure about.

First, I do need a version of windows on my mac. I've been a PC user my whole life (I am almost 22), and I consequently have a few old programs (Photoshop, some old school video games, etc.) that I would like to keep. I don't need a new version of Windows (it would be expensive anyway), but I have seen copies of Windows XP (which is what my laptop currently runs) for under $100, which is fine. My question is, if I take my laptop to an Apple store, buy a MacBook Pro, can they A) transfer all of my files from my PC to my new Mac? and B) Copy my Windows XP operating system to the Mac? I am not sure if I know where the disc is for my copy of Windows XP if that is a factor. If that is something they cannot do at the store, is it easy enough to do myself?

Also, I am still a college student (senior). What is the discount they offer for students, and what do I need to bring as proof that I am a student?

As for all of my important files...I have lots of things saved in Microsoft Word files that I would need access to. Would I need to switch to my Windows OS to access these files after I get a Mac, or can those be converted to whatever program Macs use for word processing?

Lastly, if anyone could suggest what software I should get initially loaded onto my Mac, I would appreciate it since I have a very limited knowledge of Mac software. Thanks for any advice!
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stewabr

 
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I'll answer your first two as best as I can and give you some IMO stuff for the 3rd:
1. If you could find your license key from your original Windows copy you could use VMWare Fusion or Parallels Transporter to move your whole Windows machine quickly and easily. If you can't then it is still pretty much as easy as plugging one machine into another via ethernet or Wi-Fi by enabling sharing. It is ridiculously easy to move stuff between the boxes in general so you shouldn't have to take it to the store unless you want.

2. You can do it either way. If you buy Office for Mac then it will be automatic and everything will work for the most part (VBA Macros won't work). If you want it to open in Windows you can do that as well. Just a simple right click setting when running under Parallels.

3. I've only been using a MBP for a couple of months so there are people that can recommend a lot more but here are the programs I consider must have/excellent:
1. Chrome browser or Firefox browser as Safari is horrible
2. 1Password-Great implementation of a password storage program
3. RightZoom-Gives you ability to use resizing as it was meant to be rather that "intelligent" resizing that OS X comes with
4. XFolders-Great way of managing folders when Finder becomes cumbersome
5. Onyx-System utility
6. Secrets-System utility
7. AppCleaner-System utility
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louishen

 
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Also, Apple will help you transfer your files over to the Mac.

All your MS office files (Word etc) can be opened with Mac software like textedit and pages, although you can also download the free Open Office to get a full open source office suite.

You can download the free Virtual Box to run windows XP, or research all your options here
http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/win...ers-guide.html

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Vyper007

 
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I'd agree with the fine selections of comments you've already had, just to add a little further info. Neo Office is a variant ofOpen Office and is also completely free, and once again will open your word files just fine, its horses for courses which version you chose, personally I like Neo Office.

Parallels is a great tool and as stated above will let you transfer your exisitng PC in its entirety. The only thing I'd go as far to say on the Parallels front is the more memory you have in your machine the better, especially if you decide to run a couple of extra virtual machines as well. I tried running Parallels on an old machine with 1GB of ram as an experiement and the machine definetly struggled, but I'm sure on an MBP you'll have no issues, I run Parallels happily on a Core 2 Duo imc with 4Gb ram and Windows runs like a dream.

On the student discount front, I've heard friends say there seems to be two levels of student discount. If you take your student ID to an Apple store then you'll get a pre-defined student discount (I'm not sure what discount that is) however I know that if you buy through your college network then you get a bigger student discount. I dont know if this applies to all colleges, it'd be worth speaking to your student union or uni rep to see if they know of any discounts and how you'd go about getting them.

In the must have app selection, all the ones stated above are great apps, I'd also add Little Snitch to the mix too a very handy utility for monitoring outbound connections. And since you have a laptop for that vit of extra security you could have an encrypted volume to save your sensative files, have a look at a program called Truecrypt its free and allows you to create password protected volumes, plus its got a lot of other nice features too.

All the best
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jjyank

 
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Thanks for the responses so far. In regards to the software suggestions, are these programs that I can get loaded at the store upon request? Or are these things I will need to purchase/download separately?

My whole life I have pretty much gone to the same family-owned local PC store for both my purchases and repairs. My Dell laptop came pretty much pre-loaded with the essentials I had asked for, things like MS Office, anti-virus/spyware/adware programs, etc. Because of this limited exposure, I'm not sure how exactly the process works when I get to the Apple Store. Since I already know what I want to get (15'' MBP) does one of the employees work with me to figure out what to pre-load on the Mac and whatnot? Or would it be better to configure my Mac on the apple.com site?
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jjyank

 
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Just for fun I'm going through the "configure my Mac" checklist in the Apple.com store for the MBP, just to get a better sense of pre-loaded options. I see there are two potential word processing softwares, iWork and MS Office Mac 2008.

Are either of these good enough for basic word documents and spreadsheets? What is the difference? Office Mac is almost $100 more than iWork, but are there any advantages besides an assumed familiarity for an ex-Windows user? I don't mind a larger learning curve if it means I save money or if one product is better than the other.
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louishen

 
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I would not preload anything yet.

You get a 30 day trial of iWork preloaded on all OSX machines anyway. If you don't like it, then you can investigate an alternative afterwards.

Then you can opt for the $100 MS Office student edition or the free Open Office (or the free NEO Office)

They will all edit and export MS office formats so your files will be portable

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blackmac11

 
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Apple also offers a discount to collage/university students through the apple store. I'm not sure where you are from, but here is the US website:

Student Discount - Apple Store (U.S.)

Just pick your school and shop away. I believe you need your student number when you go to checkout

Happy shopping


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Quote:
Originally Posted by louishen View Post
I would not preload anything yet.

You get a 30 day trial of iWork preloaded on all OSX machines anyway. If you don't like it, then you can investigate an alternative afterwards.

Then you can opt for the $100 MS Office student edition or the free Open Office (or the free NEO Office)

They will all edit and export MS office formats so your files will be portable

agreed !

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jjyank

 
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So would you guys recommend buying online through the apple site (I save $100 through my school) or going to a store in person?
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clayneal

 
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For $100 I wouldn't mind the wait to have it delivered so...Yes to online is my vote.

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EndlessMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjyank View Post
Thanks for the responses so far. In regards to the software suggestions, are these programs that I can get loaded at the store upon request? Or are these things I will need to purchase/download separately?

My whole life I have pretty much gone to the same family-owned local PC store for both my purchases and repairs. My Dell laptop came pretty much pre-loaded with the essentials I had asked for, things like MS Office, anti-virus/spyware/adware programs, etc. Because of this limited exposure, I'm not sure how exactly the process works when I get to the Apple Store. Since I already know what I want to get (15'' MBP) does one of the employees work with me to figure out what to pre-load on the Mac and whatnot? Or would it be better to configure my Mac on the apple.com site?
Apple also have several programs that can be preloaded onto your computer but unless they are selling it to you at a discount you can probably get better prices elsewhere. It's the same for PCs. I usually don't buy pre-installed software on both PCs and Macs. A lot of preloaded software are things I usually don't need so I save money by not having them installed.

Unless you really hate taking the time to buy and install the programs yourself then you should compare prices and see which one is the better choice. If it's worth the convenience then that's a choice you will have to make for yourself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jjyank View Post
I see there are two potential word processing softwares, iWork and MS Office Mac 2008.

Are either of these good enough for basic word documents and spreadsheets? What is the difference? Office Mac is almost $100 more than iWork, but are there any advantages besides an assumed familiarity for an ex-Windows user? I don't mind a larger learning curve if it means I save money or if one product is better than the other.
iWork is basically Apple's version of Microsoft's Office software. It runs different than Office but it's also a collection of programs that will allow you to do word processing, spreedsheets, etc. You can learn more about it here: Apple - iWork - Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Mac way. Use the free trial version and see if you like it.

NeoOffice and OpenOffice are free programs that run similar to Microsoft Office. You can actually use OpenOffice now on your PC and see if you like it. OpenOffice works on both Mac and PCs. If you need the most compatibility with other Office users then you should get Office for Mac.
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Almost all of the Apple software, including iWork is routinely available at Amazon.com for a decent discount and no tax (and sometimes no shipping).
I use MS Office at work, but at home I use iWork and Openoffice. I wouldn't pay the extra hundred for MS Office for Mac unless you need to work extensively in Powerpoint; sometimes the formatting can be flaky switching between iWork or Openoffice and MS Office Powerpoint.
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jjyank

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndlessMac View Post
iWork is basically Apple's version of Microsoft's Office software. It runs different than Office but it's also a collection of programs that will allow you to do word processing, spreedsheets, etc. You can learn more about it here: Apple - iWork - Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Mac way. Use the free trial version and see if you like it.

NeoOffice and OpenOffice are free programs that run similar to Microsoft Office. You can actually use OpenOffice now on your PC and see if you like it. OpenOffice works on both Mac and PCs. If you need the most compatibility with other Office users then you should get Office for Mac.
Thanks for the info. How do NeoOffice and OpenOffice compare to iWork? I would assume that since iWork is not free, it has more features. I'm a political science major, going to grad school for political science, and shooting for a career in that field; so I don't really need anything crazy, as long as I can type up nice documents and create basic charts and spreadsheets. Will something like NeoOffice be enough for that?

What about the AppleCare Protection Plan? Is it worth it, or just a waste of money?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjyank View Post
Thanks for the info. How do NeoOffice and OpenOffice compare to iWork? I would assume that since iWork is not free, it has more features. I'm a political science major, going to grad school for political science, and shooting for a career in that field; so I don't really need anything crazy, as long as I can type up nice documents and create basic charts and spreadsheets. Will something like NeoOffice be enough for that?
Think of NeoOffice/OpenOffice like clones of Microsoft Office. They were intended to be legally free alternatives to Office. You will answer most of your questions right now if you downloaded OpenOffice for your PC and try it out. The Mac version runs very similar. NeoOffice in my opinion is a more polished version of OpenOffice for Mac.

If you are only doing basic stuff then I think NeoOffice/OpenOffice will do what you want. They will also open and save in Microsoft Office file formats but not always as accurately as Office itself. It's good enough for most people though. If you find you later need Microsoft Office then you can get it but I would try NeoOffice/OpenOffice first and remember iWork has a free trial.

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Originally Posted by jjyank View Post
What about the warranty? Is it worth it, or just a waste of money?
If you are talking about Apple Care warranty then that's a choice you have to make. If you like piece of mind then you probably should get it. Apple's warranty service is excellent and people have reported getting things serviced or replaced without much hassle. You do get a one year warranty included for free but Apple Care is the extended warranty.
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