The Rise of Mac (and Linux)

Written by Natalie Bluhm on July 31, 2017

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Updated on February 23, 2021

Apple’s resurgence is generally tied to the return of Steve Jobs. But, it is an interesting question,  what led to the rise of macOS devices? Some argue the iPod and iPhone were the keys to the resurgence of the Mac platform. Others say Mac’s ease of use and security features won people’s interest.

But, it’s really more complicated than that, and just looking at one or two events is not enough to really understand Apple’s newfound popularity.

The 411 on macOS’ Popularity

Macs are the best-selling laptop/desktop platform now. Microsoft Windows devices sell more in aggregate, but this is spread across a number of different vendors such as Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and more. The macOS user population generally views Apple devices as more aesthetically pleasing, easier to use, and more reliable. This view is why macOS is becoming more widely used in the enterprise market today. Historically, though Macs weren’t nearly as popular as Windows devices.

When Windows Reigned Supreme

Fifteen to twenty years ago, the market was virtually monopolized by Windows. Corporate IT chose what platforms were used by their employees and standardization and manageability were critical requirements. Windows machines had a number of tools to help manage users, security, and policies. These tools included Microsoft Active Directory and SCCM among many other third party solution.

Because IT admins were on the hook to make sure that these machines worked for their employees, there was a drive to standardize components. This reduced the time and effort required to troubleshoot problems. If problems were found, often spare parts or familiarity with the manufacturer’s support would make repairs quicker. And, then there was the notion of cost. Windows devices were far cheaper to purchase and administer than Macs. Windows’ dominating work presence also created a whole ecosystem of apps that worked best with the Windows platform. Often, business applications weren’t even created for macOS.

The Windows monopoly would still be in existence today if some major shifts in the IT environment hadn’t occurred.

Shifts in the IT Landscape

The first major shift to occur was the movement towards web applications. Driven by Salesforce and others, end users started to have a common operating system: their browser. Applications didn’t need to be built for Windows or macOS, they were just built to work in whichever browser the user chose.

The second major shift was the introduction of compelling Apple consumer products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. All three of these encouraged users to leverage Apple solutions and become familiar with the ease of use, stylish branding, and tight integration with macOS.

The third shift was that infrastructure tools such as Microsoft Exchange and Office were being offered as cloud based services. IT didn’t have as much motivation to stay with Windows-based systems because the infrastructure wasn’t being tied to Microsoft. These reasons started to chip away at the Microsoft Windows monopoly.

As more users started to bring in their Apple mobile devices and Mac laptops, IT organizations shifted their view. Instead of being focused on controlling users, the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) emerged. This made everybody involved very happy. End users were delighted because they finally had a choice in what platform they could use. IT’s job became a little easier because the end user was spending more and more time in the browser where there were less compatibility issues. This has broken Windows’ hold over the workplace, and a major shift started to occur towards non-Windows systems. In fact, it is estimated now that only one in five devices in organizations is Windows-based. This means that Macs, Linux, iOS, and Android devices have made a significant impact on the enterprise.

Legacy directories like Active Directory and OpenLDAP are not able to provide the same level of visibility and system control that once existed when Microsoft was dominating the enterprise market. Modern cloud based directories, like JumpCloud Directory Platform, have emerged in response to today’s modern office.

Learn more about JumpCloud

JumpCloud’s cloud directory is platform neutral, so you can optimize Mac, Windows, and Linux system management. With our LDAP and SAML integration, your employees can easily gain access to a variety of web-based and legacy applications – all tied to a single user identity. You can also increase your security across all of your endpoints with the ability to enforce policies, incorporate MFA, manage password complexity, and leverage event logging API’s.

jumpcoud Directory-as-a-Service

If you are interested in learning more about how you could better manage your cross platform environment, drop us a note. We’d love to talk with you about how JumpCloud can help you accomplish that. You can also start testing our Mac and Linux system management and security features for yourself by signing up for a free account. Your first ten users and ten devices are free.

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