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IBM Offering Macs To Some Workers Using Windows

Of the 22 testers who provided feedback, 18 said that compared with their previous computers, the Mac notebooks offered a "better or best experience."

IBM on Wednesday said it's testing the use of Apple Macs within its research labs as part of the company's strategy of offering employees more than just Windows PCs.

About 100 researchers are using Mac computers in a small pilot program, an IBM spokeswoman said in an e-mail. The project, however, does not reflect a major strategy shift toward Apple inside IBM.

"Researchers at our IBM Labs are doing what they do best -- trying out new things," the spokeswoman said.

IBM expects many parts of the business to remain on Windows PCs but wants to offer the option of using a Mac or a PC running open source Linux.

"We want to give our employees choice to use the technologies that are best suited for their job," she said. "A one-size-fits-all client-computing platform no longer provides IBM's global employees with the flexibility to innovate and be productive while containing IT expenses."

The spokeswoman did not provide further details.

The Mac pilot was first reported by the site RoughlyDrafted Magazine, published by San Francisco tech consultant and writer Daniel Eran Dilger.

Quoting from what he claims is an IBM document, Dilger said the pilot started in October with 24 researchers using MacBook Pros as their primary machines instead of ThinkPads from Lenovo. IBM designed and sold the ThinkPad until the company exited the PC business in 2005 by selling the product line to Lenovo.

Of the 22 testers who provided feedback, 18 said that compared with their previous computers, the Mac notebooks offered a "better or best experience," one said it was "equal or good," and three said the Apple machine provided a "worse experience," according to Dilger. Fully 19 of the participants chose to keep the MacBook Pro and use VMware virtualization technology to run Windows when needed.

While Apple has made some recent gains in the corporate market with the Mac, Microsoft's Windows continues to dominate business desktops. In 2007, Windows' market share dropped nearly 4% to 95%, while Apple's share tripled to 4.2%, according to Forrester Research. Macs, however, were mostly limited to enthusiasts and small workgroups.

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