The Mac operating system has made gains on Windows since 2003.

Survey: Mac use growing on campus

Kenneth Stafford, chief information officer at Kansas State University, said he’s noticed about half of his university’s students use Mac laptops, and at his previous job as vice chancellor of technology at the University of Denver, 65 percent of incoming students owned Macs.

The migration from PCs to Macs, Stafford said, was largely a reaction to the shortcomings of the Windows Vista operating system released in 2007. Stafford said students, faculty, and staff had consistent problems printing documents, for example, when Vista was first launched.

“[Vista] was a huge maintenance nightmare for the help desk,” he said. “Those years with Vista—they were a real problem.”

Stafford said his Mac laptop’s eMail system and calendar integrate with Kansas State’s Windows operating system. Students who run into integration problems, he said, can use programs such as Apple’s BootPicker, which allows users to choose an operating system.

Other Mac-Windows integration software includes Parallels and Fusion — a desktop virtualization tool, Stafford said.

Reid Lewis, president and co-founder of Virginia-based Group Logic, said campus technology help desks can be bombarded with requests from Mac-using students having trouble with the simplest tasks, like logging into the school network.

If a campus lacks basic Mac-Windows integration, Lewis said, Mac users won’t get alerts telling them their password has expired and they need to create a new one to log into the college’s network.

Other popular Mac features, such as Spotlight — a desktop program that allows for simple computer-wide searches — aren’t usable on Windows operating systems.

“Apple likes to do things their own way. They think they know better, and often they do,” Lewis said. “But the problem is, they can’t tell Microsoft what to do.”

Group Logic’s research is the latest confirmation that Mac use is growing on campuses nationwide. Research firm Student Monitor released a report in August showing that 27 percent of student-owned laptops were Macs, making it the top individual brand in higher education.