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¿OK, I¿m going Mac¿

The other day I received a message from a coworker with this in the subject field: "OK, I'm going Mac."

Another colleague fed up with Windows-based PCs is seeking my aid on switching to the Mac.

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Having written about Apple and the Mac for the Baltimore Sun on and off for the past decade, I have become a handy resource for my colleagues at the newspaper whenever they have questions about Apple products.

Over the years nearly all of those questions have come from fellow Mac users with a particularly vexing problem with their Mac at home, although I've done more than my share of Mac troubleshooting in the newsroom (shhhh, don't tell our IT department).

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But over the past six months or so I've helped half a dozen coworkers who wanted to ditch their Windows PCs at home for a Mac. I realize this is anecdotal, completely unscientific evidence, but since such queries were rare before this year I'm counting it as further evidence that the Mac is making significant headway in the consumer market.

The reasons these folks have given me for switching from Windows -- which in most cases they have always used -- reflect points Apple has emphasized in its advertising campaign. They're tired of PCs that get so gummed up with spyware, viruses and adware they become unusable. They're tired of peripherals that are supposed to work but don't. They're tired of struggling with Windows, and are reluctant to buy a new PC because it means learning the new foibles of Vista, Microsoft's most recent version of the OS.

At the same time, Apple's powerful brand made enough of an impact to get them to consider the Mac as an alternative. They've witnessed the hype around the iPhone and noticed the dominance of the iPod in the portable music player market. Several visited an Apple Store before they made up their mind. In short, Apple's strategy is succeeding.

Best of all, everyone who has switched has been glad they did. They're mostly surprised that a home computer can be as hassle-free as the Mac generally is. They're converts who will likely tell their friends about their positive experiences.

The Mac's steadily growing U.S. market share numbers indicate this sort of thing must be happening more and more, and could be ready to snowball as we head into 2008.

Microsoft, watch your back.

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