Re: The view from Silicon Valley
"I'm not really sure what IT people have against Macs - it seems to be that they cause fewer user headaches, so less support burden."
Well, you've kind of hit the nail on the head - people (not necessarily you) don't understand why system administrators prefer not to have Macs everywhere.
The simple truth is that most people who want to use Macs don't just want to use a Mac computer - they want to run the way they do at home, without the burden of IT policies and having to use this program or that program or accessing files in this way rather than that way.
They want to be able to install whatever programs they 'need' and use whatever websites they want without firewalls blocking them or security settings stopping scripts from running. They want to view Flash on news websites and to be able to access Facebook and Twitter without needing to get signed-off approval from their managers and they want to receive zip files in their e-mails and save all their documents on their desktop rather than using the document management system and so they are easy to work with at home without having to bother connecting to the VPN.
They don't want to have to use a complex password or have to change them every 60 days and they'd rather use their e-mail mailbox as a filing system along with a collection of spreadsheets they have cobbled together rather than the company database application.
That is what most people want - it's not just a matter of using a shiny laptop with a glowing bit of fruit on the back (though that's a lot of it for some people) but of being freed from the controls and restrictions that are necessary in most larger organisations.
In situations where people are working autonomously, perhaps uploading results or data to a central website share to collaborate with people around the world then Macs work beautifully. If you are a professional photographer designer or musician, working on your own projects and transferring files to clients via DVD or dropbox and saving things on stacks of USB hard drives then, again, fine. If you are a student using your laptop to take notes and plagarise articles from Wikipedia and keep in-touch with friends and access the university e-mail then a Macbook with a sticker or two is certainly a suitable way to express your individuality and creativity while you do so.
But, if you are working in a large organisation, where protecting against unauthorised access to or disclosure of sensitive data is a major concern, and where compliance is paramount and uniformity of the system and ease of deployment are dictated by development cycles and support budgets, then Macs aren't quite so suitable an option.
Not to say they can't work in businesses great and small, and there are many add-ons and programs that will help wrangle them into some kind of order but Windows boxes are designed to be used inside such networks from the get go, and Macs simply aren't.