Going Part of the Way to ABM
I would be remiss if I neglected the wonderful products from companies like VMWare, Apple, and Connectix if I didn't mention them as ways to avoid Microsoft where possible and to embrace it when necessary. Here's a thumbnail sketch of how these various approaches work:
VMWare is a powerful, capable virtual machine (VM) environment that permits multiple operating systems to run concurrently on the same machine. The VM notion comes into play in that one operating system acts as the "host operation system" and provides an environment in which other "guest operating systems" can run. Among other things, this makes it possible to run Linux for any applications that can use it, and yet to run Windows for applications that absolutely must have a native Windows environment to work. Host operating systems supported include Windows NT 4.0, 2000, and XP, as well as Linux; guest operating sytems include all the aforementioned systems, plus Windows Me, 98, 95, 3.1, and MS-DOS 6. Visit www.vmware.com for more information.
Connectix VirtualPC not only does for Windows what VMWare can do, it also works on the Macintosh OS (which is one reason why I mention Apple in this context). Better yet, Connectix even offers OS Packs that permit virtual operating systems to be accessed without having to go through separate installation and configuration processes for each guest operating system. On a G4 with lots of RAM, VirtualPC running Windows is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Visit www.connectix.com for more information.
With the introduction of its Unix-derived OS X, Apple gets on this list not just because it can use products like VirtualPC to emulate Windows, but because it is "just another Unix" under the hood. Thus, anything I've said in this story about Linux in general also goes for Apple OS X in particular. Friend and Mac guru Bob LeVitus opined to me that he was "surprised by how many Unix geeks are embracing OS X." Given Apple's user-friendly environment and great GUI, I have no trouble understanding how this might happen! Visit www.apple.com/macosx for more information.