Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Macintosh to Windows NT Migration

by Philip Greenspun for the Web Tools Review.

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Your Macintosh crashes all the time and you want to throw it into a swamp and just use Windows NT (relatively crash-proof) on your desktop. But you have a bunch of important files on your Macintosh. What to do?

Assuming you have compatible applications on the Windows machine, e.g., Microsoft Word and Adobe PhotoShop, the problem really comes down to

Renaming and adding three-character extensions

Windows NT does not like to see "." (period) at the end of a file name. It does not like to see "/" (forward slash) anywhere in the file name. This was a huge problem for me because I liked to put the date of a document in the filename, e.g., "letter to Fred 8/14/93" would be the filename on the Mac.

A good solution is the $20 shareware program NameCleaner, available from http://www.sigsoftware.com. It has a default "Mac to WinNT" conversion mode that takes the illegal characters and turns them into underscores. It also did a reasonable job of adding .DOC and .XLS extensions.

Using the Finder's duplicate function, I made a copy of a directory I wanted to convert. This contained about 2000 files. I downloaded, installed, and registered NameCleaner (took about 5 minutes). I picked the Mac to NT mode and NameCleaner cleaned up the 2000 files in less than 60 seconds (this on a comparatively ancient PowerPC 7100).


Elephant Seal Colony.  Just north of the Hearst Castle.  San Simeon, California. If you have one computer running Windows NT Server, go into the Network control panel and install "Services for Macintosh" (you'll need the NT Server CD-ROM). This will allow your NT box to look like an AppleShare server. Sadly, thanks to that famous Microsoft software quality, if your NT box uses DHCP, you'll find TCP/IP services periodically halt when Services for Macintosh is enabled (this is with NT 4.0, service pack 3). So don't leave this enabled forever if you're a DHCP Achiever.

Then you can open the Chooser on the Macintosh and simply mount the NT machine as a server. Drag the file-name-cleaned directory over to the NT server.

Another option would presumably be to make the Macintosh look like a Windows SMB client. Then you can use regular NT Workstation with peer-to-peer file sharing. I haven't kept up with Apple's parade of operating systems enough to know whether they rolled this into 8.1 or 8.5. Certainly there must be third-party products out there to make the Mac look like a PC on the network.

Getting stuff to work with Windows applications

Elephant Seal Colony.  Just north of the Hearst Castle.  San Simeon, California. I have a bunch of Word documents on the Macintosh that use Palatino for the text and AvantGarde for a headline and footer. These fonts aren't part of the standard Windows distribution and consequently Word for Windows renders these documents on-screen in a truly ugly manner. When I printed them out on my HP Laserjet 5m (a PostScript printer), the documents didn't look so bad. That's probably because these fonts are built into the HP Laserjet's ROM. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line Microsoft Word dropped the "outline" style that was applied to the AvantGarde headline. So it became a super-heavy black headline instead of a light outline.

I bought Adobe Type Manager ($60) in hopes that it would fix this problem, but it did not. Adobe tech support recommending buying Adobe Type Basics, which includes the Palatino and AvantGarde fonts. That was another $70 or so and it proved ineffective. It seems that the outline "style" is really not something supported by PostScript. It only works for TrueType fonts. So I invested $14 in a Typecase 2001 font package. It comes with "Avant Guard". Word does not recognize this as being the same as Avant Garde so you have to manually change the font. When I printed the document out, I had my outline style back but the overall result was ugly and compressed.

I'm not sure what the lesson here is except that Apple stock might not be such a bad buy. A lot of folks might be imprisoned by their archived documents and the lack of programmability and intelligent in Microsoft application software.

Hey, why didn't you convert to Linux instead?

The correct and moral thing to do is to move from the Macintosh to Linux and ignore Bill Gates and his monopoly. The things that keep me from doing this are the following:

What to do with the old Macintosh

If you insist on doing ambitious things like connecting your Macintosh to the Internet (a technology dating from 1968), there is only one procedure guaranteed to stop MacOS from crashing:

Eve preparing to stop a Macintosh from crashing Fixing a Macintosh so that it doesn't crash when you connect it to the Internet.

Should you lack the necessary tools to effect a permanent cure, you can donate your machine to a school:

"I must say, that all of you who do not recognize the absolute genius of Bill Gates are stupid. You say that bill gates stole this operating system. Hmm.. i find this interesting. If he stole it from steve jobs, why hasn't Mr. Jobs relentlessly sued him and such. Because Mr. Jobs has no basis to support this. Macintosh operates NOTHING like Windows 3.1 or Win 95/NT/98. Now for the mac dissing. Mac's are good for 1 thing. Graphics. Thats all. Anything else a mac sucks at. You look in all the elementary schools of america.. You wont see a PC. Youll see a mac. Why? Because Mac's are only used by people with undeveloped brains."

-- Allen (chuggie@geocities.com), August 10, 1998

Note: I used this user-contributed comment to end the last chapter of Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing because it is such a nice illustration of the power of collaborative Web services.

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Reader's Comments

The best time to switch systems is probably at the beginning of a fiscal year.

I've been running Quicken 6 on my Mac for a couple of years (which was all it was doing). After installing Quicken 98 on my new NT box, I desperately tried all the export data contortions mentioned in the Quicken documentation via PC-formatted floppies using the PC/Mac file exchange utility.

Quicken 98 actually read in the file, but accounts were missing, categories got lost, and host of other bizarre data holes showed up. I tried to export single accounts with the hope that Quicken 98 would cumulatively see the categories. It sort of did, but it also started to duplicate register entries.

After a couple of hours of this hair-pulling, I gave up, deleted all the erroneous Quicken 98 data files and started a brand new account and just filled in the data from that month's statements.

Maybe this isn't such a big deal if you just hand all your data over to a tax accountant and you don't care to remember how you spent your money for half of the year. Oh yeah, remember to refinance your mortgage at the same time you switch systems so your account isn't as messy.

-- S. Y., November 2, 1998
(trying not to be the stereotypical ranting Mac user...) After years of using, supporting, and training on mac, I now use NT at work. Yes, a badly configured NT box will crash less than a well configured Mac. For general business use NT is fine.

However, the Mac exceeds in the quality of the experience. Performing the simply but frequent tasks of a modern GUI is a joy on the Mac; it always feels like it's trying to help you complete the task but sometimes screws up, whereas Windows feels like it's fighting you the whole way. The loads of time Apple spent on user interface design paid off, the interface makes sense and is far less frustrating. When I go home I happily tolerate the crashes for the user experience.

For those prone to using Linux, Mac hardware is the surprise better choice (see the Redhat based PPC linux at http://www.linuxppc.org). Relieved of the sluggish Mac OS, Linux on a PowerPC flies and unquestionably provides more bang for the buck than an x86 powered Linux box. Furthermore, the Mac has far fewer variations in hardware making the configuration of your Linux system easier.

-- Victor Lombardi, November 3, 1998

You can use StarOffice (http://www.stardivision.com) or Applixware (http://www.applix.com) to read Microsoft Office documents on a machine running Linux.

There's a photoshop-like program for Linux called Gimp (http://www.gimp.org). Since I don't use either Photoshop or Gimp, I can't comment on the quality of the program as compared to Photoshop.

-- Katy Mulvey, November 4, 1998

DAVE, by Thursby Software, makes a Mac SMB client that lets you mount Samba volumes via the Chooser and also lets Windows machines mount your Mac.

Version 2.1 is MUCH better than earlier versions, so if you tried it and it caused your machine to crash, you should try it again, because the upgrade is free.

-- Adam Trachtenberg, November 5, 1998

Mmmm. As someone who migrated (unwillingly) from PC to Mac about 7 years ago, I have to say that I disagree with the sentiments behind your posting. All the OS's have their flaws/benefits - but to suggest that I transfer onto Winblows from the Mac is a bizarre suggestion which many in the multimedia industry will perceive as naive in the extreme. My mac loves me...:-) it only ever crashes when I do things which would destroy most if not all PC's outright.

-- Paul Edmonds, November 7, 1998
Katy (and Philip, and all),

I find that GIMP does everything that I used to do in PhotoShop. Some of the things I do using GIMP now, I couldn't do in photoshop.

It's marvellous for cleaning up scans---see here for one of my favourite features (only in 1.1 or later).

If only people would stop emailing me MS-word documents, I could be totally free of Microsoftware.

-- Christopher Biggs, November 10, 1998

Don't forget to move from Win NT to Macintosh once Mac OS X is released. I've been using NT for a long time but can't wait to get rid of it.

-- Sean Hill, February 10, 1999
Let me summarize this whole section: take all your Macintosh software and hardware investment, throw it out the window (no pun intended). Now purchase brand new hardware and software that claims to perform the same function. After installing that, go through some difficulty moving your existing files and data from your Macintosh to your new Windows NT platform. Finally, realize that the result is not complete or correct, so recreate most of what you've done over the past few years from scratch.

"Why do I keep shooting myself in the foot? Because it feels so good once I stop."

-- Frank Wortner, March 17, 1999

Well, I'm a graphic designer, so the nerd factor here is very low, but I surf the net compulsively and repeatedly all day long with all kinds of tasks sitting simultaneously in 300+megs of ram (huge photoshop files, long quark docs, Quicken accounts, and my mac very seldom crashes. Upgrade to system 8.1 or later, use freePPP 2.6.2 or later to long on with, use Communicator 4.4 or later (or Nav. 4.7) to browse, and Eudora Pro 4 or later for mail, and you won't crash much.

-- George Gilliland, March 26, 1999
As one of the mac faithful for a long time, I've known, used and loved most mac's from the MacPlus on (my age shows here). At work I'm a serious heavy power user of Word/Exel/Powerpoint on Windows and I have to put up with average 2-3 crashes per day on 3.11 and NT. Therefore I cannot recommend the Windoze alternative. These crashes are often Word 97 crashing for no explicable reason, sometimes Windows NT on itself. Just keeping Windows NT in working order is a problem in a large environment - I have to re-install from scratch (reformat the disk) maybe once every 3 months to blow away garbage that won't un-install properly. Also, an above average user is likely to tinker in NT in ways that may have funny effects like losing all the icons, that can't be undone short of a reinstall. Windows NT and 98 seem to me to be rather unnecessarily, itsy-bitsy, complicated shams of a windows-based GUI. Underneath it all is still a lot of DOS thinking that they haven't really shaken off.

Workgroups 3.11 is a basket case by comparison with NT. The only good thing was that later releases of Word 2.0 (2.0c ?) and Word 6 were pretty stable.

Apart from working with a lot of companies all Windows based, I use some esoteric CASE tools to manage software projects, for which at the moment there is no mac equivalent.

Back in the days when I actually wrote software, some of it for mac, Apple had a problem with the release of system 5.0 which rendered almost all application software crash-prone. System 5.1 came out real soon after, followed by 6.0 and 6.0.3 was pretty good. Apple learnt a big lesson about reliability then. Maybe they've forgotten it.

Some years later I wrote some software for a Mac 640AV that ran a multimedia client-server demo software package for 9 months uninterrupted in a museum here (the kids couldn't break it) using system 7.1. The interpreter used (Supercard 1.6) was darn reliable and appeared to be essentially bug free.

The LC III I have had at home for years has never crashed (system 7.1) as long as I can recall. System 7.1 is really, seriously reliable and enough to make me laugh at any Windows machine. The only trouble is that it is limited to a really old version of Word and Excel.

Recently we had a serious review here suggesting system 8.5.1 was pretty stable and bug free. So I finally bought a G3/350 fairly well equipped for home use with Office '98, expecting fairly good compatibility at least with the Windows version of Office '97. This mac locks and crashes all the time - internet connections don't last more than 10 minutes average - to the point where only email (MS outlook) is actually useful. I have figured out there is some sort of Java problem with ritzy bitmap images that change all the time - they're sure to cause trouble, usually a freeze.

Also, so much for Office '98. The Word 98 Mac version can create files the PC people can't read with '97 so I have to save as RTF to be sure. Some of my PC Excel files cause the Mac to lock up some time after opening them (just doing nothing but looking at the document). Although I have 64MB RAM and virtual memory on, I often get "out of memory" alerts that indicate to me some pretty sloppy programmers at Microsoft are leaving locked handles lying around in memory, fragmenting the heap.

Unless someone can point me in the direction of some seriously useful fixes real soon I'll be trading this in on an NT machine sooner or later. Probably sooner becuase I'm beginning to depend on it for professional use as a home office. It is a damn shame.

-- Nick Loveday, April 26, 1999

As a long time Mac user, I have to throw in my two cents here.. while MacOS lagged in the stuff that Unix does well.. I have always found it an excellent client machine and always superior to its Windoze counterparts. I am currently running Starmax PPCs under 8.6 with Linux servers and its a great system and I havent noticed crash problems. WinNT on the other hand.. I just installed in an HP and it took about 6 hours just to get a working video driver. So I'll stay with Mac/Linux and put BeOS on intel boxes to do fun stuff. By the way, Alpha is a great text editor built around TCL which I still like better than Emacs.

-- Jamie Ross, May 25, 1999
To the poster who's had problems with Office98 and Office97: I'm running at 300MHz/G3 on 8.5.1, and I've had no problems swapping, reading and writing Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. As long as you name them in a way that _Wintel_ boxes can read (that means using the extender), you'll have no problem.

Having used both systems, I still prefer Mac. The G3's running post 8.1 don't crash any more than the NT boxes I've used.

-- Tse-Sung Wu, September 28, 1999

Another alternative to the problem of migrating your data, is to use Linux: you can mount Apple volumes using the hfs filesystem (just plug your Mac hard drive in your SCSI-ready PC, and use the magical 'mount' command), then copy the files to something Windows can read.. I remember doing this a couple of years ago.

-- Jean-Baptiste Nivoit, February 7, 2000
At the risk of drawing flames from all partisans... I've been using MacOS, WinNT, Solaris, and Linux machines as desktop platforms for years, and I cannot honestly say that any of these systems is significantly better than the others for ordinary, day-to-day usage. Solaris is the loser when it comes to applications, but it runs for many months between reboots. My Mac, NT, and Linux boxen all run diverse application loads 24x7 for weeks at a time. Conversely, I can hose all three (a skill I have not yet mastered with Solaris). MacOS 8.x is preferable to the others when it comes to system maintenance, but undesirable for application testing. :-)

-- Robert Rhode, February 8, 2000
Sun's StarOffice is capable of reading, editing and generating Word files under Linux. My version came with RH Linux as part of the $30 package which includes the Linux source code, executables, a host of software packages, Linux manuals, user's guide and 90-day online tech support. Not too shabby... Try that with friendly Micro$oft. By the way, StarOffice is a pleasure to use, and it does much more than just word editing. I'm not sure whether SO can be downloaded from the Internet like Linux.

-- Marcelo Dapino, February 9, 2000
Speaking as someone who has to support Word on Macs...

We do nontrivial books in it for some reason that has never been adequately explained to me. Lots of pages, lots of pretty pictures, pretty much your usual computer book. Word spindles, mutilates and/or eats the files on a regular basis, at least once a week per computer, usually taking the Mac down with it. We hates it, we do.

Now, my boss up the hall has been doing about one month between crashes, running mostly Photoshop, Illustrator, and a handful of Adobe products; this is on Sys 8.6. I don't promise this for anybody else, as Bruce is quite the Macphile and has been tuning that machine for as long as I've been here, but it seems to me if your Mac is dying on a regular basis, it might be reasonable to point the finger at any recent Office installs first.

As for moving files, my favorite method for moving stuff from Mac to Windows has to be using netatalk and samba on my Linux box, and having each talk their native network protocols to it. There's the usual filename hurdles, but both Netatalk and samba tend to smash filenames into something the Linux box understands transparently.

-- Graham Hughes, February 23, 2000

Staroffice is indeed available for download,you can have it at http://www.sun.com/staroffice/get.cgi,it's available for windoze,linux,OS/2 and solaris. Alain

-- Alain Toussaint, March 8, 2000

Columbia Appletalk Package for MAC File Transfer

A few years ago I migrated some hundreds of megabytes of MS Office 4.2 files from Macs to PCs when the company switched away from Macs. This was a pretty sizeable problem. I staged the files on a CAP (Columbia Appletalk Package) server on SunOS. This is still around and may well build on Linux. Once you have the files on Linux, Perl or equivalent can be used to cleanse the filenames to something Windows will not spit up on. I can't remember the details, but there are some calls you can use to identify the MAC type of the Office files so you can add the right extension. After some practice runs, I could get about 300 Mbytes done a day. Pretty much the transferred files seemed to load equivalently on Macs, so maybe MS aren't all bad... CAP also supports spooling from Macs etc. etc.

-- Jonathan Watmough, April 17, 2000

I began my life with computers with a Mac Classic II in 4th grade. I really pushed that computer to the limits. I learned C and C++ on that little thing. Eventually I moved to Windows and then ended up dual booting with Linux. I use Linux the majority of the time and Windows when it is necessary for Word, Excel, my girlfriend's AOL, etc.

-- Harlan Crystal, April 23, 2000
Well, I don't think, that moving from Mac to Win is a really good Idea. I had to write this year about the history of multimedia, and I was surprised, how often I met sites with the introduction "... available ... only for MacIntosh users", so I had to look at that apllications at friends who had a Mac to be able to make at laest some screenshots for my work.
I didn't thought before, having a Mac could be a good Idea, first because it's much more expensive and second because the people who I work with have seen in UNIX systems the really alternative to win and didn't even thought about something else.
I saw, that your article is about 2 years old. Have you thought about new software, such as Director from Macromedia, which, different from Photoshop or Office Software need both: a Mac and a Win PC to make applications which are crossplatform?

-- Maria Bostenaru Dan, September 30, 2000
Many users shun away from Macs because they keep crashing, even though the problem is not necessarily with the Mac, but with the program they are trying to use. Granted some versions of the operating system were higly unstable, most have been great to work with. Consequently, when a program keeps crashing, to a regular user it only means the computer doesn't work. So the Mac gets a bad rep, because the third-party programmers did a poor job. Another thing: Microsoft's marketing power is immense. They push and shove, and "convice" user that their system is better. Just remember what they do: Ship now, fix it later. Does that make them better? They sell you crappy software and then make you work harder to install the fixes. And they are not small fixes, remember? They are BIG security holes. As for the person that said "How come Apple is not suing Microsoft for stealing their OS?" Well, they did, but a court decided MS was not guilty. As a refresher, when the Mac was to debut, Apple sent MS a prototype to write the compilers and programs. Office, by the way was a Mac-only product at first. MS decompiled the OS from this prototype and that's where Windows came from. Personally, all the Macs and Wintel computers that I work with have given me minimal problems. I've been working with them for over 4 years. Yet, I find Macs much easier to work with. They are not as temperamental. They let you do the work you need to do, instead of trying to figure out how to do it. Which reminds me. This is what I have found from observing countless users: When you have a Windows user try to work on a Mac, they are lost. Not because the Mac is hard to use, but because they become accostumed to everything being hard to find, click, etc. It's almost as if Windows takes away their logic.

-- Luis Fernando Rocha, January 29, 2001
Anyone with any Mac knowledge at all knows that this information is hopelessly outdated. Macs have been quite stable since at least OS 8.5. Further, with the move to OS X, Macs rarely crash at all. What's more, since OS X is Unix, if you have any Unix knowledge, you can readily apply it. If you want to avoid contributing to the monopoly that is Microsoft, OS X is the way to go.

-- Jim Trebilcock, June 25, 2002
MacOS X is a pretty good emerging alternative combining UNIX underlayment for those (like me) who want to easily use the tools there and have access to burgeoning free software. It's stability still seems less than Windows 2000 at the time of this comment.

Being able to crack Microsoft Office docs is a necessary evil in my life and was flagged as reason of Linux being a non-starter - but OpenOffice (openoffice.org) nicely solves that - and it works on Windows and is now in alpha for MacOS X.

That leaves Photoshop - which is only supported on MacOS and Windows - which pretty much locks me out of Linux for now. So, I am attempting to move my work environment to MacOS X - but lack drivers for my film scanner at this point (and Epson printer drivers for MacOS X have some limitations). So I use both for now, but am looking forward to a day when I can leave my Windows PC behind.

-- Brian Pawlowski, October 6, 2002

WHAT IS THIS THE MAC HATERS FORUM. I RECEANTLY PURCHASED A G4 APPLE 800 MHZ SYSTEM RUNNING OS X v10.2 Being a Multi OS user I use and Test MAny OS's including the dreaded Windows Xp, NT, Windows 2000 Server and Profesional Edition, Unix, Linux OS/2 and even the Shockingly Slow Millenium Out of all these Operating System I have found OS X v10.2 to be by far the Fastest most rock solid OS I have ever used and as for the Person who said Internet died every 10 Minuites Perhaps you should look at getting a RURAL Modem Loozer. Inow have 3 Apple Machines running OS X and I wouldnt swap them for the World.

-- Macsrule Pcsrshit, October 18, 2002
Obviously this article was written some time ago, so I just wanted to add that the Mac today is very different from the days of yore. With it's Unix underpinnings and completely revamped GUI it's about one of the most stable machines you can get. Also Apple is now embracing standards (imagine that). The Slashdot crowd is writing about it, PC users are writing about (you can find lot's of current Apple Mac articles here). The iPods and Powerbooks are fantastic. Definitely worth a second look if the last time you used a Mac was 7 years ago :).

-- Jim A, July 23, 2004
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