If you decide to keep your Mac pure and don't mind spending the extra money on Mac versions of your software, you're still faced with the task of transferring your files and data.
As mentioned earlier, file formats are indeed cross-platform, and getting files from a PC to a Mac or vice versa is easy; that's what networks and removable media are for. (Of course, I'll be talking about networks in a future column.) But the real challenge is being able to use familiar applications on a new platform exactly the way you did on the old one—right down to all the little customizations that you've refined over time so that you can work as efficiently as possible.
Unfortunately, most software makers don't even make it easy to pass personal settings between copies of their programs on the same platform. So expecting them to make it easy to move settings from Windows to a Mac might be asking a bit much.
The closest thing to an automated solution is Detto Technologies' Move2Mac, a program that makes transferring data extremely painless. Briefly, this is how it works: First you run the Move2Mac setup program on your Windows computer, and select what you want to transfer to your Mac. Then you run the setup program on the Mac, connect the two computers with Detto's special USB cable, and the transfer gets under way.
Move2Mac makes moving your data very easy. All you have to do is select the types of files you want to move (say, .xls and .doc files), and Move2Mac will scour your hard disk to find every file with that extension, and transfer it over using the same folder structure—so if you know where to find a file on your PC, you'll know where to find it on the Mac. Files in special directories are transferred to their Mac equivalent; for example, files on the Windows desktop move to the Macintosh desktop, My Documents files move to Documents and so on.
Aside from data, Move2Mac also moves Internet Explorer bookmarks; the desktop wallpaper; dial-up connections; Outlook Express POP3 settings and address book contacts; and e-mail settings and messages. In practice, it's almost as good as it sounds, but the devil is in the details. You'll note, for instance, that Move2Mac only moves bookmarks from Internet Explorer. If you're an Outlook Express user, your POP3 settings will be transferred to the Mac's Mail application, and your address book entries are incorporated into the Mac's address book—but the e-mail messages themselves are untouched. The same is true if you're using Eudora or any other e-mail application, with the exception of Netscape Mail.
Move2Mac uses Netscape Mail as sort of a Rosetta stone; first you install Netscape 7 on your PC (it's included on the CD), then import your mail into it. Move2Mac transfers the e-mail data to the Mac, and you can then import your messages into your chosen e-mail program. At least, that's the idea. When I tried to execute a transfer, Eudora 5.2 on the Mac refused to import from anything other than Claris Emailer and Outlook Express.