This is the second part of a two-part article. The first half was published here.

Still, the company's on-again/off-again romance with corporate customers can be illustrated by the following: Apple's public relations department provided some assistance for this article by pointing a writer to relevant information on the corporate website and by providing a customer contact. But the company declined to provide an executive for an interview and would not respond to emailed questions about its strategy for the enterprise market, citing commitments to other pressing projects.

The general disregard of the enterprise is a tough pill to swallow for some of even Apple's biggest supporters, but it's a fact of life they have learned to work around.

"I just don't know that it's ever been part of Apple's corporate DNA to be a business-addressing company," said Chip Pearson, partner for strategy and development at JAMF Software LLC, which makes a suite of products aimed at enabling Mac implementations in the enterprise. "Someone I know that works at Apple said it best: 'We're not going after the enterprise. The enterprise is coming after us.'"

Przemek Wozniak, IT manager at office furniture supplier Tayco, routinely auctions showroom furniture. A few years ago, he found a used Xserve system that the Toronto-based company could basically swap for some of its used furniture. Wozniak figured he had little to lose and started the system off with some minor tasks. He now has three Xserve platforms running most of the company's network applications. Tayco will consider Apple again for future server needs, but Wozniak is not ready to commit long term.

"Apple is one of the more difficult companies to work with, but we did find a very good consultant," Wozniak said. "We have two IBM servers as well, and to get support is so easy. The account rep will take care of anything for you. Support from Apple is really non-existent."

Eric Seiden, a vice president at wholesale distributor and importer InterState Screw, has been an Apple customer and advocate for more than a decade. But he values flexibility, cost and usability before brand loyalty. InterState has roughly 10 Macs, 10 PCs and 10 Unix AIX machines. Some applications, like United Parcel Service's shipment software, run only in a Windows environment, and PCs are also used for accounting. Unix systems are used for inventory management. Seiden turns to Apple for every other user and application that he can.

"Apples don't crash," Seiden said. "There is so little support needed for Macs that I feel comfortable using them as much a possible."

For all his enthusiasm, however, Seiden uses IBM servers. "IBM service is legendary. They don't make excuses," he said. "At Apple, they have so few people in the company even directed at the enterprise. I'm really mystified. I don't understand the logic behind it when I think there is growing number of people like me who would gladly consider Apple for their servers. But as an IT professional, I have a responsibility to my business to make sure if there is a problem, I can have quick, ready and easy answers."

New applications like SWsoft's Parallels Desktop for Mac and Apple's Boot Camp have made it easier for businesses and institutions to make the switch to Mac desktops by allowing users to run in either a Mac or Windows environment.

LiveWorld uses Parallels and now has about 85 percent of its engineering team on Macs. The team can now easily test the capabilities of any browser on one platform instead of having to maintain a variety of systems, Oliver said.

"The move to Intel has really been a positive thing," he said. The PowerPC-based PowerBooks "were underpowered," Oliver said. But the Intel-based MacBooks have "corrected that well. It's a strong machine in performance, reliability and rugged ability. It stands up well."

Wilkes University earlier this year became one of the first colleges in the USA to make a campus-wide switch from Windows-based PCs to Macs. Next month, the university plans to buy approximately 566 Macs, the second of three such annual purchases planned in a $1.4 million, three-year program, said Michael Salem, CIO at Wilkes.

Apple's move to Intel and the release of Boot Camp allow what Salem said he felt was superior price performance and reliability while enabling users to operate both Windows and Mac software.

Some of the university staffers and faculty members were apprehensive about the move, he said.

"As soon as they heard the word Apple, they immediately started worrying about their applications and how they'd learn to use it," Salem said. "We did a bit of explaining about what Apple is now and how it is really up to them to decide how they want to operate. Now they're finding Mac applications like GarageBand and getting real excited about how easy it is to create podcasts and multimedia presentations."

That undercurrent of Apple cool and aloofness remains as strong as the continuing Mac-versus-PC ads, and some businesses are finding they can loosen the collar enough to take advantage of Apple where possible.

"Is Apple taking a dig at the enterprise in those ads? Maybe a little," said JAMF's Pearson. "It's a hearts-and-minds campaign. It's a good start, and I'd like to see them follow that up with presentations from an enterprise sales team. In the heart of every one of those stodgy business guys, they yearn to be that young, sarcastic hipster."

Sidebar: Leopard more geared to non-techies

Mac OS Server Version 10.5, code-named Leopard, scheduled for release in October, will likely have a limited effect on corporate America's Apple acceptance level. Leopard is targeted specifically at small businesses and workgroups, allowing "even non-technical users to set up and manage" the platform, according to the company.

That said, Leopard will include some options for IT professionals, including automatic configuration for file and printer sharing, as well as more options for email, calendar, address book and backup.

Enderle said Leopard should also address some interoperability issues, making the Mac operating system able to more fully integrate with Windows.

Tayco's Wozniak said he believes an advantage of Leopard will be the integration of some new features such as an open-source calendar and RADIUS authentication. RADIUS is intended to work in both local and roaming situations in, for example, Apple's AirPort wireless base station.

LiveWorld's Oliver said Leopard is expected to improve the ability to add clustering to mail servers.

"Most of these new features can be done now if you want to do it yourself, but with Leopard Apple is stepping up to a more robust operating system," Oliver said.