Using "Windows-only" devices with Mac OS X (#3)

Using "Windows-only" devices with Mac OS X (#3)

A few weeks ago we ran coverage on the ability to use some purportedly unsupported (Windows-only) OEM devices with Mac OS X -- a topic that prompted response from a number of readers who have had similar success. In the case of a Dell printer, for instance, an alternative driver for a different brand of the same mechanism (manufactured by Samsung) worked to let the device operate in Mac OS X. We also noted that many ostensibly Windows-only (and in many cases, cheaper) network adapters -- including PCI wireless cards -- are inherently Mac OS X-compatible without the need for added drivers.

We now resume coverage of this topic, with notes on several more devices that are marketed as Windows-only but function well under Mac OS X.

As previously reported, networking hardware is one product area where purportedly Windows-specific alternatives are feature-rich, relatively inexpensive and fully Mac OS X compatible. And in fact, many of these devices are easier to setup under Mac OS X without driver installation than under Windows with appropriate documentation and drivers.

One note of caution, however -- devices without explicitly listed Mac OS X compatibility will likely lack customer support for any Mac-related issues, and service technicians may immediately terminate calls when users state usage of the Mac platform.

Gregory Wurz describes his positive experience with Linksys WCG200 wireless router:

"I bought a 20" iMac [...] When I received the machine I had to go wireless as I don't have a cable jack in my office and had to put the gateway in another room, I also wanted to have one unit instead of a cable modem and wireless router and/or access point.

"Being impatient I went to the nearest 'big box' store to buy a wireless cable gateway. There were several available some of which were labeled Mac compatible. The Linksys WCG200 had all the best features and pricing of any product available in the store.

"I got home plugged it in, hooked up the cable and my Mac to the gateway and was set up in no time. Configuration with Safari went flawlessly. The unit is listed as Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, or XP compatible on the box and the web, no where on the web site or promo material is there mention of the Macintosh OS. In fact the product data sheet sets minimum requirements as 'PC with a Network Adapter and the TCP/IP Protocol installed or USB port (for Windows 98, 98SE, Me, 2000, or XP only) Internet Explorer 4.0 or Netscape Navigator 4.7 or Higher for Web based Configuration'

"There is one small statement on page 56 on the manual which states "Will the Cable Gateway function in a Macintosh environment? Yes, but the Cable Gateway's setup pages are accessible only through Internet Explorer v4.0 or Netscape Navigator v4.0 or higher for Macintosh. NOTE: Linksys does not provide technical support for Macintosh computers." Not true Safari worked just fine."

"The statement about no support is true, everything in the manual and on the web relates only to Windows, but using Safari to configure the unit was no problem. I was also able to configure the gateway and surf the web using my Beige G3 running System 9. Since there are no set up instructions for the Mac, your should be familiar with Macintosh networking in order to find the necessary settings detailed in the Windows instructions."

Robert Ameeti reports that a Verizon CDMA Express Network PC Card -- described by a salesperson as Windows-only -- worked well with Mac OS X out of the box.

Robert writes:

"I was wanting to purchase a Verizon CDMA Express Network PC Card for my Powerbook but the Verizon rep said that was only for PCs. Being daring, I said that I had a PC and bought it anyway. He then stated several times to make sure that I used the CD to do the driver install before attempting to insert the card into my laptop otherwise I would break the card like many previous PC users who did not follow the instructions. He also gave me several codes that I would have to enter to access their network.

"After leaving the store, I found the CD to in fact not have any Mac drivers but only a .exe file for the PC user. I brazenly just shoved it into my Powerbook PC slot and lo and behold, a dialog popped up stating that the drivers needed to be loaded for my card and I should hold for a moment. Less than 20 seconds later, there appeared an icon in the menu with a Connect menu item. Selecting the Connect started the connection procedure flawlessly without entering any codes at all. It has worked flawlessly for many months. I'm glad I've got a Mac."

MacFixIt reader Joe notes similar success with an ultra-cheap D-Link DWL-G122 802.11g Wireless USB Adapter:

"My AirPort card on my nearly 4-year old iBook (Dual USB) G3 600 Mhz just stopped working, and I wanted wireless capabilities without paying the $99 for a new Airport card. I bought a D-Link DWL-G122 802.11g Wireless USB Adapter for $20 with rebate through buy.com, and thanks to the handy tip was able to locate the driver for it.

For other wireless devices that work with Mac OS X, see this list.

The aforementioned site list a number of devices that can be enabled with the use of drivers from IOxperts -- a developer of independent drivers for several wireless devices and webcams.

Meanwhile, Ann Laux reports success with an internal DVD recorder labeled as Windows-only:

"We bought an inexpensive ($40) internal Emprex 16X dual /- R/ /- RW and double layer DVD writer drive at Fry's that was listed as Windows only on the box, and put it into an external firewire/USB2 drive case I bought from Tomato Chip that was Mac OS X compatible. I gave it a try when I needed to play a Sony mini DVD disk on my G4 PowerBook running 10.4.2 (which has a slot drive that can't take mini DVD disks). Imagine my shock when I could both read DVD's (using Apple's DVD player) and write DVD's (through Toast) using this drive."

Another reader reports success with synchronizing a device -- the Samsung SPH i500 -- that expressly denies Mac support on its packaging:

"I have a Samsung SPH i500 smartphone that is purportedly unsupported for mac, yet syncs perfectly with palm desktop."

If you are using a purportedly Windows-only device with Mac OS X, please drop us a line at late-breakers@macfixit.com.

Previous coverage:

Resources
  • handy tip
  • this list
  • IOxperts
  • late-breakers@macfixit.com
  • More on getting purportedl...
  • Getting a Dell 1100 printe...
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