hello. i am new to this forum, and i already have an important question to ask all you mac-fans: for years, my family and I have been using windows-based computers, and are quite honestly, pleased with them. however, I am begining to get annoyed with the styling of the new XP-laptops out there. all i see are either pitch-black laptops that weigh like a desktop (a.k.a my Dell Inspiron 8200), or flimpsy silver-painted plastic ones. The new Apple PowerBook G4 17" appealed to me instantly, and want to get one before my birthday, which is on the 26th of November. However, my parents don't seem too thrilled about getting a mac. they are constantly concerned how "it won't work in our network" (we have wireless-networking), or "it won't print to our printer". finally, after constant protests and pleading on my behalf, they have somewhat consented. the question i have (actually 2) are: (1): Is Microsoft Office v.X Professional w/ Virtual PC worth it? I run CD's here and then for homework, labs, projects, or assignments. Will it really slow down the computer by running a program on a CD? (2): I am also concerned regarding avaliability at my local Apple Store, which really isn't local (a good 45 minutes away). therefore, I really don't feel like driving out and asking. if i call, they say "come on over. blah blah blah." i know there was an issue regarding the new alu 15" PowerBook. But how about the 17"? Should there be lots at the Apple Store? For some reason, I don't feel comfortable purchasing such expensive equipment at an "authorized retailler", rather than the actual Apple Store itself. i have had the experience of trying to return an item at a computer mega-store once; what sould have been a 30-min ordeal turned into a day-trip to fiasco-land. i'd really appreciate your feedback/advice!