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PC vs. MAC the war continues.. another shot

Posted on 2009-07-07
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-17
So I got into this debate with a web guy who was asked for the second opinion.  So I need your quick help guys again.  This is based on his research but doesn't look he is comparing apples/apples. Looks like the web guys entered the unknown for him territory - infrastructure.  

 What do you guys think?

1.   Initial Cost:
  X200         MacBook Air        Apple "Premium"
INITIAL COST                        
13" laptop (Paralles VM free w/ Mac)         $1,373.09         $1,649.00        
dock station (PC)/keyboard-airport-cables (Mac)         $184.93         $180.00        
AC adapter (included w/ Mac)         $32.94         $-          
3 year extra warranty         $300.00         $300.00        
  $1,890.96         $2,129.00         $238.04
2.  5 year Total Cost of Ownership (Initial Costs + Support Costs):
  X200         MacBook Air        Apple "Premium"
INITIAL COST                        
13" laptop (Paralles VM free w/ Mac)         $1,373.09         $1,649.00        
dock station (PC)/keyboard-airport-cables (Mac)         $184.93         $180.00        
AC adapter (included w/ Mac)         $32.94         $-          
3 year extra warranty         $300.00         $300.00        
  $1,890.96         $2,129.00         $238.04
5 Year Est. Support Costs                        
In-house support: PC (2 calls per year * 2 hrs per call * $100 per  
hour * 5 years)         $2,000.00                
In-house support: Mac (one-half of PC, since free, comprehensive  
hardware & software support all through Apple)                 $1,000.00         $(1,000.00)
5 Year Total Cost of Ownership         $5,781.92         $5,258.00         $(761.96)
3.  Quality/Completeness of Phone Support:
Note I added 3 year warranty to both the PC and Mac options.   Why?    
It's a no-brainer low-cost investment!   We know hard drives and  
components fail and that we'll need phone support from the  
manufacturer at least one time over a 3 year period.   Also, what  
happens when you (or I) are not available just when user needs  
help?  She can/should call the manufacturer in a pinch (according to  
User, this does happen and she places a premium on immediacy of  
support).   Secondly, I submit that Apple support is both better  
quality in general (they are smarter and better qualified than most  
support reps).   Importantly, Apple supports the ENTIRE product --  
hardware and software, whereas we all know that PC hardware  
manufacturers OFTEN point fingers at Microsoft and blame them while  
the customer is spending time trying to figure out who's to blame.    
Also, strangely, Microsoft's operating system license is with/through  
the hardware vendor, so an end-user has to pay $150 to speak with MS.
4.  Amount of In-House Support Required:
I'm not saying there will be NO in-house support required for the Mac,  
but probably less because: (a) better and more complete phone support  
is available with the 3-year extra support warranty; (b) mac support  
is for the entire system (hardware + software) and Vivian's iPhone.
Real-life examples:
a.  Web guy came in to install a recently purchased HP printer on User
new PC.   The HP install script wouldn't work!   After 1 hour on the  
phone with HP support, they "punted" to it being a Dell issue.   After  
being bumped up to a sr. tech at Dell and 3 hours more later, they  
fixed the problem.    They claimed it was a problem between Windows XP  
and HP's software.  Who knows (who cares!), but what should have been  
"plug and play" cost User few extra hundred dollars!   This would  
never happen with a Mac b/c the hardware and OS are one.
b.  User's curren ultra-portable was a demo "deal", right?   It ran  
slow and pooped out.   Was it MS's fault?  The hardware vendor's?    
How many extra extra in-house support calls were needed to keep it  
alive and how much EXTRA did that cost to the User?
5.  Ease of Use/Quality of Experience:
OK, we all know Vista sucks and while XP is simpler, it's not as easy  
and intuitive to use as a Mac.   Why?  B/c the hardware and software  
are one (e.g. why is it that User needs to keep her laptop open  
while using her external monitor).   File management is much simpler  
(one hard drive and not the "a" through "g" volume crap which confuses  
backups).   Mac's freakin' back themselves up by themselves with  
TimeMachine!   Eventually, when Vista is viable (maybe a year from  
now), Vista will be more intuitive than XP, but it will never be as  
seamless with the hardware, by nature.
Also,  users' computing requirements include mobility to a  
substantial degree (her iPhone) and the ease of use/simplicity value  
of one integrated solution - including laptop/OS/Phone - is tremendous.
6.  Marketplace trends with laptop purchases:
You note below that law firms are not Mac houses (creative is).  This  
is a dated perspective.   True, creative firms tend to Macs b/c the  
software on it is better.  But if we look at the entire laptop market,  
Apple laptop growth is much greater than MS laptops.   Part of the  
reason this is changing is that with Apple's shift to Intel and really  
good VM options (VMWare and Parallels), Macs run Windows and Windows  
software extremely well and seamlessly (I know, I use VMWare and PC  
software on my Mac, when necessary and it works fast and flawlessly).

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Question by:mmcsadmin
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 24797085
Can you post that in a word document?

Author Comment

ID: 24797157
Actually this is what I got.  Let me try to re-format this in Word forwat.


Author Comment

ID: 24797387
This should be better.  Let me know.
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LVL 13

Accepted Solution

Carl Bohman earned 750 total points
ID: 24798206
I don't generally participate in these religious wars.  I believe people tend to use what they prefer to use regardless of any kinds of facts.  I have used all kinds of operating systems over the years and think that (almost) all of them have a place.  Nevertheless, here are my comments.

Not to quibble over a couple of dollars, but I have trouble believing that the Mac comes with a free AC adapter and the PC doesn't.  How else is the PC to be charged?  I've never heard of a laptop that didn't come with an adapter included in the price.  Is this perhaps referring to an adaptor for the dock?

For virtual machines, I have used Microsoft's Virtual PC (free, plus license for guest OS).  I find it works fine for my needs, but I'm not certain what the evaluation criteria are here.  If the goal is to be able execute PC software on the Mac, doesn't that say something right there?  With Windows, there's usually no need to run Apple software.  Everything is already available for the PC.  I imagine a non-free OS license for the guest OS is also required on the Mac.

Based on anecdotal evidence about Mac support and my own experience with PC support, it does sound like Mac support is better.  One interesting observation is that it sounds like a Mac advocate is supporting PCs in a PC-centric shop.  If the reverse were true, I imagine it's possible that there would be more support calls to Apple than to the PC manufacturers.  It has nothing to do with the support person being good/bad or skilled/unskilled.  It has to do with the support person's particular skills and expertise.  Mac people tend to know Macs best.  PC people tend to know PCs best.  It's always easier to support what you know best.

Even so, I still agree with the general hardware/software contention problems on PC platforms.  It's worth pointing out that this is a direct result of a more modular architecture, which allows for greater overall flexibility than a Mac.  With Mac, you get what is given to you and you're happy about it (or else you switch to a PC).  If modularity doesn't matter (and I would argue that, on laptops, it doesn't matter much), then this is either not a factor or Apple wins the point here.

I have found that ease of use is largely dependent on the user's experience.  Someone who has grown up with one architecture or another will stand by that architecture unless they have compelling reasons to switch.  There is always a learning curve when switching.  Personally, I find Windows very easy to get around in.  Most of the functionality a normal user needs works out of the box.  The additional work is often to set up individual preferences and to connect new hardware (e.g., printers).  Plus, if a normal user ever had to get under the covers of either operating system (e.g., registry or Unix command line), I think they'd immediately find someone who knew the OS better to assist them.  (FWIW, I develop on Unix systems all day at work.)

As for trends, I don't generally think law firms like to be trend-setters.  They tend to use what they know and what works.  So I see little relevance in trends, especially when PCs still dominate the market (last I checked).

In the end, I don't see this as a technical question so much as a preference question.  Both systems can run PC software (one has to do it in a virtual machine), so there should be no compatibility problems.  As for cost, the shift in Mac's favor is based on a 2-to-1 difference in support costs between the two, which I would think needs far better evidence to substantiate.

Author Comment

ID: 24800082
Thanks for your input.  You're absolutely right about the power adapter.   He didn't understand it ($32) was for one for the docking station (assumed it would come with docking station).  You're also right that a license for Windows XP would need to be purchased for the Mac -- an additional approx $129, for an OEM version.

Its hard to argue with someone who is a Mac person and avoiding the infrstructure/enterprise argument.  But I think I won the case at this point.  
This is some other his comments below:
My points about training and support is that most of the training/ support one needs is available for free at the Apple store.  This is a  
huge convenience factor as well as cost savings advantage.  
Integration with Exchange is arguably just as good through a POP  
connection.   Also, if Vivian prefers, she can have MS's Entorage  
"Outlook" client installed on her Mac, which is part of MS Office for the Mac.

The reference to the trends is not about being "trendy", but rather there are real, hard reasons why folks are moving to Mac laptops at a faster rate than Windows (not a whole lot "trendy" about me these  
days ;-).   This applies to all users - lawyers, etc.

Assisted Solution

IncisiveOne earned 750 total points
ID: 24800312
I wil stay out of the religious issues until someone religious attacks me.  Let's stick to facts.

1  I have used both Virtual PC and Parallels, I prefer the latter.  Both are cheap but I prefer Parallels.  While it is true that you need to get a licence for whatever o/s you wish to host (XP, 2005), if you already have that licence (eg. for the box the Mac is replacing; or you have a package of 10 for the company), that does not need to be purchased.

2  The doc provided is a very poor and unfair comparison.  This is not an exhaustive list:
- there are a lot more than the identified costs before anyone can provide a meaningful "total cost of ownership"
- it is not reasonable to compare the most expensive Apple laptop (13" Air) with the X200 (while some people might believe the marketing hype, that an X200 is the equivalenet of the Air, that is quite incorrect: there is nothing that competes with the Air).  The reasonable equivalent to the X200 would be the MacBook.  Try them in the shop and find out for yourself.  Alternately try the X200 against the Air and confirm my point.  Having certain bits on board does not mean they run the same.
- I think it is a well established and documented fact that the number of help desk calls for fiddling with a PC is substantially more than a Mac
- Apple Mail is a lot better than Outlook, and does not crash.  But there are even better mail clients such as Eudora.
- there is no reason to buy MS anything if you are on Apple, they have iWork to replace MS Office for a fraction of the price, and it blows the doord and windows off Office in features and simplicity, as well as allowing full and complete transfer/transform ability.
- the Mac has way more software that comes free with the unit than with the PC (just try [and I mean really try it on the two boxes] setting up your own website or webpage; publishing your photos; making a video) and the Apple equivalent is far more advanced.  (There may be 20,000 pices of s/w available on PCs, but that is a different point; it does not relate to my point here.)  The take-up of iTunes on the PC should tell you something.
- The Apple is far more intuitive, and standard-compliant, and thus the separate bits of Apple 3rd party s/w is far more integrated with each other (the only s/w that is non-standard is in fact MS Office).  It is certainly true that PC users have a bit of "difficulty" swiching at first, due to their being used to having to navigate the non-standard windoze way of doing that particular task, after the first couple of weeks, when the lights go on, there is no going back.  Here, asking for help, which is free, is the key.


Expert Comment

ID: 24801044
> I think it is a well established and documented fact that the number of help desk calls for fiddling with a PC is substantially more than a Mac
Just one example.  There are no viruses on Mac (there was a bit of detail on the previous thread).  That is because it is Unix, and unix is impregnable and virus-free.  That eliminates a lot of manual labour (that would be invested in maintaining anti-virus software, updates, etc; running through virus checks regularly; and of course removing viruses.

Re "operating systems".  Refer to:

While windoze editions after '95 (which came out some years after 1995) may be considered "operating systems", there have very little in common with the established Operating Systems in the world.  That means everything at the underlying levels; that translates to (in terms that you can see) the size of applications, because each has less code and uses standard libraries on standard operating systems (which are absent from Winded and therefore the same app eg MS Word is a bigger fatter nastier beast.  

This also has an impact on ease of use.  Standard-compliant programs make it easier to use the system (why does Ctrl-I and Ctrl-M do different things on Mac/PC and on different apps) and to transfer data between programs (just try putting images in Word docs and compare with Pages docs).  As mentioned in the previous thread, there are no standards in windows, only conventions.

Let's say I am producing software, eg. a word processor like Word.  If I adhere to standards, it means I have far less maintenance and I am far less affected by changes in the industry.  If I write for Mac OS, I have all the libraries, etc available, so it decreases my development time, as well as increasing performance of the result; it also guarantees the user will get the same expected operation from the same task or the same keystroke.  And my code does not have to change because (a) Unix has not changed in 30+ years and (b) MacOS has not changed in 10+ years.  In the same 10 year period, there has been at least six Windodo "operating systems; each is a new codeline, with completely changed or new libraries; this demands that I change my code about six times in that 10 years.  This is in part what leads to inferior code and 20,000 programs on the PC to do what 100 programs do on the Mac.


Expert Comment

ID: 24801155
Before the nit-pickers pick my nits.

When I stated "Unix has not changed" obviously what I mean is yes, it (including the libraries) is extended and enhanced every year, and in every minor release, but no, the extant libraries are not replaced; we have backward compatibility.  On Windoze, in the first instance, the libraries do not work, so they have to be replaced.  In the second instance, winDodo is replaced with Windoodoo or whatever.  End result in the world that is absent of standards is: replacement/rewrite is demanded in every major release, as is evident in that world.  In the standard-compliant world, so such thing is necessary.

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