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"Apple Tax" Report Backfires On Microsoft 993

Ian Lamont writes "A Microsoft-sponsored report that describes a hidden "Apple tax" has fallen flat among the technology press. Roger Kay's report (PDF) compares various PC and Mac configurations, and claims an all-Apple household's costs would add up to an extra $3,367 over five years. Tech columnists and bloggers have slammed the comparisons and claims made in the report — even Mac-baiter John C. Dvorak calls it propaganda. However, some Mac fans still see a pro-Microsoft press conspiracy. Even if the comparisons are questionable, Kay's report and the accompanying television ads have clearly struck a nerve among the Mac faithful." Meanwhile, Linux users everywhere are scratching their heads.
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"Apple Tax" Report Backfires On Microsoft

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  • by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:35AM (#27596681)
    He has a point. Macbook discoloration (pre-unibody), case chipping (pre-unibody, and this has happened to mine as well), as well as razor-sharp edges on all unibody macbooks. That and the overuse of heat paste, the general heat problems, screen backlighting unevenness... these are things I haven't seen on my dell, oddly enough.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:51AM (#27596889) Journal

    but if Apple can command that price and have people pay it, what's wrong with that?

    I don't think anyone is claiming it's wrong in the sense of it being unethical!

    But if Microsoft want to point out they are lower cost that competitors, what's wrong with that?

    Just as Apple have every right to make their products expensive if they wish, people have a right to point this out when arguing about which computer is best. The issue is about what platform is best, not whether companies have a legal or ethical right to make their products expensive.

  • by BlitzTech ( 1386589 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:01AM (#27597025)
    You forgot:

    Office 2007 -> Office 2003 Incompatibility Tax
    Reformat Every Six Months To Actually Clean The Registry Tax
    Call Microsoft Every Time You Have To Reformat Tax
    UAC Windows Popping Up All The Freaking Time Tax

    Just to name a few.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:04AM (#27597063) Homepage

    There is also the Macbook White for 999 and the Macbook Alu for 1299. If you are really cheap, you can also go to their "Refurb" or "Clearance" page and you can get things other people sent back or the previous model for a very good price (and yes, they are tested and inspected so you don't get the crap somebody else destroyed). If you go to school or college or work for the government or an educational institution you usually get a discount too.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:2, Informative)

    by flyfishin ( 126609 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:07AM (#27597107) Homepage Journal
    Wrong. You can get a older style white MacBook for $1000. Check any number of sites and you'll find that price. Also, when Apple rolls out a new line of products, you can usually pick up last year's model at various web retailers for even less.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:16AM (#27597257) Homepage Journal

    I felt the same about my MBP at first, but even with the underclocked-as-standard graphics card that comes with it, it gets incredibly noisy when running 3D games, and after a couple of hours it just locks up due to overheating. So they may be fine for light work, but some of the engineering is actually rather poor. I ended up reading a lot of horror stories about Mac assembly over the last few years, thermal paste being applied too liberally to the CPU etc, so perhaps the machine would run better if I cleaned it out and re-applied the thermal paste myself, but I don't want to have to do that when I've already paid over a thousand pounds for the machine.

    I switched to Ubuntu because it does everything that OSX did (Avant Window Manager), but it's free. The OSX UI is pretty nice, but Ubuntu is even better once you setup compiz correctly, and Avant Window Manager is a great replacement for the Dock.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:19AM (#27597293)

    The Xbox360.

    Wifi = $100
    Xbox Live =$50/year = $250 for 5 years.
    Hard drive $100/$150
    Batteries for controller $20 (play charge kit)
      Total = $470

    Add the $200 for the arcade to get $670. And people say PC gaming is expensive. At least you online for free. A decent graphics card is only $200, if a pc is relatively new it should run most games (maybe not at full settings but at 720p shouldn't be a problem).

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cornelius the Great ( 555189 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:21AM (#27597333)

    Yet in every release since OS X, the Apple OS has gotten better, while Microsoft's consumer OS has gotten progressively worse since XP (ME and VISTA).

    Either you have a poor memory or you're too young. ME came out before XP... it was actually the successor to 98SE. XP was substantially better (perhaps the best Microsoft OS ever released) since it was based on Win2k.

    I'll admit Vista is worse than XP, but does not come remotely close to the clusterfuck that was ME. Despite Vista's bloat and high system requirements, my HTPC running Vista has had uptimes of several weeks before I'd restart (mostly due to windows update), and it's pretty stable. ME couldn't last more than a few hours.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:22AM (#27597349)
    With Apple's higher end laptops, I've tried to configure an equivalent system from Dell. The result is that high end systems cost a lot of money (Dell's was a couple hundred cheaper by the way). Also keep in mind that with Apple, if your shit's broke, they send you a box next day air, you put your laptop in and and ship it back next day air with the label they give you, and then you usually get it back within 3 days, no charge if you're still under warranty. That's pretty hardcore service compared to the on-site service I've had from Dell.
  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:30AM (#27597465) Homepage Journal

    The ease of installing software on many Linux distributions shouldn't be overrated.

    If I want to install OpenOffice, Gimp, Pidgin, Blender, Thunderbird, Emacs, VI, Akregator, GimageViewer, Gnome Terminal, etc. it is easy to do that in one command in linux, but doing that in Windows, even with all of the specified software packages being open source is much more time consuming.

    sudo apt-get install openoffice gimp pidgin blender mozilla-thunderbird emacs vi akregator gimageview gnome-terminal

    Is tons easier than going to 10 different websites, downloading at least 10 install packages, installing all of them, etc. And then there is keeping all of that up to date.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:36AM (#27597549)

    This used to be a huge problem, then Apple switched to Intel and you can load Windows via Bootcamp for gaming. I had friends get the 512MB video card option on their MBP's just so they could play the latest games.

  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:44AM (#27597659) Homepage

    I should add that I am aware of the Cygwin setup utility. But that is fairly narrow in scope.

  • by GNUbuntu ( 1528599 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:51AM (#27597763)
    None of those costs are hidden and none of them are mandatory costs.

    Xbox Live =$50/year = $250 for 5 years.

    Unncessary to play the vast bulk of games. You can also get it for around 35/13 months by buying subscription cards. But if you want to play figures 15/month WoW subscription for 5 years = $900.

    Hard drive $100/$150

    Already comes with the 360 unless you buy the crappy Arcade. But even still isn't necessary unless you play online which most games are single player anyway.

    Batteries for controller $20 (play charge kit)

    Or you can spend 6 dollars and get a set of rechargables.

    Total = $470

    Oh noes! Not 470 dollars!

    Add the $200 for the arcade to get $670. And people say PC gaming is expensive.

    If you want to play any games from the last couple of years you would have spent at least 670 if not more on your PC.

    At least you online for free.

    For some games. If you want to play any decent MMO you are going to pay way more in fees over the same 5 years than anyone would pay for a 360 pro and a 5 year subscription to Live. And they would have enough money left over to buy at least a dozen or more games in that same period and still come out ahead.

    A decent graphics card is only $200, if a pc is relatively new it should run most games (maybe not at full settings but at 720p shouldn't be a problem).

    Yeah but it's going to cost you around 600-800 dollars to build a system (assuming you do it yourself) that will be able to do that. So basically your whole argument seems moot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:56AM (#27597853)

    After dealing with grandma constantly getting latest spyware, I decided to just pick her up a mac mini. She's never used OSX before but she picked it up in about 15 minutes, she's over 80 years old.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:58AM (#27597871)
    there are some, but none is as good as apt.
    GetIt [] for example.
  • by TheOtherChimeraTwin ( 697085 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:01AM (#27597915)

    Yeah, but there does seem to be a linux tax. Look at Dell's Ubuntu notebook offerings:

    • XPS M1530n for $974
    • XPS M1330n for $849

    (I'm leaving out the Mini 9n because it is a netbook with a tiny keyboard.) The cheapest Windows XPS M1530 is $899, and the Windows M1330 is $749. More importantly, I can get a Inspiron 15 laptop for $399. Less than HALF the cost of the cheapest Ubuntu notebook. (Never mind the specs here, I'm just looking for a cheap box with a real keyboard.)

    Let's look at system76 [] instead. Their cheapest notebook is a Darter Ultra for $739.

    Excluding netbooks, if I want a cheap notebook right now, the least expensive option is to buy a Windows notebook and then install Linux!

  • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Informative)

    by AioKits ( 1235070 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:07AM (#27598011)

    This used to be a huge problem, then Apple switched to Intel and you can load Windows via Bootcamp for gaming. I had friends get the 512MB video card option on their MBP's just so they could play the latest games.

    You still haven't convinced me. Why I should pay more now (Apple License and a Windows License) for a mac with bootcamp, when I can just have my regular ole PC (Just a windows license) to play games?

  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:16AM (#27598127) Homepage Journal

    Looks like it's being worked on.

  • Separation of duties (Score:2, Informative)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:23AM (#27598201)

    You still haven't convinced me. Why I should pay more now (Apple License and a Windows License) for a mac with bootcamp, when I can just have my regular ole PC (Just a windows license) to play games?

    Because if you really are beta and alpha testing games, wouldn't you like a PC that had the games aspect totally isolated from your "working" OS?

    With the Mac, you have the choice of running OS X, running Windows in Bootcamp (for games) or running Windows in some kind of VM (for any other Windows app and even some games). Add Linux to any of those variants as well and that's more choice than you get with any other system.

    Plus you can use the Windows install you already have so it's not like that's extra - in fact it makes less sense for you to buy a new PC since it duplicates your Windows license.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:23AM (#27598211) Journal

    Note that the 5 licenses only apply to computers owned by the same family and in the same house. If you read the license it does not cover, for example, a Mac owned by a child who has gone to university (or, at least, didn't last time I read the license, which was about two years ago - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about this).

    It explicitly includes a Mac owned by a child who lives on-campus at a university. However, I doubt the Apple Police are going to come after anyone because they live in off-campus housing but still use their parents' family pack license.

  • by mR.bRiGhTsId3 ( 1196765 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:40AM (#27598487)
    And whoever decided that the M1330n was a good idea is a moron. I bought one, and half the stuff doesn't work, or work correctly out of the box.
    Cases in point:
    - no microphone array
    - no fprint reader (and at the time I got mine, the recommended solution was known to break gksudo in certain cases)
    - wireless that can't connect to WEP with 8021x authentication, which incidentally, is worse than the previous notebook I had which used a broadcom wifi chipset. (OMG Broadcom works better?)
    Dell still doesn't respect linux even though they have a linux tab, it was easier and more functional for me to just buy vista than to fight with their out of the box config and it was depressing as hell to think that Vista actually works better than something.
  • Re:What gets me... (Score:4, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:01PM (#27598753)

    At the time the G3 was technically a faster processor than the Pentium II according to the BYTEmark test []. "Apple says that a PowerMac G3/300 scores 10.2 on the BYTEmark test, more than twice as fast as the 4.3 rating the Pentium II got, and 45 percent higher than a 400-MHz Pentium II." Now it's debatable whether the computer was overall faster as then you have to factor in bus speeds, memory, etc. Back then these things mattered a lot. The main point was at the minimum it was debatable and not blatantly false.

    This comparison done by MS is dishonest at best. For example, for desktops it compares a Xeon class workstation MacPro to a generic consumer desktop Core 2 Duo and complains that the MacPro was much more expensive. Well, duh: a workstation meant for professionals is going to cost you more than a consumer desktop. That's just common sense. Also it includes paying for software like Office and Quicken on the Mac but don't include them in the cost of the PC. It compared old versions of Mac products with the newest PC counterparts etc. It added optional MobileMe Apple services but didn't for PCs, etc.

  • by Tweenk ( 1274968 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:24PM (#27599041)

    If I want to 'pin' something in linux, its not nearly so simple.

    Go to Synaptic, select the package to "pin", and then select Package->Lock Version

  • by Tweenk ( 1274968 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:28PM (#27599095)

    (unlike in linux where you do sometimes need a recompile or even patches)

    You need recompiles, because:
    1. When a Linux shared library changes its functionality (even if it's still ABI-compatible), it changes its DLL name. That's actually good.
    2. Linux apps never ship with all the libraries they use; those are expected to be provided by the system.
    3. Because of point 2, every app needs to use the same shared library version.

    You can create Linux binaries that don't need recompiles by linking statically, or by shipping your own shared libs (like everyone does on Windows); using repos works much better though.

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:46PM (#27599337)

    Try again. This time with real numbers.

    Xbox 360 arcade can handle most saved games. It does after all come with a 512MB memory card.

    So $169 from Dell if you're patient.

    Xbox Live Gold is $30 a month if you buy it in January. So 5 years = $150

    That's all you need $319 for 5 years of gaming. (Of course then games etc.)

    I don't need Wifi. I use a primitive technology called CAT5. Since there is a conveniently placed cable plug right next to my television.

    Meanwhile I just built a quadcore system and it cost me about $1200. Impossible to buy as a mac. And also a fare penny more than my Xbox which I own not because it's cheaper but because it's a better gaming system.

  • by umeboshi ( 196301 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:56PM (#27599443)

    For just installing software: []

    For installing windows over a network with applications and drivers preinstalled: []

    I have yet to try wpkg, but I've been messing with unattended off and on for a while now, and it's pretty good. There are scripts that will automatically download most of the open source applications and place them in the "repository" you create on a samba share that also contains scripts that help install them automatically. The hard part is actually configuring windows from a script. For example:

    Enable Status and Address Bar In Explorer []

    Change My Computer Name []
    (here I can "read" the ascii, but I don't know where "20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D" is coming from.

    I run into similar problems when trying to make "details" the default view for directories in explorer. I don't have time to look that one up right now, but I had to create it by setting it manually, then doing a diff on the registry, but the config option was for "local user" and I still haven't found where to place it in the "local machine" section.

    But anyway, this is about the closest that I've seen to something that is similar to apt for windows. BTW, even though unattended is for installing windows, you can use it to just install applications, bypassing the installation routine.

  • No shit (Score:2, Informative)

    by rtrickey ( 1080719 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:59PM (#27599479)

    I would love to buy a 17" mac, but every time I look at the price it insults me.

    I find it really difficult to make the case that macs are not significantly overpriced, especially for people who use macs primarily as a windows machine. The paper points out the obvious: spec-for-spec, PCs destroy macs in terms of value.

    The only way I can see anyone justifying paying this premium is if they're dead-set on use OS X. Otherwise, it's a waste of money.

    Note that I'm not saying that macs are bad --they're fantastic. But Mercedes are also fantastic, but are overpriced compared to similarly equipped cars.

    And as for market share, Apple doesn't *want* a large market share. If they did, they would lower their prices. They have a strategy that gives them insane margins, and it works. In would be crazy for them to wade into the low-margin ring that Dell, HP, et al fight in.

  • by mR.bRiGhTsId3 ( 1196765 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @01:08PM (#27599573)
    Explain to me why requiring a re-compile of an application that depends on a newer ABI-compatible shared object is a good thing? That seems utterly pointless and renders ABI-compatibility pointless.
  • by skiman1979 ( 725635 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @01:13PM (#27599629)

    That's great, but unfortunately the following doesn't work, and it's what many users seems to think they want

    apt-get install MSOffice Photoshop WorldOfWarcraft

    Even something like Google Earth for Linux can't be "apt-gotten," unless that has changed in the past few months.

    Why would a user try to install MS Windows programs in Linux (unless that program actually has a Linux version)?

    Simiarly, do new OS X users sit down at their shiny new Macbook Pro and try to install a bunch of Windows applications?

  • by Grashnak ( 1003791 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @01:25PM (#27599771)

    Why would a user try to install MS Windows programs in Linux (unless that program actually has a Linux version)?

    Congratulations on missing the point completely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#27601009)

    RPMs and DEBs are just different. While I am a fan of apt-get, they make a lot of assumptions and take away from a lot of the configurability that an rpm allows. Of course, the same old argument between Linuc and Windows in general, is that it is whether or not it is useful to the average individual to take the time to learn the difference, and as usual no, but just the same, that is no reason to take such configurability away. Most people never install anything ever, especially not system "stuff". So where is the line? Each to their own :)
    I find it funny, and a little sad when I hear people trying to tell other people what to do or how to standardize Linux. If you make hardware and you would like your hardware to work with other peoples hardware, and both pieces of hardware are in development, then there is room to suggest a standard and find some way for your stuff to work together in the end. On the otherhand, if someone writes a great program, but only specifies dependencies in a README, but never bothers to package it, you have three(ish) basic options: 1) Deal with the fact that it isn't package and compile it yourself. 2) wait for someone to package it for your system, then install it, or 3) Package it yourself.
    Not to make it out to be more work than it is, but packaging takes time and effort. From what I have seen, programmers are almost always a different group of people from package maintainers. Any project that packages its own software likely has the job of just package maintenance.
    deb packages are also very configurable. I don't think there is anything they can't do. Technically, there is nothing in its design to stop someone from a deb package running the binary every time you install it and never actually installing anything. Just the same, debs can install repositories, it just isn't standard to do that. Personally, I think it is better to let people choose whether or not they want their installed third party software to be self maintaining along with the rest of the system. If there is a repo, make note of it on the website and in the documentation. All a deb has is metadata, install script, uninstall script, and files. This means debs can do anything scripts and files can do. :) as for what apt-get does is store the metadata such that it can know what script sets have already been run, and if others need to be run, etc. The limits comes down to what the package maintainer chooses to put in their install script.
    rpms are easier to build and maintain. debs are much more of a pain in the ass. debs are convenient for the vast majority of users, and they are a lot of work. Would deb users like to see every project out there have a deb available? Of course! But at the sacrifice of development time, or your own? Even if debs were "always better in every way", you are only talking about an end product and not the time that went into putting it together.
    So whenever I hear someone say "I wish there was a deb", I say "Your probably not alone, why don't you go do that! Never done package maintenance? Wonderful, here's the manual and if next week you are still confused, i'd be happy to walk you through it."
    Linux is about personal responsibility that can ideally easily benefit everyone, imo. Not everyone can really handle that.

  • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#27601105) Journal

    apt-get install MSOffice Photoshop WorldOfWarcraft

    Why WoW? It installs and runs under WINE as well(for me better) as it does under XP. (the frames-per-second rate actually jumped about 7% and gameplay smoothed noticeably on WINE)

    This tells me you are parroting crap you have no real knowledge of.

    And GoogleEarth, I've been installing that through Kubuntu's repository since 7.10- about a year and a half ago. I just checked, and it's still there in the 9.04beta repo. So spare me the 'past few months' crap.

    MS Office, and do have a point there for some people, but not relevant to everyone. OpenOffice and GIMP work fine for me and my needs, but YMMV.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Informative)

    by boxlight ( 928484 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:37PM (#27602935)

    Me too. I bought a MacBook after Christmas, and since then I bought CSSEdit [], Espresso [], the recent MacHeist3 [] bundle, iWork [], and I'm that close to buying OmniGraffle [] (except that one's a little too expensive and I'm getting by fine with the free eval version).

    I can't remember the last time I actually *bought* software for my old Windows machine.

    Mac OS X gets lots of press, but the people who build these great little software apps for Mac should get more praise.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford