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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 eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:21AM (#27596481) Journal

    Meanwhile Linux users everywhere are scratching their heads.

    No, no we are not. We're used to this shit from Ballmer and Co. Surprised that they turned their sites on Apple with it?

    No, I've bitched about this before and I'm sick of hearing about "hidden costs" that you don't pay when you install Linux or OSX or whatever but that you pay later. Or the cost to train to a new OS being a "hidden" cost because Microsoft starts these reports with the assumption that everyone already knows Windows XP.

    I'm not scratching my head, I'm sick of it. And I hope that this finally causes people to realize that you can only assume the price of what you initially pay for software because they all have flaws and problems down the line. It's a futile exercise to try to itemize that in a cost list because--surprise surprise--you're often subjective and biased when you do it!

    Microsoft conveniently ignores these "comprehensive" reports when they ask you to upgrade to Vista despite all the retraining and migration problems you will have.

  • Re:Look at page 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shrike82 ( 1471633 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:29AM (#27596573)

    Imaging that. Charging more for a better product!

    That's not the point he's trying to make. He's pointing out that even if the products are better, not catering to a demographic that wants lower prices, and is probably willing to accept lower quality, means you allow competitors to gain a foothold.

    I'm still waiting for the IPod bubble to burst. Been waiting quite a while now...

  • Re:Look at page 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rackserverdeals ( 1503561 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @09:43AM (#27596773) Homepage Journal

    Imaging that. Charging more for a better product!

    If it is, or is not better, or is or is not worth the price is meaningless. For the vast majority of uses, there are cheaper alternatives that are good enough.

    Paying an extra $500, if you're only buying one or two computers, may not seem like a big deal. But when you are planning desktop deployments for your company and looking to order hundreds or thousands of desktops, it starts to add up. Now you're spending a lot more money and in mast cases the users won't need "better" they just need "good enough". If you care about you're employees, that savings on the desktop could be used for something that would have a greater increase in productivity, such as ergonomic chairs or a well stocked break room.

    Then you have to worry about seamless integration in your infrastructure. Fact is, Macs still don't make sense outside the home in most cases.

  • Apple's core market is not just the delivery of a commodity computer and a commodity operating system. It is the end to end receipt of a solution. People that buy Apples buy them because you will get good service out of their store, and you will get solid hardware that works.

    There is a reasonable premium to be charged for that and I don't think arguing Mac on price is alone is really indicative of the kind of market people have. Some people are willing to pay a good premium for a good experience. I for one have had an absolutely excellent experience with Macintoshes. I tell myself the same thing as I tell everyone else. If you want the best possible consumer experience, and you don't mind paying more, just go and buy a Macintosh. It's the simplicity of experience, that people pay more for.

    I will have to say, that I don't have the money, so right now I'm running a home built dual Opteron with yesterday's CPUs (Opteron 270s), using Windows Vista Business on one drive and Linux on another... but, hey, if I did have the money, I'd buy the Mac.

  • by pentalive ( 449155 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:07AM (#27597105) Journal

    Several Linux distributions work just fine just as installed. They don't need anything beyond what you might have to do if you were installing windows fresh.

    We Linux users like to 'customize' but its not required.

    My time is worth $25 to $30 an hour, but I can adjust, download, customize and registry edit just as much on Windows as I can on Linux.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:10AM (#27597163)

    That's just because MY cigarettes are less harmful to the environment than YOUR SUVs. And MY gun kills fewer people than the greaseballs YOU are sucking down.

    So, of course, SUVs and fast food are to be banned, cigarettes and guns are good.

    Since you (or someone else at least) will demand exactly the opposites, all four industries are doing ok. Welcome to hypocrit capitalism.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:16AM (#27597245) Homepage Journal

    I'm missing the magsafe and the backlit but I can have mouse gestures if I want and so can every other Linux user. I have an OSX-style dock, but one that my icons don't appear under (avant-window-navigator-trunk) and so on. You can get the backlit on a PC, dunno about a magsafe-type thing, probably not. I would think about buying a MacBook Pro, but Apple doesn't seem to be able to put a quad core in one, and my next laptop purchase will be quad-core.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by homer_s ( 799572 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:17AM (#27597275)
    Why do you think that the image and the 'cool-factor' has no value? Maybe that is what people pay for.
    If that were not the case, why would they make cars in various colours?
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `vdalived'> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:21AM (#27597327) Homepage

    So there isn't really a conspiracy here, but there is an undercurrent fighting against the pro apple news. The loudest news about apple is pro apple, but only a little less loud is the anti apple news and complaining that said devices aren't perfect. How many people here on slashdot railed against the Mac because it didn't have a command line for so long? Or rail against the iPhone because it's not 100% open or doesn't support Ogg? These are valid arguments, but as people speak out, the almighty dollar takes over, and some journalists pick up on this sentiment and look to make money off it. They establish their niche in reporting and, often, becomes as dogmatic as the pro apple news, and many times stops providing any real content and just keeps finding more ways to say "apple sucks."

    You might think "well duh, of course there are two sides to the story why are you saying this" but if you are swept up in the bipolar press, you aren't realizing there is a third voice, very quiet and very small. Those are the moderates who are actively trying to be objective and are somewhere in the middle. But in just about all news these days, not just tech news, objectivity doesn't sell very well, only the extreme viewpoints do.

    Of course, all of this does not include the fact that Microsoft has a vested interest in getting as many journalists on their side as they can and if they could would bribe anyone and everyone into believing their OS is best. There is a small, anemic conspiracy there, but that's not Apple specific, that's Microsoft trying to fight against any and all competitors. They've done this with Linux before too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:23AM (#27597363)

    When I, a security engineer, buy a machine, I'm not the the average consumer. But my wife is.

    If her current Dell laptop broke, I know what her requirements are. She wants something with a 15 inch screen and it has to do what she wants, basically surf the web, email, and edit her photos in Lightroom, that's really all.

    To purchase a 15" Dell will cost me about $800-900 shipped.
    To purchase a 15" Mac will cost me $2000, minimum.

    For the average consumer, I think people can see that some Mac's are overpriced.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:24AM (#27597381) Journal

    Depends. In some places, we have truth in advertising laws. If you say something about a competitor's product, it has to be true. Apple had to withdraw some adverts because they made unsubstantiated claims about Microsoft products, and Microsoft should be held to the same standards. If they claim an equivalent Mac is more expensive, then they need to be able to justify this. Comparing a Core 2 Dell against a Xeon Mac is not a fair comparison, as the article in El Reg demonstrated; the Dell with almost identical hardware (slightly smaller hard disk) was $500 more expensive. This is not just spin, it is outright dishonesty.

    The previous Microsoft adverts were much better. They didn't try to claim that they were cheaper, they pointed out that there were a lot of niches where Apple has no equivalent product. This is entirely true. My last two computers have been Macs, but if I look at their current product line I don't see anything that fits the niche that I fit in.

  • Re:Supersize Me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:26AM (#27597401) Homepage

    Well, the fact of the matter is: Mac comes with just about everything. Non-linear video editing, photo editing and organizers and they're very powerful. The systems you buy at BestBuy or any other shop are kinda bare compared to that just to keep the costs down. If you have to include a comparable video editing package on Windows you'll add easily $200-500 and Adobe's Photoshop Elements or something comparable is also at least a $100.

    I have to support systems in a corporate setting and I have everything here from Dell to IBM to HP to Fujitsu-Siemens including Apple. I like so much better to deal with Apple for support. If they notice you know what you're doing, they'll just quit reading their script and send you on to either an engineer or somebody to arrange for a repair or replacement part. And the package with the new hardware comes in the next day with FedEx or UPS, you put in the old hardware, rip of a sticker and while the delivery guy is still standing there you give it back. Dell especially can have you on the line literally for hours and you're still not past an indian guy reading scripts and the hardware comes in on a weekly schedule even though we have (had - cancelled after several horror-stories) 'gold' support. The Apple server systems have next-day (usually same-day) on-site support for at least 1 year or 3 years when you buy the extended warranty package. IBM and HP have similar support but you need to pay them a lot more money (we pay IBM several 1000's per year for that type of support on just a single system)

  • Re:Linux users (Score:1, Interesting)

    by publicworker ( 701313 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:41AM (#27597605)
    I bought a mac and I still have dandruff! What am I doing wrong? Plz help!
  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:43AM (#27597635) Homepage

    Hmm, given that there *is* a lot of open source software available for Windows, I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with something like apt-get for it (or maybe even ported apt).

    Unless anyone knows differently.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @10:49AM (#27597727)
    Really? Dell usually arrives within a few days and fixes the laptop in your house. That means no mailing. And assuming your laptop is just broken but still usable it gets you extra usable time. Plus it means you don't have to move your HDD (no idea how hard this is on macs .... thinking the Air).
  • And the very real:

    Sorry, got a bit carried away there (having left my computer on with a Photoshop document I'd spend 4 hours on without saving yesterday, only to find my computer now has a security patch for software I never use and a distinct lack of my work.)

  • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:26AM (#27598253)

    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.

    You're confusing "cheap," "efficient," and "quick" with "easy."

    The average (wo)man-on-the-street would find it much easier to drive to Best Buy, ask the blueshirt, "What's a good program to write up reports in?," pick the MSOffice box, find another blueshirt, ask, "What's a good program to use with my digital camera?," pick up the Photoshop Elements box, pay the blueshirt at the counter, pay for the extended warranty, drive home, stick in the CDs, and click through the GUI installers! Oh, yeah, and then click through the automatic updaters that run immediately afterwards.

    Only if you bring money (err, "taxes," I guess we call it now) into the equation does it become "easier" for the average Joe to learn how to use apt. (Much less figure out why they have to type "sudo" first.)

  • by mR.bRiGhTsId3 ( 1196765 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:35AM (#27598395)
    The thing about it is, you have to be willing to maintain a repository yourself. Given that if it works on an earlier version of windows, there is an extremely high likelihood of it working on a later version (unlike in linux where you do sometimes need a recompile or even patches) there is less motivation to store everything in a centralized location. I can understand this viewpoint, since, what is the point in maintaining a centralized repository of programs when a [specifically compiled] repository isn't necessary to install a program.
    To me, the argument about ease of installation has always been about making lemonade from the huge lemon that software compiled for one distribution isn't guaranteed to work on a different one, or even a previous version of the same. On the windows side however (at least from my own anecdotal experience) it is trivially easy to compile things to run on previous versions of windows, within reason. Case in point, being firefox, which I think until recently supported all the way back to Win 98.
  • by Corporate Troll ( 537873 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:49AM (#27598603) Homepage Journal

    Transistor degradation such as gate-oxide breakdown and hot-electron effects will effect transistor performance.

    Ugh.... It's "affect".... But that's not the issue here.

    Wikipedia transistor degradation if you'd like

    like this []? You should start an article, don't you think?

    Technically, what you are telling me is that my parents server, a machine bought in 1999, should be extremely slow. It's been running 24/7 for the last 5 years or so. (Same thing for my dads laptop, which was bought in 2000, IIRC... but that one doesn't run 24/7, but at least a couple of hours a day)

    I'm not saying it doesn't degrade, I'm not an electrical engineer, but if it does, the effects are insignificant. If it slows down 0.0001% (number pulled from somewhere very dark), it simply doesn't matter.

    If you actually want to know, you'd do the research, if you refuse to believe it, you won't, there's really not much I can do beyond that.

    This is not about belief. You asserted something, and I asked you some evidence. You said, wikipedia it, but there is no article. Google does have some interesting links, but nothing that I can comprehend. Where is the article for the layman, stating that after (for example) 5 years with moderate usage, his computer will run at about 25% of original performance? Not everyone is an electrical engineer, and I cannot asses such things.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @11:57AM (#27598693) Homepage Journal

    That doesn't mean jack. I can find an HP laptop with the EXACT hardware specs of any Apple laptop, for approximately $700 cheaper, and for the additonal $40 for a USB-EFI loader drive and another $150 for the OSX install disc, I can install OSX on my PC AND GET THE EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE FOR LESS.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gander666 ( 723553 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:25PM (#27599049) Homepage
    I just have to respond to this. I had a Latitude 620 that had a bad video out port. Called the dell tech. Brought out new memory (?!?!?) and a motherboard. In the space of 8 days, it took 4 visits from Dell, 3 motherboards, 2 sets of RAM, and since the tech forgot on the last visit to plug in the fans, and the system overheated and damaged the CPU, a new CPU. For good measures, they finally upgraded me to a refurbed 630, but that was the worst tech support experience I have ever had.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bemymonkey ( 1244086 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @12:37PM (#27599225)

    That's just it - a few years back I was dead set on buying a Mac (Powerbook G4 IIRC), but couldn't afford it. A buddy of mine got the 12" version, and every time I sat down with it, I was in heaven.

    These days, I've actually got a bit of cash, and there's no way I'd spend it on Apple when I can get the same hardware quality somewhere else. And that's not because everyone's caught up to Apple... it's because Apple's gotten worse.

    Overheating, creaky laptop casings, proprietary (in the sense that nobody else uses them and you need adapters to hook up a regular monitor) display connectors, the annoyance of iTunes... No way I'm paying $500 more than I need to for that - especially when I know the hardware's going to be outdated in three years anyway.

    Hell, since that time I was gassing for a Powerbook G4, I've upgraded/switched out 5 systems. If I'd gone for Macs each time and the price premium had been $500 each time, I'd be out $2500, which buys a used car or a few guitar amps...

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @01:30PM (#27599835)

    Computers are no "investment". But that most PC machines are virtually worthless after a few years and Macs still sell for good money is just a fact.

  • by Spykk ( 823586 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @01:36PM (#27599905)
    Or maybe they were just forced into that moniker by Apple's "Mac vs PC" ads. If you really need this to be a conspiracy you should probably start with Apple.
  • Re:Look at page 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by raddan ( 519638 ) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:00PM (#27600185)
    Actually, this is not true. We did this evaluation recently, and ended up going with Macs for our employees. It has had the added, unexpected, benefit that our employees who switched are stupidly happy now.

    Anyway, in the past, we've gone with WinXP machines for the reasons you mention. They're dirt cheap, the hardware is pretty reliable (you can get great deals from HP when buying in bulk, and their machines are a pleasure to work with), and the software... well, it functions anyway. Macs always came out more expensive, but not significantly so.

    The crucial thing that always tipped the scale in favor of MS was: legacy application support. We have a number of legacy apps-- some are more than 10 years old. XP mostly handled these apps OK. With Vista-- they simply do not work anymore. Unfortunately, they were written well before my time, so we do not have access to code, and the original developers have now moved on to other things. We're stuck with them until we replace them.

    So we're now faced with having to run them inside a virtualization environment until we can replace them. Heck, if we're going to do that... why stick with Windows?

    We looked at Linux, Vista, and the Mac. Linux seemed like a great option, and maybe in the future, it will be, but there were some dealbreakers, since it would require quite a bit more IT overhead to get going than, say, a Mac. Vista was disappointing, and frustrating to use, even for IT folk. Now, the Mac... it turned out to be quite easy to get going! We have it integrated into our AD. We've so far opted not to go with schema changes, but setting up Macs has been a breeze, and deploying them has been even easier than deploying Windows. No problems with SATA/IDE/driver problems-- the same disk image can be applied to ANY Intel Mac, and the image deployment tools come built-in! User templates can be set up just as easily as they can with Windows, and Macs can use our existing CIFS shares. SSO works!

    When we compared the price per machine (including software) between Windows and the Mac, the Windows machines were marginally cheaper (like $25 per machine)-- UNTIL we mentioned this to our Apple rep. She dropped the price for us, and we ended up with a package that was cheaper than the Windows machines.

    Add on the fact that administrating these machines is easy (no AV required!), we can do SSH and remote desktop out of the box, and for us, using Macs has been a clear winner.

    We'd go with Macs again, and this is despite the fact that I have previous ranted here about how Apple's enterprise support sucks. Their AppleCare program for consumer-level stuff is actually pretty good.

    For the record, all of my personal machines are Linux or OpenBSD. No Apple or Windows machines (not including my iPod).
  • Re:Meh. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:35PM (#27600769)

    Wow a thermal paste issue from y2k.

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