And more ....
There are a number of other items missing from this PC versus Mac 'value' comparison.
I'll cover these in more detail below, but how about;
1. Onward compatibility - Transitions in both hardware and OS platforms
2. Depreciation - Very important when spending large sums on IT
3. Support - Yes, both companies offer extended support schemes, but which one can you get the best free advice from
5. I have to say it, Style is important. Especially when it leads to a better user experience and better productivity
1. Throughout the years, I have owned both PC's and Mac's. Generally PC's for desktops as I like to be able to customise the performance and upgrade over time, but Mac's for laptops as no laptop is easily upgradable anyway!
Through the various transitions in Hardware and OS platforms, I believe Apple manage the process much more elegantly and by working closely with developers, make technology transitions more or less painless. The only exception I have come across recently is that the G4 hardware is not fully supported by the latest iLife packages and will not be supported by Snow Leopard. This however, is not really an issue. The G4's were last sold over 3 years ago, so anyone wanting these new software features are probably close to replacing their hardware anyway. That leads nicely to my second point, depreciation, but I'll come back to that in a moment.
I can't say that MS has handled transitions well. In terms of hardware, the fact that it doesn't control the development of many of the components of a PC, makes this near impossible.
I did download the Vista upgrade advisor program prior to Vista's launch. About half of my hardware and a third of my software was not fully compatible. I would need to wait until the hardware manufacturers released updated drivers (some still have not!!) and software would need upgrading (generally at a cost). So I've stuck with XP.
2. Now, depreciation. Look on eBay at what people are selling 3 year old PC's for and what they are selling 3 year old Mac's for. In this time period, most PC's seem to have lost about 90% of their value, yet Mac's are generally selling for 40% to 60% of their original value. For example, my iBook G4 1.42 GHz, is 3 years old this month. When new, it was worth £749. I've been tracking similar spec units on eBay and they are selling for between £300 and £450. I'd be happy to get just £300 for mine as it was purchased under the home initiative programme so only cost me £420.
3. Support - Now my iBook did come with a 3yr Applecare support package, but I've never used it. I have however wondered into Apple stores to get some quick advice on upgrades, etc. The staff in Apple stores are 1st rate, and always make sure your question is answered, even if they have to 'phone a friend' in Cupertino. Contrast that to the occasions when I've needed similar help with Windows. It took 3 months and many expensive phonecalls to resolve a system crash caused by an updated Nokia phone cable driver. I couldn't just walk into a shop and ask a MS person to help me.
4. Reliability - My iBook has been bullet proof, with no system failures and the only problems I have encountered were caused by MS software (Office 2004 and Windows Media Player). Since removing WMP and updating Office 2004 many times, the system is extremely stable. Contrast that to my XP based desktop. As mentioned above, the Nokia driver and many other problems have occurred over the last few years. This is making me seriously consider an iMac for my desktop PC. The fact that it can boot into Windows to allow me to use my Windows software without needing to replace it all, is a real plus.
5. Apple Style; well I think it is much more than that. Apple obviously spend a lot of time working out how a user will use a system and it's applications. The user interface is far more intuitive and does not need the plethora of third party 'customisation' apps to make it work your way. I personally find I am more productive on a Mac than a PC. I also don't need to reach for a user manual or search google on "how do I ...". No registry hacks required, no reinstalling the OS every year or so to gain back performance lost through junk building up in said registry and other areas of the system.
So overall, I really don't see an Apple tax, but paying a little extra to get a system that actually does what I want is more than worth it. If anything, there is a MS tax, the one that taxes your brain. I've lost count of how many times I've wondered how Bill Gates became so rich on products that are "still in development". Don't get me started on Windows ME, which came installed on one of my earlier PC's!
Page one of the report said it all; Sponsor: Microsoft. Sadly Mr Kay seems to have sold his sole.