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January 17, 2010


Scott Palmer

At the risk of being branded a Mac fanboy, I completely agree that the initial expense of Apple hardware is more - but what about Total Cost of Ownership?

You say "I have already loaded Windows 7 and all my software," and I'm sure you paid something for that software. So: WIndows 7 = anywhere from $120 to $300, depending on the options. Perhaps you installed Microsoft Office? Perhaps more items? Each one of them costs money for the initial purchase - and for additional licenses if you want to install them on this new computer.

An Apple MacBook Pro comes pre-installed with the latest and most beefy version of its OS. (the $300 option above) It also comes installed with several apps like GarageBand (podcasting and more), iMovie (video podcasts perhaps?), iPhoto, etc. None of these has a free comparable analog on the shipping PC. Microsoft Office isn't pre-installed, so perhaps that's a wash.

Last, factor in the usability and time saved by using something that doesn't crash as often and doesn't require tech support to do things like setup a network, file shares, remote access, and any associated training costs or TIME.

Time is the biggest thing in my opinion. You charge for it, anyone who works does. So how much of your time is spent fiddling with things on the PC - things that I find most people don't have to fiddle with on a Mac?

Ten years ago I looked at the two platforms and made the choice to switch. Since then, I've counseled everyone I know to switch too. While everyone complains about the initial price difference, no one has ever said I steered them wrong.

TCO is how large companies decide what to buy to find out how much things really cost. In this (rare) case, I agree with that kind of logic.


Actually, a Windows 2007 Family Pack is $150, and contains 3 license. So, the OS is $50. I have owned WordPerfect and Word for many years, so no new expense. Same with my other software. There are many legal specific apps that just arent available in Apple, and those that are cost the same, whether Windows or Apple. Windows 2007 is fast, easy to use, and total cost of ownership for a new Windows machine is so far below the cost of Apple that I cant believe someone would argue otherwise. As for Garage Band, iMovie, etc., we are talking about lawyers and practicing law, no? As for time, the time involved in changing 20 years of Windows use to the Apple OS would be insane. And, Windows 2007 is not time consuming to learn. Many functions happen automatically. TCO? Please.

Scott Palmer

Three points:
1. The Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack is not intended for commercial use. As I referenced in my initial comment, I was trying to compare apples to apples (forgive the pun). Previous family pack offerings from Microsoft have all carried the condition "The software is not licensed for use in any commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating business activities." Microsoft references but does not adequately define a "Qualified Family Pack User" for Windows 7 on their site, and I do not have a copy of the current Family Pack EULA for Windows 7 Home Premium, but I would be surprised if the definitions changed from version to version.

2. As for software needed by "lawyers practicing law," I mentioned business uses for the bundled software, such as both audio and video podcasting which are regarded by some as valid marketing efforts, legal or otherwise. As well, iPhoto can catalog thousands of photos (possibly evidence, if you have that kind of practice) and allows for quick access, tagging, facial recognition, and more. The costs of Office and other programs is comparable on both platforms and not bundled, so I didn't discuss it. One advantage of owning a Mac is the option to use Windows too - so those "legal specific apps that just arent available in Apple" can be run on a Mac.

3. As for the other software you mentioned, and your situation specifically, it sounds like you're very happy because you find Windows easy to use and cheap to setup because you have all the software you need. In the end, that's all that matters for you. However, there are other people who might be reading this and be in a different situation. I wasn't trying to change your computing habits, I was simply trying to address your opinion about how elementary the choice is between the two platforms.

Perhaps others may want to see what consultants to the IT industry have to say about TCO of Macs vs. PCs. Here are two examples:

I'm not sure what you meant by the trailing "Please." but if it was meant to be dismissive of my position, then I've probably wasted my time with the above. I can't do justice to the whole PC vs. Mac debate, and there never is a winner anyway.

I hope you continue to enjoy your purchase for a long time.

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Lawyer,Poet, author, educator. Practices real property, corporation, wills, trusts and estates law in Pinellas County, Florida. Writes the FutureLawyer column. Gives seminars on technology and the law. Author of "Life is Simple, Really", Poems about Life, Loving, Family and Fun, and "Poems For Lovers".
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