Pfeiffer Consulting: Mac vs Windows: Total Cost of Ownership, Productivity and Return on Investment

Pfeiffer Consulting has released a 200 page report, “Macintosh/Windows: Cost and Productivity Analysis – Total Cost of Ownership, Productivity and Return on Investment,” (1999,00€) that details the results of an international survey of Macintosh and Windows platforms in professional publishing. The report is based on extensive international market research covering companies from the United States and 5 European countries, as well as extensive productivity and efficiency measures. The report is specifically conceived to provide corporate IT decision makers with data-driven analysis and recommendations, this book-length research study provides a unique resource in the complex process of choosing the right computing platform.

Pfeiffer says, “This report provides strategic data and analysis for IT decision makers who need to gain in-depth understanding of differences between Macintosh and Windows computing platforms in terms of total cost of ownership, efficiency/productivity, and return on investment. Created with extensive involvement from major publishers and media groups in Europe and the United States, “Macintosh/Windows: Cost and Productivity Analysis” provides real-world total cost of ownership information on Windows and Macintosh platforms, covering purchase costs, cost of deployment and administration, as well as security-related costs. In addition to extensive market research and international data collection, extensive productivity benchmarks developed specifically for this research project provide detailed data on the productivity and user interface efficiency of the two platforms, both for common user interface operations and for publishing specific tasks and workflow situations.”

Pfeiffer recommends the following groups of interest:
• Senior IT executives
• Corporate IT decision makers
• Technology managers in publishing and media groups

Key Information contained in the report:
• Research data: purchase, administration and security costs for both platforms
• Key data on the attitude of IT decision makers to operating systems.
• Complete results of productivity benchmarks and user interface efficiency measures
• Cost analysis and TCO data based on reported purchase costs, lifespan of computers, staffing and adminsitration data
• ROI projections based on market-specific productivity measures
• Analysis and Recommendations

More info here.

IT-Enquirer has an article about the Pfeiffer Report that explains, “Pfeiffer found that needs and attitudes differ greatly depending on the level of involvement. In most corporations, Windows machines are used for office tasks and general computing. Macintosh computers on the other hand are used by creative users –that is at least the traditional break-up of users. Pfeiffer, however, has a far more granular approach to who uses Macs: he says Macintosh computers are deployed mainly in deadline-driven departments– a distinction which allows for greater accuracy in determining what type of group exactly benefits from using Macs.”

“Pfeiffer also distinguishes three levels of attitude towards the Mac platform. The anti-Mac group as a strong tendency towards standardisation of computers to the Windows platform. Consequently, as soon as it is possible –read: whenever the same functionality seems to be delivered on Windows machines– the Macs go out the door and are replaced by Windows machines. Pfeiffer reports that the main reason for doing so is that Macs are perceived as being difficult to integrate with Windows PCs. The report states that most organisations in this group were still using Mac OS 9 instead of Mac OS X,” IT-Enquirer reports.

“The anti-Mac group was long countered only by an almost fanatic group of Mac-afficionados. It looks like this has changed. Pfeiffer sees a second group which he calls critical but pragmatic. This group considers Macintosh computers better suited (more mature) than Windows with respect to publishing functionality and overall productivity. This group looks upon Apple as not being a good enterprise player. The report states this is because Apple does not provide for a proper technology road map, and for not making hardware fully backward compatible,” IT-Enquirer reports. “Of course, the latter is a contradiction in terms, and the respondents in this group should know better: it is by making everything so far backwards compatible that Windows is inferior to Mac OS X in several areas. The third approach is the pro-Mac attitude: this group will only use Windows when they really have to, and where they see an economic benefit in using Windows.”

“The report does state Windows support personnel could easily support Macs as well. A rather large minority says that staff would need extra training. Surprisingly, a large number of administrators say they feel replacing Macs with Windows will increase administration costs. Companies that have made the move from older Mac OS systems to Mac OS X experience a decrease in support requirements in comparison to the older systems. Users tend to find the user experience on Mac OS X better and more efficient than on Windows. User preference is reported by Pfeiffer to be a significant hurdle in corporate plans to standardise to Windows,” IT-Enquirer reports. “Pfeiffer states the Mac has less “user interface friction” than Windows has. The term cleverly defines what users at least instinctively feel when they switch back and forth between a Mac and a Windows PC. This User Interface Friction is most aggravating when working on a tight deadline. That’s why the report sees their impact most noticeable in those deadline-driven environments… What surprisingly is no longer a differentiating factor between Macs and Windows PCs, is cost. Pfeiffer states the purchase cost of a Mac and a Windows PC have become very close, particularly when compared on a per-year basis for the expected life-span of the computers.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Apple Macintosh simply does more and costs less than Windows PCs – February 14, 2006
FBI: Viruses, spyware, other computer-related crimes cost U.S. businesses $67.2 billion per year – February 01, 2006
Windows to Mac switchers: recommendations and Total Cost of Ownership analysis – September 29, 2005
Apple Macs are less expensive than Dell PCs – April 24, 2005
Apple Macs are far easier, cost less to manage than Windows boxes – March 02, 2005
Novell CEO: ‘Microsoft sucked $60 billion out of IT industry that could have used for innovation’ – September 13, 2004
Switching from Windows to Mac OS X costs less than you think – August 18, 2004
Windows worms and viruses cost companies average of $2 million per incident – July 08, 2004


  1. Agree with you, Charlie. Unfortunately no-one seems willing to pay the $2,500 and tell us what the report actually said.

    Research into user attitudes is one thing: all it tells us is the existing prejudices of IT departments. It’s the headline Total Cost of Ownership data that I’d like to see.

  2. “The report does state Windows support personnel could easily support Macs as well.”

    Yeah they could if they weren’t a bunch of small minded lazy idiots. I’ve run into these guys, the ones who are too lazy to read anything on MacOSX. Most likely because they don’t want to read anything that will make their old tired arguments moot.

  3. That report linked to in the article has a small sample of the report available for download. (The price of the full report comes close to a full month’s salary so I passed on reading it all.) What’s in the sample is this:

    Mac ————————-Windows

    Average time/cost to deploy a new computer:

    60.3/$45 ——————–114.7/$82

    Average time/cost to replace existing computer:

    81.3/$59 ——————–136.2/$100

    Open 100MB Photoshop file:

    3.8s ————————- 1.6s

    Switch from Photoshop to Indesign & back again:
    (The difference here is due to higher “User Interface Friction” in Windows.)

    16.5s ———————— 21.1s

    Average time for a Windows user to make an error in mouse operations: (they used a Windows user for both platforms to factor out user-familiarity)

    4.5 (approx) —————– 4.6 (approx)

    Number of mouse related errors:

    2.0 (approx) —————– 11.8 (approx)

    Yikes… even a Windows user makes about 6 times FEWER errors when using OSX. What’s that tell ya?

  4. Thanks for the info Wingsy. I found this item curious:

    “Switch from Photoshop to Indesign & back again:
    (The difference here is due to higher “User Interface Friction” in Windows.)

    16.5s ———————— 21.1s”

    I’m assuming that this is the amount of time it takes for InDesign to open?

  5. I’d like to see a comparison of tasks using only key commands. The control key in Windows is nowhere near as easy to use as the command key IMO. And alt-F4 to close a window rather than command-W? Maybe Vista will suddenly have easier key commands and MS can proclaim more innovation.

  6. >>The control key in Windows is nowhere near as easy to use as the command key IMO

    WTF? What are you smoking? This brings mindless fanboy statements to a new level.

    I don’t think this is a “fanboy” statement. The Apple Command key is more centrally located and allows easier one-handed key combo selection. Apple has a slight ergonomic advantage here.

  7. “Switch from Photoshop to Indesign & back again:
    (The difference here is due to higher “User Interface Friction” in Windows.)

    16.5s ———————— 21.1s”

    I’m assuming that this is the amount of time it takes for InDesign to open?

    I don’t think so. The article said that it includes the user interaction with the interface, so I would assume that it entails the entire process of switching, doing something useful, then switching back. If it were load time I think they would have said so, like they said when simply loading a file in Photoshop.

    Someone buy this report & email it to me. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  8. Mindless fanboy? WTF? Bite me, doughboy.

    First, I said it was my opinion. Second, I use my left hand thumb on the command key and the left hand forefinger for easy reach to all of the common commands such as Q, W, A, S, D, Z, X, C, V. I use Windows from time to time and resort to using the left pinky finger for the control key which is weaker and more awkward. Again, since reading comprehension isn’t your forte, this is MY opinion. Using any other fingers or two hands makes even less sense, IN MY OPINION.

    BTW, your bank is trying to reach you. Your “reality check” just bounced.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”angry” style=”border:0;” />

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