Microsoft Windows five times more expensive for users than Apple’s Mac OS X

“How much does it cost to maintain Windows and Mac OS X? Since Apple has released five times as many major updates and over fifteen times as many minor updates to Mac OS X since 2000, you might not have guessed that Windows actually costs users five times as much to keep up to date,” Daniel Eran writes for RoughlyDrafted. “Here’s a historical comparison of professional desktop operating systems from both, leading up to a future outlook for how Microsoft’s significantly more expensive platform will affect new computer sales in 2007.”

Eran found that, for a Mac user since 2000 who upgraded to each new version of Mac OS X, the total cost of maintaining Mac OS X software was approximately $50 a year, or around $350 since 2000. But, for a Windows user since 2000 who upgraded at the one opportunity available, the total cost of maintaining Windows software was over $250 a year, or more than $1800 since 2000.

“The much lower cost of Mac OS X and Apple’s far more frequent releases of free updates will be a major selling point next year for users comparing the purchase of a new Mac with Leopard over a new PC with Vista,” Eran writes. “Additionally, while Leopard will likely continue to run on the same Macs as Tiger (anything modern enough to have built in Firewire), Vista will require a new PC to run, likely something from the last year and a half.”

Eran asks, “Will users see the value in paying over three times as much for Vista over Leopard? With the average price of consumer PCs dropping this year to $744, will users be excited to pay around half the cost of a new PC to buy Vista Ultimate Edition software?”

Full article here.

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Bear Stearns: Apple’s new Mac Pro, Xserve pricing well below comparable Dell systems – August 09, 2006
Apple cuts prices across entire Cinema Display line – August 08, 2006
Dell warns of earnings miss; shares plunge 15% – July 21, 2006
Survey shows big jump in consumer interest in buying Apple Mac; Dell takes steep slide – July 06, 2006
The Wired 40: Apple #2, Microsoft drops to #36, Dell falls off list – June 28, 2006
Time Magazine on Apple’s 13-inch MacBook: ‘Dell and HP should be very worried’ – June 07, 2006
Apple passes Dell in market value – May 02, 2006
Dude, you got a Dell? What are you, stupid? Only Apple Macs run both Mac OS X and Windows! – April 05, 2006


  1. uhm, doesn’t he forget the price of the OS purchases? Shouldn’t there be 5x $128 USD somewhere in that chart? Maybe I don’t get this at all – but what exactly is included in this “maintain” ?

  2. This headline is misleading. Purchasing OS updates is only one small component of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which is the true measure of computer ownership/maintenance cost. Installing the updates is a cost not mentioned. Also not mentioned is the cost of anti-malware, etc. Andthat doesn’t even touch on productivity costs.

    A bogus headline on a bogus article.

  3. *** RETRACTION ***

    I retract my comments about the article. It is quite good, and worth reading.

    I stand by my comments about the bogus MDN headline. Also this was a poor editorial job by MDN – they missed the full intenet of the article.

  4. Actually, PC ownership is even higher. Have you

    noticed how often Windows user replace their

    machines? From the first day they take it out of the

    box, it starts slowing down. Anti- virus, malware,

    ect. The actual viruses and malware that do infect

    the machine, lack of code optimization, .dll’s

    piling up. Some people know that they must wipe the

    hdd (laughable). The less knowledgable ones say,

    “man this thing is slow, off to Best Buy!”.

  5. I think this is a silly comparison. But what is not silly is that fact that a copy of Windows XP is $310 while OS X 10.4 sells for $129 (and can be found for as little as $89!) Windows Server 2003 with 25 client licenses costs $3706 while OS X Server v10.4 w/ unlimited client licenses is only $999!

    I’m sorry, but I find Microsoft’s pricing to be outrageous. How in the world can they justify their cost?

  6. Mac users by FAR are the better value purchasers

    They also to happen to be a little bit smarter than the average Windows PC user which gets sucked into Microsoft’s software “Stockholm Syndrome” effect.

    This is why it’s very important Mac users shouldn’t buy Microsoft software, OfficeMac is a insecure trojan horse designed to lure a Mac user into the SS effect and eventually Windows hell.

    Much like a preacher has almost full control over his church’s minions minds, so does Microsoft have abusive control over PC users minds. Apple has control too, but it’s not abusive, it’s seductive.

  7. For the average computer buyer out there, these long-term cost comparisons won’t be factored into the buying experience. Apple still has this “too expensive” and “not compatible with anything” stigma attached to it.

    Granted…the truth is, Apple is a far superior product than any Microsoft-based product, but Apple has some big hurdles to overcome if it wants to be a major world-wide player. I think Apple is doing a great job; these things take time. But for the time being…Joe Computer Buyer is more than likely to pick a $399 Dell for his college bound youngster.

    Sad, but true.

  8. This article does not factor TCO, Total Cost of Ownership; the resulting loss of productive time spent fixing, adjusting, installing, restarting and restoring the operating system. Anti-malware software and other necessary non-proprietary software slows down the OS and further wastes the user’s time.

    Every time anyone has tried to compare the Windows and Mac operating systems in terms of TCO, Mac ALWAYS comes out far less expensive.

    When you add the more frequent repairs and replacements of Windows PCs, Mac would be cheap at twice the price. Sadly, most people are far too lazy to do any research and they just buy computers like they would a microwave oven, assuming all computers are the same, and never realize they can make a choice that will save them hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars with just a few hours of online research.

  9. Antivirus, firewall, system mechanic, registry cleaners, antispyware, and so on. Is what you need to keep your windows computer a little bit longer before you have to re format the hard drive. And you will take 3 hours to make it work again with all the drivers and protection software. Reformat a Mac, only takes 20 minutes and you do not need to do it every six 6 weeks..

  10. Wow, will some of those commenting actually read the article before spouting BS? The author DOES take into account the TCO due to /security/malware. If you don’t agree with the math, say so. But don’t ignore what the author identifies as the most expensive part of maintaining Windows. Especially if you’re going to label others as “lazy.”

  11. Jake,

    You really didn’t make much of a point. The author didn’t say anything about time spent.
    That was M di L B Simoni’s point. My point
    was that lots of people actually replace a
    machine to alleviate the problem. So, what was
    your point again?

  12. The answers to Eran’s questions is simply no. And especially on the issue of looking at how much more it really costs to run Windows, that’s the one question that no Windows user, private or enterprise, is willing to look at. Make no mistake, it has always been cheaper to use Macs in the long run – period, this is nothing new to those of us who have always used Macs at home and in the workplace.

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