Intel-based Macs can save your university money

Apple Store“Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA, expects to save $150,000 over the next three years by switching from generic Intel-based PC platforms to the Intel-based Apple Macintosh,” C. Marc Wagner blogs for ZDNet’s Education IT blog in an article headlined, “Can Intel-based Macs really save your university money?”

“According to eSchool News, Wilkes University is replacing their entire compliment of Intel student workstations with Macintosh computers running Boot Camp (Apples dual-boot technology), Mac OS X, and unspecified ‘virtualization’ software,” Wagner writes.

Wagner writes, “Well all this is fine and dandy but one of their arguments is that the Macintosh is less susceptible virus attack. Don’t they realize that a Macintosh running Windows is no less susceptible to virus attack than any other Intel-based PC running Windows?”

MacDailyNews Take: If you want to keep you machine free from malware infestations, then obviously you use Mac OS X to access the Net and only run Windows for the odd Windows-only apps that you need, keeping Windows offline.

Wagner continues, “[Wilkes University’s] rationale is that by using all Macintosh hardware, they will need 250 fewer workstations than they would need otherwise… If we take the simplest approach then, the $150,000 savings divided by 250 fewer workstations comes to $600 per workstation. Gee, that just happens to be the retail cost of a Mac mini (sans keyboard, mouse, and monitor). Add a genuine Apple monitor, keyboard, and mouse to a Mac mini and it is more expensive than a comparably-equipped iMac. Go figure.”

MacDailyNews Take: You can “go figure” all you want, but if you’re not using Apple’s education pricing and whatever terms to which Wilkes and Apple have agreed upon, you’d be figuring wrong just like Wagner.

Wagner continues, “This $1.4 million project will provide the university with 1450 workstations over three years (certainly a sensible life-cycle), or just over $965 per workstation. Sounds about right — assuming that you really need that expensive a machine to meet your typical student’s computing needs over a three-year life-cycle.”

MacDailyNews Take: $965 divided by 3 years is under $322 per workstation. Wagner makes no mention of Windows anti-virus subscription costs, Windows IT support costs, and other Windows-related costs that are eliminated or severely reduced by using Windows only when needed and keeping Microsoft’s OS offline.

Wagner continues, “I won’t quibble with the advantages to students of not having to go to a specific location to use a particular application. In this respect, being able to boot up the environment that you want in order to run the applications that you want in any student lab on campus is a considerable advantage. Still I would argue that for under $700 per non-Macintosh workstation, Wilkes University could provide their students with the same functionality on those 1450 workstations and have plenty of money left over for an additional 250 Macintoshes for those that really need them.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, by all means keep the Mac users ghettoized and don’t let the WIndows-only students experience the superior Mac OS X. Is it any wonder that C. Marc Wagner is described by ZDNet as “an education IT veteran?” He sounds like most IT people we’ve met over the years; thankfully they’re all approaching retirement age. (Granted, education IT people are more accepting of the Mac in our experience than, say, corporate IT types.)

Wagner continues, “If this simple ‘back of the envelope’ analysis demonstrates an upfront savings by sticking with Macintosh alternatives (while providing students with more total workstations), it would suggest that while their decision to switch to 100% Macintosh hardware might not be a bad one, it is not a cost-saving one.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Neal” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Wagner’s simple(ton) ‘back of the envelope’ analysis demonstrates nothing as he ignores many important factors we’ve mentioned above along with the very real physical space gains that not deploying 250 additional machines will afford the university. Intel-based Macs can and will save your university (and business, for that matter) money if you can get around your “IT veteran’s” prejudices, incomplete reasoning, and poor math skills.

Contact: C. Marc Wagner

Read “Wilkes Going All-Mac Across Campus” here:

Related articles:
More on Wilkes University’s plan to dump all Windows PCs, replace with superior Apple Macs – March 16, 2007
Wilkes University to dump all Windows PCs, replace with Apple Macs – February 22, 2007


  1. Oh, yeah – there’s gonna be lots of handwringing, kvetching, wailing and gnashing of teeth in many IT departments the world over, and not just on college campuses, if this keeps up.

    The place where I work is actually doing a “Mac Week” in my building – showing all sort of cool things Mac-related, including an AppleTV demo yesterday. Sure hope I win one of the iPods in the drawing!

    (Of course, they’re also ramping up to install Vista on all PCs starting this October, so it’s not all peaches & cream ’round here…)

  2. Twit twit twit. No matter which way you look at it, over a three year period, almost all if not all those Macs will be up and running with little IT input. If they were Windows machines, 20% would be non-functional due to viruses, 20% under repair, 20% would have a non-functioning CD/DVD player or some other such accessory or port, 20% would be crashing or giving BSOD from time to time. Finally with only 20% functioning you would have all the Mac students with no computer to use.

    This guy puts the B back in dumB

    I wonder if he only writes about universities or if he ever went to one.


  3. Wagner concludes: ” it would suggest that while their decision to switch to 100% Macintosh hardware might not be a bad one, it is not a cost-saving one.”

    I thiink this guy’s on to something here. Maybe the $150k savings is just window dressing, an argument to use with parents, students, supporters, etc. Maybe they just really want all Macs.

    Of course, I’ve always known that my Total Cost of Ownership was lower than having rooms full of PCs.

  4. I had a windowscomputer that I used for gaming that worked without a glitch for about three years. It wasn’t connected to the net ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  5. The first time the university is hit with a bad Microsoft update or virus and everybody running Windows reboots into Mac OS, it will be deemed the most brilliant move ever.

    For that matter, it’s a brilliant move regardless.

  6. This issue of corporate attitudes to Macs prompts me to post a recent event in my workplace.

    Those of us with responsibility for staff have been forced to attend an “Achieving Results Through People” course, which begins with your controlling officer, colleagues, and staff “anonymously” writing down your attributes and defects.

    One of my personality defects was listed as my insistence on “…..using [a] Mac computer when the entire ….. network is PC based”.

    This incident, and many others like it over the years, tells me that there’s something deeper-seated in this Mac – PC thing that I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on. Freudian perhaps, or maybe our presence is simply an irritant; a constant reminder that there is actually another way of getting things done with a computer, and that way may even (gasp) be better than doing it on a PC.

  7. A PC will be cheaper than a Mac? Ask my son about that. The “reguired” Dell laptop for his courses cam to about $3200! Granted it’s equipped with everything but automatic sex dispenser but GEEZ that’s a lot for technology that will be out of date before he complete his courses.

  8. Why do these people write articles without doing even basic research? There is no indication that he spoke to anyone at Wilkes. That would be sloppy reporting unless if was a deliberate ploy to enable him to write the article the way he wanted to…

    ZDNet should employ a proper journalist!

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