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. I love this! I’m sure the university IT department had to jump through a lot of hoops, and present pages of documentation and cost projections based on the particular needs of the university to get the Board (or whomever) to buy into this really radical proposal to go all Macintosh.

    So this writer does a “back of the envelope” analysis to refute their thinking. Sorry…I’ll trust the judgment of the IT guys in Wilkes-Barre who have put their collective butts on the line cos you know there are lots of people in the university dying to say “I told you so!”

    (Not that they will ever get the opportunity!)

  2. How would 250 Macs have the same functionality as 1450?

    This guy doesn’t get it does he?

    Plan A: Run any Windows or Mac program on 1450 computers. Max Mac users: 1450. Max Windows users: 1450. Total computers to support: 1450

    Plan B: Run any Windows or Mac program on 250 computers. Run any Windows program on 1450 computers. Max Mac users: 250. Max Windows users: 1700. Total computers to support: 1700.

    I’m not in IT, but wasn’t one of the reasons Macs were always relegated to some corner of institutions that it’s easier to support if all the computers are the same?

    Regardless of the advantages of Mac OS X, this school’s plan is simpler, has less support requirements in quantity alone, and can do more.

  3. “obviously you use Mac OS X to access the Net and only run Windows for the odd Windows-only apps”

    At this moment I’m on my dual ethernet Intel Mac at work using Safari on the Internet, while Windows XP is running in Parallels on our intranet (Novell Network) =).

    Both run together simultaneously flawlessly.

    A lucky few have dual ethernet cards in their PC’s. First go to Start/Run and type ipconfig /release. Then right click on Network Neighborhood, select properties, right click on the NIC card you want to turn off and select disable. Then for the NIC card you want to activate right cick on it and select enable. Close the Network window. Go to Start/Run and type ipconfig /renew. If your going from the Internet to the intranet right click on the Novell “N” on the task bar, select Netware Login, then log in as normal. Repeat the process to go back. Did I mention how lucky they were?

  4. I know you can get the Dell Dimension $450 machines, or in this article’s case, the $700 machines, but what do you get?

    We get Optiplex’s because they’re going to have the same chipsets and be the same. Dimensions are not meant for mass deployment — you never know what’ll be inside them. Order 200 and you might not be able to use the same disk image on them.

    We’ve spec’d out hardware for quite some time and we do pretty well to get it down to about $1000 for each computer. That reduces this “writer”‘s cost differences by quite a bit. Remember this computer has to be usable for 3 years with, effectively, no post-sales hardware upgrades.

    i’d love to get Macs around a lot more but it takes time to change attitudes of those who are scared of Macs. In the meantime, I’m slowly pushing using Macs here, and I’m the one who runs all of the servers and the Oracle databases.

    I have to say that pre-OSX I hated the Mac. It sucked major donkey nuts. But with OSX and its real memory, process and user management, it is quite nice. There are still those who are scared and only remember the OS9 and earlier Mac.

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