My first PC was an Apple II. I loved it. It started the PC revolution. However, Bill Gates landed the contract to provide the operation system for IBM and my work required my migrating to the Microsoft environment. My second PC was an IBM.
Once parts started becoming available, I built all of my PCs. I could build a higher quality system than you could buy from a vendor. The same is still true. Dell, HP and others are caught up in the commodity market and that tends to drive quality down to have competitive prices.
When Jobs returned to Apple, I liked Apple’s equipment, but I could never justify paying more than it would cost me to build an equivalent system.
My last Microsoft system was a Gateway, because I found a very good deal. It was well built and a screamer. Once I moved it from Windows Vista to Windows 7, it was a fine PC. Windows 7 is the best OS Microsoft ever built in my opinion. I know there are still XP advocates, but I liked 7 much better. However, it required a lot of power to run 7 and many stayed with XP because it ran on older hardware.
Getting an iPad started giving me thoughts of moving to an Apple desktop environment. I sold my Gateway and bought an iMac. It was a powerhouse and an overkill for my needs these days. So I sold my iMac at a bargain price and I moved to a Mac Mini.
Now my computer farm is the Mac Mini, a Mac Air laptop, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. I have so many Apples, I almost have an orchard. On the surface, each is premium priced when comparing raw components (CPU, etc.) vs competitors. However, the build quality is superior.
Over the last two years, I have seen another side to the value vs cost equation. I have now decided that when you figure in software cost, the quality of the Apple assembly, and simplicity of use, any cost difference is negligible. I will give you a couple examples.
First let’s look at the software I use. The desktop OS is OS X for an Apple. My first new generation Mac OS was the Leopard system. Then I moved to Snow leopard, then to Lion and the last release was Mountain Lion. Apple has been pretty good about pricing their OS reasonably. I think I have had to pay $20 for each upgrade.
And if I were using 5 desktops, it would still have been only $20. Not 5 x $20.
When I compare that to Microsoft, I would have paid a minimum of $80 for one PC and if I had 5 I would have paid $400 to upgrade. If I wanted to buy a retail version, it would have cost me around $150 a copy.
Not only that, but the licensing strategy is different. Microsoft ties a license to the PC. If you sell the PC, the licensed software stays with the PC it is installed on. With Apple, the software is tied to a user ID and moves with the owner.
The same seems to apply with applications. Microsoft Office sells for well over $100. Each PC you have that uses Microsoft Office will have to have a paid license.
Apple has its compliment application package called iWork. It contains a word processing package, a spreadsheet package, and a presentation package. Each costs $20. If you have 5 Macs, you still pay for one copy.
The iPhone and the iPad have compliment applications and they cost $10. I use the word product and the spreadsheet, but haven’t purchased the presentation product. Again, if you have 5 mobile devices, you only pay one time for the apps.
The real value of the Apple environment is the integration between all pieces, both hardware and software. A contact created on my iPhone is instantly available on all devices. Any calendar entry is instantly available on all devices. A document I create on the iPad can be immediately opened on my Mac Mini or Mac Air. This is because of the software integration with Apple’s iCloud.
With each software upgrade I have had with Apple, I have felt there was positive movement without a stinging learning curve. Many Windows users are not singing that tune if they moved from Windows 7 to Windows 8. I never thought I would see the day, but Microsoft has a real hill to climb to get back on top.
Now let’s look at two hardware failures I have seen in the last few weeks. One was my Mac Mini’s disk failure. Once the disk was replaced and I had the device, it was about an hour until I had all my files restored; it was operational, and it was as though nothing had ever happened.
Four days ago, Natalie’s Window’s laptop started having problems.I tested the disk and it appeared to be OK.
It became obvious that the OS had become corrupted.
This required breaking out the DVDs that were created at the time of purchase and doing a system recovery. It took over an hour to run through the 5 DVDs.
Next all the system updates that had occurred over the last two years had to be downloaded and applied. This took over 24 hours only to find that it would not allow the last update to be applied. How painful. The web information on how to fix that problem was beyond my patience level.
I am convinced that If I had a retail system disk, I would have been fine, but commercial systems no longer provide them. Yesterday morning, it took it to MicroTechnology to let them do their magic.
When the laptop is fixed, Natalie will have to restore her data. The process will not be as easy as with the Apple, but at least she has a backup of all her files. Many Microsoft users never realize the need to do backups until they have lost a lifetime of photos.
The TimeMachine feature of Apple will constantly backup up your system if you provide a drive. It is easy for even a novice to keep a good backup. Windows does not have a similar system. There are a few backup programs you can purchase that do the same thing, but for them, you have to toss in another $35 or more.
I am realizing that the value that has been built into the Apple design has more than offset the initial cost of my purchases.
The other day, Apple announced a new iPhone line. On the 18th they will release their new mobile OS. Later this year they will release their next desktop OS. None of these will be “WOW” changes from the past, but all will be solid improvements over the current environment. And once again, much of the improvement will be environmental integration improvement between desktop, mobile device and the iCloud.
If you are in the process of making a PC purchase, I won’t say that Apple is right for you. or is the best choice for you. You have to decide for yourself. However don’t just judge based strictly on price.
Make sure you are comparing comparable products, when evaluating the price. The installed Microsoft operating system needs to be at minimum a “Professional” version of Windows to compare against OS X. The starter Windows system is a piece of junk in my opinion.
Second, the PC needs to have 4 GB of memory. Less is not acceptable. Many of the cheaper systems only come with 2 GB of memory.
However, this not a problem since memory is cheap, but figure in the cost when comparing. With Apple products, I buy the minimum memory configuration and add more myself. It is easy and much cheaper than buying from Apple.
I should mention that not all Apple systems are capable of having memory upgraded by the user. Some Apple models, such as the Mac Air, should be bought with the amount of memory you need. It is not user upgradable.
All Windows PC come with a trial version of Microsoft Office in hopes you will buy it. If your needs are like 95% of the users, you can download Open Office for free and still create and read Microsoft Office documents. I also use Open Office to supplement Pages on Apple.
There will be tons of other bloatware on any Microsoft based system. Some are not easy to remove. None of my Apple systems have ever had bloatware.
I will say, if you have used Windows systems for a fair period of time, it will take a little while to adjust and feel comfortable with OS X. However, most that I know of that have made the move are not interested in moving back. Oh and if you want to use both systems, you can run Windows on a MAC alongside of OS X.
Sorry for the long piece. It was on my mind after working with Natalie’s PC problem, and when my mind is on something I have to write about it to get it off my mind. Whew!