Windows 7 pricing was made official not long ago, and the general consensus is that, despite a slight drop in Home Premium pricing compared to Vista, it’s too expensive. Still, there are some in the Microsoft community that try to justify it by comparing it to […]


Windows 7 pricing was made official not long ago, and the general consensus is that, despite a slight drop in Home Premium pricing compared to Vista, it’s too expensive.

Still, there are some in the Microsoft community that try to justify it by comparing it to Apple’s pricing for Mac OS X. Microsoft can never win this game. Heck, Microsoft never even gets in this game. And yet, you have folks like Ed Bott at ZDNet giving it a shot. Here’s his latest salvo:

In two recent posts… I took a closer look at the differences between Windows 7 editions and their counterparts from Apple.

That’s from the first sentence, and already the article is off to a misguided start. There are no “counterparts from Apple” to Windows’ OS Editions. Every Mac OS X sold is — to use Microsoft’s terminology — Ultimate. Let’s keep that point in mind.

In previous posts, Bott had taken some criticism because Apple offered a Family Pack, something Microsoft would not talk about for Windows 7. But now he thinks Microsoft has beat (or is at least competitive with) Apple there. He supplies a partial screenshot of the license agreement for Windows 7, and then clarifies it with this:

If you can’t read the screen shot, here’s the relevant section: “If you are a ‘Qualified Family Pack User’, you may install one copy of the software marked as ‘Family Pack’ on three computers in your household for use by people who reside there.”

Bott seems pretty excited about this. To his credit, I appreciate that he understands a Family Pack is not a particular luxury any more. There are simply too many households with multiple PCs. Microsoft is still silent on the issue, so Bott has to speculate:

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Microsoft prices the Family Pack at $189, which is $10 less than Apple’s Family Pack (although Apple’s license is good for five Macs in a single household).

I appreciate that Bott points out five licenses are greater than three. However, to do so parenthetically minimizes that five licenses is a lot more than three. It’s 66 percent more, to be precise. Based on Bott’s price guess, it means you’re getting two additional licenses for 10 bucks! I’d say italics and bold were called for more than parenthesis.

Further, Bott again ignores that Mac OS X licenses are Ultimate, not two notches below that in the form of Home Premium. (Bott’s tack regarding the whole Professional and Ultimate thing is to simply claim you don’t need them, doing so with a cheesy marketing checklist of cherry-picked OS “features”.)

The biggest fact Bott ignores — and I played along, because Apple wins anyway — is that Snow Leopard will be $29, and the Family Pack $49, for users of Apple’s current OS. Even if you’re using an older Mac OS, Apple offers a sweet deal via a boxed set containing Snow Leopard, iLife, and iWork for just $169. Throwing in the latest iLife and iWork is a major plus since Leopard and Snow Leopard have features the latest “i” versions can take advantage of.

Finally, the above great pricing is not “special,” or “pre-order,” or “limited time,” or “mail-in rebate,” it’s simply The Pricing.

I think it’s time to get Lauren and have a series of “OS Hunter” ads. “Hmm, this OS is $29 and contains all these great features, this one is $120 and is two steps down…”

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  1. What you may have forgotten about, is the upgrade to Snow Leopard is only available to those currently running Leopard. If you’re upgrading from Tiger and earlier, you will need the $129 version. For the first time in Apple’s history, they have offered two different prices for the same product. And I sure hope that this doesn’t continue, because I love the simplicity of Apple products and marketing.

    1. There is no $129 version of Snow Leopard. You get it for $29 upgrade fee, or you buy the box set with Leopard, Snow Leopard upgrade, iLife, and iWork.

    2. The Apple upgrade is really just an upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard, like a service pack which Microsoft does not make you pay for. Windows 7 is a new OS that isn’t just an upgrade from Vista as much as people are saying it is going to be.

  2. Chris Pratt Friday, July 3, 2009

    Microsoft’s “editions” turned me off long ago, when many of us got burned with the whole “XP Home doesn’t support networking, you need Pro for that” fiasco. Arbitrarily limiting features of an OS just so you can charge more for your actual OS, is a real BS move. And, frankly Microsoft only gets away with it because Mac OSX is not a directly competitive with Windows. You get so much more with Mac OSX (even more than Windows’ Ultimate edition) at a fraction of the price, and a small fraction at that.

    It’s even more embarrassing for Microsoft when you consider that even the limit-time upgrade offers are much more expensive than Apple’s Snow Leopard upgrade will be, and Apple is improving upon an already awesome OS. Conversely, Microsoft unleashed the demon that Vista upon the world and is now charging everyone to get a “Vista that Works”. And, I’m sorry, that’s all Windows 7 is; it’s Vista as Vista should have been. If Microsoft had an ounce of decency (an obviously severely lacking character trait), they’d just give away Windows 7 to all the poor saps that got saddled with Vista.

    1. I don’t know what you’re saying, but vista work fine for me. Never had any problems with it and never will have. I don’t understand the people who keep bashing on vista.

  3. Louis wheeler Friday, July 3, 2009

    gopowers, he didn’t forget. He mentioned that you can buy buy the boxed set for $169. That gives you the latest versions of iLife and iWorks, so Snow leopard cost you $11. Where is the heart burn in that? Plenty of people skip upgrades. Apple doesn’t owe them anything when they do.

    Besides, I had read, several months ago, that 92 percent of the Mac user base had upgraded in the 19 months since leopard was released. Probably over 75% of those are Intel computers which can use Snow Leopard. Hence, the $29 up grade offer applies to most users.

    Anyway, this is America. It is supposedly a capitalist country where companies can choose what to sell their products for.

  4. Smooth Criminal Friday, July 3, 2009

    I like Apple. Trust me on this one. But there is only one problem with Snow Leopard. SL is just an updated Leopard. Sure Apple ironed out some kinks out of Leopard and added a few minor tweaks but it killed the PowerPC (non-intel Mac) users. So SL in my opinion qualifies as just a service pack which the unholy Microsoft gives away for free! Think about it. Free vs. $29 for leopard users & $129 for Tiger users & the rest of the Mac users with non-intel macs can just go to hell or simply buy a new mac…
    Another thing, Vista was bad for many who had old systems so Windows 7 is supposed to work for those same old pc’s which had problems with Vista. So if you are one of the people who could not install Vista on your old pc, you can still install windows 7. So the brute Microsoft still took care of its customers while Apple ditched its non-intel mac users altogether.
    Trust me when I say this, I still like Apple but I feel slowly it is turning into another Microsoft.

    1. wait until it comes out and then try and compare it to any windows service pack… i doubt you’ll be able to

    2. However, many of the biggest improvements with Snow Leopard (Grand Central, OpenCL) only apply to the dual core (which means Intel processor) Macs, so if you’ve got one of the old PowerPCs, I’d argue you don’t NEED to purchase Snow Leopard.

      In addition, your statement that “if you are one of the people who could not install Vista on your old PC, you can still install Windows 7″ is false. The official minimum recommended specs are essentially the same as Vista at the 32 bit level, and I can tell you with confidence that my 5 year old PC wouldn’t run Windows 7. The reality is that at some point, a new OS will always leave an old model behind. My old PC runs XP comfortably, and old PowerPCs do the same with Leopard. I don’t see anything wrong with this.

  5. Don’t forget the price for Windows usually quoted is for an upgrade version. All OS X releases are full versions. To be fair you have to compare Windows Ultimate Full Retail version to The OS X version. Currently Windows is $319 for Vista at Best Buy.

  6. I was about to leave a comment on Ed Bott’s ramblings but others did it already, so I juste moved along… then I saw you post, and I’m happy you point out how biased Bott was.

    Still, I doubt all this makes any difference, people don’t “hunt OSes”, they hunt laptops/desktops/phones/…

    Android is the only exception I currently know where I hear some non-expert users think about OS choice…

  7. @ gopowers:
    If you have a computer that’s still running Tiger, chances are it can’t be effectively updated to Snow Leopard so your comparison is flawed. Windows 7 is similar in that it requires pretty much the same hardware spec as Vista but it works because most recent computers are now more capable and can now run it. If you have a machine that is running XP and could not support Vista it won’t support Windows 7 in the same way. Both manufacturers are right to discourage those upgrades.

    @ Smooth Criminal:
    You’re completely off-base in describing Snow Leopard as a “service pack.” Almost everything is new and the whole system is 64 bit, it just *looks* the same. That doesn’t mean it *is* the same. The entire windowing system has been re-written from scratch for starters. Leopard is intended as a foundation and Snow Leopard is the bridge to the new hardware and 64 bits. The original Leopard is intended for the old machines and Snow Leopard for the new.

    This is just as if when Microsoft came out with Vista they made a special edition for the older slower computers so that people wouldn’t have compatibility problems. Microsoft *didn’t* do this of course.

    Snow Leopard also makes old computers faster. I’ve yet to see a Microsoft operating system that actually sped up an old computer when applied. Typically, you need a new computer or you need to beef up the old one a bit to make it work at the same speed.

  8. @ Gazoobee
    You seem to be unaware that Windows 7 does run on hardware which was too old for VIsta, in fact it can be run on a notebook which was a no-go zone for VIsta. Heck, someone even managed to get Win 7 to run on a Pentium II (Even XP had problems doing that).
    The fact that Leopard is going into 64-bit territory will not create any real noticeable difference to anyone’s system. Sure it will have better memory management and it will finally incorporate GPU acceleration for quicktime but for the most part it’s just a change for developers, so as far as the end user is concerned the main difference will be the added “Snow” to the “Leopard”.

  9. Snow Leopard is considered a full version upgrade for one reason only: it stops the support on PowerPC. For everything else, it seems to be an updated Leopard like other described. Apple is basically forcing people who still run PowerPC Mac and Tiger/Panther to get on-board with Intel Mac already.
    I think most people with Intel Mac already have Leopard, so $29 upgrade seems reasonable. Although I do feel bad for people with early Intel Mac on Tiger because Apple is making it difficult to either buy a newer powerful hardware or forking out the cash for the updated Leopard, which has a pretty high hardware requirement that early Intel Mac barely met.
    At the end of the day, there’s no comparison for Mac and Windows though. My sister’s laptop was advertised as “Vista Ready” with XP, but it is too slow for Windows 7, so basically she’ll just have to get a new hardware anyway – Maybe finally jump to Mac.

  10. iphonerulez Friday, July 3, 2009

    Any anyone that doesn’t have an Intel machine is not able to upgrade to Snow Leopard for any price. Not that it matters to me since I’m still running Tiger on my MacBook Pro 2.33 and still enjoying it. I had Leopard running for a while on my old G4 dualie MDD and it was OK, but I still went back to running Tiger in the end. I’ll move to Snow Leopard when I buy my next Intel Mac which will hopefully be some four-core iMac.

    Look, it really doesn’t matter whether the cost of Windows 7 is a worse deal than OSX. Apple can’t even give away OSX to consumers who will nearly always to continue to choose Windows PCs over Macs. The enterprise loathes OSX and will always go with Windows no matter how bad a few people think it is. OSX will always be flawed as far as Windows compatibility goes and Microsoft will always see to that. They’re not stupid.

    As a diehard Mac user I think all this talk about Windows being Satan’s OS is totally overblown. It works OK and almost everyone in the world wants to use it. No matter how much Microsoft charges for it, almost nobody will dump their PCs and switch to Macs, especially businesses. They’re not going to start from scratch. Windows is a bigger religion than Buddhism. It’s so rooted in the world, nothing can ever kill it and certainly not Apple. Microsoft licenses Windows to everyone and Apple licenses OSX to no one and that is the reason OSX will never grow beyond a small percentage of market share. Windows industry is just like the iPod industry. Whole industries of software and hardware have been built around Windows to make money and only a few Mac users want it to go away.

    So Mac users, enjoy OSX and be content on running it on a Mac. Just don’t get any delusions of grandeur about Apple and OSX ridding the world of Windows. Microsoft will sell tens of millions of copies of Windows 7 at any price and PC users will pay to get it no matter how much is charged. Windows PC users are stuck for better or for worse and they’re helpless to do anything about it.

    1. >> Apple can’t even give away OSX to consumers who will nearly always to continue to choose Windows PCs over Macs.

      Wrongo. Mac sales are up a lot more than PC sales.
      Apple is going like gangbusters nowadays. Check the
      sales figures. They’re all over the web.

      >> The enterprise loathes OSX and will always go with Windows no matter how bad a few people think it is.

      Exactly wrong. It’s the relatively few people who make
      decisions for IT departments, that foist Windows on
      their helpless victims — who often loathe Windows.

      >> OSX will always be flawed as far as Windows compatibility goes and Microsoft will always see to that. They’re not stupid.

      Actually Microsoft is stupid — or weren’t they found
      guilty of illegal monopolistic tactics?

      OSX is not “Windows compatible”, nor does Apple
      want it to be. There’s a little thing called Boot Camp,
      that Apple supports, that allows one to dual-boot
      Windows on a Mac.

      There are also a little thing called virtualization — read
      up on Parallels, VMware, and Virtual Box from Sun —
      that allows one to run Windows, Linux, and Solaris,
      WHILE one is running the Mac OS X host system.

      Windows is on the way out. Wait a few years and it
      will be apparent to everyone.

      Sunny Guy

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