Windows 7 Pricing vs. Mac OS X: Why Even Go There?


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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