Friday, August 16, 2013

Comparing Apples to Apples

Spoiler: yes, this is another question as to why we put up with the mediocrity and hidden expenses of Windows.

I've been having trouble with my aging work laptop, so it's time to swap it out for a new one so the old one can go in for repairs.  OK, great, that's to be expected in the life of a product.  However, you know you've been spoiled when the way you've always done things seems just so ridiculously difficult because you know there's a better way, right?

So, what's the process?  I get a new laptop.  That comes with the standard corporate apps installed.  What about all the apps I need for my non-standard job requirements?  I need to install them - and do you know what a pain it is to install apps on Windows?  What about transferring the data?  I have to weed it out.  Storing everything under My Documents doesn't cut it, I have multiple drives because I have large storage requirements.  Also, thanks to your legacy Windows/DOS design, many programs and even Windows still have issues with "path too long" errors, because there are too many folders, so storing stuff under Documents and Settings makes a path that gives errors with some software.  Yeah, stupid, I know.

So it occurred to me, Microsoft is not a new company, and they have been in the OS business since what, the early seventies?  Surely they have a backup solution.  I looked at the versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8, and a whole bunch of other caustic questions came to mind.  Really?  People put up with this?

OK, so you buy a cheap PC, and you saved what, $100 or $200 or maybe even $500 over buying a Mac.  But let's compare Apples to Apples, the same thing.

First, choice.  Apple has 2 choices for OS:  The OS (yes, that's it, you get it all for $19.99), or OS Server (Get the OS and buy the Server upgrade for $19.99).  So you spend $40 on everything.  Windows 7 has 3 choices for the base OS (really confusing, right?), and the prices were $119 and up (no longer shown on the web site).  Then you have another 3 or 4 choices for the Server, and by the way, they are completely different OS's, so if you install Windows 7, you can't just add the Server portion to make it a Server, you have to reinstall Windows 2008.  Really?  And the cost gets outrageous.

Second, productivity.  If you look at the info page about backing up Windows, they just don't get it!  The girl starts off with "if you are worried about your hard drive dying" - that is the single least likely way of losing your data!  Really.  99% of the time, it is a file you accidentally deleted, or it got corrupted, or you saved, then realize you want to go back to an older version, or it got stolen.  And the timing options - back up once a day?  Really!  Really?  Really!  If you have read my article about Time Machine, you realize it backs up hourly for 24 hours, and retains daily for a period of time, then monthly, automatically.  All you have to do is provide a drive to back up to - and you don't have to buy a special, more expensive version of the OS in order to back up to a network (like she says near the end of the video).  This is outrageous, if I were me, I wouldn't stand for it.  Oh, wait, I didn't.

And don't even get me started on restore.  My IT guy tells me the plan to upgrade each employee's hardware is to ship the new laptop, give us 3 weeks (yes, 3 WEEKS!) to transfer our apps and data, then ship the old one back.  WTF, on a Mac, you just spend the time it takes to copy your files (350 GB, a few hours over USB, faster over Gigabit, etc.) and you have everything restored.  Apps, settings, data, everything.  No problem transferring across OS versions either.  And no annoying error messages from an app saying your path is too long - I mean, really!

So how expensive is it really to own a PC?  You have all the hidden costs (more time and confusion picking a more expensive OS, have to buy backup software, have to buy other stuff that comes standard or free with Mac), and soft costs (less productivity features/harder to use, slower operation, works for shorter periods of time, backing up and restoring takes weeks instead of hours), and resale value.  I declare that, when all things are taken into account, Mac hardware is actually cheaper than PC hardware.  With a Mac, you are paying for it up front, with little-to-no hidden fees.  With Windows, believe me, you pay for it one way or another, either out of pocket or in aggravation.

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