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Cost comparison of Windows PC and Mac

As you likely know by now, Microsoft is ending extended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. After nearly a decade, Microsoft will no longer be required to put out security patches or provide support for the Windows 7 operating system (OS).

While Microsoft announced Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows 7 starting April 2019 through January 2023, this is only a temporary solution and comes at a premium — $50 to $200 per device. Plus, Windows 7 ESU does not offer Help Desk support or regular bug fixes and patches. This is significant news for thousands of organizations and millions of PC users leveraging Windows 7.

On the bright side, now is the perfect time for organizations to determine how they want to empower users with technology, what types of technology they plan to offer and how they can protect the company’s bottom line in the process.

When strictly looking at a cost comparison of Windows PC and Mac, the upfront cost of each hardware can be deceiving. Some come to the conclusion that Windows PC is the less expensive device overall. However, when seeing past the initial price tag, the perception of true value changes.

This blog post compares Windows PC and Mac in four areas:

  1. Hardware and operating system costs
  2. Enterprise device management costs
  3. Support and help desk costs
  4. Hiring, training and retention costs

Hardware and operating system costs

In general, a Mac typically costs more than a PC. MacBook laptops start at $999 and go up from there depending on needs. Apple’s strategy has always been to create quality products that are built to last. PCs can range in price due to varying levels of specifications and battery life.

Those willing to sacrifice performance and features can purchase a low-level PC. According to business.org, the lowest an organization should ever spend on a business PC is $300, and that range will only offer the bare minimum of capabilities.

Beacon IT Services, an IT service organization, says a low-level or consumer-grade PC typically offers a 2-3 year lifespan before it needs to be replaced. Business-grade PCs — ones that more align with Mac pricing — can expect three to five years.

On the other hand, Mac can be a reliable computer for five, six or seven years after purchase. Online shoe retailer, GOAT, leverages seven-year-old Mac computers on a daily basis as warehouse kiosks. Mac longevity also leads to greater resale value once organizations look to refresh hardware — helping offset the cost of new devices.

According to PowerMax, Windows PCs provide close to zero residual value after three years, while a MacBook Pro offers more than $300 of residual and trade-in value after six years.

Software must either come with or be added to the computer. All Mac computers ship with the latest version of macOS — the Mac operating system — for free. Apple only builds one version of its Mac operating system so there are no discrepancies in features.

This provides a consistent, reliable experience across all Mac users. When a new macOS becomes available, which happens on an annual cadence in the fall, users can update for free, always.

Contrary, Microsoft offers Windows 10 in a Home and Pro version. While the cheaper versions of PC will likely only ship with the Home version, organizations are going to require the Windows 10 Pro version to give employees the basic tools they need to be productive.

Windows 10 Pro is $199 per device and will need to be added to all existing computers running Windows 7 and/or new PCs that don’t ship with Windows 10 Pro.

Enterprise device management costs

A management solution is essential for both Mac and PC devices. Management empowers IT to deploy new hardware, configure settings, update software, enforce security protocols and gather extensive inventory details. Management solutions are becoming increasingly foundational for the success of infrastructure and application investments.

Every macOS has built-in security features that naturally protect the device the second it is powered on. These include FileVault, System Integrity Protection (SIP), XProtect and Privacy Controls just to name a few.

Pairing these native (free) security features with updated OS and apps, Mac is inherently more secure and less susceptible to vulnerabilities than other platforms — and is not something organizations have to pay for.

macOS also includes a mobile device management (MDM) framework which allows products like Jamf Pro — the standard in Apple device management — to leverage in order to conduct ongoing, remote device management.

Apple deployment programs such as Apple Business Manager allow organizations to order Mac computers and flag them as corporate-owned devices.

Without ever opening the box, Jamf Pro can leverage the serial number of the computer to communicate with the device. Once the user turns on the computer, the device is enrolled into management and loaded with all the apps, settings and resources IT deemed necessary.

Jamf Pro also empowers IT to create a custom app catalog through Jamf Self Service. Self Service is a portal where users can access IT-approved apps and settings — all without submitting an IT ticket. In a recent Hobson & Company study, Self Service was found to reduce end-user productivity loss by 60 percent and help desk ticket volume by 15 percent.

Microsoft offers two management solutions for Windows: Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). SCCM has long been the standard for PC management, but Microsoft has added Intune to expand the management capabilities in a cloud environment for Windows admins. Many organizations will leverage both tools to fully manage Windows.

While costs vary with SCCM, the Open No Level (NL) License and Software Assurance (L&SA) price of a SCCM Client Management License is $62 per license for two years of service.

Intune starts at $6 per user per month, with two add-on packages available to include additional security and management capabilities:

  • E3: Enterprise Mobility + Security ($8.74/month per user)
  • E5: Enterprise Mobility + Security ($14.80/month per user)

Jamf Pro provides all Mac management features up front, and when new ones are made available, they are added to the solution without additional cost. Jamf Pro costs $7.17 per month per Mac.

Support and help desk costs

While support staff and resources will vary based on organizational needs, it has been well-documented that Mac users require less support than their PC counterparts. IBM has provided concrete data to support this claim.

IBM’s technology choice program — which has seen more than 100,000 Mac computers rolled out — cites that PC users are twice as likely to call support than Mac users. Plus, out of all the Mac support tickets that are opened, only five percent require an in-person visit. Contrary, 27 percent of the PC tickets that are opened require hands-on assistance from IT.

According to Spoke, an IT service provider, the average cost per support ticket is $15.56 ($1.60 per minute). With PC users submitting many more tickets and requiring more visits from IT, the costs quickly add up every time a PC user has an issue.

With less tickets to field, and streamlined management tools to automate time-consuming tasks, it’s safe to say that Mac requires fewer IT staff to manage than PC. In fact, one IT admin at IBM was able to manage 5,400 Mac users. And, according to Glassdoor, the average IT administrator’s salary is $60,000 per year, so identifying device management efficiencies and offering hardware that users can confidently use is essential to keeping staff costs down.

Aside from the costs of paying essential IT staff when a work device is being fixed, the employee is sidelined until the issue is resolved. Every ticket submitted and minute that passes is time and money wasted.

Hiring, training and retention costs

Employees are no longer satisfied living by the status quo. So, when traditional organizations provide a standard-issued PC to each and every new hire, this can leave many workers frustrated.

In a recent survey, employees said they are more productive, creative and collaborative on a work device of their choosing. And more often than not, the work device of choice is Mac. In fact, 72 percent of employees will choose a Mac over a PC if given the chance.

But choice programs aren’t essential, right? Well, 77 percent of employees will choose to work at a company or stay at their existing company if given a choice in work technology. This is an alarming stat considering how expensive it is to hire, train and replace employees.

Nobscot, an organization focused on HR technology and employee retention software, identified four areas where organizations are hit the most when employees leave:

1. Cost of turnover
When an employee leaves, the cost of the hiring process, training and overall productivity go with them. Nobscot says the average cost of turnover is 25 percent of an employee’s salary. If an employee makes $50,000 per year, it can cost upwards of $12,500 to replace them.

2. Loss of company knowledge
Employees who leave take with them valuable company, customer and project knowledge (maybe even to competitors).

3. Disruption of customer service
An employee’s departure often leaves a gap in delivery of customer service. Relationships are key to a strong business and returning customers. A break in the system could have a lasting impact.

4. Turnover leads to more turnover
When an employee leaves, others must pick up the slack until a replacement is found. This can lead to unnecessary stress and negative employee morale. Keeping employees happy (and employed at your organization) is crucial to any business. If you can do so simply by providing them the hardware they are most comfortable with, why wouldn’t you?

Offering Mac saves money

When you add up the potential cost of not offering employees the work technology they need, with the cost savings of simple to use, easy to manage technology, the answer is clear: Mac is a great option for even the most budget-conscious organization.

And offering employees Mac doesn’t hinder them from leveraging the best part of their PC experience — the Office applications. These productivity applications (Word, Outlook, Excel, etc.) are now available in the Mac App Store and Microsoft and Jamf have partnered to make it simple for organizations to empower users with secure access to these apps on their Mac.

If you’re ready to give Mac a serious look, try Jamf for free and put best-of-breed Mac management features to the test. Or, if you want more reasons why Mac saves organizations money and moves businesses forward, download our full Windows and Mac cost comparison guide.