Microsoft announced the new report on the Windows Experience weblog, a post written by someone we already know: Brandon LeBlanc. The report in question, sponsored by Microsoft and written by Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates, takes a look at a fictional family, and tallies their computer-related expenses over a period of five years, both for the Apple side as well as the PC side. It takes both hardware and software into account. The conclusion? By going PC, you'd save USD 3367.
The report is available as a .pdf file, but Microsoft has put the findings in a tax return-like form, and as you can see, there are some seriously dubious choices in there. The first one I noticed is that the family has to buy an Office and Quicken license when going Mac, but when going PC, they apparently already have those licenses.
Then there's the weirdness regarding the wireless router. I have and have had several Macs, but I've never bought any of the Apple wireless products. I bought a very cheap (35 EUR) wireless router over two years ago, and it still functions to this very day. The report somehow assumes that in order to use wireless internet with Apple machines, you need an Airport base station, which is utter nonsense, of course.
And can someone tell my why a normal family would buy a Mac Pro? Aren't those professional workstations? How many home users buy expensive Sun workstations? Wouldn't a family buy an iMac? Choosing a Mac Pro in this comparison inflates the Apple side of things needlessly.
They also touch the subject of BluRay. The report is indeed correct in that current Macs do not ship with BluRay capabilities, but the assumption that because of that lack Apple users need to buy a stand-alone player (as opposed to an internal BluRay drive on the PC side) is dubious. A Mac Pro can easily take a normal internal BluRay drive as well.
There are also a few things that do honestly work in the PC side's favour. For instance, a Mac graphics card upgrade will cost considerably more than a PC graphics card, something that honestly never made any sense to me. Another interesting one is MobileMe; Microsoft provides the same services for free.
All in all though, this report is nonsensical. Apple is a company that provides its customers with very little choice, and it doesn't serve the lower end of the market. Some of its component choices are highly debatable at best, and many people could certainly get a lot more value on the PC side of things, but this report will do nothing to sway people one way or the other.
Ultimately, though, I'm personally very tired of these side-by-side comparisons. They are always generalised beyond pointlessness, and have no base in reality. Can we all just please agree to stop making these comparisons? They look ugly in our comments section too, you know.