We are moving half the office to Mac computers this month.
Originally I was in the market for a couple of quads with Microsoft Windows. But to be able to buy those two computers, I had to figure out all the troublesome licensing of Microsoft. Originally we just wanted to say with XP, as that’s what we know and like. On the way, here’s what I discovered about Microsoft Licensing:
- licenses are extremely confusing (8 license levels? come on)
- licenses are not portable
- licenses are restricted to a single language
- licenses have to be activated
- hardware changes require reactivation
- you need antivirus software for every Microsoft computer (we’ve actually bought it for all ours from Avast)
We were relatively happy Microsoft Windows XP users with five XP licenses and four Windows 2000 licenses. We planned to stay that way, but it’s difficult and expensive to buy XP licenses these days and they don’t point forward.
Microsoft does offer Windows Professional 7 licenses with the option for downgrade.
When we called Microsoft’s telephone numbers for volume licenses, they were very coy about telling us what we could expect to pay. I’m sorry I don’t like hidden prices, which can only be revealed after review of your contract. If you have to hide your prices, there’s a scam in there somewhere. Moeover, we were also told that volume licenses would not allow us to do XP downgrades.
Apparently with Windows XP, a license is good regardless of what language you choose to install in the end. In Windows 7, unless you choose ultimate version, you have to keep the computer in the language for which you bought the license.
Which brings up the issue of versions. There are over 8 license versions. Guys, make it a lot easier, please. I.e. Ultimate shouldn’t exists. Starter shouldn’t exist either. Home and professional cover the two usage scenarios. If I buy a license, I should have the right to move it to another computer if I take it off the first computer.
In contrast, with Macs you just install the software. Of course you need the computer, but once you have that you can just copy a working OS from one computer to another.
We spent ten man hours just clarifying what Windows 7 licenses were available and which would work for us.* That’s a good start on explaining why we just don’t want anything more to do with Microsoft.
Go back to selling software, guys in Redmond. Complicated licensing to confuse and shaft customers is no way to do business. You’ve just lost ours.
* Once you are done with the licenses, you still have to configure and troubleshoot your own custom computers, downloading and debugging drives. There are hours to be spent here as well. Enough.
Alec has been helping businesses succeed online since 2000. Alec is an SEM expert with a background in advertising, as a former Head of Television for Grey Moscow and Senior Television Producer for Bates, Saatchi and Saatchi Russia.
Absolutely right. I never understood why there were so many versions of Windows (any edition!) We have now what, Ultimate, Professional, Home, Starter, Media Edition, blah blah blah blah blah. Why the eff does MS make it so complicated? Just make one version or at most two!
Mac OS X comes in one version, or one could argue two versions. There is OS X and then OS X Server. That’s it! No complications.
And I didn’t know that the licenses are only good for a particular language. What the eff? Why is that? Boneheaded-ness like this makes me wish MS would dig itself into oblivion.
The reason that Microsoft is playing this game is that Microsoft has a serious problem it must solve, “How do you get the Windows XP users to upgrade?” Microsoft must do this for two reasons: the XP users constitute 70% of the computer users in the world and Microsoft desperately needs the money for all the botched R&D. Very likely, It hasn’t paid off Vista and Longhorn’s development, yet.
I suspect that a third to a half of the XP users would stay where they are, if Microsoft didn’t push them. The reason they would hold fast is they are on old hardware and software that functions adequately for now. The business climate does not encourage buying new computers or upgrades.
What Microsoft wants is a new computer purchase, because that locks the Enterprise market in for another decade. The game with the confusing licenses is to exasperate you into going along with the crowd. If they can’t blind you with brilliance, then they must baffle you with bullsh*t. How much time can you devote to this junk? You have a business to run.
The problem with this strategy is that once you start cranking numbers and looking at options, you are likely to look at Apple and Linux as well. If the Windows XP users hold off long enough then they represent an opportunity for someone, besides Microsoft, to service.
Frankly, we don’t have enough evidence to know if others are following your lead. It will take another four to six months to see how things are shaping up.
The Vista users have every reason to upgrade, since their computers are less than three years old. About 15% to 25% of the XP users have computers which are three to five years old. Those computers are less likely to be upgraded, even though Windows Seven will work well. A new computer should be budgeted to replace them, but there is little hurry.
The computers which are over five years old are the problem. They have been relegated to minimal use. There is little reason to replace them until the hardware breaks.
We don’t know how this will work out. The people who have intensive computing needs, or need to maintain local files, are likely to stay with Windows or go with Apple.
You can stay with Wintel for lower initial price, but the smart money is to buy Apple for its lower total cost of ownership since you can keep Mac for an expended period to wring out the last buck.
Small to Medium sized Business owns report that their employees are 20% more efficient on a Mac. It certainly looks as though the move to Windows Seven will cause Microsoft to lose market share and Apple is making it very easy to migrate.
One of the more interesting solutions is Google’s Chrome OS. The reason is not that Enterprise users would move to the “Cloud,” but that Chrome would be hijacked for older businesses to use.
As you know, Google is designing the Chrome OS as a, very secure, HTLM 5 Web based operating System. Google is intentionally making it light weight to keep it from being hijacked.
The problem is that the Chrome OS is Ubuntu Linux under the hood. Normally, Business owners would not be attracted to Linux, because it is too geeky and technical. But, there is nothing to keep a canny Linux Distro from taking the GUI from Chrome and placing it atop a more robust Linux base.
Then, you could run your old XP programs in WINE. This keeps your old computers in use for a longer period at a minimal cost. By the time you are ready to buy a new computer, inexpensive Chrome OS Laptops and Desktops will be readily available. They will have Intel Atom computers-in-a-chip in them, but these will be fast enough for your light computing needs.
I suspect that the lower half of the consumer market could be stripped away from Microsoft as well as much of the lower half of the Windows XP computers. But, it’s too soon to say.
Heh heh, we just did the same with Leopard Server and saved enough to buy two Mac Minis and 4 macBook Pros on 40 seats. No brainer and since we already had the XP licences, there is no downside software wise. Our network guy was incredulous but well satisfied in a grudging sorta way.
Just make sure not to buy any additional hardware from Apple. A friend of mine wanted to upgrade to 4GB on her old Mac Pro. Apple’s price? $1000.
I’m not joking. That’s flat out rape. Which you can expect more of, now that you have bonded yourself to karmic nightmare Steve “Resident of Tennessee” Jobs.
While that may have been your experience in the past Apple has lowered their prices on custom order items (RAM, HD). However if their prices are too high for you can always buy from your favorite local vendor or macsales.com. Really if they wanted to update an older system why on earth would they even consider having Apple do it because you know it’s going to cost more then DIY? I mean don’t get me wrong Apple is in the business to make money and if your willing to pay they are willing to provide you the services. :)
I agree with Greg. Apples use standard RAM and hard drives. What else do you really want to be modding on laptops or micro computers?
Buy the minimum configuration and do the upgrade yourself if you are price sensitive.
Sure it’s a little harder to pop a Mini but how often do you have to do it? There’s some nice video guides to servicing your own hardware over at OWC. With the help of their video I was able to swap the hard drive inside a Macbook Pro with no difficulty.
Another big deployment cost on Windows, is disk imaging. Any variation in the hardware deployed, right down to the chip level, requires a specific install of Windows. To make disk images for consistent and controlled software deployment, you need to have the exact same hardware setups.
This is why corporate-class Lenovo, HP, Dell, etc. machines are equal or more expensive than equivalent Apple products – they have to lock in long term commitments to a specific set of hardware, in a rapidly changing technology.
OS X does not require a separate disk image for each machine. The minimal hardware diversity combined with a far more effective way of creating a consistent install, allows a single disk image to be deployed to every machine, regardless of age (within limits – the major Intel transition is a break from the older PPC world, but not a problem with new installs anymore).
As far as licensing, compare a Dell Server with a similarly configured XServe. The XServe hardware is cheaper than the same Dell, AND, when you add in all the Windows CALS licenses, an XServe is a fraction of the cost of the Dell.
And this is acquisition costs!! Life cycle maintenance costs on OS X are 20% or so of Windows, so the required IT support staff is greatly reduced.
The big issue with migrating from Windows is a massively proprietary nature of the Windows environment; each and every Microsoft product stores YOUR data in proprietary formats that are not easily transferred to non-Microsoft solutions, intact. Microsoft products are engineered in such a way, that if you buy into one product, if you want to extend that functionality, it has to be with another Microsoft product; the interfaces and data formats are al closed, so they hold your data hostage, and as a result, create massive cost barriers to migration.
Virtually every Apple product either stores the data in an open, published format, or provides extensive capability to move that data into non-proprietary formats.
Apple is willing to compete on capabilities; Microsoft knows they could not compete in that arena, and locks up the data formats, making migration costly.
Well put Kirk.
One of the big reasons we are making the shift to OS X is exactly that reason: we can create standard versions of our Foliovision bundle to clone out to new Mac Minis as we acquire them. At each stage modifying the image is not difficult.
hi there you are right about apple mac ox vs windows windows wants infint operating sytems with infint licencess verses the mac ox you got the mac ox and the mac ox server then the iphone os too for the cellular phone iphones and dont forget sun os linux be os sony play station os nintendo wii or dsi xbox os comadore 64 had zero os why cant microsoft have just one os with one licencess like apple or linus or be os
I read this article and the comments, and I have to say that it would not surprise me if Microsoft finds itself out of business one day in the future.
Storing up such animosity in your customers has to be the most stupid way to behave.
Now 2014 March. Thanks for this article – altho dated, it represents my personal view after bringing home a new Win 7 pc from Costco. A good pc I think, but I cannot bring myself to accept the outrageous license demands to ‘periodically review – ie snoop, search for who knows what – with or without your knowledge or consent – and decide whether or not to continue your license…’. Forget it Microsoft. This machine goes right back to Costco, and it will take 2 days, nowhere near 90. There’s a BIG stack of these machines in our local (Bozeman, mt) Costco; they’ve been there for weeks. I noticed some boxes have been opened – obviously returned in disgust. Mine will join them tomorrow. I installed Win 7 pro 64 using – gasp – discs – on a very capable machine, with telephone activation and no such outrageous eggregiously invasive license demands. That was to be our back machine, now the ‘main’ machine. I have some experience with slackware (linux), and hated it. I also got to know Macs early on and never liked their pervasively controlling environment. But now, here I will go with a home-built pc, Linux with KDE, OpenOffice, NO MICROSOFT CONTRACTS FOR ANYTHING AGAIN. I have joined the anti-MS crowd for real now. They used to provide a good system with reasonable licenses. Now, like the twits in Hollywood, they are using ‘piracy’ concerns to justify strong-arm, crowbar business practices. Many will just ‘go along to get along’ – I feel sorry for people so blind. jrc / formerly of Redmond
I should have mentioned above, the machine I installed Win 7 on was purchased seven years ago, has 8 GB memory and dual-cores, was loaded for its time. It came with ME and I upgraded to Win 7 pro 64 with DISCS. It has worked very well all this time, still working fine. jrc / formerly of Redmond