Microsoft recently commissioned a report about the Apple tax and how much more it would cost for a typical family to buy and support Apple computers versus the price for lower priced Windows computers.  Not really a big surprise that Windows came out ahead of the game considering that they paid for the report.  What struck me though was just how badly put together the report was and how weak the argument against the Mac was.  For instance, the Apple family for some reason felt the need to purchase a lot of extra software that wasn’t included on the PC.

The worst part of the argument was the notion that Apple customers must shell out 99 dollars a year for a MobileMe account, which simply isn’t true.  It did get me thinking though.  What about the hidden Windows tax.  The typical Windows user will get their new computer and immediately have to work to get rid of the shovelware that is pre-installed.  Some pay upwards of 50 dollars at their store of choice to have the software removed.  While people have the option of downloading free antivirus or adware software, most customers are unaware of the free alternatives and will choose to buy software off the shelf to handle security, Norton and similar products run about 49 to 75 dollars and that is an expense that has to be re-incurred every year.

There is also time, the time it takes to deal with Windows based issues like .DLL errors and registry errors – these are things that most Apple computers don’t have to deal with.  You can either try and fix these issues yourself, which I’m sure most Lockergnome readers would do, or you can get someone to fix it for you.  Most consumers will end up paying for groups such as Geek Squad to come out and fix what is wrong.  Depending on the problem, that could mean anywhere from tens of dollars to over 100 dollars and that might happen at least once every few years.

The last part of the Windows tax that the average consumer has to deal with is upgrade costs.  Windows Vista is not very popular at the moment and once Windows 7 comes out there will be a desire to upgrade the operating system.  With Microsoft the cost for that can run between 99 dollars all the way to over 300 dollars if the customer decides to go with the Ultimate version.  Apple does not have the same issues with having to buy virus and malware protection software, most OS problems can be resolved with a simple Disk Permissions Repair, when you buy a Mac it comes without the shovelware that people hate so much, and an OS upgrade will only cost you 129 for the full version rather than the confusing varied pricing of Windows.

In the end, the Mac might start out more expensive but over time the Windows computer’s needs start to really add up – not to mention that Macs have a higher resale value when you are ready to upgrade to a newer computer.  I won’t even bother with the headaches that come from software activation, something that Apple customers do not have to deal with.  I would be less concerned about a theoretical “Apple tax” as Microsoft likes to call it and worry about the very real “Windows tax”.