IBM VP Claims Macs Cost Hundreds Less To Maintain Versus Windows PCs In The Enterprise

Quick, which is more expensive to own, a Windows PC or a Mac? Conventional wisdom (and not-so-fuzzy math) says Macs typically cost more than comparable Windows PCs, but if you look beyond the initial price and also factor in time and money spent maintaining each system, do things change? IBM's VP of Workplace as a Service Fletcher Previn came to the conclusion that Macs are by far the better buy after analyzing post-sales costs.

While speaking at the Jampf Nation User Conference this week, Previn broke it down like this—the initial cost of purchasing a Mac system runs anywhere from $117 to $454 more than a similarly configured Windows PC, but over a four-year span that follows, IBM saves between $273 (MacBook Pro 13 versus Lenovo T460) up to a whopping $543 (MacBook Pro 13 versus Lenovo X1 Yoga) on Mac maintenance costs. Or put another way, Previn is saying that Macs are collectively three times less expensive to keep up and running over the course of four years, compared to Windows PCs with similar hardware and features.

Apple MacBook Pro

"It ends up being $57.3 million more expensive per 100,000 Windows machines, or exactly 3X the cost," he said. "And this is a conservative number. This represents the best pricing we've ever gotten from Microsoft."

This sounds like a set claim Apple would make at a press event, and perhaps it will borrow those numbers when it unveils new Mac systems next week, as it's expected to do. But is Apple really saving tens of millions of dollars by switching to Macs?

It's hard to analyze these numbers because IBM's looking a newer generation hardware and comparing it with previous costs. The way this financial analysis all came about was by IBM in 2015 letting its employees decide whether they wanted a Windows PC or a Mac.

"The goal was to deliver a great employee choice program and strive to achieve the best Mac program," Previn said.

At the time, around 30,000 IBM employees were using Macs. After being given the choice, that number jumped to 90,000 employees, and looking ahead IBM plans to deploy up to 300,000 Macs to its workers.

IBM's IT department supports over 600,000 computers, around 442,000 of which are Windows, 90,000 are Macs, and 72,000 are Linux. According to Previn, IT workers go out and manage the Mac environment 104 fewer times per year than they do for Windows. He also said that only 3.5 percent of Mac users call up IBM's help desk, versus 25 percent of Windows PC users.