Ballmer: 'Tide has really turned' against Apple


Photo copyright of Paul Teixeira

Steve Ballmer identifies the difference between Windows PCs and Macs:

"The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."

It's interesting that Mr. Vista would think so little of the importance of operating systems.

[Thanks, Camillo!]

Published by Rob Beschizza

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  1. How much does Microsoft Office cost per seat these days? Seems like not the best marketing message, Steve.

  2. “It’s interesting that Mr. Vista would think so little of the importance of operating systems. ”
    Why would you think that? Clearly he is aware that Unix is multi platform.

  3. Why would ANYONE be threatened by a little Cupertino company with maybe 10% of the market share?


  4. Bottom line: he talks about the Apple Tax because he can’t talk about Windows’ compelling advantages over Mac OS.

  5. All I know is that I spend alot less time maintaining my Macs than I ever did my PCs. I don’t have a high billable rate, but it still didn’t take long for that time saved to overcome the Apple Tax.

    (On the other hand, Apple is being such a dick in consumer-land!)

  6. Apple has screwed up on the computer front for sure. The Mini pricing is insane ($600 for 1G memory and 120G drive) and the even though the Macbook isn’t a bad deal at $999 – it LOOKS like an old model compared to the new hotness.

    But Microsoft’s biggest problem isn’t Apple – it’s netbooks. If fewer people are willing to pay the $500 Apple tax in a down economy, they are new refusing to pay the $100 Microsoft tax (not to mention the $500 Office tax).

  7. “All I know is that I spend alot less time maintaining my Macs than I ever did my PCs.” – yeah, you just throw it out and buy a new one.

  8. Thus demonstrating that the CEO of the largest computer tech company in the world doesn’t even know what his competitor is charging for their products. Way to go, Stevie B! You’re ignorant!

  9. When a Windows OS can seamlessly seem to read and understand a snippet of text in an email or on a webpage to be a person’s name, title, position, company, mailing address, mobile number, email address and website – and add that information to your contacts folder in one click – while not needing to run a $70/year/seat security suite that negates the advantage of having an extra 1G of memory and an extra core in the processor, while simultaneously failing to leak that contacts folder to a crime syndicate in Estonia, all the while having an interval between operating system crashes of, on the mean, a year – and not forcing the end-user to have to understand how the computer accomplishes these things – maybe Windows might begin to make up for the decade-plus of training an entire generation to think that computers (and the software running on them) ought to be overly-complex tools that they don’t want to use.

  10. #7, I couldn’t agree more. My grandmother summarized it all better than me. She said she liked her Mac. “At last, a computer for dumb people like me.” she said. Steve B is obviously speaking of the hardware.

    Apple’s design team rocks though. I cannot deny that.

  11. Mac OS 10.5.6 Leopard sells for $129 at the Apple Store. There is no earthly reason that a Core 2 Duo equipped machine + OS 10.5 = Another OS + Equivalent third-party hardware + $500 (or more).

    By writing an overly restrictive EULA that locks OS X to Apple hardware, the company is able to legally overcharge for pretty aluminum cases wrapped around commodity Intel-based hardware.

  12. Ballmer may be king of it, but many of us still live in a magical, filtered world where Macs (spelled MACs, natch) offer no concrete advantages over commodity PCs running Windows apart from the insuffrably superficial.

    The denizens of this world are those for whom a clear, user-centered UI equates with “bling.”

  13. #11, what are you complaining about? By your logic, you must REALLY hate Bang & Olufsen. I would expect you shoot flaming arrows at their offices what with their overpriced garbage.

    Vote with your dollar.

  14. My God, you apple fanboys sure are full of yourselves. In times when people can barely keep a job, Balmer makes a fine point, no one is going to pay an extra who knows how much for a computer only to be able to say “I’m a mac”.
    Great, you’re a mac, you paid 500$ more than everyone with a pc, and it’s not even that powerful either.
    It’s great for the hip crowd, but for us people who need the money for something else, having a pc is a great choice, as they’re cheap, efficient, and everything works on it.
    Sure, Windows is no glorious gift from the Gods, but I’m not going to shoot myself for having it as my OS.
    And if you’re really have to be a self righteous arse, at least have the decency to not hate anyone who can’t afford a 4 digit price tag for something you could get for half the price with Windows, or even with Linux, these days.

    Ergo, Balmer, as “EEEEEEVIL” as he is, he makes a valid point. When money is tough to come by, you’re not gonna spend good money on product only because people can see that you’re cool. What are we, middle schoolers?

  15. #16, you’ve obviously been waiting for an opportunity to unleash your little rant about all the “apple fanboys” strutting and displaying their peacock feathers, but you did a pretty poor job of it. I see nobody in this post crowing about their superior Macs in any sort of self-righteous way, nor anybody suggesting you shoot yourself for owning a PC. Aren’t you just showing your own ego by claiming superiority over all the “arse” Mac owners out there? You seem to be the only one here namecalling, so don’t tell us all we’re middle-schoolers, Anonymous.

    And honestly, do your homework a bit first. You trot out the same old “macs cost $500 more for a logo” pony that Ballmer does, and you’re both wrong.

  16. @4
    Rob, I’m sure he has a list of advantages of Windows based PCs over Macs (software avalability, hardware expandability, etc.) but the real bottom line is that the language everyone understands is money.

  17. It used to be a matter of conventional wisdom that being a Mac user made one appear cooler and enhanced one’s romantic prospects (see this MacOpinion article from 1999). I wonder whether, in today’s economic climate, a tide of anti-materialist sentiment could reverse this, making the hip, Mac-owning creatives look like crass, bling-toting fat cats, and give PC users an rather cool image of sustainability. Consequently, if you take a shine to someone at a party and tell them you’re a Mac user, they might turn their nose up in disdain.

    Of course, even if this happened, Linux would eat MS’s lunch there. The dude with the woodsman beard, thrift-store shirt and vegan hi-tops who’s the centre of attention most likely has a homemade Ubuntu box.

  18. Apple fanboys vs. fanboy haters remind me of a Chevy with a sticker of Calvin peeing on a Ford logo and vice-versa.

  19. It’s also interesting to me that Mr. Vista would have such a short memory as to forget that Apple actually gained market share during the last downturn.

  20. Ballmer is starting to sound more and more like a blind Bush supporter…just talking weapons-grade insanity to hear his own voice. I mean I guess he has to say something, but it’s so impressively stupid that it’s getting ludicrous.

    And to the people above commenting on the ‘throw it out and get a new one’ myth…years ago I sold my G5 PowerMac for a considerable sum after it ran like a top for 2 years, which helped financed a huge percentage of my upgrade to a Mac Pro which has run utterly FLAWLESSLY for 2.5 years so far. In 12 years of frustrating PC buying, I was NEVER able to resell any of my PCs for anything more than scrap. Allow me to add that I have to run XP64 most days for my work. I speak from experience. Isn’t it odd that it took Apple to build the best PC I ever owned.

  21. I thought that after 25 years this Mac vs. PC stupidity would be over. Just use what you like and let the other guy use what he likes. Sheesh!

  22. I find it HILARIOUS that everyone seems to characterize “people” based on something as superfluous as their “OS” choice. A sign of shallow thinking? Do we really equate “hip” or “corporate” with your software choice now? Jesus.
    I won’t deny Apple has great design- but that’s about it. They exist because of their DESIGN department.

    Personally, I use Ubuntu linux. Linux is the only OS that runs on EVERYTHING, macs, pcs, hell, you can put linux on an Xbox, anything with a damn circuit in it. It’s rather simple to learn, it’s free too. I used to use windows, if I can get it, anyone can.

    Let’s all just move to linux, get free software that works well, stop paying assholes for useless bloatware with bad engineering on BOTH sides, and go back to singling out people based on their choice of clothes?

  23. The ironic thing in all of these tedious, tedious arguments is that the fanboy-haters inevitably place way more significance on owning a Mac than the people they claim buy them “to be cool.” At this point, anyone who buys one is doing so despite knowing idiots will think they’re hipster douchebags for doing so, meaning they must not care about image. Here’s a radical idea. How about we all just agree not to treat the operating systems we choose as somehow relevant to our identities or self-worth? Please?

  24. @#23
    Agreed on the resale value. Plus macs remain viable machines for much longer than any PC I’ve encountered. So, for the life-span and resale value the extra cost is worth it to me. Not to mention a computer that can run OS X, Windows and Linux… At the same time.

  25. #24, people like to be part of a thing. What thing it is usually doesn’t matter, whatever makes them feel good first. And once they’re part of that thing, people who are part of another thing become the enemy. After a while, they’ll start ignoring information that tends to disparage their thing, while internally overemphasizing information that tends to disparage the other thing, without ever knowing that’s what they’re doing. That way, no matter what their thing is, they know it’s right and can produce a handy list of facts to support their position.

    This applies to the people on every side of every thing that’s ever been and will ever be. It’s one of the fundamental defining characteristics of the human race.

    So it’s not very surprising that people are still at this.

  26. I think it was his coded way of saying that linux is awesome, and he understands why it’s getting more popular.

  27. I fail to see where he’s wrong.

    I bought a 13″ Aluminum Macbook a few weeks ago. Went with the 2.4 GHz version, with no options added. That’s $1,750 CDN before taxes.

    Dell’s slightly more powerful Stupid XPS 13 is $1,249 CDN (with the WLED screen like the Macbook). Why… that’s a $500 difference for nearly identical hardware.

    Now, you, I know, and everyone on slashdot knows the differences in OS, and might take that into account when purchasing. Hell, you might even go OS-free so you can run Debian off an E-SATA drive. But do you honestly think Joe Average is looking at the two prices and thinking “Yah, $500 is totally worth it for OSX.” when his office, friends, games, and current machine are all running Windows?

    I’ve had two friends drool over the Macbook since I bought it and lamented that they can’t possibly afford one. One went out and bought a $600 Toshiba in the end. OSX didn’t even come into the discussion.

  28. Tux is snickering behind his back. First consumers stop paying for overpriced hardware, then they stop paying for overpriced software. After the computers are all dirt cheap, the only thing left to sell will be services.

  29. We have a MacBook Pro with 4 gigs of Ram and a 7200 RPM drive. Bought Logic, Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite (all student licensing)

    I rented a firebox (audio hardware interface) and plugged it in.

    Apple said “hello” and automagically made everything work in Logic.

    I did the same thing an XP machine. 5 hours later I had it running, but I STILL have to reseat the Firewaire interface every couple of hours, and restart the firbox and my editing software in order for everything to Synch up again.

    Windows for Audio production SUCKS when it come to seamless integration and shit just working.

    Just so you know, I am speaking from a personal experience. I am not a fanboy, I am a real user with real experiences that say Macs are great machines when it comes to doing “real-world” Audio Production.

  30. With all this antipathy floating around I suspect quite a few Crest users afoot. I happen to use Colgate and fail to see why idiots out there would even consider putting anything else in their mouths. Don’t even get me started on Aquafresh.

  31. “#7, I couldn’t agree more. My grandmother summarized it all better than me. She said she liked her Mac. ‘At last, a computer for dumb people like me.'”

    I couldn’t agree more, your grandmother is dumb.

  32. I like my mac. No anti-virus, spyware blabla and difficult installs. So shoot me, I’m lazy. I’m willing to pay more for that. It’s saved me days of my life I would have otherwise have wasted.

    Also: macs are best for porn.

  33. Time for a reprise of the Botnet International Anthem!

    Botnets, worldwide botnets.
    What kind of boxes are on botnets?

    Compaq, HP, Dell and Sony, TRUE!
    Gateway, Packard Bell, maybe even Asus, too.

    Are boxes, found on botnets.
    All running Windows, FOO!


    Why, yes, I AM a smug bastard who’s running Mac OS X. Thanks for asking!

  34. I think Ballmer is unintentionally implying “Windows is the generic option. You want the no-name product, right?”

  35. What Ballmer (and the zealots from both camps) seem to realize is I’m not buying ANY computer in this economy. I suspect I am not the only one.

  36. Er, make that “DON’T seem to realize…”

    …that photo of Steve is really freaking me out.

  37. I’m an Apple-owning, latte-drinking, Chardonnay-sipping, French cheese-loving person who makes less than 18,000 dollars a year.

    And when my old Apple’s screen went a little dark after 2.5 years Apple gave me a brand new just-released computer to outright replace it.

    I have never heard of Dell, etc. doing this. To me, as someone who keeps everything for years, paying a tiny bit in the beginning more makes sense in the long run.

  38. Wow, for a second I thought I’d hit the Slashdot bookmark. Oh well. I love it when Steve Ballmer opens his mouth, it’s both hilarious and provokes the cutest flamewars 😀

  39. @ #32, ASTIN:

    I bought a 13″ Aluminum Macbook a few weeks ago. Went with the 2.4 GHz version, with no options added. That’s $1,750 CDN before taxes.

    Dell’s slightly more powerful Stupid XPS 13 is $1,249 CDN (with the WLED screen like the Macbook). Why… that’s a $500 difference for nearly identical hardware.

    But you’re not just buying hardware. You’re buying software too. They both come together. And that $500 difference gets eaten up quickly by Norton or MacAfee, Office, etc. Stuff that most people will want to run. Whereas with a Mac, iWork costs $49 when you buy a new computer, and honestly, you don’t really need much of an antivirus program with it.

    Add the opportunity cost (what’s your time worth) of headaches, hassles, annoyances, involved with Windows, and with a Mac you actually come out ahead.

    I use macs at home and for personal projects, and PCs for work, and every day I wish the people that make the proprietary software I have to use for work would make a build for Mac. I’d switch in a heartbeat just so I wouldn’t have to use Windows anymore.

  40. @ #45

    My point is that the majority of laptop purchasers don’t think of this. I know this, you know this, and guess what? I alos know that a large number of people who would actually get into this discussion wouldn’t pay a dime for Office, and would avoid Norton and McAfee. Anybody who gets into a discussion deeper than “which is better?” is pirating software and grabbing freeware AVS and Anti-spyware programs.

    Ballmer knows full well that Joe on the street is looking at two prices, the Best Buy info card, and making his decision based on that.

  41. Yeah, cuz a CD in a box is worth $400 (Windows Vista Ultimate Edition), right Ballmer?

    This guy is a world-class turd.

  42. #45 @deejayqueue,

    ClamWin, SpyBot, SpywareBlaster, and many other options are free. And Macs, while not currently the most common target are, nonetheless, easy pickings (see the latest PWN2OWN results: Safari was compromised in seconds).

    I’d argue that, with so much *less* choice of free software, not just for security (web browsers, archive readers, PDF readers, file differencing utilities, &c.), Macs are more expensive, even ignoring hardware prices.

    I’m not a huge fan of Microsoft or Windows (I prefer Ubuntu, largely), but let’s be honest: Macs *are* the pricier option all around.

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