Microsoft took on rival Apple head on this week in the education market with a special offer for students to purchase Windows 7 for $30, about the same price as Apple's competing Mac OS X Snow Leopard.
Microsoft is promoting the offer, which runs through January 3, 2010, on a special Win741.com Web site, where students can buy the upcoming operating system as long as they provide a valid student e-mail address. The offer applies to Home Premium and Professional versions of Windows 7.
The Windows 7 special offer comes as Apple makes a push to grab share from Microsoft with Snow Leopard pricing aimed at undercutting Microsoft for the first time ever. Indeed, Apple, which released Snow Leopard on August 28, has gone to great lengths to price its products at a premium compared to Microsoft. Nevertheless, here are five reasons why Windows 7 is a better deal for students than Snow Leopard.
1. Windows-based Systems Provide A Better Value: Even if Apple gives Snow Leopard away for free, it can't even come close to the value of systems that will be outfitted with Windows 7. Do the head-to-head price comparison and you'll regularly find Apple systems priced at more than double a comparable Windows based system.
An Apple 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook with a 13.3 inch display running Snow Leopard is priced by discounters at about $1,179. A Toshiba Satellite Core 2 Duo system is priced at $549. Do you really think in the midst of the current economic squeeze most working Americans are experiencing that Apple is worth a 100 percent premium? Not in my check book.
2. Windows 7 Will Be Used By Businesses. Snow Leopard Is A Sideshow: Like it or not, Windows has a 90 percent share of the market. It is absolutely the operating system of choice for businesses. Windows 7 does business. Apple Snow Leopard does artists and kids. Apple is a blip on the screen in the global market. Schools that are embracing Apple are doing kids a disservice, as they are likely to be working on a Windows machine when they graduate to the real world.
3. Windows 7 Is Playing Nice With Open Source. Snow Leopard Is Not: Microsoft has changed its tune on open source, and that's an advantage for students compared with Apple's proprietary stand.
Australia, for example, is rolling out 70,000 Windows 7-enabled Lenovo IdeaPad S10e for high school students. And believe it or not Australia's Department of Education has confirmed that the devices will be pre-installed with a variety of open-source software including GeoGebra, Dia, Audacity, Freemind and MuseScore.
Microsoft has changed its stance on open-source software, and that's an advantage for students. Apple is all about a closed proprietary environment and will never open up Snow Leopard to support open source.
4. Windows 7 Has More And Better Application Support Than Snow Leopard: It's about the applications, stupid. There are tens of thousands of education solutions built on top of Windows compared with hundreds for Apple. And the fact is the applications of the future are going to be designed for Windows -- NOT Snow Leopard.
Developers build products first and foremost for the biggest markets. That's how they make their money. Microsoft has built a huge infrastructure up to nurture and support these education developers. Apple simply can't compete when it comes to providing developers the support they need to deliver the education solutions of the future.
A computer is a computer. Applications are what computing is all about. And Microsoft is an applications company. Apple, by the way, is an entertainment company. As a parent, which would you choose as the platform of choice for your child?
5. Windows 7 Has Stronger Education Solution Provider Support Than Snow Leopard: Apple blew its chance to take a bigger share of the education market 20 years ago with its shabby treatment of a once-loyal solution provider channel. Today, Microsoft has tens of thousands of solution providers delivering real-world solutions to the thousands of school districts in this country.
Remember, a computer is a computer. It's all about building solution and services that make those students smarter and more productive. That's what solution providers do. Do you really think the Apple Store cares whether your child gets a good education? And, yes, solution providers that have got to deliver educational value to stay in business do care.