The rivalry between PC and Mac has been legendary. The feud really heated up with the “Get a Mac” campaign in the late 2000s. Advertisement campaigns suggested that the people who buy Macs have different personalities than PC buyers. This instigated healthy back-and-forth ad wars between Apple and Microsoft for the next few years. These multi-million dollar campaigns may have helped both tech giants achieve more sales in the consumer market.
However, the business market has different expectations than individual buyers. For enterprises, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) plays a front and central role in the purchase decision process.
Mac vs. PC: Determining Cost-Effectiveness
IT departments & web design companies should consider a few factors while calculating the TCO to determine cost efficiency. Here’re some of them:
1. Base Services
Every computer in an organization needs a set of basic services. At the outset, power and internet connectivity must be available. The cost is essentially the same for both computer platforms. Then, organizations will need to connect their computers to a directory for users to connect to the network resources they need for work. Microsoft’s Active Directory is popular and Macs can be easily bound to its directory services. The cost of a Client Access License (CAL) is the same for Mac and PC.
After power, internet, and a license for the directory service, companies will need to license other services for users to do their work. This often includes mail accounts, cloud storage, help desk support, expense management, collaboration tools, and other functional services. They work the same way for PCs as they do for Macs and vendors charge the same irrespective of the platform.
Users need access to software. Mac comes with productivity apps–Keynote, Pages, and Numbers–right out of the box. However, not all users are comfortable using Apple’s built-in apps, so organizations choose to deploy Microsoft Office which natively runs on macOS. Here the software cost for Macs is higher than for PCs.
2. Hardware and Essential Software
A computer’s hardware is the direct cost associated with the TCO. Macs typically cost more than PCs. The cheapest laptop from Apple starts at USD 999 and goes northwards depending on the configurations. PCs, on the other hand, are more affordable because OEMs produce laptops with lower-end specs for price-conscious buyers.
While Apple computers come with a copy of macOS (free) along with the licenses needed to operate the machines, the same can’t be said for PCs. Companies must purchase Microsoft Windows and other software separately, including encryption and antivirus software. The essential software required for security and other deployments means an uptick in the operating cost of PCs.
Next, a management system is needed for all the machines in an enterprise environment. It allows IT teams to enroll and deploy new devices, configure settings remotely, push software updates, manage inventory, and ensure security. Organizations purchase System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) for Windows devices. Similarly, Apple offers an MDM framework to manage macOS machines. There is a plethora of dedicated mobile device management (MDM) software that exclusively manages devices running on either one of the OS. But IT departments can face a number of issues whenever using multiple MDM platforms, including wasting time switching between separate MDM systems. Maintaining multiple device management solutions increases company overhead by a significant amount.
One way to manage this platform bloat is to select an all-in-one MDM solution that integrates Windows and macOS device management under one umbrella. Scalefusion MDM can manage Windows and macOS devices.
3. Life Span and Configuration
According to a recent report, commissioned by Apple, companies have found that PCs typically have shorter replacement lifecycles and lower residual values than Macs. Based on OS system support, Macs last for five to eight years. However, Apple does not support software updates and parts after 5 years. Microsoft claims that the optimal age of PCs is 4.4 years, beyond which the cost of using a PC runs up to USD 2,736. 
It seems that Macs last longer and offer more device lifecycle savings than PCs. But every situation is different. The lifespan of a Mac or PC depends on the maintenance, software support, and availability of replacement parts. With proper maintenance, the average computer can last anywhere between four to eight years.
If machines are at the end of their lifecycle, retiring them can incur costs. Exporting data, archiving systems, warranty costs, and inactive licenses can all add up.
4. Admin and Support Costs
Beyond providing basic services, hardware and software, and management tools, organizations also need to provide support to users. One of the biggest differences in TCO is the number of helpdesk inquiries. IBM, which has deployed nearly 200,000 Macs, reported that their IT support helpdesk receives twice as many support calls for PCs as for Macs. Moreover, only 5% of support tickets opened for Mac users require an in-person visit versus 27% for PC users.
Companies running Macs, therefore, spend less on IT staff and support services. A team of seven engineers is needed to maintain 200,000 Macs, whereas a team of 20 is needed for that number of Windows PCs. During setup, the migration process was simple for 98% of Mac users versus only 86% of those moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Windows users were also five times as likely to need on-site support. 
As of June 2022, PCs were dominant worldwide with a market share of over 76%. Apple’s Mac has gained substantial market share over the years but still remains a small player, according to Statista.  The upfront cost of Mac devices is higher than PCs, but it offsets because of a longer lifecycle and minimum user support.
Depending on the business needs and goals, either Macs or PCs could be a better choice. Few organizations deploy both. The only deterrent that stops more organizations from using both platforms is using multiple MDM solutions. Luckily, managing PCs and Macs doesn’t need to be complicated. Take a 14-day trial of Scalefusion MDM and find out how.