Some topics are controversial. Apple versus Windows is definitely one of them. So let me state, I don’t “drink Apple’s Kool-Aid.” For proof, just review many of the TechRepublic articles I’ve written over 10 years.

That said, any knowledgeable technician should be willing to admit the following three advantages that Apple enjoys over Windows when deployed in enterprise environments.

#1 Lower Total Cost of Ownership

As an IT consultant who’s assisted hundreds of businesses and end users with hardware repairs, I’ve come to believe Apple hardware is simply better and longer lasting than most other business-grade equipment. My office definitely sees less incidents of hardware repairs, on average, for Macs versus Windows computers, hands down. That means computers last longer, replacement cycles are extended, and repair bills are fewer.

But other factors contribute, too, to making Apple computers less expensive in the enterprise. Macs boast tremendous cost savings when it comes to licensing. Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard doesn’t require client access licenses. Consider a single email server supporting 100 users, in which case an organization saves some $7,000 in client access licenses (CALs) alone. (100 user CALs at Open License street pricing of about $33 each  and 100 Exchange CALs at Open License street pricing of roughly $41 each).

The cost savings increase further when factoring the costs of the operating system and email server software. Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard Server costs just $499. No additional email server software is required.  Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard full-license pricing runs $949, while full Microsoft Exchange 2010 Standard adds another $1,300.

Seeing as Macs are more secure (more on that in a moment), most Mac organizations I’ve encountered don’t run antivirus software on each workstation. The cost savings add up there, too, considering 100 client licenses run approximately $3,000. Per year. I’m not advocating, of course, that Mac enterprise users don’t deploy antivirus; I’m simply observing that many do not, and as a result, they enjoy additional recurring costs savings.

#2 Greater security

The number of self-replicating viruses, troublesome Trojans, nefarious worms, and ubiquitous spyware infections targeting Windows systems is simply dizzying. Large organizations running tight group policy controls, expensive antivirus applications, and other protections still encounter vulnerabilities and downtime. Numerous examples are readily available.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard systems are powered by tighter UNIX code. Snow Leopard is less vulnerable with fewer weaknesses. That means fewer viruses, spyware infections, and malware issues target the Mac platform. Any arguments to the contrary are ill-informed, inaccurate, and disingenuous. As a result of greater security, enterprise data is safer, too.

That’s not to say Macs are perfectly secure. They are not. They’re just more secure than Windows systems because fewer exploits exist ,and they’re less vulnerable to common infections for which fewer strains exist.

Macs are more reliable as a result, too. Just ask the legions of IT professionals who’ve invested time reinstalling disk images, troubleshooting corrupt installs, or otherwise repairing virus-damaged Windows systems; Windows’ security issues definitely exact a greater toll on enterprise administrators. Statistics seemingly prove the point. A Yankee Group survey found 82% of C-level business respondents rated Mac OX S reliability as excellent or very good, and seven of 10 rated Mac OS X security excellent.

#3 Better performance

Mac OS X, long recognized by printing, publishing, graphic arts, videographers, and scientific professionals for its premium performance, is now even faster and more efficient. Apple engineers have worked to refine Snow Leopard’s underlying code, accelerate performance, and maximize 64-bit capabilities. And they’ve succeeded.

CNET’s own tests show Mac OS X Snow Leopard boots faster than Windows 7. The Mac was faster when testing multimedia multitasking. Battery life is better, too, running Snow Leopard.

Numerous other tests reveal Mac systems simply outperform similarly equipped Windows systems, whether opening apps, performing searches or performing other intensive tasks. Of course, contrarians will dig up opposing Internet test results. Some will even prove valid (as in CNET’s finding three-dimensional video rendering to be better on the Windows platform).

Overall, though, most all truthful users will report faster boot/shutdown cycles, better graphics manipulation, faster video editing, and improved memory management using Mac OS X Snow Leopard. In the enterprise, where users must frequently power multiple resource-hungry applications simultaneously, even small performance advantages quickly become significant gains.

Share your thoughts

Where do you stand? Have you worked with Mac OS X Snow Leopard in the enterprise? What have you found, if so?