5 Reasons Why Apple Is Wrong About Old Windows PCs

Dan Price 01-04-2016

In case you missed it, Apple recently held a product event in which the company unveiled a new 4-inch iPhone SE and a 9.7-inch iPad Pro.


During the event’s keynote speech, the firm’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing – Phil Schiller – stoked the ongoing Microsoft vs. Apple competition by claiming that a majority of new iPad Pro users were coming from Windows, before sensationally stating it was “sad” The iPhone SE Is a Huge Disappointment, Apple Thinks Old PCs Are Sad... [Tech News Digest] Apple surprises no one with the iPhone SE, Apple thinks owning an old PC is "sad," Spotify boasts 30 million subscribers, Microsoft considers buying back digital games, and Liam is the robot that hates iPhones. Read More that 600 million Windows PCs were more than five years old.

Needless to say, Schiller was lambasted on social media.


Schiller was badly mistaken – 600 million old PCs isn’t “sad”, it’s both a Microsoft triumph and an unfortunate reflection of Apple’s company policies.

Here’s why…

1. Upgradable

Clearly, insulting 600 million potential customers isn’t the most sensible marketing plan in the world – especially when many of those people are already hugely skeptical of Apple’s annual-releases-with-minimal-improvements product strategy.

Schiller claimed “These [Windows users] could really benefit from an iPad Pro. When they see the features, performance, and capabilities… many of them will find it is their ultimate PC replacement.”


Except, it’s not. iPads are a terrible PC replacement Can the iPad Pro Replace Your Laptop? The iPad Pro can do a lot, but can it do enough to completely replace the humble laptop? That depends. Read More for one huge reason – upgrades.

Macs already get a lot of negative press for their lack of upgradability; if you want to improve anything beyond the drive and the RAM, you’ll need to shell out more than $2,500 USD for a Mac Pro.


iPads (and tablets in general) are even worse. They are virtually un-upgradable; how well will your new $600 USD iPad Pro stack up against the competition in five years’ time? The answer: badly.


At the other end of the scale, Windows PCs are renowned for being almost entirely upgradable 7 Signs It's Time for You to Upgrade to Windows 10 We have given you many reasons to upgrade to Windows 10. If you're still uncertain, you should wait. For how long, you ask? Until you see the signs we've compiled for you here. Read More – especially desktops. The original price is irrelevant; you can add new hardware to any machine you please.

2. Cost

Did it not enter Schiller’s mind that the costs of buying new devices are prohibitive? Not many people are lucky enough to be able to spend $600 on a new iPad, $1,000 on a new Mac, or even $200 for a low-end Windows netbook or a Chromebook. Lots of users are thankful for having access to a computer at all.

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Secondly, a lot of these PCs presumably reside in offices. The hardware costs of upgrading several hundred employees’ machines are huge – especially when you add on the IT labor cost, the lost productivity costs, and the inevitable deluge of new software and apps that would be required.


3. Lifespan

Schiller inadvertently highlighted something wonderful about Microsoft machines; they are built to last from both a hardware and software perspective.

Windows (rightly) has its detractors, but it’s fair to say that there are no cases of exploding batteries, no instances of “stain-gate” Adobe Flash Must Die, Apple Suffers From Staingate, & More... [Tech News Digest] Facebook bashes Flash, Apple scrubs those stains, Walmart launches Black Friday 2, Nintendo suffers a real loss, Spotify maps the world, and R5-D4 ends it all. Read More , and no bending iPhone screens Apple Patents Bendy iPhone, Android TV Replaces Google TV [Tech News Digest] Apple patents a bendy iPhone, Android TV replaces Google TV, the FBI maintains North Korea hacked Sony, David Cross looks to BitTorrent, Bill Gates drinks human waste, and a basketball referee makes the wrong call. Read More .

Apple might argue that Windows machines slow to a crawl after a few years due to all their bloatware, but it’s not a problem that Macs are immune 6 Signs It's Time to Replace Your Mac How long do Macs last? What are the signs that let you know when to get a new Mac? Here's when you should replace your Mac. Read More from either. Whichever operating system you use, disciplined maintenance and management 8 PC Maintenance Mistakes That Kill Your Hardware Lifespan PC maintenance isn't rocket science, but you could be making a handful of mistakes that are actually harming your hardware. Read More will keep it running smoothly for a long time.

In the worst case, both operating systems can be revitalized by a clean install How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media Regardless of how you arrived at Windows 10, there's a way to create your own installation media. Sooner or later you might need it. Let us show you how to be prepared. Read More , a process that is simple to complete on Windows and OS X.

The bottom line is that if properly cared for, a mid-range PC bought today will still be more than adequate for most users in five years from now. That’s not sad, that’s a credit to Microsoft.

4. Sales

Why are there 600 million Windows PCs that are more than five years old and not 600 million Macs that are more than five years old?

Mainly because the Windows operating system (in all its forms) has hugely outsold Apple’s OS X since the 1980s.

In Statista’s graphic below, you can see how comprehensive this domination has been.


In the most recent figures available (from December 2015), Windows controlled 84.65 percent of the market. OS X controlled a mere 9.84 percent. What did Schiller expect, therefore? Once again, it’s largely a triumph for Microsoft.

Highlighting these figures is not meant to be an attack on Apple; they have never been aiming for mass-market penetration, instead preferring to dominate the luxury end of the spectrum. That’s a perfectly reasonable strategy that has mostly worked well for them.

However, they clearly want some of Microsoft’s legacy business 10 Intriguing Ideas to Help Apple Find Its Mojo Apple has built its business by innovating, and it's in danger of losing its reputation as being the company that goes where others fear to tread. Tim Cook and co. need fresh ideas. Read More – why else would Schiller specifically pitch the iPad Pro to Windows users?

5. Refurbished Macs

As touched on earlier, Macs are expensive. An iMac will set you back at least $1,099 USD, while their cheapest laptop (the 11-inch 128GB MacBook Air) is $899 USD on the official store.

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No wonder, therefore, that refurbished Macs do a roaring trade. The demand for refurbished Macs is so high that they enjoy their own dedicated section on the Apple website.

They are normally considerably cheaper How to Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops and Save Money Apple's natural stranglehold on the Mac market means discounts on their hardware aren't frequent. That said, you can get a Mac for less — you just need to know where to look. Read More than their brand-new counterparts, but by definition, they are also considerably older.


In fact, at the time of writing, there were two 2012 edition MacBooks for sale on the store’s front page. In 15 months, they will celebrate their fifth birthday. The logic follows that lots of people who bought refurbished MacBooks at some point in the past are now using machines that are more than five years old.

What is “sad”, Mr. Schiller, is that your company insists on charging such an exorbitant amount for new computers that lots of people simply cannot afford them, and are instead forced to dip into the second-hand market Buying a Refurbished Mac? 10 Things You Need to Know Looking to buy a refurbished Mac? Here are several important points you should know about the process. Read More . What’s even worse, is that by calling Microsoft owners with old PCs sad, you’ve by extension called people with old Macs (that you sold to them) sad as well.

What Was Schiller Thinking?

We’ve given you five very clear reasons why Phil Schiller was crazy to criticize old Windows PCs. It makes Apple users look spoilt, makes Apple the company look elitist, and puts off anyone who was considering making the switch.

Enough about what we think though, what do you think?

Was Schiller out of his mind or was his quote justified? Do you have an old PC? What haven’t you upgraded? Perhaps you have an old Mac – if so, how did you interpret his comments?

You can let us know your thoughts, feedback, and opinions in the comments box below.

Related topics: Apple, Computer Maintenance, Microsoft, Old, PC.

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  1. Brad Fehrenbach
    June 16, 2016 at 12:50 am

    I've always believed that if Apple really wanted to try and out do Microsoft they would have to lower their prices to were the average person could afford one of their laptops. They would have to pretty much flood the market with their computers. Kind of like how when Steve Jobs said he was going to go thermonuclear on Samsung but it was Samsung that kind of went thermonuclear on Apple when they pretty much flooded the market with their Samsung phones. I always pay attention to the kind of phones people use when I'm out at stores and malls and these days I seem to see alot more Samsung phones. And to me, Oh the irony, Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave. But back to the main subject, if they really want to dominate they have to be alot more realistic about the price of their computers

  2. C West
    April 19, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    After reading this it just makes me not want to get on the Apple cart even more so. There is a snobbery around owning a Mac and it seems bizarre to me why most people would want to own one with the limited amount of software available for them (compared to Windows).

    I must confess that I did buy myself a second-hand, refurbished iPad 2 because I wanted to see what was so great and if iPads were in fact better than Androids... And because I felt like I must be missing out... To be honest, I'm coming up short on what marked differences I can name.

    Because of the price tag Apple must be better, right?? It just looks like a very stripped down PC to me that can only do so much.

    Schiller is out of touch with the general population many of whom are just happy to have a computer and broadband for Internet and do not have a spare £1800.00 +/- for a Mac. It just further reinforces this PC snobbery and who owns what.

    Personally, if I had a spare couple of thousand I would buy a high end, faster Windows and still not a Mac.

  3. Anonymous
    April 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Buying an Apple PC is like getting a car with the hood welded shut. I actually like OSX, but there's nothing compelling at all about Apple hardware, especially in its current generation of portable computers. Everything Apple is doing is done better by somebody else, whether it's Microsoft with the Surface line or Lenovo/Dell/Toshiba enterprise-grade notebooks.

    Also, speaking to the idea of upgrading an "old" PC. My main personal laptop(!) is a five year old Thinkpad T420. It's an i7 with 32GB RAM, 1TB mSATA drive and 2x2TB internal drives. It has a six hour battery life and I can attach a slab to give it another 16 hours if I want to. It also has an Expresscard slot, which I normally use to add USB SuperSpeed ports, but if necessary I can switch that out for an external PCI-e Bridge card so that I can use my laptop with a full-size desktop graphics card (granted my rig for doing that doesn't look as cool as a Razor Core Thunderbolt GPU dock, but I've also been able to do it for about three years using stuff I had sitting around the office). There's just nothing about that machine that needs to be replaced. It's objectively as good or better than the most current Macbook Pros in every way except its display.

  4. Raish
    April 3, 2016 at 8:17 am

    I'll never buy an apple product. Their like lambs to the slaughter house

  5. Anonymous
    April 3, 2016 at 7:12 am

    ( In Another Thread )

    From The Immortal Words Of A Famous Pizza Guy:

    > Im-A-So-Sad.



  6. mohan226
    April 3, 2016 at 5:27 am

    I have a 6 year old laptop with Pentium Dual Core and 2 GB ram. It runs beautifully even with Windows 10 and why would I switch to an iPad. I can instead get a new Laptop which is powerful than an iPad because of the Intel processor which will run for more 7-8 years. Not like an iPad which will be have a new model every year and the old ones become slow. I would buy an iPad if it will cost $300 and it would run Windows but that's not gonna happen unless in a parallel universe. I also forgot one thing. I have seen many people that use an iPhone but they don't have and iMac or an iPad, they use WINDOWS. It's sad how people at Apple think about us. :(

  7. Akhil
    April 3, 2016 at 1:10 am

    I own both Mac and pc and feel windows pcs are far better as they are cheap, easy to upgrade, and a very good value for money.

  8. GadgetDon
    April 2, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    It was a stupid statement, bad choice. But I will say that there have been cases of PCs with exploding batteries too. And I'm very happy with my 2011 iMac ;)

  9. Anonymous
    April 2, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Schiller's wealth insulates him from the reality that many many people in this great nation are extremely fortunate to even be able to afford a PC and internet...much less anything iO$. But see, the thing is, anyone below a certain income threshold are most likely hands-on doers...they have to be to survive. Their whims aren't catered to on every hand in their own lives, so Apple's methodology of "your computer is too complex for you...let us control all the details" is contrary to blue-collar Joe's mentality. Schiller has no motivation to be kind to us, and never will, because we're not his kind.

    It's not that us low-class workers (compared to his elite groupies) are too dumb to comprehend the miraculous Apple world. It's that we don't have to have or want someone wiping our electronic rears for us. Such a huge number have tried Apple's product and just don't like it or want anything to do with it. We prefer practical, serviceable, realistically-priced machines. Apples ain't that.

    The ONLY way I'd give up and buy a Mac (and make my bank loan officer happy), is if I were so ignorant that I couldn't make Windows and PC's work for me or do exactly what I want them to do.

    That being said, all of you Apple users that I've had pleasant conversations with in the offense intended to YOU. This is all about what Schiller is saying about ME.

  10. Nrkmann
    April 2, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Use them all.


    MS makes the best servers around. Rock solid and can be set up to do any thing your heart desires. Great support on line or with users groups. HW reliability can be a problem.

    Macs are the best workstations. As many have said they just work. In 25 years of using more than 100 individual Apple products, I have had two HW failures that have cost me $90 to repair. And one accident, $126 foe an iPhone screen.

    Linux is still not ready for the desk top. Some specific server products are great. No cheaper than MS if you go with Red Hat, SUSE, etc for support.

    Android is so bad I can't believe all the hype. No real OS upgrades. If you have Icecream Sandwich, then it is ICS that you are stuck with. Hat is not a real OS. Like pre CPM days.

    Best low cost computer? Buy a Xeon workstation, a 64 bit dual quad core can be found for under $300, will scream with Win 10 or as a Hackentosh, and last for 10 years easy. These also make good servers for small organizations.

  11. JJT
    April 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    The 2014 iMac I have on my desk at work is the slowest, most annoying P.O.S. I've ever used. More annoying even than an old Power Mac 7100/66 I had to use many many moons ago that would crash for no reason. It's got 8 gigs of RAM, Core i5 (not the cheapie slow one, either) and a 1 terabyte hard drive, but I watch that cursed ball spin whenever I do anything. Opening System Preferences takes 15-20 seconds, even when NOTHING ELSE is open. And yes, I've clean installed OS X. It's not just my machine, either. We bought three identical machines and they're all s**t. The new machine replaced a 2008 iMac that was brought to its knees by the s**tshow that was Mavericks. One would expect it to be a lot faster. It's not. Mavericks sucked, Yosemite sucked harder, and El Capitan (which was supposed to bring back the speed of Mountain Lion) still sucks. Of course, it's the 21.5" iMac so I can't replace the hard drive or upgrade the memory without literally cutting the screen off the chassis. Windows PC for me next time around. Can't come fast enough.

    • Kattz
      April 5, 2016 at 5:37 am

      Oh good. It isn't just me. I have a mid-2011 Mac Mini with 8 GB of RAM (not soldered on yet) and it is the most annoying POS that I have ever owned. I thought that the hdmi port was broken. I went out and got a mini display port adapter. It turns out that it was just being snotty about the cable. I went through 5 cables before one finally worked. Just out of curiosity I tested those cables on everything else in the house. They all worked everywhere except for on the Mac. Once I got it going I remembered why I don't use it. Freeze. Beachball. Crash. Beachball, beachball, beachball. I hate that freakin beachball.

      Today i picked up an off-lease HP with a 3 ghz Core 2 and 2 GB of RAM for an older guy. He only needs it for email and Web surfing. I'm doing the updates right now. It's perfect. Its almost silent. And my friend won't be sad. He will be absolutely delighted. The cost? $100 with Windows 7, Word Perfect Office and a 3 year warranty, parts and labour. Hell, I'm delighted. I won't even have to fix it if it breaks. The store also had some used Macs. They wanted $400 for a machine the same age as the HP. The Macs only had a 90 day warranty.

      Nothing to be sad about here. I'll throw some more memory into it and my friend will be set for years. Good luck with your Mac. I'm probably going to put mine on eBay.

  12. Tom
    April 2, 2016 at 2:59 am

    I'm not going to argue for either side, only share something that I've noticed. (personally, for the record, I'm a Windows and Android guy tho, and so is my wife.)

    Anyways, I once had a co-worker who was very pro-Apple... "don't have to worry about drivers"..."It just works"..."I need to take my phone or Mac-whatever into the store so they can fix / replace it (again)".

    Wait, what? Either it "just works" or you have to take it in all the time to get fixed, which is it?

    She wasn't the only one. Most of my office complains about the new iOS... both in the new 6 and the older 4 and 5 series. But all have Windows PCs that they plug them into at home.

    So, what's that about "it just works"?

    On the other hand, I've used Android since 2008 and have had a total of 4 phones, never once needing a replacement or sending it in to be fixed. (myTouch 3G, LG G2x, Nexus 4 and the Note 4 that I'm writing this on.)

    For Windows, I'm currently parts shopping for a new build. It's going to fully replace my current desktop... that I built myself... in 2009... which is still running strong, but has about a 15 minute boot time to get everything going.

  13. Alex
    April 2, 2016 at 12:24 am

    The average user of a Windows PC watches YouTube, checks their email, does social media, and listens to music.

    Apples argument is that the total number of unused features is astronomical when comparing a PC to an iPad. I don't specify the pro because it's the same OS.

    Therefore, since android is not as user friendly (not biased but i see it in the workplace all the time) iOS is a clear choice for your EVERYDAY CONSUMERS.

    The features on iOS are user centric ONLY. It's built for a consumer and a student and as an augmented tool rather than an appliance.

    I have a 5 year old gaming rig. I have an iPad Air 2. I have the top of the line MacBook (my 5 yr old gaming Windows rig is faster) and I've owned many android devices in the past that I loved.

    The iPad is not a PC replacement for me. It is for my wife, maybe her whole family, maybe their family's family. But not for an IT guy that also likes to game AND make apps for iOS.

    But this article? Too many flaws to count. Statistics structured to prove a point not accurately researched and the data presented is biased in itself.

    I've been saying this a lot, but brand specificity breeds ignorance.

    And battery explosions? Of course not! But if you look at HP they have tons of battery recalls. That alone discredits your article.

  14. Pedro
    April 1, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Macs just work. Period.

    • MatsSvensson
      April 2, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Mac......s jus.....t w.......ork.

  15. Bshell
    April 1, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    The above comments are from people who know what a hard drive is, or what Linux is. Hundreds of millions of people have no idea what those words mean. They just want a computer that works. Apple serves this need. And they charge for it. Schiller was talking about this market. And he's not alienating anyone because that group doesn't even know Makeuseof exists.

  16. Anonymous
    April 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    It's exhausting listening to these companies try to one-up each other. Google vs Microsoft, Apple vs everybody, ugh. You all suck. Makes me really like these 3rd party, platform-agnostic services that work with everything.

    Having said that, I'm really digging the new Microsoft that realized it needs to change if it wants to make better inroads with consumers; I've switched to Onedrive and Onenote and they work like a charm on all of my ecosystems... I do miss having Google Now on my laptop and desktop, and Cortana just isn't working for me (yet).

  17. Froemer
    April 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I bought a Mac Mini a few years back that within about a year and a half had become so slow it's nearly unusable, I'm assuming it's a hardware issue, maybe memory leak because there wasn't much in the way of software on it, but it was such a pain to even bother finding the hardware to fix it, I haven't hardly touched it in years with the occasional exception of trying to revitalize it to no avail. My PCs on the other hand, I've had one of them for nearly 10 years that for the most part, I've only upgraded the GPU to keep it running the way I wanted up to the GTX 560 Ti and it still screams faster than several old macs I used both in rendering out of Adobe After Effects and playing some games. I've also only had to swap out hard drives due to the stock ones being Seagate and failing. ( I know i should have built my own, but it was cheap enough to just buy it from the retailer ). I don't mind using Macs if I'm forced to, but I will stick with my PCs. Maybe I'll figure out another way to get my Mac Mini to a usable point so I can use it as a web server or something I don't know.

    • GN Villeneuve
      April 2, 2016 at 1:24 am

      The Mac Mini may be short on memory (2 or 4 GB?). I've doubled the memory (8GB) on mine and it's doing well.

  18. Jean-Francois Messier
    April 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    I have been using PC's for over 30 years now, from the first IBM PCs, to the latest i7 laptops, and I have been re-using the hardware so many times, way beyond the expected life of those machines for one reason: I use Linux on most of my computers now. Although the earlier machines did not have a so-nice environment under Linux, they were not so CPU-hungry, and I could get them running *some* version of Windows. But in the 21st century, those machines that are supposedly not suitable for Windows now end up under Linux. What does this have to do with Apple Hardware ? Such hardware was always so much more expensive that it was never worth buying, new or used. The only Mac I ever had, I won it in some show draw, and there were so many other things to buy in order to make it useful, that I decided to sell it to someone else who was rich enough to buy all the software for it. Also, do not expect to easily re-use parts from a MAC OSX machine. It is simply hopeless.