I was in a local computer store yesterday having to buy a copy of Microsoft Office 2007 for my Mother’s work PC. Imagine my complete shock when I saw the price.. $600. For office.. I was gobsmacked to say the least.

It made me think though, I don’t think there’s as much to the “Apple Tax” as people say.. They often cite the sticker price of the two machines and that’s it. But what about in a configuration you’d actually buy? Add on the software and bits you actually *need* to be productive.. how does it stack up then?

I surfed on over to the Dell website and selected a laptop which closest matches the specs of the base Apple Macbook. I selected the Studio XPS 13 and this is what I found:

Studio XPS 13″ Specs: Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, 4GB DDR3, 500GB 7.2K HDD, NVidia Geforce 9400M, Windows 7, Office 2007 Pro, 3 Year Warranty
Macbook 13″ : Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz, 4GB DDR3 500GB 5.4K HDD, NVidia Geforce 9400M, OS X 10.6, iLife 09, iWork 09, 3 Year Warranty.

Pretty close specs– you’ll note the CPU is slightly quicker in the Macbook but the HDD is slower, but I think they’re pretty even.. One thing to note is that the Apple comes with the iLife suite (DVD editing, Photo Editing/Library, Music Composing), while the Dell does not.

The Dell’s final price ended up being $2,196.29, while the Macbook actually came in cheaper at $2,068.00.

Now, the verdict? This was actually what I was predicting– once you add Office and a bigger warranty to the PC, it’s price jumps. The slighly higher cost on the Apple hardware is negated by the fact that the software is significantly cheaper..

As a side note.. one thing I’ve also noticed whilst using my Mac, *lots* of the handy little applications you will buy on your travels are extremely well priced.. I’ll admit I used to pirate software when I was a windows boy, but now I tend to just buy the application, as it’s usually well written and completely affordable.