My parents had to replace their G5 iMac recently (the capacitors on the motherboard were all melting down - evidently a known problem with iMacs of it vintage - 2005) and I insisted that they look at both Windows 7 and Apple replacements. They paid $1300 for a 22' iMac with a Dual Core Intel processor, integrated graphics, 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 500GB harddrive. It's stunning. However, for about $300 less, they could have gotten an HP with Quad Core processor, 16GB RAM, 1GB dedicated graphcs and a 1 TB Harddrive. The obsequious Apple salesman kept going on and on about the superior "innovations" on the iMac (like streaming video!) and went on about the superior security, yada, yada, yada. I was with my mum for that embarrassing spiel. She and dad went and checked out Windows 7 machines on their own and went and bought the iMac without me. The same salesman convinced them that the iMac was competitive in terms of hardware at that price point. Ridiculous.
I do have to say this: the way that the Apple was presented - in a very uncluttered, very bright environment with lots of light-coloured, real-wood and stainless steel furnitutre - half sold me on the thing. Around here, most Windows based machines are available in box stores - crowded, dark, austere, and with horrible music blasting at you. Further, the machines don't tend to have any software on them for you to play with. At the Apple store everything was loaded for demonstration, so the salesman was showing my mum streaming video from websites that he'd bookmarked, showing off TimeMachine, and demonstrating OpenOffice and iWorks. I think that made a big difference as well...
I take comfort in knowing that: I have access to Snow Leopard to play around with and that my parents are using a machine that they are comfortable with and that they know. But it still rankles... I keep thinking about the GB's of unused Windows shareware that I have and don't use and that I could have loaded up for them. Perversely, I bought my mum an Acer netbook with XP on it for Christmas and she loves it. I wonder what would have happened if I'd sprung for a Windows 7 Starter based machine instead... ?
PS I did consider loading Vista Ultimate on their iMac but can't see them using a dual-boot setup and doubt they'd enjoy running Windows as a VM. Thoughts?