It's funny how a recent post on The Verge about Windows 8 pricing, while having nothing to do with Apple - it doesn't even mention the company's name - sparks an eons-old debate about Microsoft vs. Apple. The Apple fanboys have gone nuts over the years with comparing the price of software between platforms, and Windows users have fired back, charging that Apple users pay more for hardware in exchange (a claim that is entirely true, BTW). What these factions - and I suspect most end users - fail to realize is that they are to completely different companies in their revenue streams and as such, charge opposite amounts for their hardware and software respectively.
Apple derives the bulk of its revenue from hardware sales: the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod, among other things. The company does not see the value in charging a great deal for it's operating system for the primary reason that, in most cases, it's included with the purchase of one of those devices. Even when it does come time to upgrade your iDevice, you no longer have to pay $10 to upgrade to the latest version of iOS. For desktop and laptop computers, Apple has cut the price of OS X from $129 (for a boxed version of 10.1) to a mere $19.99 for its latest iteration.
Microsoft, on the other hand, is primarily a software company. They do not derive the bulk of their revenue from hardware, nor has that ever been their strategy. Sure they have mice, keyboards, webcams and other computer peripherals emblazoned with their corporate logo, but it's not a cash cow for them. You don't go to your local big box store and buy a Microsoft laptop. Put simply, they are in the business of selling software: Windows, Office, Exchange, Azure. It's what they do best.
You can argue that Apple's hardware is overpriced and they are selling more of a lifestyle for rich hipsters than the average consumer. You can say that Microsoft has a virtual monopoly on the business market and as a result, can charge anything they want to for its software since there's no real competition. I can't speak for all Apple users, nor can I speak for all Windows users, but my own personal opinion is that both of these and similar sentiments are pure and utter bullshit. Statements like these aren't routed in fact, but opinion which stems from the stereotypes surrounding them.
If Apple wants to practically give its software away and charge higher prices for hardware than its next major competitor in the computing world, if they have the customer base to support that stance, so be it. If Microsoft wants to charge high retail prices and have multiple iterations of its operating system just for home users, so be that too.
If you don't like what your company of choice is doing, make a switch and speak with your dollars, rather than whine about it or argue with half-truths and opinion. Bitching about the problem only gets you so far.
Source: Windows 8 Pro to be priced at $199 following $69.99 promotional pricing | The Verge