It's actually straight forward deceitful, as some of those full retail prices had a limited time upgrade offers, which were cheaper.
10.0 to 10.1 we know was S&H priced. 10.2 I think never had an upgrade, but can't remember. 10.3 to 10.4 definitely had one because I have one, that won't work without a preinstall.
I'm not talking upgrade versions. If we were talking upgrade copies, that makes the Windows OSes cheaper as well, by about half. I specifically listed full retail prices b/c that was the best way to keep it clear. It's the price the consumer sees on the shelf.
Even apple certified stores, if they fix your computer, that's say... 10.4, and wipe the drive. They put a 10.5 on it. (do that for 10.3 also etc, etc, etc).
In the end, Apple's CS justifies the cost of the OS, no matter what numbers are trying to put pinned againist one another.
That's just good customer service really. Plus it makes sense that some of the problems are likely due to an older OS version. I know if I was helping someone w/their Vista install and they didn't have SP1 or SP2 installed, the first thing I would do is go grab them.
I was clear in my original post that I wasn't trying to judge value, I was just trying to list things as the standard non-technical, non-computer obsessed individual will see things if they look for a basic comparison.
Me, I've been keeping up w/computers since I was 12 (32 now). My dad had an Apple IIe, my stepdad eventually had a 286/16 w/4MB ram that I used to play SO many games back in the day I like and respect Apple even if I don't own their systems. I am not one of the people I am posting about. I've been known to spend an hour or 2 watching Apple keynotes b/c it's fun and I'm a geek Besides, at an Apple keynote I don't have to watch Steve Ballmer froth at the mouth and throw chairs heh.