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Everybody talks about the Apple tax – the premium you pay to buy applications for the Mac platform. But now hosted Exchange customers who use Microsoft Windows clients will pay more than those who run Apple clients, including Apple’s new iPad tablet computer.

That’s because hosted Microsoft Exchange e-mail provider Apptix is offering Exchange 2007-backed hosted e-mail to Apple users for $2.95 a month through Apptix Hosted Exchange for Apple. That compares to the $8 per month that users on Windows clients pay for Exchange.

“Mac has 10 percent of the business market, but it has more momentum than anything else right now,” said James Bond, vice president of product and software development at the hosting company, who got his own personal Apple iPad on Saturday when the devices were first released. Apptix timed its release to coincide with the iPad’s release.

The hosting company is looking to differentiate itself as the hosting provider that caters to companies that run Apple client devices such as Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. In addition to the support for the devices, the company told Channel Insider that every one of its support technicians is trained on Apple platforms as well as PC platforms.

The new native Exchange access from Apple devices came with Apple’s most recent operating system upgrade OS X 10.6, code-named Snow Leopard.

Previously, Apple users needed to get Microsoft’s Entourage client to use Exchange server, but Apple’s most recent OS baked Exchange access into the client, eliminating the need for a separate piece of software. That’s what made Apple’s devices more practical for business use, according to Bond.

And that seems to have resonated with Apptix’s business customers. Apptix has doubled its base of Apple customers over the last six months, Bond said. Bond told Channel Insider that end customers can now use the platform of their choice to access corporate e-mail without breaking their corporate standards.

“When you introduce an Apple into a corporate network, a lot of IT guys freak out,” he said. “But now it’s more normal for Apple to show up on a business network. It’s become easier and easier. And now there will be the iPads.”

It’s a movement that’s starting at the top.

“I’ve got executives and vice presidents at corporations using Apple,” Bond said. Plus, in a new twist, recently Apptix has seen more Apple-only corporations sign up for service.

Apptix Hosted Exchange for Apple’s $2.95 price includes the following:

  • Full functionality of Microsoft Exchange 2007
  • Full support for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard’s Apple Mail, iCal, and Address Book applications
  • The features of Exchange on Mac devices without the need for additional applications such as Microsoft Entourage
  • Web-based access to e-mail, calendar and contacts
  • 128-bit SSL encrypted communications
  • Premium antivirus and anti-spam protection
  • ActiveSync included for e-mail, calendar and contact synchronizing with Apple mobile devices including the iPhone, iPod and iPad

Apptix offers Exchange Email, Microsoft SharePoint and VOIP services for businesses around the world.

“In the business world, it’s all about e-mail and collaboration,” said Bond.