Microsoft's plan to block Linux on laptops

Microsoft's plan to block Linux on laptops

Summary: Details of Microsoft's recently announced plan to extend the life of Windows XP for ultra low-cost PCs are trickling out. IDG News got its hands on what it says are Microsoft documents outlining the program for PC manufacturers.

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Details of Microsoft's recently announced plan to extend the life of Windows XP for ultra low-cost PCs are trickling out. IDG News got its hands on what it says are Microsoft documents outlining the program for PC manufacturers.

Until now, the big question was: What exactly defines an ultra low-cost PC? According to the documents, Windows XP Home will only be available on systems with the following specs:

  • A 1GHz or slower single-core processor (with exceptions for the Via C7 and Intel Atom N270)
  • Up to 1GB of memory
  • Hard drives up to 80GB
  • Displays that are 10.2 inches or smaller
  • No touch-screen

For companies manufacturing PCs that meet these specs, Windows XP will be available for $26 in emerging markets and $32 in developed markets, though a marketing agreement knocks another $10 off the price.

Ultra low-cost PCs pose a dilemma for Microsoft and PC manufacturers. Windows Vista won’t run on most--though not all--of them, and it costs too much anyway. But a freely-available, cheap Windows XP might cannibalize sales of traditional budget PCs with the full-priced version of Windows Vista. The narrowly-defined Windows XP extension seems designed to get around those issues, and to prevent Linux from gaining a toehold on the desktop.

The cut-off date for selling Windows XP on all other desktops and laptops is still June 30, though many manufacturers will continue to sell Vista systems with downgrades to Windows XP. Reading between the lines of Bill Gates' recent speeches, Ars Technica concludes Microsoft learned from mistakes in Vista, and will make Windows 7 all about performance.

Related: The Asus Eee PC 900 is now shipping in both Windows XP and Linux versions. Here are some of the first full reviews:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • How in the heck did you reach that conclusion?

    Somehow I missed how MS will "block" Linux on laptops from the writeup. I assume you're implying that XP is so desirable over Linux that charging less than $30 is a slam dunk. If so, I would agree.

    Still, the subject line is a bit out there. You should work for Fox News !!
    Prognosticator
    • Reports from the Field

      [i]Somehow I missed how MS will "block" Linux on laptops from the writeup. I assume you're implying that XP is so desirable over Linux that charging less than $30 is a slam dunk. If so, I would agree.[/i]

      Two months ago, the Linux machines were flying off the shelves at major retailers. Now, before the Microsoft machines are even available, retailers are telling customers that they're out of stock and won't be getting any more with Linux.

      Does that resolve the picture for you?
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • They are out of stock because ...

        ... demand exceeded supply. You should view that as a good sign -- unless those retailers were selling a copy of XP with every Linux box.

        Ultimately, Linux must sell itself to consumers. it's not up to Microsoft (or Apple, or anyone else) to "make room" for Linux.
        M Wagner
        • "'make room' for Linux"

          Actually MS did that when they released Vista. Vista created a vacuum for my future computing needs. When I saw no compelling reason to move forward with the Windows hegemony and it's associated costs (increased hardware costs, maintenance time, and antivirus subscriptions), I converted my three Windows laptops to Linux and bought a MacBook Pro. The MBP has XP Pro on a Boot Camp partition because I can't escape the very well crafted MS lock-in tactics. But now, Windows is is not the primary OS in my small enterprise.

          Judging by some of the posts here, I am not the only one that made the exodus from Windows...
          jacarter3
          • How many times....

            will you post this same bit about your "exodus" before you tire of it? I can tell you I tired of it long long ago. <br><br>
            I'm happy for you, i'm sure everyone else is happy for you. <br>
            The only thing that makes sense is you still see the overwhelming value with windows, less you want to show how all of the mega corporations using MS products house-wide are losing money, and made a rash statement one day and feel stuck with it. <br><br>
            It's obvious you are not being honest when you complain about the "increased hardware costs" then go on to say you purchased a MBP. Phew, if that's not a conflicting statement, i've never seen one. <br><br>
            Everyone that is anyone knows you can get very high quality PCs with better specs than a MBP at half it's price or less. And the MBP, at it's exhorbanant price, comes with 2GB of RAM, using both slots with 1 GB modules. That is what you might expect from a 400.00 machine. <br><br>
            Also it comes by default with only one drive and last I knew it was an old 5400 rpm drive at that. Even if you pay for the 2800.00 MBP, it's 2GB of RAM.
            <br><br>
            I'm not sure who you think is the loser in that scenario, but your judgement is not something I expect anyone to be trusting anytime soon.
            April May
          • Fact is that the MacBookPro

            has been selected by PC Magazine as the best Windows pc, running Windows in Boot Camp. While the cycle changes from week to week, Macs are no longer more expensive than comparable Windows machines.

            Of course you can buy a $400 machine, but you get what you pay for with that. You could buy a Lada instead of a BMW if that is what you want.
            jorjitop
          • If you're so tired

            of my post then DON'T READ THEM AND CERTAINLY DON'T BOTHER TO RESPOND.

            That said, I did not pay $2800 for my MBP. At the time I bought it, it was quite competitive with similarly spec.ed Vista laptops because I won't buy crap from Dell, Compaq, HP or Acer. The Sony VAIOs that I located were only 10% less than the MBP and DID NOT have all of the features, the dedicated (not shared) graphics RAM (256MB) or the clock rate.

            As to why I bought into increased hardware costs, I needed to replace my aging laptops that had poor 3D GPUs with better equipment as I do a lot of 3D modeling and rendering. The MBP is an excellent choice for this and so is OS-X. BTW, XP Pro runs like lightning on this lappy whether booted or virtualized. Why waste good performance on an OS named Vista that, at the time I bought, was nothing but trouble, slow, and riddle with driver issues?

            I have spent less than $2500 on PCs in the last 5 years for my house, wife and office. In my judgment, that's pretty economical. But I did spend about half that amount on MS software. So you got me there; my judgment must be lacking...

            BTW learn to spell [i]exorbitant[/i] or get rid of Internet Exploder use a browser that spell checks.

            LOL ;)
            jacarter3
          • Where do you get deals on Macs?

            I've done my homework and I can say i've never found the MBP to be the better option? <br><br>
            Shared graphics? NO WAY jacarter3. Only the lowest of the low end machines I'm afraid. The PCs i looked at had either 256MB or 512MB of discrete video RAM. All newer PCs in the last 5 months or so have been coming down a lot. And as i've noticed others mention on here, PC OEMs use coupons for up to 500.00 more off the price. <br><br>
            I found PCs with MORE video ram (512MB) and fast 2.6Mhz processors, the newer intel models called peryns or something like that and most of the Toshiba, hP and Dell machines i looked at had faster drives too. And the default choice or for only 50.00 more in many cases i can get dual drives which comes in mighty handy that are fast. 7600 rpm i think.
            <br>
            <br>
            Let's put it this way, I was looking at savings of up to 1000 over a MBP that even came close to the specs i found. I"m not lying, i spent a lot of time shopping. Dell's seem expensive but NEVER buy extra RAM. Buy it after purchase and get 4GB for under 100.00 of very good RAM. It's easy to install extra RAM on PCs. <br>
            I could not believe that Apple's specs for something even close in price were not nearly as good. I could only find 256 discrete ram and 5400 speed drives. No way jacarter. You cannot get more, not even close, with a MBP
            April May
          • You're looking now

            I bought about a year ago. Yes, Vista based laptops have plummeted in price since I bought my MBP. I wonder why that is?

            The idea of dual hard drives in a laptop is foreign to me and the use of 7200 RPM drives is not too attractive either. I use a laptop that can run more than five minutes on its battery and doesn't weight 10lbs. You can keep your Dell, Toshiba, Compaq and HP laptops. Those are low end machines no matter how you spec them or which model line you choose. Every freaking one of those brands that I have ever owned or used has been spotty and clunky. I don't want any of that. I was looking at Fujitsu and Sony.

            Did these alternatives have backlit keyboards (extremely handy), remote controls, digital optical audio in and out, built in camera and mike, Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11n and Firewire IEEE 1394 at 400 and 800Mbps?

            The market changes. Vista based units have prices that flap with the breeze. MBP prices have stayed pretty much the same while features and spec's have gotten better. Notice that people are buying MBPs more than ever? Notice that you rarely see MBPs on uBid.com or ebay.com and if you do they're still priced significantly higher than the myriad of Windows units people are trying to dump from Dell, Toshiba and HP?

            You look at price only. I look at the value of having a portable yet powerful laptop...
            jacarter3
          • RE: Where do you get deals on Macs?

            "<i>Shared graphics? NO WAY jacarter3. Only the lowest of the low end machines I'm afraid. The PCs i looked at had either 256MB or 512MB of discrete video RAM. All newer PCs in the last 5 months or so have been coming down a lot. And as i've noticed others mention on here, PC OEMs use coupons for up to 500.00 more off the price.
            </i>"<br><br>
            I sell HP, Dell, Acer, Sony laptops and you are full of crap that most of them have dedicated video memory. Out of seven HP models we carry two have dedicated graphics one has 256MB the other 512MB. None of our Dell's or Acers have them. Most don't need dedicated video memory. Also the reason many laptop vendors go with the 5400 rpm drives is a power savings. The 7200's take more power AND run hotter as do the high-end graphics adapters (not good for cramped conditions such as in a laptop.) some need those features but it's not the majority.<br><br>
            "<i>And the default choice or for only 50.00 more in many cases i can get dual drives which comes in mighty handy that are fast. 7600 rpm i think.</i>"<br><br>Really? adding a second 7200 rpm drive to your laptop is only a $50.00 upgrade? What computing fantasy land are you living in? It may be a fifty dollar difference between 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm but not to add a complete additional drive.<br><br>You also need to remember that OS X isn't a resource pig like Vista so it can run on less hardware resources. You only think their low spec because Windows Vista with less than 2GB and shared graphics memory is a snail. As for processors available for the MBP, the base model has a 2.4ghz dual core. The top is a 2.6ghz. dual core....<br><br>two things for you....<br>1. Do a little research.<br>2. Look at Mac's customer satisfaction. You do pay a bit more for QUALITY and after the sale support. <br><br>I personally do not own a Mac. I just couldn't stand your FUD slinging anymore......
            devlin_X
          • Actually, I think anyone trying to run XP on an EEE PC is certifiable

            But hey - if you can't even let go enough of your MicroShaft "branky" to try e-mail and Web surfing on a portable Linux device that all but takes you by the hand while using it...[b][i]I'm[/i][/b] not going to stop you from the massive disappointment of sluggish operation....

            For me, I'd love to get my hands on the Linux version of the 900, b/c the 701's screen is a bit TOO tiny for my aged eyes! :)
            drprodny
        • This is good?

          [i]They are out of stock because demand exceeded supply. You should view that as a good sign -- unless those retailers were selling a copy of XP with every Linux box.[/i]

          Yes, it did. And now that the shelves are empty, the retailers are telling customers who ask that they will not be reordering.

          So they'll stay empty, but not because the demand is high but because the supply has been cut off.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Who's fault is that?

            The problem with your Windows conspiracy theory is it lacks any proof. It is just idle speculation.
            ShadeTree
          • Just the facts, Ma'am

            [i]The problem with your Windows conspiracy theory is it lacks any proof. It is just idle speculation.[/i]

            Except that I'm not reporting any theory. I'm not even trying to explain the phenomenon, if you'd been paying attention.

            Just reporting what is happening in retailers, in their own words.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
          • There goes that credability!

            "MS has some huge volume breaks, combined with "marketing incentives." Big enough that if you're selling 300,000 units a year, you're insane to not buy 500,000 licenses. Once you do that, the unit cost of an MS system is zero. The "marketing incentives" on the other hand are on a per-unit-shipped basis, so in effect an OEM loses money for each unit shipped that doesn't preload with MS."

            I thought you weren't promoting a conspiracy theory?"
            ShadeTree
          • Correction, that is credibility(nt)

            .
            ShadeTree
          • No conspiracy theory

            [i]"MS has some huge volume breaks, combined with "marketing incentives." Big enough that if you're selling 300,000 units a year, you're insane to not buy 500,000 licenses. Once you do that, the unit cost of an MS system is zero. The "marketing incentives" on the other hand are on a per-unit-shipped basis, so in effect an OEM loses money for each unit shipped that doesn't preload with MS."

            I thought you weren't promoting a conspiracy theory?"[/i]

            What I wrote is in the public record as part of the US oversight of Microsoft. No conspiracy involved; it's legal (as distinct from the tactic described in the post I replied to.)
            Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Well then you should .....

            ... have no problem providing a link to this so called public record.
            ShadeTree
      • The major retailer you're talking about is Wal Mart,

        and the reason the stores are out of stock is because they made the decision last month to no longer stock Linux PC's in their stores but online only. There can be only one reason for this, the machines were no longer selling well enough, and at a high enough margin, to justify the shelf space. Yes, the initial buy of 10K units, split between 600 stores and online, sold out at many stores but sales apparently fell off rapidly after the fanboys and the curious got theirs so Wal Mart pulled the plug on instore sales to make room for faster and higher profit margin goods. No one selling Linux loaded computers ever announces actual sales numbers, not Dell, Wal Mart or anyone else. Dell simply says they are pleased with their sales. Hell, they'd be pleased to sell anything lately and, since the machines aren't even built until they're sold, they have no money tied up in inventory so they can offer Linux at no cost to them and look like heroes.

        MS is just making available what more people want. Now that the cheap Asus ultraportable is being offered with XP, it is fully expected to quickly outsell the Linux unit even though it costs more.

        XP will also save the OLPC project if Negroponte can swallow his ego. The two main reasons his dream has barely gotten off the ground are that it costs twice as much as originally promised and it doesn't have Windows. Intel's Classmate has fared better because it does.

        Does that resolve the picture for YOU?
        mustangj36@...
        • Wrong store

          Actually, the reports (I confirmed one) are from Best Buy. They've sold out the Linux machines that were selling like hotcakes (and they'll tell you they were selling like hotcakes) but they're not reordering them -- they're saving the shelf space for the Microsoft machines that they can't get yet.
          Yagotta B. Kidding