According to uber-OEM Dell, the whole debate about Linux netbook returns is a "non-issue".
Speaking at OpenSource World, a Dell executive deflated Microsoft's enthusiasm for making a case out of the number of Linux netbooks returned by unhappy customers.
Todd Finch, Dell senior product marketing manager, said the number of Linux returns are approximately the same as those for Windows netbooks. He categorized the matter of returns as a "non-issue".
Finch went on to say that Microsoft "are making something of nothing".
Interestingly enough, this is exactly what I've been hearing unofficially from several OEMs. This whole "Linux returns" issue stems from comments made by MSI a while ago, and after hearing from several customers, I think the returns were more down to MSI than Linux.
Microsoft are vulnerable when it comes to netbooks. This sounding off by Dell is a clear indication that OEMs are looking at Linux as a way to keep prices down. That said, netbooks aren't a slam-dunk for Linux either. Linux needs work, especially on the power-saving front. It also needs to leap Moore's Chasm and go from being an enthusiast thing and break into mainstream usage.
Still, if anything can drive Linux sales, it's price pressure, especially at the lower end of the spectrum. $50 on a system costing $1,000 is nothing, but on a system selling for $300, it's a big deal. And surprise, surprise, given how most people seem to use their netbooks, Linux is all the OS they need.