Forget the damn Linux netbooks. Can Windows replace Windows?

Forget the damn Linux netbooks. Can Windows replace Windows?

Summary: My esteemed ZDNet colleague Ed Bott, God bless him, wrote a very insightful piece in which he discusses Taiwanese PC mainboard and component manufacturer  MSI’s challenges of selling Linux-based versions of their netbook, the Wind U90. Apparently, according to MSI, Linux-based versions of their netbook are returned at a rate of four to one compared to Windows-based versions of the same model.

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My esteemed ZDNet colleague Ed Bott, God bless him, wrote a very insightful piece in which he discusses Taiwanese PC mainboard and component manufacturer  MSIs challenges of selling Linux-based versions of their netbook, the Wind U90. Apparently, according to MSI, Linux-based versions of their netbook are returned at a rate of four to one compared to Windows-based versions of the same model.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Now, I don’t have much experience with the Wind. In fact, I’ve never seen one in the wild, and I work with a lot of geeks and jet-setters that own netbooks as secondary computing devices. Guess what? Most of them are Asus Eee PCs running on the built-in and netbook tweaked version of Xandros, which is a highly Windows-like and newbie-friendly Linux distribution, unlike the SuSE Linux installed on the U90. And believe me, I’m a big time OpenSuSE  fan, as our own Community, Incorporated blogger and Mr. SuSE Joe Brockmeier  can attest  – but at this stage in the distro’s development I think it’s about as suitable for netbooks as Solaris 10  is as an embedded OS for DVRs or smart phones (read as “not suitable”). MSI needs to think about doing a better job with tweaking their end-user experience on these devices if they are having all these Linux netbook return problems. It’s not a “Linux user acceptance” problem. The product as it is currently marketed and implemented obviously needs some work.

Saying that the Linux version of the Wind U90 gets returned more frequently than its Windows counterpart when ignoring the highly successful sales figures of the Linux-based Asus Eee PC is sort of like saying the Microsoft Zune is the second-best selling portable digital music player while ignoring the fact that the Apple sells like what, like a hundred times or a thousand times more more iPods? What is this, a freakin’ Presidential debate when we conveniently leave critical facts out in order to support a highly flawed ideological position?

Look, lets forget the damn Linux netbooks for a moment and concentrate on the more important issues – What is going to be the best and most value-added choice for an end-user OS going into the next decade, accepting the fact that all of us are going to be tightening our belts at least for the next several years? If we could all afford to spend twice as much on hardware and were willing to put up with all the proprietary and platform-restrictive gotchas that go along with the Macintosh, I’d say the answer should probably be Mac OS X. But we can’t all afford to buy Macs, and we certainly can’t all afford to buy new software licenses every time Microsoft spins a new version of Windows. If Windows Vista’s “success” is any indication, I have my doubts if the next version of “Windows” can replace Windows, let alone Linux.

The big question: Can Linux replace Windows? Well, ask the Atlanta Public School district, which is deploying 25,000 Linux thin-client terminals in its classrooms as a result of a successful pilot of 2200 Linux terminals in 7 schools. Ask companies like Ndiyo who have successfully deployed pilots in 3rd-world countries in educational environments and Internet cafes.  Ask the Ubuntu project which can genuinely claim millions of downloads of its free end-user OS.

Is there a learning curve? Yes. Will Linux take some getting used to? Absolutely. But when faced with the choice of adding several hundred to a thousand dollars worth of TCO on the top of a PC versus getting virtually all of their equivalent key functionality for free, especially in this new austerity budget economy, I think people will be a bit more motivated to adapt to change.

Will the economy force end-users to reconsider their OS acceptance thresholds? Does Linux suddenly start to taste better when times are tough? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: Windows, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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207 comments
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  • It's not about Windows

    but It's about pirated Windows. In my country, you will rarely see a person who willing to buy a genuine copy of Windows(even the rich people) except it's coming with the PC they buy. So, if they couldn't afford a genuine Windows, the alternative would be Linux or another free OS but the problem is there is a way for them to get Windows for free by obtaining a pirated copy. This make Linux not anymore an alternative. Hopefully, Microsoft will implement a better way to prevent piracy which eventually decrease their desktop market share.
    cruggeld
    • Yes, Microsoft makes XP and Vista very easy to pirate exactly for the

      reasons you mention. They do NOT want people to turn to Linux in developing countries, even if they have to give away Windows for free (by making it easy to pirate).
      DonnieBoy
      • Let's see

        You have the option of using a free OS like Linux and
        the option of using a free (albeit pirated) OS like
        Windows, and people always choose Windows. Conclusion
        *desktop* Linux sucks (for that people).
        markbn
        • So your telling me ...

          ... that criminals prefer XP and Vista over Linux? Maybe Microsoft should use that as their next marketing slogan:

          "Microsoft, good enough to steal, but not to pay for." ;)
          MisterMiester
          • bottom line

            Bottom line is the majority whether pirated or not are not going to use linux. Period. End of story. It don't care if any version of linux was mailed to every individual in the US or anywhere else for that matter.

            It's not prime, it's not easy (but getting easier), it's not ready. It's still considered something for the enthusiast but for the average Joe or Jill it's not doing squat.

            Windows will either be pirated, sold, copied, etc...but it's here to stay and will continue to stay.

            Nuph said.
            shamunda
          • Linux is so not ready

            that it runs the internet and lots of companies.

            The London Stock Exchange crash, just at the time that heavy trading was taking place .... suspicious or not?
            fr0thy2
          • typical of you

            First, do you have any proof that the problem was Windows
            or a MS technology? The LSE gave a different explanation.
            Aaahh, but wait a second, an outsider like you knows
            more. You can have you opinion of course but it's not
            proof of anything.

            On the other hand, the post of the other guy is about
            desktop Linux, not Linux in general. I guess your attempts
            to confuse people don't work very well in non-pure-Linux
            forums.
            markbn
          • The LSE issue may not have been averted via Linux.

            http://windowsitpro.com/article/articleid/100260/the-london-stock-exchange-crash-who-was-to-blame.html

            http://blogs.computerworld.com/london_stock_exchange_suffers_net_crash

            Basically, what caused the crash was a mixture (according to reports linked) of Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2000 and .NET (version unknown). There was a bug in the code (somewhere) or it lacked testing for such a load as was experienced when traders panic. Stock market panics are somewhat hard to predict.
            B.O.F.H.
          • Wait a second

            First, the second link is total B.S. as the comments in the own
            article pointed out, so I guess you either did not read it or
            lack the analytical capacity to properly judge it.

            Second, Tradelect, the SW using MS technologies was ruled
            out as the source of the problem. So, I'm not sure what is
            really your point. The first link specifically states that it may
            have been due to operator (LSE staff) problems.
            markbn
          • "The LSE gave a different explanation"

            As a matter of fact, they gave a vague "explanation" that explained absolutely nothing.

            Any and all statements about what caused that crash are pure speculation, since none of us were witnesses to the events as they happened.
            bmerc
          • Thanks for proving him wrong

            he somehow pretended to provide more information than the LSE itself!
            markbn
          • It is momentum, not quality

            People prefer Windows (Legal or otherwise) because 95% of there friends use it. People keep using it because they have always used it. Manufacturers of periphery gadgets support it because 95% of there potential customers (sources of profit) use it.

            I am primarily a windows user, but I play with (and cuss at) Linux frequently. I look at Ubuntu in particular, and can see that enormous potential as a desktop OS. In fact, Ubuntu is doing one thing that is much smarter: Consistent, frequent, incremental OS updates.If Ubuntu 7_10 and Windows XP had equal market share, and Ubutnu 8_04 and Vista had been released at the same time, I would wager Ubuntu would be the one to steal share. But first they are going to gain some momentum, say 10-20% of the market. That is more difficult to do than just managing to grab a few bodies away from the incumbent. They will invariably lose a handful of the "faithful" (I refer to those who conform to nonconformism. Those who are a rabid fan of any given underdog organization, but then become equally rabid opponents once said organization begins to enjoy a degree of success or popularity). No, it has little to do with quality at this point. Ubuntu and others are doing quite well in that regard. It is market momentum that keeps the status quo.
            shardeth-15902278
          • No Linux? Hah! Follow the Money!

            Are you using Linux? I am. And there's a big difference just in the last 3 months. Going from SUSE 10.3 to 11 is just about it.

            Prior versions had 100% of the utility and file compatibility of XP. This version is just as easy to use.

            As soon as this is discovered and people realize they don't have to pay or even put up with Microsoft anymore, there will be a tsunami to Linux. This year. Watch. The learning curve is already underway.

            Not for $500 a pop but for free I can twiddle with a REAL (Apache) web server and REAL MySQL. The only thing that kept MS in power so long was that I couldn't pay the big bucks for important software just to twiddle with to see if I could put it to use. Neither could I pay $5000 a pop for their accursed 'Developer' packages.

            If you don't think there is a pent up rage against Microsoft, just watch the next year or two. Gates is going down like AIG!
            Seamus O'Brog
          • Dear tgdf3141

            I believe the US Government bailed out AIG with 85 Billion Dollars.

            That's not going down .
            elderlybloke
          • No, that honor goes to open source criminals

            Like, say, Reiser, the nice guy who killed his wife and author
            of the ReiserFS for Linux
            markbn
          • Only open source ...

            ... Linux developers murder anyone?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holly_Jones

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakefield_massacre

            ... it seems that Linux developers also have a smaller market share when it comes to killing. ;)
            MisterMiester
          • how do you know

            they were not working on a Linux platform?

            But let's say they were not. That has nothing to do with the
            fact that many criminals use and develop for Linux
            markbn
          • @markbn - Because I went ...

            ... to the websites of these individuals former employers. That's how I know. ;)
            MisterMiester
          • And

            I already considered that possibility in my post which I said did not change my point. Did you read that part or just the parts that were convenient to you?
            markbn
          • Markbn, why are you dodging the real issue?

            Which is that many murderers are named Mark?

            Mark Hacking murdered his wife!
            Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon!
            Mark O. Barton murdered his entire family AND massacred his co-workers!

            God GOD man, you're a ticking time bomb! It's only a matter of time before YOU go berserk and slaughter countless innocents!

            By the way, before you start crying like a baby about how stupid and unfair this argument is, allow me to point out that it is exactly as stupid and unfair as
            the utter bullshyte comment you made.

            Criminals walk on sidewalks! Oh noes! We must avoid sidewalks at any cost!
            Murderers use cars to dispose of their victims' remains! Oh noes! BAN ALL CARS!!

            If you really believe that crap, you're mentally
            retarded.
            bmerc