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Demand for Linux PCs varies across Asia

PCs sold to consumers with Linux OSes installed are receiving positive response, but this varies between different markets in the region, say manufacturers.
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Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor on

Linux-based PCs have reportedly been getting a bad rap for consumer resistance, but manufacturers say demand for them varies between the different Asian markets.

This follows recent remarks made by a Philippines-based Asus marketing manager, that the vendor was dropping Linux on all of its upcoming Eee PC models in the country because Filipinos are not taking to the Linux OS well.

However, Stephanie Lee, marketing specialist at the Southeast Asia Sales and Marketing Department of Asus, told ZDNet Asia, the Taiwanese PC maker is supplying equal ratios of Linux and Windows-based Eee PCs to the Singapore market, although the respective buyers seem polarized into two camps.

Lee said those buying Windows versions were looking for a familiar interface, while those with higher technological know-how bought Linux versions.

"People prefer to use interfaces that are familiar and do not really want to learn or change their habits," she said.

She said the return rate of Linux sets was not noticeable because buyers tended to have already been informed of the differences between the OSes before making their purchases, but added that Asus does advise customers on which models can support Windows, should they be interested in making the switch.

Quek Kheok Chai, consumer notebook product manager, HP Personal Systems Group, Asia-Pacific and Japan, said demand for its Windows- and Linux-based PCs vary between markets, without commenting on which countries were taking to the Linux models.

Quek said in an e-mail interview: "We do see increased customer demand in certain countries for one operating system over another, whether it be Windows or Linux."

He said the company is targeting some of its Linux sets at customers looking for a "simple" device, and is making these more accessible by putting custom HP applications on top of the OS. The HP Mini 1000 Mi, for example, comes with Linux installed but HP offers a Windows version called the HP Mini 1000 XP edition, he said.

Quek was unable to provide sales figures of Linux sets or a forecast.

A spokesperson from rival PC maker Dell, declined to give details, but noted that Dell carries more Windows sets in the region.

According to reports, a U.S.-based sales director of computer vendor, MSI, told the press last month, Linux returns of MSI sets were four times higher than that of Windows XP in the country. Consumers were returning their Linux sets to stores for Windows models.

Earlier this year, Walmart stopped selling Linux-based Everex gPCs. Everex had said this was due to the product selling better online instead of in stores.

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