UK retailer pulls Linux netbooks from stores

Windows "has emerged as the preferred operating system because Windows makes it easier to share content and provides customers with a simpler, more familiar computing experience on the move," said a PC World spokesman.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor
PC World, the UK's biggest computing retailer, is to stop selling Linux netbooks in its stores.

Jeremy Fennell, PC World's category director, said in a statement on Monday that all the netbooks in PC World's stores will feature Microsoft Windows. He also said the chain will no longer stock netbooks with screens measuring less than 10 inches.

"Despite initial hype that netbooks would move more users onto the Linux platform, Microsoft has emerged as the preferred operating system because Windows makes it easier to share content and provides customers with a simpler, more familiar computing experience on the move," Fennell said.

See Also: Windows 7's netbook success is no slam-dunk

Customers want a "decent, usable" screen size and keyboard and a software system they are familiar with, Fennell added. "The screen size is important as customers want to be able to view pages easily, but the netbook also needs to be small enough to fit in a handbag. The 10-inch models fit the bill perfectly," he said.

PC World is owned by the electronics giant DSG International, which also owns the Currys electrical chain. A spokesperson for DSG International told ZDNet UK that Currys stores would also stop stocking non-Windows netbooks. The online operations of both PC World and Currys will, however, continue to carry netbooks with Linux as the operating system and with smaller screens.

The spokesperson refused to give precise figures for DSG International's Linux netbook sales, but said they accounted for less than 10 percent of the group's netbook sales.

DSG International's decision to drop Linux netbooks from its stores drew swift praise from Microsoft. Company blogger Brandon LeBlanc said the trend of "customers demanding Windows for its ease of use, compatibility and simplicity" was not unique to the UK, but was happening in the US as well.

"The latest data from NPD's retail tracking service showed that Windows now account for a whopping 98 percent of all small notebook PCs sales at retail in the US," LeBlanc wrote in a blog posted on Monday. "I think it's important to note that all of this momentum is happening before Windows 7 is even out! When Windows 7 does arrive (special report) […] I think the demand for Windows on these devices will increase even more."

Last year, PC manufacturer MSI said its Linux netbooks had four times the return rate of its Windows netbooks. Ubuntu sponsor Canonical said in October that the higher Linux return rates could be attributed to "teething problems" with running the operating system on netbooks.

On Wednesday, Canonical spokesman Gerry Carr said Microsoft had "the distribution, connections and relationships in place" to ensure Windows dominance in retail stores, but suggested that it was a different story with online sellers.

"There's a big disparity between physical store and online stores," Carr said, adding that 30 percent of the netbooks Dell sold online used Ubuntu Linux rather than Windows.

Carr also pointed out that, while there was a great deal of buzz around Windows 7, this week's Computex show in Taiwan included many manufacturers showing off new Linux-based netbooks and smartbooks.

"The IT industry is converging around different non-Microsoft-based platforms," Carr said. "Any thought that the war is over is a bit like George Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' statement."

This article was originally posted on ZDNet UK.

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