25 February 2007

A Crack in the Windows Tax?

One of the worst abuses of Microsoft's desktop power is that it is often very hard to buy a PC without being forced to pay for Windows, whether you want it or not. At long last, there are some cracks appearing in this monolithic approach, thanks, it seems, to Dell's Ideastorm:

It’s exciting to see the IdeaStorm community’s interest in open source solutions like Linux and OpenOffice. Your feedback has been all about flexibility and we have seen a consistent request to provide platforms that allow people to install their operating system of choice. We are listening, and as a result, we are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. This is another step towards ensuring that our customers have a good experience with Linux on our systems.

As this community knows, there is no single customer preference for a distribution of Linux. In the last week, the IdeaStorm community suggested more than half a dozen distributions. We don't want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another. We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems. In addition to working with Novell, we are also working with other distributors and evaluating the possibility of additional certifications across our product line. We are continuing to investigate your other Linux-related ideas, so please continue to check here for updates.

It's a pity this weclome move is vitiated by a pathetic attempt at justifying the latter-day Windows tax:

We don't want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another.

So instead of "alienating" some GNU/Linux users, Dell decided it was better to alienate all of them. Right, that makes business sense. Now, tell me again why Dell is losing market-share?

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