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Falling Hardware Prices Favor Linux 459

Posted by kdawson
from the days-when-vista-walked-the-earth dept.
An anonymous reader sends us to a blog posting arguing that, as hardware prices fall below $250 for laptops and desktops, Linux should gain as the Microsoft tax stands out in sharper relief. "In previous years, if you were spending US$1500 and up on a laptop, the Microsoft tax you were paying didn't seem like such a big deal. XP or Vista was pre-installed, fairly convenient... But as the price of hardware for small basic machines comes down, (think under US$250 by the end of next year), then software price starts to become a big issue. Why would you pay the price of your new laptop again just for the software, when all you want to do is really basic things?"
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Falling Hardware Prices Favor Linux

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  • by shanen (462549) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @03:51PM (#20795405) Homepage Journal
    Linux will never 'take off' until the Linux people stop answering almost every question with the equivalent of "Go in the kitchen and cook it yourself." Most people just want to at a tasty Linux sandwich, and they have no aspirations to be master chefs.

    As far as I know, Ubuntu is the only distro that mostly understands this. Just a coincidence that it's the most popular desktop?
    • by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @03:54PM (#20795449) Journal
      > and they have no aspirations to be master chefs. That's just as well, Halo 3 won't run on linu... oh.
    • by gbulmash (688770) *
      What Linux needs to take off is a decent OEM community backing it, providing hardware configurations that have been thoroughly tested against the included Linux distro so that your sound works well, your wireless LAN works well, your video works well, etc.

      Linux is beginning to get "there" with apps, although it's still a little more DIY for multimedia than is good (i.e. less DIY, more happy "joe sixpack" users). But if you just buy a random computer and slap Linux on it, you're rolling the dice.

      Peopl
      • the best way is to have big OEMs with big channels sell "made for Linux" boxes... and make the multimedia a little less DIY.

        How can this happen? In most cases, publishers of proprietary video provide such video to the end user in a format subject to codec patents and digital restrictions management. How can any OEM finance the emigration of customers from countries where patents and/or circumvention laws prohibit the use of such video with free software? Or do you suggest the approach taken by TiVo, to make a completely proprietary system that happens to run on a Linux kernel?

        • How do the other platforms do it? It's not as if Apple or Microsoft don't face the same restrictions when it comes to patents and DRM. There may be a real solution around it, but at this point in time if you clone OSX/Windows' solution you're at least *as good as* the competition.

          First off, someone needs to pay for the damned mp3 patent, stupid as it may be, because an OS that can't play MP3's out of the box is not much of an end-user OS at all.

          • How do the other platforms do it?
            They have the sales volume to include in the price of their operating system. Some licensors have minimum annual licensing fees that a smaller distribution just can't afford. And the problem that the article describes still happens as you get to the point where the patent royalties become a significant part of the price of the product to the end user; DVD Video players are already well past that point.
        • Pay for the codecs. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:19PM (#20796009) Homepage Journal
          ESR has a proposed solution to this in one of his essays: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/world-domination/world-domination-201.html [catb.org]

          Basically, the solution is to build in an (optional) method to the mainstream Linux distributions so that users can purchase and install legitimate codecs, or get them with the distribution pre-installed. The parent company of Lindows purchased the rights to the codecs' IP already, so it's really a matter of taking them and working the licenses into Ubuntu or a similar, more popular distro.

          Yes, this would make the resulting distro non-free, in the same way that pre-installing a proprietary video driver would, and it would mean that there would be a charge to the user for each machine that they got with Linux on it. However, it would still be far cheaper than Windows (remember: Windows has to pay for the same IP licenses, it's just built into the cost of the entire OS; with Linux, that would be your only cost), and as a result you'd get a machine that could deal with modern multimedia and video out of the box, or with at most a one-click install. None of the current hunting around on forums for instructions that come with a lot of "wink, wink, nudge, nudge, informational-purposes-only" disclaimers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HexaByte (817350)
        Linspire and Xandros are 2 of the most user-friendly Linux's available, and Linspire comes w/ all the codecs built in. They also have OEMs w/ preconfigured computers. However both cost.

        If you want a free-as-in-beer OS, you have to put up with it not having the licensed crap already installed. This cuts into the price advantage.

        The real big problem is still app computability: "I have $250K invested in business apps that don't run on Linux, and you want me to switch to what? IS there a Linux app for m

        • by nschubach (922175)
          Wine may very well make your applications work in Linux. You'd have to try each one out and see though.
          • by Ferzerp (83619)
            "oh, your app doesn't work? what? wine? HAHAHAHA.

            install the app on what it's certified for and maybe you can get the support you're paying for."

            You, umm, have no concept of the business IT world.

    • by Xtifr (1323) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:11PM (#20795567) Homepage

      Linux will never 'take off' until the Linux people stop answering almost every question with the equivalent of "Go in the kitchen and cook it yourself."
      Done and done. Oh, and BTW, there are no "the Linux people". You might as well criticise "the Microsoft people" based on the utterly clueless answers you'll get from a salesdroid at Best Buy. (If I based my opinion of MS on them...) But the fact is that Linux has taken off, and there are a wide variety of businesses and indivuduals selling and/or supporting Linux.

      I'd say the biggest difference is that with Windows, the cost of support is somewhat built into the price of the system, whereas with Linux, it's frequently (though not always) packaged separately. This means that support for MS systems can be a great deal if you just have one system, but not such a good deal if you have hundreds. With Linux, it's frequently the reverse.

      Of course, unpaid support for both systems is pretty problematic. But that's a separate matter. However, even there, Linux leads by having Ubuntu. MS has no equivalent of a free system with free support.
    • matter that much either.

      The fact is-- many businesses going the open source route save money, but many pay more. Those that pay more understand that the money they save on software license fees can go towards making their entire operations more efficient, and they usually will send significantly more on consulting labor in this regard than they saved on software license costs.

      Open source software is not the low-cost cheap solution. It is actually the high-end, more expensive solution which provides a grea
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:32PM (#20795711)
      Heh, I used to think Linux people were bad with answering questions, until I got a job revolving around Windows CE. Every Microsoft "expert" out there tells you URRR LOOK IN DUH PLATFURM BULDER MANUAL LOL when the manual is so disjointed and nonlinear you'd swear it was done by the author of the House of Leaves. Or a particular article in the manual never got updated to pertain to the newest version of Windows CE you're using such that you're wasting your time messing with registry keys that Windows CE stopped recognizing years ago.

      At least when Linux people answer you, it's "okay do this, then this, then this, in that order -- and watch out for x, y, and z". Microsoft people are "okay look in the manual" and then the manual of the product you're trying to use just has clues scattered about in many tiny articles that you have to piece together.

      Fuck no. Linux's world these days, in terms of how-tos, is leaps and bounds ahead of Microsoft culture. The only reason Windows has any edge over Linux these days is "IT HAS GAEMS", and even that's only because of a self-feeding cycle among game company marketing weenies where game developers won't make Linux games because WINDOWS HAS GAEMS AND LINUX DOESNT SO LETS MAKE MOAR WINDOZE GAEMS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646)
      Actually, not even Ubuntu understands that. (Why does Firefox have Ubuntu in its spellcheck dictionary, but not spellcheck?) Ubuntu would never tell you to "go into the kitchen and cook it yourself". It would, however, based on my experience, say:

      -"Oh your food's not hot enough? Just give us your microwave real quick and we'll heat it right up!" "I don't carry a microwave with me to restaurants, especially ones that have signs outside advertising freedom from carrying around a microwave." "Oh, well, we d
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Technician (215283)
      If you are trying to say a Vista machine is ready to use out of the box, I'll call you on that.

      Just for time comparisons, I'll let you take a brand new HP Vista laptop, Power it up, make a set of recovery disks, connect wireless, and create a couple user accounts.

      I'm still recovering from doing that yesterday. The time from powering it on till I could get a start button.. 40 minutes. Burn recovery CD's.. It took a long time to create the files before it asked for media, either 2 DVD's or 11 CD's I don't
      • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @07:01PM (#20796747)
        Just for time comparisons, I'll let you take a brand new HP Vista laptop, Power it up, make a set of recovery disks, connect wireless, and create a couple user accounts.


        You are either making up a good story are just full of crap.

        1) HP Vista laptops ship with recovery DVDs, there is no reason to create one.

        2) Connecting to wireless is as easy as clicking on the freaking ballon that says, networks are available, click to connect to one, and even if it is WPA or WEP, you type in the freaking number or insert the USB drive with the key.

        3) Setting up accounts is hard on Vista? Wow, then you better run from any *nix. Control Panel -> User accounts -> Create new account (Type Name and Password, select security level) Done...

        4) Product activation is automatic if you tell it to just activate when you are online, or one click in the control panel.

        5) AV Software? Wow, that is tough, download AVG, and you are done.

        So again tell us how this took you ALL DAY?

        I'll call you out on this, as I just delivered several new HP laptops to family and friends that don't even understand the difference between the left and right mouse buttons, and they ALL completed the tasks you describe by themselves in under 5 minutes...

        So which is it, are you really that stupid or lying to get positive SlashDot points?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Espectr0 (577637)
          1) HP Vista laptops ship with recovery DVDs, there is no reason to create one.

          Not true. I actually bought one last week, i am typing from it, pavilion dv6568, and it doesn't come with a recovery dvd. Even if you do burn one, you get vista with all of the preloaded crap on it. I removed all the crap and turned off some services and now vista is speedy.
        • You are either making up a good story are just full of crap.

          Costco.. model dv6604cl Purchased this week.

          The slip in the box states;

          Restore your system without discs

          Your computer includes a new system recovery feature that does not require CDs or DVDs.

          If you need to repair your system, you can do it from the hard drive or from your own set of recovery discs.

          To burn your own set of recovery discs, select Start> Recovery Manager > click Advanced Options > Recovery disc creation.

          Having personally brok
  • MS Tax? (Score:5, Funny)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @03:51PM (#20795413)
    This is one of thos cliche phrases that are, oh boy, so stupid, it's not funny anymore. i don't pay any MS tax! I GLADLY pay to use their products. Even if there are free ones. I like Windows (and am VERY PROUD of being a Windows user), I like programming for Windows, I love Visual studia and .NET. So I am a custommer not a tax payer. End of the story.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JonJ (907502)
      But for everyone that doesn't want Windows, it is indeed a tax.
      • But for everyone that doesn't want Windows, it is indeed a tax.

        No, it isn't.

        If you don't want windows, don't buy it. Either you want a warranty on your laptop, so you buy from a company that will install Linux, or you are building it yourself, and can simply omit the cost of an OEM license on your computer. In any other situation, you're buying a package, that gets a discount because it's packaged. (You don't see me complaining about the "Lightscribe tax", even though the sale package I bought my laptop
    • The article really has it wrong. Falling HW prices make paying the "MS tax" more palatable. Someone who was set to pay $1200 for a system with Vista Home, is now looking at paying $800, or will pay $1100 with Ultimate and more kick ass hardware that works with the OS rather than buying a kick ass cheap machine that may not work with the free, cheap OS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        > "The article really has it wrong. Falling HW prices make paying the "MS tax" more palatable."

        The article has it right. Microsoft got their start playing Monopoly by selling a $50 DOS package for $2000 - $6000 computers. Just the retail sales taxes were more than DOS.

        Then the price of computers started to fall ... not much, because the hardware requirements went up, for running Windows. Still, $1500 - $3000 for a decent computer, and $100 for an OS - the sales taxes were still more of a considerati

    • City Tax? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xtifr (1323)
      This is one of thos cliche phrases that are, oh boy, so stupid, it's not funny anymore. i don't pay any city tax! I GLADLY pay to use their services. Road repair, fire and police are all great things that I appreciate, so it's obvious that this is not really a tax. Even if it's mandatory for people who don't use those services. Oh, wait...

      I've got no problems with your use and enjoyment of MS software (I used to know a lot of perfectly reasonable people who agreed with you, although that number definitel
    • By all means, if you like Microsoft products, call yourself a consumer and keep using Visual Studio to develop .Net applications. And please, enjoy your vicarious pride in Microsoft's products. I never understand people who claim pride in someone else's work. Its like sports fans claiming that 'we' beat you, even when they did nothing more physical than spill beer when shouting at a television broadcast. I feel the same way about Linux fans that take pride in the kernel developers or even chicken hawks
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joe 155 (937621)
        I take a certain amount of pride in the market adoption of linux. Granted I haven't written a single line of code on the whole of my computer, but I have helped many a new user on the forum of my preferred (yet not current) distro, fedora. I think that this is a nice way of helping out within the community, and it is the whole community who builds the system, packages it, ships it, distributes it, and gets others to consider adopting it. When I have more money I'll probably donate as well, and I feel that w
    • by no-body (127863)
      This is one of thos cliche phrases that are, oh boy, so stupid

      stupid?

      Running W2K and looking to upgrade, and what I found was this:

      How To Buy

      Order from Microsoft

      Full Version
      Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional English North America CD w/SP2
      $299.00
      Item: E85-02665
      Upgrade Version
      Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional English Upgrade North America CD w/SP2
      $199.00
      Item: E85-02666


      Other Purchase Options
      Licensing

      It's easy to order additional licenses for Windows XP Professi

  • please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @03:53PM (#20795433) Journal
    Can we PLEASE stop trying to sell Linux as the cheap knock-off?
    With proper configuration and support, it stands on it's own. Not to mention Linux *will* cost at least some money for retailers if they want customers to really take it seriously since they'll need to pay royalties to the owners of formats like mp3 etc, since having it not be able to do those types of things out of the box is retarded when you just payed for the damn thing to be pre-configured.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgatliff (311583)
      I certainly do not see Linux as a cheap knock off, but OSS in general is free, so it is kind of hard to push it as anything else other than cheap. Cost in OSS has no relation on quality, however, which actually is OSS's biggest business problem... Love it or hate it, but people associate low cost with cheap quality. That is just the way it is...

      From my perspective, I hope we stop calling always calling it Linux, and rather just focus on the distro, such as "Ubuntu" or maybe "Dell OS"... The beauty of Lin
    • Re:please (Score:5, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:30PM (#20798429) Journal

      Linux *will* cost at least some money for retailers if they want customers to really take it seriously since they'll need to pay royalties to the owners of formats like mp3 etc,

      Really? Until perhaps 2000, Windows didn't come with MP3 support. To this day, it still doesn't come with AAC support, and WMA is a joke.

      Windows doesn't include popular video codecs, either. Divx/MPEG-4 is everywhere, but NOT included with Windows... Everyone's still forced to download the codec from Divx.com... And, you guessed it, they provide a Linux version as well.

      So, nobody is going to take Linux seriously, because it requires a couple clicks in Synaptic to install every audio and video codec you could ever want (MPlayer/libavcodec). But everyone takes Windows seriously, because it forces you to trawl the web to find every single individual video and audio codec you want to use...

      I can see you're right. Linux* is going in the wrong direction... It should be MORE Windows-like, and make multimedia encoding and playback infinitely more difficult.

      And as for MP3s... The patent expires in a couple years, and the point becomes moot (see: GIFs).

      * (Disclaimer: I'm actually a FreeBSDer... Long live Slackware)

  • Becuase Microsoft will claim, based on current market penetration, that the end user will most likely install Windows anyway so the OEM's must include it in order to protect their customers from being charged with piracy. (And so the OEM's don't get trouble calls about computers with no OS/Windows OS from users. At $250 dollars the margin on the PC is almost non-existance and trouble calls cost money). If that's really true or will be true who know, but in the end most computers will be shipping with eith
    • Microsoft will claim, based on current market penetration, that the end user will most likely install Windows anyway so the OEM's must include it in order to protect their customers from being charged with piracy.

      This used to be true, but isn't (or shouldn't be, very soon), for two reasons:

      • Top-tier computer vendors like Dell and HP sell non-Windows OSes openly, so the argument that Windows will be installed is not entirely convincing.
      • Microsoft has been getting very good at fighting piracy (with litt
  • by Knuckles (8964)
    ESR made the same claim in one or more articles several years ago.
    • by vivek7006 (585218)
      Yes he did. http://lwn.net/2000/features/ESR/ [lwn.net]. And that was back in 2000! It has been 7 years since, and hardware prices continue to drop.

      Maybe this is the year of linux. No really. I mean, for sure ... Totally....
    • by ESR (3702) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:36PM (#20796145) Homepage
      That's right, I did make this claim.

      And I know why the effect didn't bite. It's because the big OEMs get their cost of Windows installation offset by the fees that crapware manufacturers play to get their demo versions and adware and spyware bundled into the distro. For an outfit like Dell, those fees are probably large enough to make installing Windows a net profit generator.

      This would also explain why Linux configurations generally cost more that Windows configurations with identical hardware. It's not conspiracy, they're just trying to maintain margin in the absence of the crapware fees.
  • by dokebi (624663) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:00PM (#20795493)
    MS isn't stupid. If linux begins to seriously cannibalizing their market, they will simply reduce Windows OS price to 50-100USD, with even bigger academic discounts. That would cut into their profits, but it'll keep people happy and maintain their OS dominance.
    • by Knuckles (8964)
      cannibalizing [wikipedia.org] does not mean what you think it means.
    • by Rinikusu (28164)
      Actually, I'm not even positive that it would cut into their profits all that significantly. If Windows XP Home were $29.95 at Target, then when it comes to reinstall time and I can't find the CD, I'd think nothing of picking it up at the store rather than rummaging around for the CDs or be all that concerned when I lose them. I bet they'd make it up in volume simply from all the guys who try and keep up with WGA, corporate key revocation, etc would just go out and buy a legit copy.

      Granted, my evidence is
  • by eck011219 (851729) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:01PM (#20795497)
    ... but for now a $400 computer with Windows sounds pretty good to most people, too. And the learning process (particularly if they choose XP over Vista, as they can for now) will be significantly less arduous for the average joe user with some previous Windows experience. Not that the friendlier Linux distros (Ubuntu and its ilk) are hard to use, but they're more intimidating than what people already know backwards and forwards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by falconwolf (725481)

      ... but for now a $400 computer with Windows sounds pretty good to most people, too. And the learning process (particularly if they choose XP over Vista, as they can for now) will be significantly less arduous for the average joe user with some previous Windows experience. Not that the friendlier Linux distros (Ubuntu and its ilk) are hard to use, but they're more intimidating than what people already know backwards and forwards.

      While this is true for users of Windows many don't even have a computer. Fo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:01PM (#20795499)
    This makes the assumption that Microsoft cannot drop the price of Windows. They have lots of side products and the cash to drive a price war for a long time. I think Microsoft charges oems maybe $30 for installing windows. That may sound like a lot but then then people spend $5 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noewun (591275) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:01PM (#20795501) Journal

    Add this to the list of things which should make Linux gain marketshare. Off the top of my head, the list includes: Microsoft's problems with XP/Vista, Apple's problems with 10.4/10.5, Apple's switch to Intel, the latest Windows virus, the introduction of the iPhone, the introduction of the iTMS, the fact that Balmer is a sweaty ape, and on and on.

    The reason that Linux is, and will remain a niche player in the OS desktop market have almost next to nothing to do with technology. I think many posters here have at least a minimum familiarity with Linux, at least enough to know that a well-maintained Linux system can easily do all of the things more normal computer buyers need. It can check email, surf the web, handle digital pictures, play music, load music onto iPods, balance checkbook and find porn. The problem for Linux is that Windows and OS X can do all these things as well. Given this, there's no reason for an average consumer to switch.

    What about hardware lock in? What about free, as in speech and beer?

    No one cares.

    I will repeat that: the average consumer doesn't care about either one. Most consumers already hold themselves in a sort of vendor lock in. If they've had a good experience buying from Dell, odds are they will continue to buy from Dell. If they've had good luck with Macs their entire computing lives, odds are they will stay there. And it's not just with computers. We all know people who will only by Hondas, or Fords, or Black & Decker or Bose. This isn't a technology issue, it's a marketing and consumer loyalty issue, and no amount of fancy kernel engineering will change that. It's the same for free speech and beer: your average consumer doesn't see the cost of the OS, because s/he buys one with the computer. My brother ran the OS his Powerbook came with (10.2.8) for years. He only accidently upgraded to 10.4 because he brought his machine to me to fix an unrelated problem, and I said something like, "Holy shit, you're still running 10.2.8." It was all the same to him, and I'm not sure he noticed the difference between 10.2 and 10.4. I'm sure he will be running whatever version of 10.4 his MacBook Pro came with until the next time he sees me.

    • by noewun (591275)

      Crap: Hit "Submit" instead of "Preview."

      Now to finish the thought: any article which focuses on technology or pricing as a way to gain Linux market share misses the point. It's a marketing issue, and there's nothing I can see in the F/OSS or Linux world which is doing anything about that.

      • The gist of your post seems to be: an average user doesn't care - there is no incentive to use linux. So going back to the point in TFA, when a linux desktop for $250 can do all that the average user cares about, and the exact same hardware with Windows costs $400 - isn't that going to be all the marketing that will be needed?
        • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

          by noewun (591275) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @06:27PM (#20796489) Journal

          No. No.

          And no.

          I know there's a general bias against marketing on Slashdot. Hell, even I think it's bullshit 50% of the time. But marketing--real, well done marketing, like Apple does--is a very difficult thing, and it's something which very few companies in any industry do well. Some companies do it well and poorly at the same time. Most of Microsoft's market is for shit, but their XBox division does it very well (at least in the U.S. They suck at it in Japan.)

          Fr'example, let's look at the iPod versus the Zune. Apple's iPod marketing is very focused and seemingly very simple. It has one, overriding message: the iPod is music. Not 'the iPod can help you manage your music collection'. Not 'the iPod makes your music sound better'. Not even 'you can share your music with your friends with the iPod'. Simply, 'the iPod is music'. And because the iPod's product design backs this up, it's an enormously successful product because the whole thing is designed to make managing your music collection and using the device as simple as possible. There are no extraneous features, and none advertised. You aren't told what you can do with your music, or how to handle it, or how many in formats you can listen to it. You are simpye told, 'this is music.' You plug it into your machine. It grabs your playlists. You press play.

          Now, let's look at the Zune, if you can find one. It wasn't sold as an mp3 player: it was sold as some weird cross between a music player and a social networking device. The message wasn't 'this thing is music'. The message was. . .

          . . .well, there was no message. There wasn't a coherent narrative, or a center of focus. There was just 'here's this thing which will do stuff. With music. Buy it. . .'

          Linux has no narrative an average computer user will care about.

    • by acidrain (35064) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:36PM (#20796147)

      The whole "people don't care about what technology they are using" argument fails the moment users realize they can get free stuff. For example the mainstream adoption of bittorent to download movies. All of a sudden everyone knows how it works and where to look for torrents etc.

      And when Linux means that their laptop costs 1/2 as much, all of a sudden everyone will be recommending packages out of Ubuntu.

      The one flaw with this whole thing is that it is absurd to think that Microsoft would blindly price themselves out of the market. Microsoft will sell XP for the next 10 years at $15 a pop if that is what they have to do to stay dominant. They charge $100/machine only because the market will bear it.

  • A timely subject! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rindeee (530084) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:04PM (#20795527)
    I was just having a conversation with a buddy of mine about this subject this afternoon. Rather than desktop/laptop prices though, our talk centered around servers. I was pricing Dell blade servers today. Do you know you can get a blade chassis with 10 blades 'loaded to the gills' for around $60K? Now granted, that may not be small potatoes, but for the horsepower involved (each blade has dual 3GHz Quad cores with 16GB RAM and dual 146GB drives) it's peanuts. My use revolves around one use and one use only...Xen on CentOS. That $60k is a lot of jack to the average /.er, but compared to what I would have had to (and did) settle for a couple of years ago, it's practically free. Man, what a great time to be in this industry. The more commoditized (yeah, I realize that probably isn't even a slang term) hardware becomes, the better for me/us/anyone using FOSS solutions. Love it! Love it! Love it!!!
  • Perspective flip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyoder (857358) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:09PM (#20795559) Homepage Journal
    As hardware prices fall below OS cost, it will be possible for Microsoft to 'bundle' the hardware with the OS. Perhaps the next Windows family will be 'Windows Laptop', 'Windows Home Computer', 'Windows Server', each coming with the hardware pre-installed. The current situation only appears to be something of a conundrum because we are accustomed to thinking that the hardware should be the most expensive part.
    • As hardware prices fall below OS cost, it will be possible for Microsoft to 'bundle' the hardware with the OS.

      That's going to take a while. Last I heard, the basic version of Windows is about $40 to large volume OEMs. I think that's why they don't include a restore CD or even permission to move the license to another computer.
    • by swillden (191260) *

      The current situation only appears to be something of a conundrum because we are accustomed to thinking that the hardware should be the most expensive part.

      With Linux, the hardware will always be the most expensive part.

    • Re:Perspective flip (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mewsenews (251487) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:25PM (#20796059) Homepage
      The XBOX is the prototype for this.
  • by dioscaido (541037) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:10PM (#20795565)
    OEM's don't have a lot of incentive for selling $250 computers, as the profit margins are very tight in such a low price ranges (even without MS tax). It's not like 06's $700 desktop can't be built today for $250, or '05's $700 destop couldn't be build for $250 in '06, and so on. As hardware prices fall, OEMs simply up the specs of their base systems so that they maintain their profit sweet spot.
  • I guess the real price is buried in Microsoft's contract with retailers, but I'm thinking $250 is at least an order of magnitude too high of an estimate on what Dell et al pay for an OEM copy of Windows.

    Heck, they've had PDAs and cell phones in that price range forever running Windows CE, right?
    • by Shados (741919)
      Indeed. Plus MS makes custom deals for these things all the time... if Dell comes out with a 250$ PC, and tells Microsoft "its either you make us a deal on OEM, or we make it Linux-only", MS will give em Windows for like 5$ a pop.
  • Why would you pay the price of your new laptop again just for the software, when all you want to do is really basic things?"

    I buy a new laptop for a better laptop... not the OS that comes with it.
    More faster everything in a smaller package on a bigger screen with the latest tech like WAN modems, all flavors of wifi, and a new crisp keyboard.

    Com'on... you know you all love that new keyboard feel and new hardware smell, it's geek-crack.
    • by mechsoph (716782)

      and new hardware smell, it's geek-crack.

      Nothing quite like plastic softeners killing brain cells. Personally, though, I prefer glue.

  • Not so fast...! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:25PM (#20795661)

    But as the price of hardware for small basic machines comes down, (think under US$250 by the end of next year), then software price starts to become a big issue. Why would you pay the price of your new laptop again just for the software, when all you want to do is really basic things?"


    Unless Linux vendors produce what people want, there will not be that much anticipated uptake at all.

    If one has to download and configure not less that 4 pieces of software just to get a basic mail-server functional, using the command line and editing text files which can be prone to errors...

    If one has to put up with slow loading software (read OpenOffice.org) running on ugly interfaces that sometimes look incomplete (read KDE and GNOME), then we in the Linux world will wait a long time to get noticed especially on the desktop.

    But it's getting better on the server front. The Apache web server for example does not require that many add ons [if any], to get it fully functional, and the upcoming release of KDE looks very promising.

    On the GNOME front, I am not impressed by its inability to do basic file operations in the file dialog.

    Those that argue that this functionality should be restricted to the file manager have never explained why one can still create a directory/folder within this same file dialog. With their argument, it should be removed. Period.

    • If one has to download and configure not less that 4 pieces of software just to get a basic mail-server functional, using the command line and editing text files which can be prone to errors...

      As opposed to what? Editing them with a graphical text editor?

      Repeat after me: Servers do *not* use GUIs. (unless you run Windows or Ubuntu Server, in which case, you probably shouldn't be configuring a MTA anyways)

      Chances are the OS you install will be *out of date* and you'll have to download updated packages for yo

      • by bogaboga (793279)

        As opposed to what? Editing them with a graphical text editor?

        Now read this very carefully:

        As opposed to running a single configuration script that picks all parameters from the user and puts them in the associated configuration files. The outcome being a fully functional mail server. Now tell me...Is this rocket science?

        Folks with attitudes similar to yours (who say "Servers do *not* use GUIs") are some of the people keeping Linux "behind."

        Why do you think that because you do not prefer a GUI, everyone should be like you? And by the way, a simple configuration scr

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by uglyduckling (103926)
          *sigh*... all major linux distros come with tools, graphical or otherwise, that will help you configure a server for whatever you want. Look at Debian: completely free, it's Debconf system asks you simple questions to set up an MTA, Web server, File server, etc. etc.. Debconf will use command line 'Y/N' prompts, a text-based menu interface or a dialog-box interface depending on what you select.

          Apart from anything, the idea that a graphical interface is an easier option than text files for configuration o

  • This article does not mention anything about the amount of resources required to run Windows Vista, which will eventually be the only game in town in the windows world... Vista could not run on any of these low cost devices just looking at their spec sheets... Also, the large number of users who are willing to pay >= $2K for laptops will go the Apple route, which cuts off their profitable "ultimate" side of things... So yes, in the longterm, it looks like M$ is going to be a little pinched in the mark
  • One reason why MS was able to take off as the cheap OS choice was because everything else was so expensive, or sold as a system rather than a part. On the microcomputer, Compaq broke IBMs hold, and IBM shot itself in the foot by allowing MS supply an OS. As time went on, people began using commodity parts to build thier own own IBM compatible PCs, and installing MS DOS, usually without a license, on these machines.

    Some think that the market is right for this to happen again now that MS is the overpriced

  • This may be slightly off-topic, but it may be time to debunk that fallacy about

    "when all you want to do is really basic things?"

    I hear that all the time from normal users. They just want a simple and cheap computer because all they want to do with it are only very simple things. In fact, what they have in mind with these very basic needs is the following:

    - web surfing
    - email
    - Word documents
    - and probably sync their address book with their phone
    - manage their photos
    - listen to music
    - watch DVDs

    Web surfing re
  • as hardware prices fall below $250 for laptops and desktops, Linux should gain as the Microsoft tax stands out in sharper relief

    Walmart.com tried every flavor of OEM Linux and at price points as low as $200. The poor weren't buying PCs at any price and the middle class wouldn't touch the bottom feeders.

    Mid-line you would have been lucky to have saved $50 on an OEM Linux box - the price of a single Windows PC game, two ink jet cartridges or a month of broadband cable.

    No struggling with WINE or Caldega.

    N

  • by Peganthyrus (713645) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:50PM (#20796229) Homepage
    "So what's up, Joe?"

    "Man, I'm bummed. I got this pretty hot new laptop for three hundred bucks but it didn't come with Windows, and I don't have a copy of it anywhere."

    "Oh? Hmm, I've got the disc right here in my drawer. Hold on, I'll burn you a copy." *takes out a CD with 'Windows XP' and a serial number scribbled on it in marker*
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @06:17PM (#20796381)
    *I* predict that by 2020, cement will be free! That cold fusion will destroy every energy company in existance, and that everyone will be using iPhones.

    Or, we can toss these stupidly speculative articles and actually cover something that's happened, or currently happening? I thought this was *news* for nerds.

    Oh, and by the way, you'll never see a laptop or a desktop for $250, because at that price point there's no point in selling them at all unless your shop is selling thousands of them a month. The same thing has happened to PDAs. You can now only get a Palm Tungsten E in a bundle with a wireless keyboard because the technology has been on the shelf so long that it's not worth $300 by itself anymore. In 6 months, you won't be able to get them at all, replaced with something else at that price point.
  • Double-edged Sword (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DJ_Perl (648258) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @07:23PM (#20796913) Homepage
    Not so fast! When hardware prices are high, it makes sense to use GNU/Linux or BSD on barebones legacy hardware. Falling hardware prices means that it is cheaper to feed Vista's gluttonous hardware requirements.
  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @01:02AM (#20798945) Journal
    ... cheap hardware means cheap Vista-capable computers. Don't forget the swing goes both ways.

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