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Linux To Take Over The Low-End PC Market? 391

Posted by Zonk
from the penguins-on-the-loose dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Desktop Linux has a recent commentary on the inevitable growth of Linux on the cheaper end of the desktop market. According to the article, the availability of under-$500 usable hardware, combined with a free operating system, free desktop office products, and free or cheap 'software as a service' online applications, opens a new market in which Microsoft cannot compete. 'Microsoft will fight this trend tooth and nail. It will cut prices to the point where it'll be bleeding ink on some of its product lines. And Windows XP is going to stick around much longer than Microsoft ever wanted it to. Still, it won't be enough.'"
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Linux To Take Over The Low-End PC Market?

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  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:20AM (#21640279) Journal
    Everything Microsoft has on the market pre-Vista has long since been amortized, I think. And I'm not sure ink is what MSFT has in its veins...
    • by ciaohound (118419) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:36AM (#21640393)
      Don't be impressed by the big accounting word ("amortized," in case you missed it). If they're forced into maintaining the XP code base longer than they had planned, those are real expenses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Not to mention the absolute huge, gargantuan cost of the total image loss the vista disaster has caused micro$oft. They're the best marketeers the Free Software ever could dream up.

        It's funny you can download better operating systems for free than what the richest corporation on earth can sell you. Then again, companies aren't there to make products, they're there to make money.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:41AM (#21640913)
          Just to note, Microsoft isn't the richest corporation on earth. And as it happens, the richest corporation on earth (Walmart) is now selling Linux PCs.

          Linux is a rather high-quality OS used for ultra-high-end applications in HPC. Yet millions of people will now perceive it as the low-end. Strange.

          • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:49AM (#21640987) Homepage Journal

            Linux is a rather high-quality OS used for ultra-high-end applications in HPC. Yet millions of people will now perceive it as the low-end. Strange.
            It's actually both of those things. The cool thing about Linux is that it's like the Swiss Army knife of operating systems. It can scale down to the tiniest mobile device with a low end ARM processor up to the fastest supercomputing clusters in the world. You can use it as a low-end desktop OS or as a high-end workstation OS. It can run file server appliance or as a compute cluster for scientific research.

            That's the power, innovation, and advantage of open source -- you have the code, the right to modify and distribute it, so you can adopt it for whatever application suits your needs.
            • by torkus (1133985)
              Keep in mind that to do this, you entirely re-complie the kernel (and probably half the OS, i'm not much of a linux user). So yes, it's a swiss army knife but you have to put an edge on each blade when you pull it out.

              I'll still agree that MS is much more limited in it's ability to do this.

              • by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:14AM (#21642021) Journal

                Keep in mind that to do this, you entirely re-complie the kernel (and probably half the OS, i'm not much of a linux user). So yes, it's a swiss army knife but you have to put an edge on each blade when you pull it out.

                Not really, no.

                A Swiss Army Knife has different blades, tools and utensils for different purposes.
                Each platform is a different purpose; a recompiled kernel (and userland) is a different blade/tool/utensil.

                It is not users that need to recompile the kernel, which would be putting an edge on each and every blade -- it's the distro maintainers' job. Users just select the blade they need.

            • To the customer, they are selling a one-off jobber with a combination of programs and UI features that represent no platform in particular. Even if they have looked at other "Linux" PCs, they are not likely to see something they recognize in a highly customized Enlightenment desktop. If they buy the system they

              Linux boosters are showing their derangement here: Promoting "Linux" to end-users is like promoting Gecko to people who want a browser. But Linux and Gecko are effectively invisible to non-techies. Th
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by nmg196 (184961) *
          > It's funny you can download better operating systems for free than what the richest corporation on earth can sell you

          If you really could, everybody would have done so already. If free operating systems really were "better" in every way, nobody would pay for a worse one if they can get something better for free. The problem with most free operating systems is that they don't run the software that people want to use (Office, Outlook, most games etc). Until they do, they won't be regarded as 'better' by t
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rucs_hack (784150)
          Define 'better'.

          Not all customers think free is better, especially those who are long term Microsoft houses. Not just them though, there are still a lot of proprietary Unix houses out there who are a long way from thinking Linux is what they need.

          The OS itself is almost unimportant, it's the service that goes with it that matters. corporations never did just buy site licenses, they bought massive support contracts. Linux needs to convince a lot of companies that are happy with their current arrangement that
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rolfc (842110)
      And dont forget that they just make money on Windows and Office, cut of the moneyflow from them and it will go very fast.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jacquesm (154384)
        that's right on the money. I think that the 'big change' will come the day there is a linux distro out there that will have wine installed and functional to the point where it will run office 2003 out of the box. When that's achieved there will be a large amount of people in a position to switch.

        All those people complaining about 'not being able to run their games' forget one thing: Computers were not designed to be game playing machines, they were designed as productivity tools. That the gaming market was
        • by Pecisk (688001) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:32AM (#21640819)
          You meant Ubuntu 7.10? Because it has Wine (installed by several clicks trough Add/Remove...), and it works out of box. Office 2003, World of Warcraft (Yes, I have account, and yes, I play it everyday), uTorrent... You name it.
        • by torkus (1133985)
          I'm sorry, but games are what sells 90% of high end PC hardware. Please tell me how many people need a video card (or two of them!) with 786MB of ram, highly-paralleled GPU, faster ram than the main system ram, etc. for productivity?

          Yes, there's the .01% that do CAD (that haven't bought a professional card) or other professional uses but they're few and far between. Vista is a hog, true - but how many generations old is a pentium4-2GHz? Because that will handily run XP Pro.

          As for your first point - a lin
  • by Freaky Spook (811861) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:28AM (#21640325)

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/12/04/1331246&from=rss [slashdot.org]

    Is it any coincidence that Microsoft has done this? Piracy does help them to a certain extent, it pushes their products into markets where people cannot afford them, or just flat out don't want to pay for it, which still ultimatley counts towards their market share.

  • A little off topic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    but I'd been using OSX heavily for about one year and since then, my usage of linux has dramatically increased. It started with Kubuntu, but got a little tired of it, before finally settling on Fedora 8 just recently. I've completely flicked Windows now. The last legacy for me using Windows was for the casual gaming, but that was gone when I finally got a console (admittedly a 360). I gradually got used to using a terminal, picked a shell that I liked and stuck with it. Forced myself to do everything w
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you enjoy scripting, one of the best sites around is Heiner's SHELLdorado. [shelldorado.com]
    • Was it hard switching from the PC to the 360? I've always wanted to -- console gaming is so much simpler and cheaper -- but can't quite get used to using a gamepad for shooters. Did it take you long to switch over (assuming you even play FPSes)?
  • by BobKagy (25820) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:32AM (#21640363)
    Previously sales figures for Linux desktops were suspect because of the argument "Well, everybody buying them is just putting a pirated copy of Windows on them anyway." Scanning the article I didn't see anything about piracy...

    But recently with activation & continuous authentication, Microsoft has tried to prevent this.

    Has Microsoft finally given up its an extra tier of pricing beyond retail and volume? "You'd never give us a cent for Windows? Well, at least pirate it ..."

  • News that matters? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iBod (534920) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:33AM (#21640365)
    TFA is just a rather poorly informed opinion piece and a lot of wishful thinking.

    Since when did this consititute 'news'?
  • Perceived delay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pope Raymond Lama (57277) <gwidion@mpLISPc.com.br minus language> on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:35AM (#21640387) Homepage
    In my coutry we have had GNU/Linux in low end PC's at mainstream outlets for sometime now.Most of these are replaced by an ilegal copy of windows on the first days of use, but still some stick around.That is just part of the vicious circle desktop systems are inserted due to the monopoly exerced by Microsoft, and certainly the few GNUs remaining do contribute for a slow market share shift.

    The main problem, IMHO, is not even Joe Newbie who re-formats his GNU PC. It is the mentality of PC vendors itself who do not even configure their GNU/Linuxes correctly on their hardware.

    The other day I saw a notebook at a shop with a misconfigured video driver, logged in X11 with a purplish tint and horizontal garbage lines everywhere. Another example: a local LinuxMagazine review a couple of years ago found out that in a Hwlet Packard low end desktop system pre-configured with GNU/Linux (indeed!), OpenOficce would take a full 3 minutes to start!! Because they had configured a 128MB system with a 1GB Swap.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
      In my coutry we have had GNU/Linux in low end PC's

      Are users really interested in Debian, though? Wouldn't they be better off with something a little less religious, like Ubuntu?
      • Hi...
        There is a misconcpet here. When I say GNU/Linux I am talking of teh GNU system using teh Linux kernel - which is usually called just "Linux" by the media (both mainstream and not). As a matter of fact all the called Linux Distros - including Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat, Mandriva, Slackware and others are distributions of the GNU system. Linux is the kernel it uses - just like a car has an engine, and is of little use without an engine. On the other hand, an engine without a car would not be as con
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)
      OpenOficce would take a full 3 minutes to start!! Because they had configured a 128MB system with a 1GB Swap.

      You didn't really need to add "with a 1GB swap" there.

      Sure, Linux will run happily on much older hardware. Doesn't mean you can usefully do any typical desktop-type tasks on it - unless you're prepared to forego GUI-based office applications.
      • My preferred spreadsheet (Gnumeric) just opened in less than 3 seconds. Abiword took 5 seconds. OOo Calc took 15 seconds. (OOo Word took 3 seconds. Probably still had parts of OOo in memory from Calc.) One of the reasons I wiped XP from this machine was that I couldn't stand the long startup times for OOo under windows. This is on a Centrino Duo w/2GB RAM, bought refurbished from Frys a year ago.
      • >> OpenOficce would take a full 3 minutes to start!! Because they had configured a 128MB system with a 1GB Swap.

        > You didn't really need to add "with a 1GB swap" there.

        Yes I needed. This is the misconfiguration that makes it take a full 3 minutes to load. Otherwise it will load in 20-30 seconds in a 128MB system. Not if 90% of system and app libraries are stuck in swap.
    • It is the mentality of PC vendors itself who do not even configure their GNU/Linuxes correctly on their hardware.

      And this is EXACTLY why the vast majority of people will never move to any version of linux. If someone can't turn their machine on and have it work out of the box without having to tweak their system to get video/sound/whatever drivers to work, they will not use it.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, people have to tweak Windows systems to get it to work the way they want. That tweaking is mainly eye c

  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:35AM (#21640389) Homepage Journal
    The nicest device I can see at present is the Nokia N810 [engadget.com] which runs the Maemo [maemo.org] (linux) OS.

    High resolution touch screen (800*480), hardware keyboard, gps and customisable - ~$450

    This looks dreamy (and its on my xmas list)
    • by rindeee (530084)
      It is 'dreamy'. I've got a slew of 800/810s that are heavily modded (lots of OS mods, 3rd party apps like OpenVNP client, SIP client, blah blah blah) all connecting to a mothership (Sun 2100 running CentOS and all the server side crap like Asterisk, OpenFire, etc.). I dare anyone to find a device that can be so useful(note I said can be...given multiple units and someone who is willing to take the time to extend their usefulness beyond un-boxing it). The 810 with a hardware thumb board is a massive step
      • Aye, that's the thing about the n8x0: it still needs a little work to do what you want it to. But it continually surprises me.

        If I may ask, what sort of application do you use a "slew" of 8-balls for? I've only got two on my home network.
    • You could save a fair bit by going for the N800, I quite like the N810 but I don't like the micro sd cards, i already have several Gb of sd cards which i use with my phone and PSP (twin sd card adapter from play.com) and PDA

      It looks like host usb is going to be a reality on both the N800 and N810, why nokia haven't included it yet I don't know. I think i would be pleased with the N800 but the eee701 has its merits too.

      It would make a perfect review comparing the N series nokia's the EEE701 and why not the
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by the_humeister (922869)
      Nice, but does it play Ogg???
    • by zotz (3951)
      You know, I was beginning to seriously getting one of those for myself and then I run into this:

      'Nokia Claims Ogg Format is "Proprietary"'

      See:

      http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/12/09/2045200 [slashdot.org]

      From the pdf:

      "Nokia's recommendation for Codec Choices for normative reference by W3C
      Considering our requirements, we believe the widespread use of technically
      competitive, but not necessarily "free" open standards, such as H.264 for video and
      AAC for audio, would serve the community best. This would be fully aligne
    • it costs less and it can play Ogg Vorbis too...
  • Annoyed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gigiya (1022729) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:36AM (#21640395)
    I realize I should expect no less from an article on desktoplinux.com, but I'm extremely annoyed by comments like "Still, it won't be enough." I can just imagine a typical Linux fanboy laughing diabolically while typing it. While the article has valid points, comments like that are wishful thinking and immature conjecture.
  • by zakezuke (229119) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:37AM (#21640397)
    My biggest complaint wasn't the fact that Vista was a bug ridden piece of filth the likes of which made windows ME look good, but the fact they have Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate... oh and Enterprise too that no bugger seems to be using. An OS which will cost you $100 to $400.

    I'm not going to say $100 isn't reasonable for the OS that runs your PC. It's a fair price. But the version game is unacceptable. So hopefully some of the linux based PCs will drive down prices of MS's OS down to reasonable and sane levels.

     
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by iBod (534920)
      You've got one - it's called Vista!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsmithy (35869)

      But the version game is unacceptable.

      Uh, why ? It's not like price discrimination is an uncommon market phenomenon...

      • Because there are aspects that the general public believes should be in a general purpose (Home) OS that are only available in the premium and "Ultimate" versions of the OS.

        I understand that the bar is being raised every year on what the home user wants to do on his computer (a hell of a lot more now than 10 years ago), but that doesn't mean that $100 should buy an OS that can only do things that an OS 10 years ago could do. Especially since hardware can do so much more now (for the same price) than it cou
      • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:54AM (#21641049) Homepage Journal
        It's not uncommon, but it isn't fair (or, taking more objective standpoint: "is perceived unfair by a major percentage of customers") - you're paying 400% the base price to get like 40% extra functionality. Besides, people don't perceive the high-end versions as extended variants of the low-end base system, but the low-end versions as purposedly crippled high-end base.

        This still works as profit source in the short run, but it annoys the customer base, undermines loyalty, encourages seeking alternatives. And once alternatives are found, you lose in the long run. You squeeze $50 for Home Premium from an user today, and lose the whole sale and the customer entirely tomorrow.

        Except the analysis hardly ever takes into account reasons why people switch to other OS, and even if it does, it comes to entirely wrong conclusions (they are cheaper, they have better marketing) while your own faults - trying to squeeze last penny off the customer - are hardly ever taken into account as the 'real evil'. People hate being cheated and perceive this as cheating. And it doesn't matter you don't and your marketing people will explain to your CEO that it really isn't cheating. For people, it is, and people will hate you for that. And will jump the ship at the first opportunity... or steal from the thieves, not a crime to many.
  • While there is nothing to do to stop it. Having Linux run on Low End systems may not be good overall.
    When most people buy a Low End System they are not happy with it...
    Packard Bell, Compaq, eMachines... They buy them because they though they are a good deal, or just because they don't have the money for a good System. They are not happy with it. Then throw a OS that people can't buy new software in the stores or the latest or even older games on it. Hardware problems causing the OS to Crash... While savi
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:20AM (#21640691) Homepage
      you are almost completely incorrect. Everyone that buys an E-machine or other discount budget pc is happy with them. It plays the silly card games they want, it goes online, it let's them type a letter. Aunt gertie is not going to be entering any UT3 deathmatches soon or getting herself a WoW addiction going. She is happy with that Pentuim III 500 she bought back in 1999 it does everything she wants and windows 98 works fine for her. (in face she get's less infections as most new viruses will not run on a non unicode machine)

      If I upgrade her to A old thrown away G3 mac and she can do everything she did before, she will STILL be happy.

      That is what the $200.00 walmart PC is for... Aunt Gertie, Grandma Fluffles, and creepy uncle Fred. I have supported far more happy low power pc owners than I have seen happy high power pc owners.

      Funny part, most "high power" pc owners think sony Vaio = high end. sad reality is that it's low end just trendy.

      Low end pc's are for the bulk of the computer users. They do not play games, they don't run bit torrent and watch movies on their computer. They check email, write and print out letters, do online banking and play solitaire.

      For them, these computers are typically 300-400% faster than the 10 year old monster they are using now.
      • Vaio laptops are small, light and powerful. Sure they cost a premium for the looks and weight, but the Vaio SZ range is shit-hot.

        I almost completely agree with you, other than that one weird throwaway comment.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spxero (782496)
          ...the Vaio SZ range is shit-hot.

          So you're staying it's a steaming pile of crap?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smchris (464899)
        Yup, just waiting for the public paradigm shift. The three truths are:

        1. Granny wants email and the web.
        2. Granny might use OpenOffice.org to type up a letter if keeping the printer running isn't too challenging. Maybe upload pictures from her camera for processing if she's really hip. Downloading and printing some .pdf tax forms? I don't know. I think that's Hacker Granny.
        3. No way, no how Granny is going to _maintain_ her computer -- Windows OR linux -- so that's a wash and we can just quit agoniz
    • by AlXtreme (223728)

      They buy them because they though they are a good deal, or just because they don't have the money for a good System. They are not happy with it. Then throw a OS that people can't buy new software in the stores or the latest or even older games on it.

      Totally agree with you here. If you look at the companies using Linux on the low-end of the market (Asus with the Eee PC for instance) they are marketing them as appliances, not computers. Naturally all hell will break out once Jane Doe wants to run the latest v

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BESTouff (531293)

      While there is nothing to do to stop it. Having Linux run on Low End systems may not be good overall.

      Wrong. That's how Windows got its foothold: it started taking the lower-end of the workstation market. In fact that's often how a newcomer wins into any market: by being cheaper.
      I think Microsoft should be afraid.

    • by pimpimpim (811140) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:01AM (#21641097)
      You keep using that word "Desktop". I think we should forget about the year where linux would become ready for the Desktop. By the time it would be there, Desktops will be outfashioned anyway. Instead, focus on the year where linux will be ready for mobile devices, which is more or less NOW. The advantage of mobile devices is the fact that driver support can be optimized just for the device itself, and a small set of extension cards. Just look at the new Nokia handheld computers and the EEE. Also, it is the range where people will accept a low end system if it also means they will get a better battery time. And it is a range where minimal use of memory is needed!

      What is also good for linux in this market, is that Windows seems to not be able to easily adjust to different form factors. They try to put windows XP on the EEE, but everything will be unreadable on the small screen! You can make icons and fonts bigger, but does that help? Making an interface for mobile devices requires a 'paradigm shift' (to put it in managerspeak), the Xandros developers for the EEE got that right with their simple menu. Nokia got that right. But even Windows CE doesn't get it, still thinking to much in the good-ol' "Desktop" idea.

  • Microsoft lives or dies by your upgrades. It's not a casual accident that the term Wintel exists. More hardware more software, the crank turns you spend money and on and on it goes. But today's sub $500 PC is state of the art circa 2004-5. Back then I invested a lot of time in looking into the lowest hardware supportable for the then current latest desktop Linux installations. Starting from a Pentium 1 400Mhz with 112MB RAM I discovered that the stated prereqs of a Pentium 2 500Mhz and 256MB RAM was the abs
    • by iBod (534920)
      Firstly, Microsoft doesn't live or die by one thing. They are a mega-corporation with diverse income streams and assets. Whatever some people think here on ./, MS isn't going to 'die' any time soon - so get over it.

      Secondly you misunderstand a fundamental driver in the market: people (individuals and businesses) actually WANT to upgrade! Shocking isn't it?

      We live in a culture where continuous 'improvement' and 'economic growth' are the goals. Making do with what you have is definitely not the message.

      Peop
      • by Socguy (933973)

        Firstly, Microsoft doesn't live or die by one thing. They are a mega-corporation with diverse income streams and assets. Whatever some people think here on ./, MS isn't going to 'die' any time soon - so get over it.

        While they doubtlessly have diverse assets, I would argue that Microsoft has only 2 revenue streams of any consequence.
        1. Windows.
        2. Office.
        This is the nucleus that supports the vast MS empire.
        But you're right, MS is not going to die anytime soon.

        Secondly you misunderstand a fundamental driver in the market: people (individuals and businesses) actually WANT to upgrade! Shocking isn't it? We live in a culture where continuous 'improvement' and 'economic growth' are the goals. Making do with what you have is definitely not the message. People want newer, shinier stuff. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel successful and that they belong.

        Ya, That's pretty much right. It's really sad. I know these people. They see an ad for the latest and they're all over it. Most of them don't even have a clue about what they've purchased. They just need to be the first to own it. I don't really k

    • by phorest (877315)

      After 2008 what options will you have?

      XPSP3 is currently planned for 1H CY2008 [microsoft.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:48AM (#21640469)
    Op-ed from a pro Linux site isn't exactly an unbiased "news" source. Yes desktop Linux is going to become a bit more common, yes we'll see more entry level boxes shipping with it ... but MS' virtual monopoly on the OS market is not going to suddenly go away. If this becomes a serious threat to them they'll release something like XP starter edition for next to nothing, or even at a net income to the vendor after paid crapware pre-installs are added on. At that point Linux loses the main advantage that most people (initially at least) care about : that it's free-as-in-beer.
    • by SL Baur (19540)

      At that point Linux loses the main advantage that most people (initially at least) care about : that it's free-as-in-beer.

      And that's where there's a disconnect to the market place. Marketing a free-as-in-beer product requires something else to make a profit.

      What makes Linux interesting to me (and why I've contributed so much time and code to various projects over the years) is that it is a system that cannot ever be taken away from me. Ever. Various distros can flourish and then die when their corporate sponsors go away or become insane as in the case of Caldera, but the code doesn't die and something else will take its pl

  • The arguement... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:58AM (#21640529)
    In the grand /. tradition, I haven't RTFA. However, I guess that the argument is that as the price of hardware comes down, the price of commercial software makes up a bigger part of the total expenditure.

    Customers will balk when they realize that they use the computer for just internet and simple word processing and maybe some multimedia.

    The problem is, in the real world Linux isn't even on the radar of most individuals. If they did hear about it, it's probably something from a few years ago and not about one of the modern distributions.

    The solution: Whoever sells these cheap machines has to advertise. It should be simple enough. A short TV add showing wireless internet and desktop productivity apps for a $200 machine like the OLPC would sell them like hotcakes. Especially when you say that the price includes full versions of all the software. (You can even have two people discuss during the ad about how they hate trial versions that came with their last computer, and comparing it to amarok, k3b, openoffice.org, and digikam. Especially mention seamless integration with mp3 players and digital cameras.)
    • mention seamless integration

      Not unless you are selling panty-hoes.

      The wiords you want are "it just works!"

  • by mark99 (459508) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:15AM (#21640659) Journal
    MS can create a cheap version of Vista or XP with very little effort. And because they are earning *something* on it, I suspect in the long run it will get better support than anything that can be had for free. Commercial version of Linux are of course another story.

    I think Linux cannot succeed on price alone. It has to be enough better that people will invest the time needed to change their habits - which today drive them straight to Windows.

  • Prediction... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:16AM (#21640667)

    These devices aren't going to directly hit MS's products - what they could do is cost them mindshare and threaten the future of their monopoly.

    Products like the eeePC occupy a precarious niche just below cheap "regular" laptops - put a bigger screen and a CD drive on them and there'll be a cheaper Dell laptop - so while they may be successful for their manufacturers they're not going to make a big dent in PC sales. People will buy them as "extra" machines for kids or as spare "take anywhere" machines (don't buy a £2000 ultra-portable - buy a £1000 desktop or large screen laptop plus an eeePC for when you don't need the power or don't want to risk carrying your main machine). But if they find that, out-of-the-box, they can connect to web and EMAIL and open most of their documents with these things called "Firefox", "Thunderbird" and "Open Office" then they might have their eyes opened to other possibilities.

    Remember, MS's real monopoly is Office, not Windows. How many lUsers have you met who, when asked what version of windows they are running, respond with their Office version? However, I was in a school (in England) recently and saw a big (homemade) poster on the wall saying "Haven't got MS Office at home? Have you tried the free alternative from www.OpenOffice.org?" - so there is hope for the world.

    If I were MS right now I'd be busily developing something like "Vista Lite Edition" that could be sold on a memory stick alongside eeePCs and the like for about $25, probably including a stripped down office. ISTR they did do something similar in some countries but it was perceived as "Windows - crippled edition". It might be an easier sell if it was linked to built-to-a-price "appropriate technology" hardware.

  • by Bright Apollo (988736) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:19AM (#21640681) Journal
    I think there's a potential goldmine for Microsoft just looming off to the side.

    If Microsoft made Windows 2000 Pro available for $20 per copy in 2008, then shuttered it; and Windows XP Pro/64 Pro for $40 in 2008, then 2009, then shuttered it, imagine how easy it would be for many 'cloned' copies to get right. Now imagine how easy it would be for Microsoft to compete against Linux in the low-end market. Microsoft would be able to say -- which Linux cannot -- "Our OS works with Microsoft Office natively, including Exchange". The real cash cow is untouched, i.e. Office, and Microsoft finally gets into the "sell the blades, not the razor" business once and for all.

    -BA

  • They can only compete through shady business practices, bribery and plain old crookery unless they change their ways. They (still) have enough money to stop business for a few years, work on a lightweight kernel (you know, those that run on any x86 with 16MB RAM) and some good software practices that makes it more open (maybe not open source, but at least more transparent) and more within the legal constraints of today's anti-trust requirements. As soon as anyone can build another shell around Windows we'd
  • by Anonymous Coward
    More /. hypocrisy.

    You guys always talk of Linux taking over, but at the same time demand that govt. tie Microsoft down in monopoly regulations. If Linux is going to take over, then Windows is not a monopoly, by definition. Which is it slashdot? Is Windows doomed and therefore not a monopoly or is it the other way around?
    • by HikingStick (878216) <<z01riemer> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:11AM (#21641223)
      Under U.S. law, a company does not need to be a true monopoly (i.e., the only player in a sector) to be classified a monopoly. The threshold there (imlu, ianal) is whether or not the company yields monopoly-like influence over the market, including the creation of significant barriers to entry for potential competitors.

      That said, the growing success of Linux (and the Mac OS)will ensure that one day--who knows how soon--Microsoft will use the Linux saturation levels as an argument against sanctions it faced (faces) as a monopoly. That's when the OS war will finally reach the point of full engagement.
    • More AC BS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hellfire (86129)
      I love how an AC has posted this obviously inflamatory drivel, and continue to marvel that the mods mod crap like this up.

      1) The US and European union have both declared MS to be a monopoly.
      2) A monopoly in legal terms is not someone who owns 100% of the market, but owns an overwhelming portion of the market. Windows is at what, 90%? 95%?
      3) Worse still, MS has been shown, time and time again, that they use that monopoly influence to bully PC vendors. MS hasn't been able to use that influence as much beca
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:50AM (#21641005)
    If Linux becomes the O/S of choice for cheap hardware, then I hope GNU/Linux will not get the name of "poor man's operating system". While it may be free of charge, it is not is a label the software deserves. Oh well Lindows or whatever it's now could be "poor man's Windows", they deserve that I guess. Seems to be the market they're targeting anyways.
  • Eee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wytcld (179112) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:12AM (#21641237) Homepage
    The ASUS Eees are good. Yeah, MS is set to sell XP for them for another $40, but their default PDA=like screens are idiot-proof, and it's simple to switch them to a clean, ASUS-customized KDE. The screen is good. The keyboard's good. There's nothing cheap about them except maybe the button bar beneath the touchpad - and you can get the same function from the touchpad itself. And there are no rough edges in the Linux experience. It's not for games, but it boots and loads apps plenty fast. It even has mplayer working out of the box - no extra installation steps for a modern browsing experience (as with, say, Ubuntu).
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:31AM (#21641461) Journal

    "Desktop Linux has a recent commentary on the inevitable growth of Linux on the cheaper end of the desktop market


    So, a web site dedicated to Linux says that Linux is going to take over a market segment. Big surprise. Expecting anything different would be like expecting Microsoft to say Linux is the best option for a market segment.

    This is not news. It is not even opinion. It is propaganda.
  • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:36AM (#21642333)
    One of the myriad of benefits of owning a monopoly is the ability to set price. (price maker) Economic history is full of examples where the monopoly owner temporarily lowers prices to eliminate low-end competitors.

    This low-end desktop market is owned by Microsoft. They allow it to exist to give the illusion of competition. If they want that segment, they'll take it simply by throwing some money at it and eliminate the competitor. Meanwhile, the low-end provider scrapes by. Novell certainly isn't going to beat Microsoft. Mark Shuttleworth doesn't have the resources to do it either.

    Where it counts, Linux distros are simply a negotiating tool for enterprises/agencies to get a lower price/bigger bribe out of Microsoft. That lower price is STILL HIGHER than the price in a vaguely competitive market.

    Vista? Oh yeah, you'll be able to pirate it just like XP because every software company knows that's the best way to introduce future customers.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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