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Netbook Return Rates Much Higher For Linux Than Windows 663

Posted by Soulskill
from the old-dogs-new-tricks-etc. dept.
ivoras writes "An interview with MSI's director of US Sales, Andy Tung, contains this interesting snippet: "We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven't really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don't know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it's not what they are used to. They don't want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.'"
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Netbook Return Rates Much Higher For Linux Than Windows

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  • by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:23AM (#25263195)

    I've had two netbooks so far, and on both, the Linux installations sucked. One came with Xandros, the other with SuSE. Both were poorly installed, neither of them updated correctly over the network, and neither of them was properly adapted to the device (screen, keyboard, etc.). If I hadn't been able to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix, I would have returned the machines myself.

  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:24AM (#25263201)
    RTFA, and unlike the submitter, you'll see that the interviewers point out that MSI offer a poorly configured version of Linux.

    I wonder what it would cost someone like Microsoft to have MSI spike the competition.
  • Eee (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EaglemanBSA (950534) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:34AM (#25263249)
    My eeepc was a whole lot more useful once I got a different distro on it. Average Joe isn't going to feel comfortable installing linux on his own, editing boot records and reconfiguring this and that for three hours before the computer becomes useful. They want to hit a button and have a useful operating system in front of them.

    That said, I've bought three eee's, one for me, my brother, and my wife. I've installed ubuntu and configured everything before giving them to the others, and they haven't had a problem since. My wife, who won't use windows because she's not used to it (she grew up with macs), says she likes ubuntu - I suspect her story would be different if she had to spend hours looking up instructions how to install it.
  • by jbellis (142590) <jonathan AT carnageblender DOT com> on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:34AM (#25263253) Homepage

    That's too bad. My only experience is with the Acer Aspire One, which comes with a Fedora 8 variant installed and has none of those problems.

  • by bondsbw (888959) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:41AM (#25263289)

    But Windows XP is dead. Microsoft wants you using Vista, and Vista is one of the hardest OSes to learn after using XP. Microsoft will soon enough ban OEM installs of XP on netbooks, so this talk of XP vs. Linux is mostly useless.

    People come to me all the time, asking for help with setting up their wi-fi or trying to figure out some other off-the-wall issue with Vista. And I tell them, hell if I know... I wish they'd switch to Ubuntu. It is no more difficult to learn than Vista.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @09:44AM (#25263309)
    I would think the people who actively buy a Linux version would also be more discerning customers, more likely to return it if it wasn't exactly what they wanted.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:03AM (#25263435)

    Alright, couple things. Yes. It is true that the vast majority of the general public don't want to learn how a computer works.

    But I see some fault by manufacturers too. Couple things.

    Stop shipping laptops with relatively unknown "Lets evade the MS Tax" Linux distros with little support or documentation. This whole "Get a Linux computer so we can pirate Windows" thing has gotta stop.

    From now on, contract with the BIG BOYS in Linux, Red Hat, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Suse. No more gOS. no more *insert Bizzare distro no one has ever heard of here* distro.

    Make sure all your drivers for your cards work and can survive things like Kernel patches.

    Stop shipping broken configurations. If my Screen can support 1200x800, it better not be set to 1024x768.

    Stop Advertising Linux as "Almost Windows" or "Sort of Windows" - Advertise Linux as - Linux. Put a big Penguin sign up next to the row of Linux Laptops, and say "These are Linux Laptops." and if they are

    Install Wine on Linux Laptops. Show customers that they can take their Windows applications with them where Applicable.

  • by 313373_bot (766001) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:05AM (#25263457)

    True, but even people who hate to learn were forced to learn Windows at some point in the past. Today, inertia what is keeping Windows rolling, but as Linux becomes more and more mainstream, those people will have to learn something new. And if not Linux, then something else, after all at some point Windows will have to be replaced, it's just a matter of time. A paradigm shift can be delayed, but not avoided forever.

  • by Scholasticus (567646) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:30AM (#25263613) Journal

    I've been hearing about "The Year of Linux on the Desktop" for years. I think at this point many Linux distributions are ready for the desktop, at least for many common tasks. Perhaps one of the things we didn't take into account is that many home computer users are too lazy to learn something new.

    For myself, I don't care whether most people use MS Windows or OS X or whatever. I just want Linux and/or *BSD to be there for me, which is why I contribute what I can monetarily to various projects, including my preferred Linux distribution.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:38AM (#25263695)

    That would require a functional and easy to use media stack in Linux to play the videos.

  • by drakken33 (859280) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @11:00AM (#25263923)

    I agree. My local Sainsbury's are marketing netbooks as cheap alternatives to laptops. They all run WinXP but I can see how people would be disappointed that their new 'laptop' is so different from their desktop or big laptop if they get Linux without knowing what they're buying.

    People don't complain that their mobile phone doesn't run Windows (unless they have a WinMo phone in which case they do complain ;o)) and some of those people use their phones for more than phone calls and SMS. I think marketing netbooks as cheap devices for email, web browsing, chat, casual games and maybe a few other tasks rather than as small, cheap laptops would help people to not care that a Linux netbook isn't running Windows. I see netnooks occupying the space between smartphones and low end laptops.

  • by johndmartiniii (1213700) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @11:14AM (#25264049) Homepage
    It does count as irony, even dramatic irony, because deep down this audience always new what was going to happen, even while the players did not.

    I agree with you fully. This has served as well to make an even dumber new set of Mac users who switch because it's easy and "just works." I've noticed this amongst other grads in the humanities. They use MSOffice on their Macs, don't know what to do when they lose their internet connection, and can never, ever, ever get their printer configured.

    It's not a problem of Mac users being stupid. It is a problem of basic computer literacy. Computer literacy courses at University in the United States now consist of a several-months-long, very expensive howto for Microsoft Office and using Outlook to answer your e-mail.

    When you change the look or feel of anything these days, people freak, or become frustrated and give up. The inability to reason and sort things out has been lost because of that Start button. Without it, how will you know where to start?
  • by McDutchie (151611) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @11:30AM (#25264173) Homepage

    MSI's install of linux is a piece of garbage. They barely made it run and it's junk. now they are bitching that their half assed work causes returns?
    How come the ASUS eee flys off shelves where it's available and people that own them that are not techies love them in their linux install?
    Oh wait, ASUS did not half ass the linux install. Ahhhh.

    I thought ASUS users just replaced their Linux with Windows in most cases. I have not seen MSI's Linux installation, but the ASUS version of Xandros on my daughter's Eee PC 4G is an unusable piece of crap. The most basic things don't work properly. A few of the snags I've run into:

    • it forgets about the wireless network after every restart so it has to be reconfigured every time;
    • many dialog windows in programs such as Firefox don't fit on the screen so that you can't even click on OK or Cancel to get rid of them because the buttons are hidden (you have to alt-drag and then resize the window but that's too much to ask for the average user, never mind a newbie);
    • Flash is crashy as hell (so much for my daughter's Flash games);
    • the "anti-virus" included plainly doesn't work, it can't even update itself (not that it would be any use anyway);
    • Skype crashes at least once in every conversation;
    • the Software Update control panel doesn't seem to do anything;
    • the "Messenger" doesn't open any window when you click on it but just keeps adding more useless icons to the system tray instead;
    • etc.

    Never seen such a mess before. If I were not an experienced Linux user myself, I'd have returned it. If MSI's is even worse than that, then wow... just wow.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @11:39AM (#25264247) Journal

    I bought my Eee PC with Xandros. It had a few extremely good applications, like the Asus 3G modem app, which is better than the one Huawei bundles with their 3G modems for Windows. Xandros works fine in general, too, but my big, huge gripe with it is that the default installation consumes more than 3/5ths of the SDD, and you cannot remedy this by removing apps (or games) which you don't need, because someone at Asus decided that Xandros has to be installed in UnionFS! Having less free space on the SSD, apart from the obvious disadvantage, also diminishes the places where dynamic wear levelling can spread out the writes.

    Anyhow, my point is that Xandros COULD have been a very decent OS for the Eee PC, if only Asus had a fricken clue. Have a minimum installation with OpenOffice and Firefox, and let the user remove and install what they want. This goes to the heart of the OP, rather than the topic of the original submission.

  • by Risen888 (306092) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @11:56AM (#25264419)

    I sell Ubuntu desktops and laptops, and I include something like this with every new rig that leaves my shop. It actually started as a textfile, but it's slowly mutating into a multimedia extravaganza, with screencasts, voice-overs, the whole nine yards. I'd like to wrap it all up in a script that automatically opens the applications I'm talking about at the time, so users can follow along with me. I've got too much time on my hands.

  • by Glonoinha (587375) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @12:01PM (#25264479) Journal

    Without going into many details, I'm not exactly a n00b. Given that my first interaction with a keyboard was on a new Commodore PET, there's a strong possibility I've been doing this longer than many of the people in this thread have been alive.

    Want to know why I spend 2/3rds of my time in Windows (the rest in SuSE 10.3 on KDE 3.x)

    1) The games I play, play in Windows. I have no inclination to fumble-fuck around with emulators or what have you trying to get MS Flight Simulator 2004 or STALKER or Team Fortress 2 running on Linux, not sure it's even possible.
    2) The fonts in Windows have been optimized at the per-pixel level to match up with LCD monitors. In KDE 3.x the fonts are about where they were in the Windows 3.1 world, circa 1995. Big pudgy letters that my eyes have to fight to glom. Especially in FireFox on Linux.
    3) For fucks sake - where's the calculator? It's bad enough that I can't hover over the different parts of the start menu (or what ever it's called) and just see what's under there, drill down without it hiding all the other stuff because it 'page flipped' - but the calculator isn't called 'calculator'. It's called kcalc. And the movie player isn't called 'movie player'. It's called ICEwigga or something. And the music player isn't called 'music player' - it's called kude or some shit like that.

    I can get past the games, because - I understand.
    I can get past the fonts, because - it's only a matter of time before they get better.
    But if we don't start naming the applications a little better in Linux, there's NO WAY it's going mainstream. If someone with 25+ years software engineering experience can't play movies because the movie player is hidden behind the name ICEwigga or whatever, what does that mean for the regular people? It means they are going to use Windows - simple as that.

    All that useless ranting aside - I am totally looking forward to picking up a 'refurb' Linux based netbook for 1/3rd off retail.

  • by santiagodraco (1254708) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @01:53PM (#25265549)

    Now now, you know you can go deeper than the registry if you want to. Much deeper. There's wide range of available API's at various levels available to developers.

    If you like to "tweak and break" your OS you are in the sub 1 percent of users out there. If you are doing it for persons other than yourself and they are calling you with "all sorts of questions"... who's fault is that, yours or Microsoft's? ;D

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying that Windows somehow drops your network performance to 1/6 to 1/7th of your DSL connection? Really now, I am running Vista and I have a TimeWarner connection that is 20mbps... I have tested it consistently and I get just that out of the box... 20mbps. Saying that the OS drops your network connection by that order of magnitude is just malarky. If you have an app (sorry don't know what FF3 is by your reference) that is having issues... I'd bet it's the app and not the OS that's the culprit.

    I can stream my SlingBox at 5mbps, download movies, play an online video game, all with no noticeable network or system performance lag, in Vista. And certainly I haven't topped out the network capability simply because there's no practical reason to stream more.

    I dont' see myself abandoning Windows any time soon. I have NO desire to limit myself to a smaller available set of applications and device support than I have in Windows.

    I'm not saying Linux is bad, but for most users, including power users, Linux provides little to entice a move. However for those that like to play with new OS's or want a smaller lighter and (possibly) more stable server platform then Linux makes sense.

  • by Draek (916851) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @02:20PM (#25265783)

    But it is naive to expect people to willingly throw away their investment in Windows (time and money) simply to learn an OS that allows them to keep on doing the same things.

    Why? anyone who's ever browsed the 'net on their cellphones already has (and no, Windows Mobile is different enough from vanilla Windows that they'll still need to be "retrained"). Simply put, it's not that big of a deal, it just requires the desire to do so.

    If someone is happy using, say, Word and Photoshop, what's attractive in hearing that Linux can't run Word and Photoshop but they can do pretty much the same things with Openoffice and Gimp, once they take the time to learn how to use them? Why should they do that when they can keep on using Word and Photoshop?

    Because, one imagines, they'd appreciate the $1000 saved by not buying either Office or Photoshop.

    Why should I care if Linux allows me to do the same things once I learn how to use it and a bunch of new programs? Where's the incentive?

    For your Mac, it's easy, and you'll know it when your motherboard decides to give up the ghost. For Windows, well, security first, performance second, and price third. The amount of time you need to learn how to use Linux from a user's POV isn't dramatically different than that of learning how to secure Windows, and the price difference between a computer that can run Ubuntu acceptably and one that can run Vista can be anything between "big" and "fucking huge", depending on your definition of "acceptably", and of "computer".

  • by omuls are tasty (1321759) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @02:49PM (#25266001)

    You give me my point? I wasn't trying to make a point at all, just stating the simple fact that the current (=stable) version of OpenOffice doesn't support .docx out of the box. I know very well that Office 2k3 doesn't support it either.

    But if you insist on me trying to make a point, I can restate my personal experience that I haven't been able to get the official conversion tool up and running - though admittedly I haven't spent much time with it, and it's probably just a hickup in the (unofficial) Arch package and big distros such as Ubuntu probably pack their own (working) binaries.

    OK, so now you've got me to rant. Look, I've been using Linux since 1995. I like it and it fits my needs very well - I haven't booted Windows on my main machine for about a year now, except for a VirtualBox XP image I use to check whether my Javascript works under IE. But from an average desktop user POV I wouldn't say Linux is still up to shape when compared to Windows. It's much better than a few years ago, but still not great.

    Drivers. What can I say, we've all been there. I have an Atheros wireless card, and if I were an average user on a Fedora I'd be screwed. I'm also screwed on Arch because the driver for my TI card reader doesn't read XD cards. Both are very common in laptops. Guess I'm lucky because I own an Intel video card. Worked great under Ubuntu, Compiz and all that - until you discover that XV video doesn't play all that great. But you can fix it, if you switch to the EXA rendering mode instead of XAA and use a greedy migration heuristic. Simple, huh?

    Codecs. People would kinda like to play their DVDs and stuff occassionally. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Add an additional repo and download it. Doesn't work.

    Visual impression. I agree that it's much improved now - when I just think of fonts from say, Fedora Core 4... oh boy (and that wasn't too long ago). KDE looks pretty good now, Crystal Clear is nice, and KDE4 is a hot mamma (a buggy hot mamma, but still a hot mamma). Still the quality of the interface is not consistent accross apps.

    Category: misc stuff. My big personal gripe is the NetworkManager - that thing has a mind of its own. Not to mention that the last time I used it, you couldn't even disconnect from a network with it. Why why why why don't distros replace it with wicd or any other sane alternative?

    And finally, there is the point of niche apps that has been raised in this thread. CAD users, video artists, music artists. I'm a hobby musician, and Linux doesn't cut it - my $400 M-Audio rig only works with Windows and Mac, sorry. I have to keep a separate box for that.

    So anyhow, I'm not just sure about the year of the Linux desktop. I don't know if it's ever going to happen. It might be an evolution rather than a revolution, as Linux gets gradually better and more user-friendly - Shuttleworths recent efforts are surely to be applauded. But somehow I feel that it's just going to be about marketing - you know, an iLinux or something.

    Why the heck am I getting into these discussions and rehashing something that's been said a million times by others, I don't know. Please mod me down into oblivion and make me come to my senses

  • Actually,and I know i'm going to get the hate for mentioning them,but Xandros [xandros.com] does a damned good Windows impersonation. The initial setup wizard even asks you if you want it to "act like Windows"(it also asks whether you'd like it to act like Apple or KDE) which if you choose yes all the keyboard shortcuts and context menus act like Windows.

    That said,Crossover Office,which also comes built into Xandros,would solve probably 80% of those returns IMHO. With Xandros you stick in the software disc,the wizard pops up,you go "clicky clicky next next next" and your Windows software is ready to go. Because I'm betting a lot of these folks stuck in their Windows discs and got mad when the software didn't go and returned it. I'm sure an OEM Crossover license wouldn't be that much when you are a large OEM like this so that would be an easy fix. But if they want their Linux to act like Windows they ought to put in Xandros. I have yet to run into a Windows user who couldn't adapt to Xandros very quickly.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @05:44PM (#25267347)

    We see more and more people who are interested in tinkering with their systems, develop small apps and do all kinds of weird stuff to the OS.

    Really? What is your source of data for that one? In my experience, it's the exact opposite. When I started in computing, everybody had to be a hacker to some extent. These days, far fewer people are interested, the computer is a productivity tool, not something to hack with. And especially not to "do all kinds of weird stuff to the OS." How many people do you really think want to do that? and why do you want your OS doing weird things? I think that's the exact opposite of what people want, power users or newbies. Most people expect predictability from their systems, not weirdness.

    Weird stuff was what we did in the C64/Amiga demo scene. When just seeing a computer do some graphics or sound was a novelty in itself. You don't see much of that any more.

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