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Falling Hardware Prices Favor Linux 459

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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by WED Fan ( 911325 ) <<ten.liamhsart> <ta> <egihaka>> on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:12PM (#20795581) Homepage Journal
    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:MS Tax? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @04:50PM (#20795813) Journal
    It was a hypothetical question, and in the hypothetical question the 'pirated' disk was reinstalled using the numbers on the little sticker on the back, so in theory the original license does cover the 'pirated' version.

    I'm a SuSE Desktop 10.1 user so it doesn't really matter - but it's a good exercise for the course, worth considering.
  • Advertised? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:16PM (#20795991) Homepage Journal

    Walmart sells them, for starters.
    Brick and mortar, or online only? If I walked into a Wal-Mart store tomorrow, would I be able to walk out with a home workstation that runs GNU/Linux, or would I walk out empty-handed except for a pamphlet about how to get to And where are Wal-Mart's national advertisements for this product line?
  • Pay for the codecs. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) * <slashdot.kadin@xoxy. n e t> on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:19PM (#20796009) Homepage Journal
    ESR has a proposed solution to this in one of his essays: []

    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.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:20PM (#20796017)
    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 know how long it took, I took a break to run my kid to a friends house after school while I was waiting. I went with the fast option and picked DVD's. I don't know how long it took to actualy burn the DVD's I had to break for dinner. Burning the DVD's is a 3 step process, create an image (thought that was already done but I guess not) Burn the DVD, and then verify the DVD. You get only one shot to do this. The instructions clearly state only one recovered disk set can be made.

    Installing Ubuntu on my other machine, getting online, getting updates and setting up user accounts took far less time. It wasn't an all day project that ran over to another day.

    I gotta go, I need to deal with setting up a subscription to the AV software and complete the product activation.
  • 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 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*
  • Predictable, but ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Roger Whittaker ( 134499 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @05:57PM (#20796265) Homepage
    Eric Raymond predicted several years ago that eventually falling hardware prices would have this effect.

    A couple of years ago when I saw him at a conference I asked him if that was still his prediction and he replied that he was no longer so sure, because he thought that it was possible that Microsoft would simply cut the price of the Windows OS (to close to zero) to cancel out this effect.

    That hasn't happened, but I think it's more than possible that it might.
  • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @06:02PM (#20796291) Journal
    Your problems show the real problem with Linux. Random people on some forum somewhere were able to drive you away from the distro.

    Er, not quite.

    What drove me away was the fact that:

    -Despite following the install instruction to the letter
    -Despite reserving the Linux install to a separate hard drive
    -Despite following the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED advice to install Grub on the MBR

    the install didn't work AND

    -kept me from doing anything on the command line when it got the error
    -locked me out of Windows, and therefore any use of my computer, and therefore near-bricking it
    -the only way to recover it would be use things I can't access UNTIL I RECOVER IT or go miles out of my way
    -"knowledgeable" Ubuntu forum members gave completely clueless suggestions that ignored what I posted and didn't follow up when I was able to try their advice.

    As you can see, the "random people on some forum" were a teeny tiny part of the massive fuckup that was my attempt to "join the Linux community". And I'm a reasonably intelligent computer user!

    Whenever I recommend something to someone that I think will benefit them, but that is unfamiliar to them, I would make damn sure that the usage instructions would be complete (which they weren't) and that they'd have the appropriate tools if something went wrong (which Ubuntu didn't do).

    So no, it was a muck bigger failure on Ubuntu's part than you imply.
  • by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @06:44PM (#20796613)
    Halo 2 "supposedly" won't work on XP yet it does [] When WINE reverse engineers Direct X 10, Linux will become respected for games, because no real gamer wants to get vista, why because the drivers are generally non-existent and it takes FAR more hardware to get it to run to an XP level, most gamers want 4 Gigs of RAM to act like 4 Gigs of RAM not like 1 Gig running on XP, it doesn't help when theres no good drivers for video cards. And if the WINE team can reverse-engineer Direct X 10 before Vista gets decent drivers... It could be that Linux may overtake windows for games.
  • by ESR ( 3702 ) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @07:06PM (#20796787) Homepage
    Cost of Windows is much less to an OEM. I've heard figures as low as $10 were leaked for the really large OEMs, though that may be after the crapware subsidy rather than before.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @07:59PM (#20797179)
    I heard you speak a while ago (5 years? 8?), and this was one of about 10 reasons you gave for why Microsoft was going down the tubes.

    Well, the company is still here, and the monopoly is still mostly here, but they're certainly on their way out [].

    I'd be curious to see you make up a scorecard of your original reasons, and how Microsoft did at each one, and how correct you turned out to be.
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @12:25AM (#20798785) Journal
    *Shrug* I was skeptical of Vista at first, but I had pre-purchased a 1 gig stick of RAM (it only came with 512, but RAM is cheap and I do engineering programming so I knew it'd be needed). Installed XP side by side. Ran some speed tests (compiling code in c++, running Everquest, etc.) and the results were virtually identical. Kept Vista. I was impressed. For a $350 notebook (price at store, no mail-in rebates) running on a frickin gimp sempron it was pretty snappy.

    Fuck glitzy graphics, my computer is for getting work done (except when I'm writing sim visualizations, then I'm writing the graphics ... and the geforce 6100 card doesn't hurt).

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.