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Countering the Arguments Against Unbundling Windows 624

An anonymous reader sends in a link to a blog posting by Con Zymaris arguing for competition regulators to force the unbundling of Windows from consumer PCs. The argument takes the form of knocking down one by one the objections raised by "unbundling skeptics."
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Countering the Arguments Against Unbundling Windows

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  • But then ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:57PM (#20906407) Journal

    "GASP! Windows won't be FREE!"

    So many people only use Windows because they think they didn't pay for it. That's why they have such a low expectation of quality - when it crashes they say - Well, I didn't pay for it, so its not like I can ask for my money back."

    Unbundle it and let the competition flow. I can see Apple doing a big push for OSX as an aftermarket product. Also, Novell's openSUSE 10.3 is a keeper.

    • Re:But then ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by athdemo ( 1153305 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:06PM (#20906473)
      Highly doubt you'll ever see Apple putting OSX out for the x86 market. If they do that, Dell could push out a bunch of mac clones for way cheaper than Apple themselves offer. They wouldn't be as pretty, but it wouldn't be in Apple's interest anyway. The people who want OSX right now have to buy a Mac, too, and that's how they like it. (Well, you can pirate osx86, but you can pirate everything)
      • Re:But then ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:17PM (#20906569) Journal

        It came out a while ago that Apple has OSX running on plain vanilla x86 (non-Apple) hardware. Now look at how many people buy iPods, and compare that to the number who buy cheaper competitors, say Zunes. Apple has reached that "sweet spot" where they can have the best of both worlds - high sales of hardware/software bundles, as well as selling just the OS to those who want it on non-apple hardware.

        Dell gets the support headaches, apple gets the $$$. And those who want to "step it up a notch" are still free to buy iMacs, same as they buy iPods.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by athdemo ( 1153305 )
          Yeah, I know you can run OSX on regular old x86 hardware. I got it running on my rig from some torrents of it, but I don't use it.

          What I was saying was that I think that they could turn the majority of the potential software only sales they'd be making into full blown hardware/software packages. Someone that wants OSX is usually going to be willing to shell out the extra few hundred bucks or so to get the Apple hardware with it, and those that actually need OSX for whatever reason would then be forced to g
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Aladrin ( 926209 )
          Totally off topic, but I met one of the people who bought a Zune yesterday. It went something like this:

          Zuner: Hey, where's your Zune accessories?
          EB Clerk: ... Huh?
          Zuner: Where's your Zune accessories?
          EB Clerk: ... We don't have any.
          Zuner: You don't have any?
          EB Clerk: We don't have any.
          Zuner: I lost my cord.
          EB Clerk: ...
          Me: Did you try Target? *points down the block*
          Zuner: Yeah. They don't have anything.
          Me: Ah. Good luck, man!

          The '...' is a stunned silence. Most of the employees that work at
        • Re:But then ... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @07:30AM (#20909401)
          Apple clearly rejected the idea of selling their operating system separately a long time ago. In the late 80's there were at least two companies that made Mac clones. Apple refused to sell them the operating system and sued them out of business for copyright infringement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 )
      You know, if Apple opened OSX so it ran on more than just their own hardware, they could make a serious attempt to dominate and crush Microsoft on the desktop. It's a pity they don't allow clones.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by imamac ( 1083405 )
        Been there done that. If they do it again, they want to e absolutely certain it will work in their favor and not the other way around. It almost killed them last time.
      • OSX does run on plain vanilla x86 hardware - Apple was doing that a couple of years ago, but the existence of this was only leaked last year, and didn't get much attention. If and when the numbers are right, they'll release it, but not before.

    • by bev_tech_rob ( 313485 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:10PM (#20906517)
      I think Ubuntu would have a very good shot at competing with Windows if users are given a choice...I have been mainly a Windows user for many years, but recently have been using Ubuntu on one of my workstations. Quite frankly, I have been VERY impressed with its usability and the choice of software available for free. Plus the ease at which you can install any additional software is very appealing. The other day, the integrated sound card on that PC started cutting out and I was dreading having Ubuntu start barking tons of error messages about unknown hardware, etc when I installed a spare sound card I had stuck in a cabinet (older Soundblaster card). But I was pleasantly surprised when the newly installed card started working with no prompts to install or download any drivers! My wife is big into digital photography and if I could get up to speed with The Gimp, I could totally ditch Windows!
      • As far as image editing goes, the newest version of openSuse lets you choose between the GIMP with the old interface, or reworked to be more photoshop-like.

        I didn't get a chance to test it, because my new RAID1 died - no thanks to Seagate (second set of bad drives in 2 weeks).

        Ubuntu, openSuse, RedHat/Fedora and everyone else in the party would eat Microsofts' lunch within 5 years if Windows is unbundled.

      • Speaking as someone who has been windows-free (besides games) for three years, I wouldn't bet on linux on the desktop gaining any footholds yet. Hardware support is getting better, and old stuff like your soundblaster is totally covered, but printer and scanner support sucks, and wireless cards often require ndiswrapper. I've attempted linux evangelism in the past, and poor hardware support was usually one of the bigger problems that made people turn back.

        IMO, the biggest barrier is that people simply
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kestasjk ( 933987 )
        Okay so people are saying "Put Ubuntu on it", "No, put OS X on it", "No, put Fedora on it".

        Either it comes with an OS bundled, or it doesn't. If it does that OS is getting users in an anti-competitive way, if it doesn't users won't have a clue what to do with their computer.

        Also face it; there's no way computers with an OS other than Windows is going to be sold by default, because everyone expects and is familiar with Windows and understands Windows applications.
        People freak out enough over Vista, wh
    • The complete window license is more than paid for by all of the bundled trialware and desktop real estate installed by the OEM. If a manufacturer thought they could get the same cash for a free Linux install they would be all over it. In this case regulation only hurts the consumer on both the long and short term.

      • The OEM is free to make the same deals regardless of the operating system. For example, they can install free trials for various ISPs, trialware for multi-user games that work over the net, etc. About the only software they would take a hit on is anti-virus software.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        not at all, the whole bundling issue was really about Microsoft adding technologies that OEMS had to pay for from independant companies to make them more dependant on Microsoft. The whole point of seperating the OS is that for each feature microsoft added for "free" as a bundle, they tightened the contract terms playing the OEMs against each other when Microsoft was already near monopoly. Now there's nobody to even buy extra piece from without stepping on Bills toes.

        Note that Apple manages to sell an equ

      • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @03:50AM (#20908359) Homepage
        Yes, I know this is slashdot, but you could try reading the article. There's a whole section called "But Windows only constitutes a mere 10% of the price of a PC, right?" which might interest you.


        "Windows has reached 35% of the price of a new computer."

        "52% of the price of a new Acer laptop was constituted by the forced-bundling of Microsoft and other Windows platform software"

    • by RuBLed ( 995686 )
      I'm okay with bundling, what I hate are those marketing schemes they try to do with the subpar bundling. I had an old friend who brought her new laptop to me for me to take a look and see what I could add to it (I previously had assembled one or two desktops for her a few years ago), she even said that the laptop was with Vista (cause you know, those sales people are bragging about it). I had wished that she consulted me first before buying one and when I had opened it, it was what I had expected.

      512MB of R
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 )

        I was in Future Shop this weekend with one of my daughters and her boyfriend. From the conversations I heard, a lot of people don't want Vista.

        If her laptop can take a second drive, its cheaper to install a second drive and linux than to buy an XP retail license. She can then run Windows in a virtual machine right on the linux desktop. (oh the irony or funning Windows in a window).

        Also, check out the "downgrade rights" - everyone's doing it nowadays.

        Or suggest she return the laptop because its not fi

    • points.

      The ideal situation is where every PC vendor must sell the operating system as a paid option for the PC. This helps people decide if they really want to pay for it, and doesn't force many people to pay for software they are going to rip out anyway. Selling a bare PC with both Windows and Linux on separate media is bad for the consumer, bad for the OEM (more tech support calls, etc), and so forth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerWulf ( 782458 )
      I don't buy it. John Doe is more likely to think that the PC and the OS can't be seperated. He wouldn't consider Windows free just as he wouldn't consider the USB ports free. Anyways, Windows XP does not crash unless you use faulty drivers or it's infected with malware. Both things are just not MSs fault.
  • I would think that if Linux was that much better than Windows, that consumers would demand Linux powered PCs. If you build it, they will come.

    • > "I would think that if Linux was that much better than Windows, that consumers would demand Linux powered PCs. If you build it, they will come."

      Most people don't even know about the possibility of alternatives. To them, a PC is any computer that runs Windows, same as, for a long time, the Internet was Internet Explorer or AOL.

      The cost of an OEM Windows license is a large portion of the cost of a new machine, compared to any time in the past. For the cost of Windows and Office, you can buy 2 or 3 computers with no OS, and install linux. the problem is, the consumer is not given a choice, so we don't know how many would take the opportunity.

      Since that choice never happens, software developers develop for the Windows platform, ensuring lock-in.

      Of course, now that Novell's openSUSE can run Windows in a window in a VM [], there's more reason to buy a new machine with linux, then move your old copy of XP or 2k to a virtual machine on your new box, rather than paying the Microsoft tax a second time (and yes, you can move your license to your new hardware, despite what Microsoft tries to FUD. Just make sure you remove it from your old hardware at the same time).

      • Most people don't even know about the possibility of alternatives. To them, a PC is any computer that runs Windows, same as, for a long time, the Internet was Internet Explorer or AOL.

        You miss the point. Buy a thousand motherboards, chips and cases, put Linux onto them, then walk into computer stores and sell them. There's nothing that precludes you from selling Linux PCs of your own brand.

        Surely, someone could sell Linux PCs, preloaded off the Internet, or even through a catalog. At one time, Michael Dell built PCs in his dorm room and sold them over a catalog. Instead of trying to get the government to force Mr. Dell what to sell, why can't you sell what you think should be sold.

        Please, spare me the excuses. Microsoft has no monopoly power over you, if you sell Linux powered PCs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tomhudson ( 43916 )

          Actually, I think you're missing the point - competition only works when there is no pre-existing monopoly that got there via illegal means.

          We depend on the government to step in to protect us from predators who use illegal means to gain control of a market, same as we depend on them, via police and firemen, for local protection from robbers and fire.

          Extreme situations call for extreme measures - unbundling sales of the OS isn't anywhere near extreme. To turn your argument on its head - if Windows is s

  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:05PM (#20906455) Homepage
    An anonymous reader sends in a link to a blog posting by Con Zymaris

    Wasn't he defeated by Zapf Brannigan?
  • by XaXXon ( 202882 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [noxxax]> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:05PM (#20906459) Homepage
    Was the triple-negative really necessary?
  • by brassman ( 112558 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:07PM (#20906483) Homepage
    Author of TFA said "meme-transfer." Bzzzzt!

    His use of "laissez-faire" as something other than "free" or "open" is simply bizarre.

    His repeated insistence that Microsoft somehow got its monopoly dishonestly wears thin by the end of the piece -- even though I agree with him. (I once earnestly wished for Microsoft to eat IBM's lunch; I won't make that mistake again.)

    I remember when the "real" computer stores looked the way videogame stores do today, with separate sections for each platform, and woe betide you if you picked up the wrong version of M.U.L.E. or Choplifter. I'd like to see an article that spells out in detail how we ended up with the Microsoft monoculture.

  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:10PM (#20906515)
    Sure us nerds can sit in our ivory tower and say that people would like Linux (or other alternatives)because they won't know the difference. But the truth is: people don't want to do backflips for an operating system in order to make it work the way they want. Windows just plain works for the vast majority of people. I guarantee that the unbundling of Windows from PCs in the EU will have no effect on Microsoft's sales just because people will use what they are comfortable with.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sarten-X ( 1102295 )
      I'm not sure... I've been able to get my girlfriend and sister to use my linux system without problem. What needs to be done is to focus on out-of-the-box usability. Turn it on, jump through a minimal number of hoops, and never worry about it again. Kinda like Macs do. We need to hide the "magic" of config files, the different system services, and the rubble from the various wars (KDE vs. GNOME, RPM vs. Debian packages, etc). Windows has done this very well, and it's time we caught up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        In deed. I agree with the hiding of all the things that make Linux so daunting. And congratulations on bringing your sister and girlfriend into the light. But not all people have people like you by their side every step of the way. What if someone who really likes music but knows nothing about computers decides to try Fedora (or some other flavor of Linux with an easy install process) and is wondering why all their MP3s and WMAs aren't playing in Amarok? Who will help them?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by brue68 ( 1159419 )
          well, when I try to play WMAs in Ubuntu, I get a message asking if I want it to search the repositories and automatically download and install the necessary packages. It explains the difference between open and proprietary, and prior to install has you accept an agreement that you are using it for "research purposes." Quick and painless.
    • because people will use what they are comfortable with

      For sure comfort level is part of it but the other sticking point is office apps; word, excel, outlook, etc. The documents are "stuck" in Microsoft's format... tough to advocate switching OSes when the "work" is in Microsoft formats.

      Microsoft should give up the ghost on desktop/consumer OSes and just port their office suite over to *nix.
      • I've been saying for years that Microsoft should either:
        1. Make Windows an open kernel for people to distribute their own flavors of. (Windows as a standard instead of an OS)
        2. Make Windows into a closed-source desktop environment built on the Linux kernel. That way anyone can have Windows and/or Linux (KDE, Gnome) running on the same machine without the multiple partition bullshit we all have to go through if we want dual boot.

        Of course, then what would we all argue about on /.?
    • people don't want to do backflips for an operating system in order to make it work the way they want.

      Yeah, tell me about it. Even worse is when you're forced to pay for the operating system you don't want as well.

      Oh, you were arguing for bundling Windows?

  • by awitod ( 453754 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:14PM (#20906549)
    It seems to me that this is a bad idea for two reasons.
    The first is that it would require vendors to ensure compatibility at all levels of two different configurations and have two sets of support. Support and warranties aren't free and the cost would be passed on to the consumer either directly as vendors recover the costs or indirectly to to crappy kit if the vendors fail to properly spend the money in the first place.
    Secondly, it assumes that Linux has a god given right to exist on the mainstream desktop independent of its merits and that Windows is the inevitable winner unless someone stacks the deck. I take the long view and I think that in the end the platform that provides the best value will win and that the market will do its thing without the regulators taking sides. It might take 10 more years, but as computers evolve into things we can't even imagine (wearable? pervasive and ubiquitos with a universal network maybe?) that Windows will take it's place in the history books as will Linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ... without the regulators taking sides...

      Attempting to stop a convicted monopoly from dealmaking that excludes competitors or allows them to collect money per PC regardless of the OS isn't a matter of regulators "taking sides". It is stopping said monopoly from abusing its position further, and actually giving competition a chance to thrive in an area despite the monopoly's best efforts to exclude.

    • by non ( 130182 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:47PM (#20907221) Homepage Journal
      there were other operating systems, ones that ran on x86 hardware. they were better than windows, too. the company that created one of them desperately tried to sell dual-boot systems (they had an excellent boot manager, for which i left the OS installed long after it had any relevance). as far the argument that they will be gone in 10 years, i find it highly unlikely; the barriers to entry are too many.

      why didn't they get a manufacturer to ship dual-boot systems with their OS? because microsoft's OS licensing policy forbids it, it not by outright language, then by punitive cost measures. this was part of the focus of the department of justice's antitrust suit. as a matter of fact, even beige box companies used to force a copy of windows on individuals who purchased an entire system. microsoft's corporate policy is to force the entire world, if possible, to have only one choice. excuse me, let me correct myself; one choice in several flavors (think all the different vista incarnations that will be paraded in front of any future antitrust action as evidence of innovation and variety).

      did i hear anyone say BeOS? no, i didn't think so :-(
  • Comparing the cost of Software to Hardware is fundamentally flawed. They are two distinct components of a product. Each component holds their own value irrespective of another. For example, Adobe CS3 could easily cost 300% of the hardware that you bought to run it on, but that doesn't take away from the value of Adove CS3. The same goes for Windows. The only reasonable argument that the author makes is that you can "get the same functionality from Linux for free". At least this argument makes sense logicall
  • Great headline there. Its like a parsing test for natural language AI engines. :-)
  • I have observed that with the infrequent release of Windows versions, people are buying more PCs with the same OS installed. While they generally dispose of the old PC in some way, they have ultimately re-puchased the same software license that should have been transferred from their old PC.

    What should be happening is the PC maker should offer the OEM software, but the user should be buying the one and only seat that they want of Windows. No multiple purchases necessary. This CLEARLY serves the interests
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      I think in the end that Microsoft calculates the "repurchases" into their OEM cost, so technically you're not (always) paying for multiple installs... That is, if they ask 5$ for an OEM (which is probably not far from the truth right now) for -every- purchase, or 10$ the first time, transferable, well, its the same thing unless you buy 3 PCs... Even if you purchase separately:

      Looking on Tiger Direct, an OEM (that is, tied to hardware) license of Windows is almost -exactly- half the price of a non-OEM one. S
  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:25PM (#20906641) Journal
    ... it might come true.

    As a MSFT shareholder, it might be nice if the company split in to OS, Software, Entertainment, Hardware, etc. complanies.

    At least then I could sell off the losers (Zune, cough, cough).

  • by LordGlenn ( 656863 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:28PM (#20906671)
    I read tfc but I guess I'm stupid. I'm all for unbundling, but why can't I pick an OS and have Dell/Hp/whoever install it for me before shipping? I don't think the avarage consumer wants to install their own OS.
    • by EXMSFT ( 935404 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:33PM (#20906715)
      You're not stupid. The average consumer doesn't want to install their own OS. The average consumer cannot install their own OS. The author of the post makes several assumptions that the average consumer is just as much of a tech-loving, curious prosumer as he is. They aren't.
      • Strawman (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swillden ( 191260 ) *

        You're not stupid. The average consumer doesn't want to install their own OS. The average consumer cannot install their own OS.

        Who claimed they did want to install their own OS, and what does that have to do with bundling? Bundling is unrelated to pre-installation.

  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:29PM (#20906685)
    This suggestion might appeal to fellow slashdotters.

    IMPLEMENTATION of the option :

    As most of us know, installing an OS - any OS - properly for a given piece of hardware can be complicated. Getting the best possible drivers (which is not always the latest version), setting all the internal OS settings to appropriate ones for the computer being sold is a complex process. I am aware that many commodity PC makers do a shitty job of setting up the software for a PC, but they DO set it up a certain way when they make that disk image.

    (if the computer is a gaming PC, the OS should be set to be efficient, if it is a work PC, it should be pre-installed with running anti-spyware and virus programs, ect)

    SO...there would be recovery CDs, but everything would be on the new computer's hard drive.

    When you start up the new pc, you would be taken to a screen where you can choose to

            1. PAY the OEM price by credit card for Windows. The partition containing Windows preinstalled, a clean disk image all ready to go with appropriate drivers, is made the primary partition. The other partitions are deleted from the drive index table. There could easily be different options : Vista Home, Premium, XP, ect, and a version of Windows loaded with other programs in a bundle. You could either pay directly if the PC is connected to the internet, or, when you bought the PC you would have been given an activation number to type in.

            2. Pay nothing, have the Ubuntu partition made primary
            3. Pay nothing, wipe the disk so that you can install your own OS.

    A small entry would be added to the BIOS Flash once you pay for Windows successfully. That way, if you have to use the Windows recovery disk, the PC already knows if you have paid for the software or not.
    • by EXMSFT ( 935404 )
      This is an absolutely yummy idea. I don't see this adding any financial or time complexity to the already complex task OEM's face of building out thousands of machines each day. And then the tens (perhaps even hundreds) of customers every month who want linux get to install it too - and they get to bless the average technophobic user with a stripped PC, hunting for drivers... Yeah. Awesome.

      Anyone who actually thinks that linux is ready for the desktop needs to spend more time with the average computer user.
  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:32PM (#20906699)
    It isn't. No matter how you try to cut it - geekiness is ingrained into the culture.

    Look! This text is on a different line.

    I used <br> tags.

    Slashdotters are so used to doing things in a technical way that they disregard the very real usability issues that surround Open Source. If I put text on a different line in this textbox I should not have to know or care about the br tag. This is FOSS's greatest barrier to adoption in a nutshell.
  • by Zantetsuken ( 935350 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:33PM (#20906711) Homepage
    I'm assuming here that the average idiot is too... well, idiotic to realize they can download a distro and install it themselves. Instead, they'll do what they always do and just spend cash to solve their problem by going to Best Buy or Radio Shack...

    Also, driver problems in both Windows and Linux suddenly aren't accounted for...

    While I really do love Linux (need to get round to trying the BSD's, etc), I can see that sort of situation being actually bad for Linux. "Oh, whats this 'Xandros/SuSE/RHEL/Linspire/etc' - its cheaper than that Windows software box over there, I'll get this instead!" They either pay the store something like $50 bucks to install it for them or are somehow able to do it themselves - "Oh wow, the interface is different!" and "Oh, shit. I can't figure out how to do what I want - Linux sucks, I should have just coughed up the change for Windows!"

    Also, the retail stores might find a way to make all the Linux distros more expensive than Windows even before people get out of the store. $50 bucks for the distro itself, $50 to $75 for Geek Squad to install it for you, and another $50 to $100 for 3 years tech support over the phone. That doesn't even include people getting home and spending time (time=money) to re-learn how to use half the GUI (only because things aren't in the same place) or paying tech support a wad of cash to learn how. Anybody that goes through that will tell their friends that its not only cheaper but also easier to just buy Windows.
  • by director_mr ( 1144369 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:38PM (#20906749)
    These articles that talk about how Microsoft is shoved down our throats read more like Geek fan fiction than actual good policy. Its as if the writers fantasize about a way to show people Linux is the one true Operating System, and the only way is to take away the convenience of using Windows. No manufacturer is FORCED to bundle Microsoft XP or Vista with their hardware. They have the option of not including an operating system at all, or also selling Linux versions. The reason this is not more prevalent is that there is no demand for it. If there were wide demand for pre-installed Linux boxes, they would be out there all over the place. I can recall quite a few Linux boxes that were sold as ultra-low cost alternatives to Windows boxes and they failed in sales quite badly. One of them that comes to mind was sold at ALDI. Microsoft may have unethical tactics, but to force changes on the way computer manufacturers bundle and sell their equipment is an exercise best left to communist and socialist countries where the government knows better than the consumers and businesses in the market place. There is no barrier to computer sales that I can see. If I wanted to, I could sell a director_mr brand computer tomorrow. BUT BUT no one would buy it you might say. That is because the demand for computers is being met adequately by the marketplace. If you really think there is demand for pre-installed Linux boxes then sell them, and become the next Dell or Gateway or HP. Forcing Dell or Gateway or HP to be what YOU want them to be by changing the laws and making them become that is VERY inefficient and foolish.
    • by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:07PM (#20906991) Homepage Journal
      No manufacturer is FORCED to bundle Microsoft XP or Vista with their hardware.

      Oh yes they are, if they want to stay in business.

      Inform yourself. Here is a start: link here [].

      Manufacturers who wanted to get the nice cheap bulk OEM Windows licenses had (have?) to agree to pay-per-processor/system, regardless of actual OS installed.

      PC sales run on obscenely thin margins. If a manufacturer can't get the cheap price, they'll lose competition to someone who can.

      Dig around. Some of the manufacturers (see Gateway) had sales minimums and marketing requirements attached to the prices.

      So yes, they are FORCED.
  • I have one reason he left out...

    The US government fucks up almost everything it touches. Especially while being run by the current Court Jester. I want them to stay away from my computer, even if that means it comes out of the box with Windows on it and Balmer delivers it in person.

    I also disagree with his argument that the cost of Windows makes up 35 percent of the cost of a PC. He must be another one of those glue sniffing idiots that thinks OEMs pay retail prices for Windows. Even on a bargain baseme
  • Imagine... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:00PM (#20906951)
    If Windows had a package system like rpm for its internal parts. If you're setting up a server, don't install the gui. If it's a gaming machine, don't bother with all the database stuff. For a development machine, install everything. Windows would actually be a lot more interesting and useful.

    "Naaaah" - Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber
  • OEM Price (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:04PM (#20906971) Homepage
    Comments here seem to somehow imply that manufacturers should want to include a copy of Windows in some fashion with a PC that the customer can choose to pay the OEM price for. They would - seemingly - pay Microsoft for this.

    Well, that isn't how it works. The reason the OEM price is less than the retail price is because the computer manufacturer put Windows on the machine and tailored it specifically for that environment and what not. They also get to absorb the tech support load. You do not get to call Microsoft and run up their support expenses with an OEM license. Instead, you call the computer manufacturer because part of the OEM deal is they handle support calls.

    So, without the ability to control how Windows is installed on the computer it is unlikely the manufacturer is going to give you OEM tech support or an OEM price. Microsoft isn't going to give you the OEM price and take the support call load. So this would require people to pay retail price for Windows and go to Microsoft for support.

    Microsoft would love to do this. The OEM deal is in the consumers and manufacturers best interest and not all that great for Microsoft. Except for perhaps reinforcing the dominance of Windows which is unlikely to be dimenshed any time soon. Microsoft would experience 2x or 3x their current revenue should this happen.
  • Very Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wannabe Code Monkey ( 638617 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:34PM (#20907153)

    Quite an interesting topic, but I prefer arguments that are contrary to the position opposite of that which counters the arguments against unbundling Windows. Or to put it another way: for unbundling windows. I know it's not quite a triple negative, but it's very unclear and I see this type of writing all the time in slashdot head-lines. If you're against someone who is not for undoing something, then just say you're for undoing something, or against doing something. Reduce it to its logical minimum. Why not use "Countering The Arguments For Keeping Windows Bundled", or "Countering the Bundled Windows Apologists"?

  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:50PM (#20907235) Homepage

    A minor aspect of the article's proposal that I like is the requirement that the manufacturer include an MS Windows recovery CD. Some manufacturers don't do that, even though you are paying for MS Windows. The last HP machine I bought had no CD. Instead, it had a hidden "backup partition". That's okay if you just want to reinstall the system after it has been corrupted, but useless if the drive dies or you decide to replace it with a larger one.

  • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @01:03AM (#20907633)
    Why does every unbundling argument always seem to boil down to forcing end users to install the OS from scratch? An unbundled option can be:

    1. Preinstalled Windows
    2. Preinstalled Linux
    3. Blank Machine

    It only needs to be another line-item option in the system configuration. OEM blows the correct image and includes a Windows CD + Sticker for Windows customers, and a Linux CD for Linux ones, and nothing for the blank customers.

    Come on, this is trivial. Just have the assembly tech plug the drive into a fixture, hit the correct image choice, and bingo-bango, it's ready.
  • My solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by realdodgeman ( 1113225 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @01:39AM (#20907787) Homepage
    My solution: Every computer retail store should inform how much of the price is Windows tax. For example: $500, where $150 is Windows Vista Bangtastic. And you should be able to choose not to accept the licence when you buy it, and they will remove the activation CD, so you can't activate it.
  • This is stupid! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @01:56AM (#20907885) Homepage Journal
    God this is stupid! This isn't about lack of choice, it's about whiny nerds upset that the world doesn't work the way they want it to. What's the problem now? Linux adoption not fast enough for you? I've got two computers on my desk, neither of which have windows on them, and neither of which EVER had Windows on them. There is no need to "unbundle" Windows from computers because you can already get computers without Windows.

    This won't harm Microsoft, it will harm PC manufacturers and resellers, who will bear the entirely of the market disatisfaction with the unbundling. People will still buy Windows, only now they will be paying Microsoft full price for it.

    The big hurdle you whiners need to get over is that Windows has 90% market share because people have voluntarily chosen to buy Windows or PC with bundled Windows. It may not be the choice you would have made, but that give you no excuse to government and its police to impose your will on others. IF this is that important to you, get off your high horse and go out and buy a computer without Windows on it. Sheesh.
  • Not about Linux! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @04:01AM (#20908409) Homepage Journal
    Unbundling windos is not about Linux. It really isn't.

    It's about opening up the market to other competitors. Another Beos? Another OS/2? There is no reason why there should be only two OS available for computers, one of them only managing to still stick around because it's free (in both senses).

    There is no operating system market. Unbundling windos is about re-creating that market. Innovation (not only in features!) only happens in a free market. That's what this is all about.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry