The Linux Window of Opportunity Has Closed, Maybe for Good

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linuxnoose3.jpgA few months ago Linux was flying high, powering one of the most popular notebooks on the planet in the Asus Eee PC. Then rumors starting circulating that a Windows XP version was on the way. And what did Best Buy wind up taking? The XP Edition, and at the same rock-bottom $399 price. The Penguin reaches for the noose…

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart pulled the mildly hyped gOS-powered gPC from its brick-and-mortar superstores and decided to go online-only for the half-baked CloudBook. And during HP’s recent media tour for the HP Mini-Note PC, the company glossed over the lower-cost SuSE Linux version. Why wouldn't they when the Vista Basic version costs only $100 more and comes with a much bigger hard drive? Don't worry, Linux fans, we're asking for a review unit anyway.

Oh, and whatever happened to Ubuntu’s momentum with Dell? Wasn’t that supposed to be parlayed into more wins from other top-tier vendors? Last time I checked, no one else has stepped up to the plate—although that could change once Acer and others enter the low-cost laptop ring, as has been rumored. But if anything I expect Linux to become even further marginalized in the coming months. Here’s why.

Let me first say that I’m not a Linux hater. In fact, I think in many ways the Eee PC (and machines like it) are tailor-made for a more lightweight operating system that gets out of the way and lets people get online fast. After all, the Web is truly the new OS of choice. That’s why more and more people are less hesitant about gravitating to Macs, not just because Vista sucks. But, just like a lineup of summer flicks stocked with crappy sequels, the warmth of familiarity will always trump innovation. People know XP. People like low prices. Put the two together and you have a hit—and many successful hits to come.

What’s that, Mr. Penguin? Just wait until the next wave of Linux-powered Mobile Internet Devices hit the market? Sorry, dude, Netbooks are where it’s at, and I just don’t see people carrying around Internet tablets to access the Web when smart phones will soon be able to bring you the real Web (including Flash). The next version of Mobile Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile will only do Flash Lite, but Skyfire tells you that the real deal isn’t far behind. Who the hell is going to carry a notebook, smart phone, and a separate MID? A smart phone is an MID!

Which brings us to Android. That’s Linux, even if most users won’t know or care once handsets starting hitting the market (hopefully) later this year. I see this OS as the last great hope of Linux going mainstream. As for the desktop, the ship has sailed, and it's not just the dizzying array of distributions and flavors that's to blame. It's the installed base of Windows users who are willing to put up with slower performance, worse security, and less battery life for a recognizable desktop background.

That’s it, Mr. Penguin! Just add some friendly, fluffy clouds and nice-looking grass--hey, gOS is already blatantly plagiarizing Leopard’s Stacks--and you can put that noose back down.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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  • bdeblase Says:

    Although xp gave windows a great operating system, it aint the only one. When vista came out it was a step back from xp. seems programs wouldnt run on it or would not run portions of it. Linux has the challange of its life now, it can make the top if vista isnt reparied soon. about now redhat, suse, mandrake, and other top linux contenders should be seing that thier versions of shareware are out there in a live cd/dvd. Most stores carry the commercial version but anyone thought of putting out a free one and getting linux out there? most people never heard of linux (shudder the thought). its good but as long as its just Windoz and Mac in the stores no one is going to pay attenetion to it.. I myself love linux. I mention it to everyone.. even get them to try the live cd/dvd. I myself have given away lots of them for people to try. only way linux is going to die is if we are the only ones that know about it.

  • Justin N Says:

    Linux is not dead as a desktop OS as long as there are those who use it. You're right- many people out there don't want to switch operating systems as long as XP does what it's supposed to. Okay. Fine with me. Just don't expect me to fix your computer twice. But I use Linux as a desktop OS every day, so does my wife, and so do many of my friends. I know of at least one Eee user who was so impressed with the little box that she went dual-boot on her desktop, and this summer she's asked me to take said desktop and convert it to full Linux. (As long as I can keep World of Warcraft playing.)
    There is no "window of opportunity." The community will live on, and will grow as it has always grown- slowly but surely, by word of mouth, with patient volunteer support, gaining a fed-up Microserf here and a physics geek there.
    I honestly don't care if Linux is ever *mainstream*. We've opened the doors to the Microsoft jail. We're waiting just outside with a detailed, foolproof escape plan. But the USER must take the first step outside that prison. You can't force freedom at the end of a gun, and, unfortunately, there will always be some who prefer comfortable subservience to difficult independence. Just remember, all of you- when you get tired of the BSoD, when your CD's and DVD's won't play anymore, when you're shelling out yet another $400 for the latest and greatest flashiness that runs at half the speed and looks like something I've had on my desktop for two years... we're still waiting for you. We'll still help you. The door is still open- all you have to do is walk through.

  • One-eared Gundark Says:

    I've been using Linux in various distros for about five years (currently using Debian Etch).

    One thing that's bugged me is the tendency for some people to use "M$" when referring to Microsoft or to spell Windows as "Windoze". Use MS for Microsoft, but don't stick that $ in there. That style of posting reflects badly on the Linux community - a community that by and large is very professional. This language tends to put off some people who may be willing to give Linux a shot, but are concerned about support. These postings come off as elitist, discouraging potential new users. This is not just my opinion, I have been told by friends that after cruising the forums, they are afraid to post help questions for fear of getting flamed. Usually, this results in them sticking with Windows and having a tainted view of Linux users in general.

    This type of posting isn't limited to Linux forums. mind you, but let's try to lift ourselves above the "fanboy" mentality. Let's try to be better. If I want to read flames and fanboy talk, I'll visit the Mac and Windows forums.

  • zaine_ridling Says:

    I replaced Vista with Linux Mint last year ( and haven't looked back. In fact, I haven't had this much fun on the desktop since Win95. Unless someone drops many billions on a sustained Red Hat-like 'Global Desktop' project for a few years, Linux will continue to be coded first for the enterprise, and we users will take it from there and build desktop environments around it.

    However, I wish people would install their own distros and stop reviewing the crap by Dell, et al. Dell puts Ubuntu on machines made for the year 2001, and they're lame. On top of that, you don't get a price discount for not having to buy Windows with the machine. To answer your question: Linux on the desktop has been ready:

  • Cyberbard Says:

    It's *possible* that Linux has lost it's chance at the desktop market... this time. Given that the desktop market is constantly changing, saying that the window of opportunity has "closed for good" is pretty silly. Microsoft may have made a base hit with Vista, but only just. That's the result of their marketing power; not the product itself. The next time the desktop market shifts - and it will - Linux will have another shot, and by the law of averages, some day Mr. Penguin will hit a home run.

    Also consider that the desktop is where Microsoft *must* maintain control, because in the other major niches - servers and routers - the Open Source gang already has a solid foothold. Linux's uneasy ally, FreeBSD, has been a major contender in that arena for a long time. Microsoft has some hold in the server market, but from what my IT friends have told me, it's tenuous.

    That being said, I personally think this "war" has already been decided. Open Source is an opponent that Microsoft isn't equipped to fight, and it shows. Microsoft is driven by large profits and overwhelming market share, while Open Source is grassroots in nature, and is driven by choice, flexibility, and individual creativity. Microsoft goes after competitors with a chainsaw. You can't easily cut grass with a chainsaw!

    Given their business model, it's unlikely that Microsoft will be able to change before they fall on hard times. They might spring back, but institutional inertia is hard to overcome. The uneasy alliance of Linux and FreeBSD has demonstrated that Microsoft's monopoly *can* be broken, and in fact already has. For me, the big remaining question is weather Microsoft falls like a Colossis, or slowly cracks and crumbles away. Either way, the outcome is clear.

    And articles like this one are the desperate rantings of someone in serious denial.


    PS: I referred to Linux and FreeBSD having an uneasy alliance. I say that because the two camps have a deep running dislike of one another, but so far they've both been pragmatic enough to work against their common enemy. I hope they can remain cordial after their common enemy has been vanquished.

  • blackbelt_jones Says:

    Check out those crazy poll results!

    Has Linux failed as a consumer desktop OS?

    Yes 15.29%
    110 Votes

    No 84.70%
    609 Votes

    It begs the question: Why is the world so out of touch with Mark Spoonauer?

  • K- Alec. Says:

    This article has a definite M$ bias from someone who is clearly not in the know.

    How is it that one cannot downgrade a Vista system (HP Acer Dell ) to an older MS version,
    but something such as Ubuntu - generally works out of the box without a BIOS modification.

    Working daily in desktop publishing, web programming , graphic and video editing has taught me to ignore such -- FUD--. I simply save on my overhead with my linux systems , pass on savings to my clients - and further generate a broader client base.

  • Valsa Says:

    Linux has always played catching up for desktops and we know that Windows is King of the Desktops. However, Linux has the opportunity to be the default OS on the low cost laptop and Mobile Internet Devices for sure, because it can be customised to a smaller footprint and of course add to the low cost aspect. Linux is now very robust and user friendly. The Asus eeePC UI is proof that a non technical person can use Linux easily. And it is a fully Internet capable machine, no short cuts or limited access that sells for $350. An XP version of Asus eeePc will always be more expensive and what about future licence updates & upgrades that torment the current XP user ?

  • UrbLege Says:

    @ Bradford (i sure u r work for LapTopMags)
    and Biased / dis-honest Blogger Mark Spoonauer

    well after reading ur full Blah Blah reply in comments u want to say that linux not yet ready for the mass which i agree with u ( but remember not yet ready - it will be ready later) . but why do u believe that its now or never . if Linux cant succed this year it will never succed in future. is it becoz ur r a Micro$oft's paid Blogger ( i know u will deny it ).
    that does not matter .but plz think logically using bias and intentionally mis-guiding user is not good for ur mags in future runs . sooner or later people will know ur lieing . ur reputation will be reduce. be honest .

    though u already knows this but writting for the other user.

    lets discuss why Linux will not survive :

    1> as u says in ur comments in comments No. 46 "Linux is a very solid, secure and robust OS."

    why do u think Linux is very Solid and Robust then why i will never succed . and is that is good for mankind ( as u says in the title) or its good for U and ur Boss Micro$oft.

    2> u did not mention in which web site u see preinstall Linux notebook /desktop not selling well . r u really see it or its just a fake info mis-guide ur reader ???? !!!!!

    3> XP was going the dead on 2008 june . but what happend , why Micro$oft want to put back a aged OS and give then new Life when Vista is her . becoz Micro$oft was fritent of Linux Grouth .

    4> u did not mention one vital thing . Market Future prediction does not use any current market share . it use the grouth rate of the product to predict a future . dont tell me that u dont know that . Linux desktop Market share is growing . it needs time . nothing can be done over night

    ps. by telling biased and wrong information u will never got what u want but u will definitely lossing ur reader trust . now its up to u what u want ur Reader Trust or Micro$oft's Money. bye

  • Kennon Says:

    Amazing what trashy flamebait some people will write to generate ;-)

  • Jigar Shah Says:

    All thats bullshit. I am using linux on my laptop since last 2 years. i have vista home premium on same laptop and i never use it. :) vista sucks cos ats up whole ram for no reason. apart from some missing hardware support like web cam everything works well. I think its issue of fragmentation. samething made by 20 different people and none of them really complete. like desklets and screenlets.

  • TCO Says:

    The Linux desktop is here, the "critical mass of trust" has yet to reach the unenlightened masses.

    When people begin to realize that they are surrounded by little embedded Linux systems (phones, routers, GPS, ect.), they will begin to understand.

  • Annonomous Says:

    In the long run microsoft will probally loose, with their current reputation falling for windows vista
    Linux is not there yet, but I like it
    At the moment I am running ubuntu in a virtual PC. As soon as linux supports my hardware, it will be the other way around:)

  • RJ Says:

    I think it is funny. You know what they say, those who blog can't get a real journalist job.

    The real problem now is HP is no longer the Microsoft bitch, and is now selling SUSE. HP have enough of a standing to put a huge dent in microsoft. On top of that you have Dell Selling Suse as well. And you simply have to look at the multi millions microsoft have made through selling SUSE to see that they do in fact have a problem.

  • Ralph Says:

    9,000 school computers in Switzerland gone to Linux Ubuntu in September of this year, 23,000 school computers in The Philippines all going to Linux despite MSFT offering to sell XP to them for $20, All of Russia will be open source by 2010, South Africa to save $350 million in license fees by going open source. Linux is up 61 %

    Yes Linux is doing

  • stoobie Says:

    I think someone needs a nap!

  • Howe Says:

    Let's see how astute will be for XP users when they need XP support after microsoft quits it XP support 1 year from now.

    You are such a looser. Who reads this magazine anyway ? No wonder you are a writer for them. I came here from a link on another site.

  • Bradford Says:

    Linux is a very solid, secure and robust OS. It has a ways to go before being as ready for the desktop as people need and want. Yes - Linux PC's and Laptops are selling and people are buying them - but, I see that happening at a speed that is faint compared Windows. Face it - Microsoft has a monopoly and it will take a decade or so for Linux to get to where Windows is the market place. Whey you see boxes of KMyMoney on the shelf at Best Buy - you will know that Linux has arrived. When you see Gnome sitting on the shelf being sold and sitting right beside Vista or Windows 7 - you will know that Linux has arrived. There are simple statistical snapshots of a product to understand where it is in the market place. Linux has not arrived. When you see KDE being sold instead of Linux w/KDE - you'll know that Linux has arrived. No one in the average user community understands why and how many flavors of Linux there is. That is a marketing killer. But, EVERYONE can understand a Linux version being sold as KDE or GNome. People are beginning to understand that Linux is all pretty much the same underneath - but, it's the usable programs they are looking for. KDE has a complete package to sell. It should be marketed instead of Linux. The box should read - Experience the Power of KDE with powered by Linux in small letters instead of LINUX ver 50 all over the box. No one wants to buy the LInux group that built the version --- they want to know the package they are buying. KDE or GNOME.
    Experience the Power of KDE or GNOME just like Apple is selling Leopard and Shark....whatever. But, Mac is selling more now with that openness and willingness to give the user the experience they are looking for - than ever before when Mac was shoving stuff down the throats of the user. Want to put Linux on the shelves at Wal-Mart - Experience the Power of KDE or in graphical wizardry purple, blue and black - Experience the Power of GNOME. People will come to understand and very quickly - if you want a complete package - don't buy Linux - buy KDE or GNOME. Linux doesn't have any usable packages -- but, KDE and GNOME do. I personally talked to people in Wal-Mart that were looking at Linux machines -- and they ddin't have a clue and nothing was written in the advertisements that gave them a clue. You can't stamp a name on a machine and tell no one anything about the product. That's --- duhhhh!!mb!

  • Bradford Says:

    I've been using Linux since its inception as a viable toy to play with that might come to some good. I started with Slackware 3.1 and Caldera 2.3. My first statement about the desktop being ready for Linux - yes, the desktop and the laptops on them - are ready for Linux. Is Linux ready for the desktop - No! and I say that with impunity. Linux developers are now trying to force Linux users to use what Linux developers want them to use. MacIntosh and Microsoft found many many years ago that this tactic does not work. Linux has a lot of great programs - and I lot of them are just like Microsoft when it was mid-stream its hay day. You get to a certain point in using a program - and for some reason it just quits working or permanently hangs and or is just way to slow even getting to that point. This very frustrating and defeats the average user. Linux is way to slow in flickering things to the screen - whereas MS Windows has taken care of a lot of these issues. Microsoft has been working on these issues with full teams in swing for a long time. Linux is nowhere near the statistics of time that it takes to develop quality programs and produce a lot of them. Microsoft not only does its own - but, has a world of developers doing it for them. I hear a lot of people cutting Vista down - but, I like Vista and have had very little trouble with it. I still run XP and never have problems with it and ti is fast and efficient. I can fire up my laptop or PC and know that I don't have to worry about much at all. I even use XP as a mini-mail server. It is a robust OS. I have had so many issues with Linux - trying to make it do what I can make Windows 2000 and XP do that it's no even something to compare. There is no comparison. If I could count the times that OpenOffice has hung up on me and gotten a nickel for each time - I could go on a very nice vacation. Linux is not organized as well as MS Windows either. No one knows where any files go unless they do a full fledged study. When users see all this controversy - they want nothing to do with it. Linux naming conventions aren't what users have experienced and users are baffled. A really important point is can't even get a Tree view to stay in place without holding the mouse down. When you do a Tree view in Windows - the tree locks in place and you can stare and study it at your leisure. Nothing seems to be built for leisure in Linux. Everything seems to be hassle of trying to keep windows open or programs running. No - for the average user - Linux is not ready for the desktop and that is why Linux has lost its Window of Success in Wal-Mart and other stores. It's a clumsy over weight clogged up system of way too many programs killing the kernel. It's not streamlined and easy. Microsoft has been having the same issues with Vista....that is precisely why Microsoft has pretty much gutted the OS and are now calling it Windows 7. As for what I understand - Microsoft has taken Windows 2000 basics, XP usability and Vista eye candy and gutted the whole systems to bring up the best into Windows Seven (7). A very smart move for Microsoft. It will take Linux organizations another decade to agree on anything for a GPL that will allow this to be done with Linux. By then - the whole market will be a totally different arena - and Linux will probably be an embedded OS that is never seen or heard of and Microsoft will produce everything that is seen and played with. No one disputes the power and stability of the Linux Kernel.....its everything else that Linux "DOESN'T" have that Microsoft does - that makes a difference.

  • Peter Says:

    And that's why, in the last month, I have purchased a Linux-based Eee PC, have convinced two Windows users to also buy one each, and today managed my first Mac convert. Poor Linux.

  • Noah Says:

    After my recent experience using Vista and after using Ubuntu for quite a while now, I have decided that Ubuntu 7.10 is probably the first Linux distro that I would consider giving to my parents in preference to Windows. Vista is really terrible. They took XP, which was clunky but at least usable and gilded it with crap and made it harder to use. ... Linux still has a lot of weak points, but for 90% of what my parents do with the machine it's actually a much better user experience than Vista. OSX would be a second choice, but you still pay a premium.

  • fred Says:

    OK, I'm cancelling my subscription to laptop mag. as long as your chief editor, apparently also on M$ payroll - is on your staff!

  • mb67 Says:

    As a user of all operating systems at work (OSX, XP/Vista/Server2003/Server2008, AND Linux) I take offense at this article's bashing of Linux. By relegating it to the status of obsolescence, you do serious injustice to the multitude of individuals who have worked diligently to make Linux one of the most stable platforms in IT career fields.

    Up until now I have enjoyed reading your magazine and with the renewal notification arriving fresh in the mail, you have helped me make up my mind as to whether or not I will renew. Thanks for losing a longtime supporter of your periodical by trying to create unnecessary controversy.

  • John Morris Says:

    OK, by resurecting XP Microsoft found a way to stay relevant on the $300-$500 segment. But recall that ASUS was originally promising to ship a $200 machine. Ok, currency fluctuated, LCD and flash supply tightened and they realized they could sell every machine they could make a a higher pricepoint anyway. Ok, give this round to Microsoft, well played.

    But somebody WILL make that $200 pricepoint eventually. And then $150 and finally some Chinese outfit will make Walmart a sweet deal to sell doorbusters at XMas for $99.95. As we continue to play this game, just how low can Microsoft go? We are at $0, they can afford to cut to where? Yes they COULD sell XP for $1 since all the costs are sunk, but at what cost to the rest of the product line?

    Remember that WIndows and Office are the only products that earn profits for Microsoft. Let the Fortune 500 catch wind that they are selling XP to some customers for a couple of dollars and they just might decide THEY would like XP for $10 a seat and if Microsoft won't give em Office for $20 they can install OO.o. I.e. they could soon lose a lot of their ability to charge monopoly rents on their two prime properties. And since they are pissing away their cash horde buying Yahoo!'s corpse that could lead to some interesting cash flow problems in a couple of years.

  • oiaohm Says:

    Simple point Eeepc and other Linux devices being able to get market share now should be a major worry to Microsoft. Linux Standard Base is not developed enough yet for lots of distribution independent applications on Linux.

    Eeepc is just first wave. Second wave is KDE 4.1 on windows. Third wave Linux making its next push. KDE 4.1 on windows opens up options.

  • ue Says:

    Not much to worry about, Linux is free Windows is not. In the long run that will make a win for Linux. Both in the sense that it is free as bear, and that is free as in speach. Free as bear will attract the consumers, free as speach will attract developers.

    Free Linux, will beat Windows even if it is, or rather was, inferior. At the rate Linux is developed today, chances are that it is windows that will be the inferior and expensive alternative for most users. Guess who will win that race.

    If you don't believe me look at history, IE conquered Netscape, even thoug IE at the time was a joke, Microsoft won their market from IBM by selling cheap but often inferior software. Cheap is a very powerful motivation to change, free is even stronger,

  • alex Says:

    Bad post, with superficial analysis and useless for adding value to the discussion.


  • Adam Williams Says:


    1.) Of course Microsoft was going to provide XP for the EEE, one of the most popular new products around.

    2.) As for the"gOS-powered gPC", perhaps it failed because it was a downright crappy product. Everyone is on the Web 2.0 band-wagon with statements like "Web is truly the new OS of choice", but over and over again the marketplace demonstrates this is *NOT* what people want. [and as an aside, it is a dumb statement, you can't access the web without an OS] The gOS was nothing but an overpriced, and rather lousy, web-top. It was not a real PC. Users want PCs, which is why the most popular home computer is now a rather high-end laptop.

    Another problem with #2 is that it presumes pervasive broadband availability. There isn't. People in the IT business need to leave the densely populated coasts - or read the national broadband report - and discover the truth that high-speed broadband availability is actually pretty limited. Wireless coverage isn't anything near pervasive. Local functionality is key to success with users not in New York and California.

  • Obi-Juan Says:

    "Come, boy, see for yourself. From here, you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance and the end of your insignificant rebellion. "

    I would rather not see you writing any more articles here. You don't know what you're talking about and it is quite obvious that you are a M$ plant. I don't care for people who piss down my back and then tell me it's raining.

    Why don't you go write for Micro$oft. I'm sure they would like you over there.

  • TenSigh Says:

    Linux will probably never reach the mainstream, but it doesn't have to. As long as schools, charitable organizations, etc, use Linux, it will grow.

    It will never replace Windows, but it's not supposed to. Choice isn't about eliminating the competition, it's about playing in the field as well.

  • Meg Says:

    See, I don't think it really matters if Linux ever catches up to MS, what matters is that Linux has offered enough of a threat to MS's market share that MS is scrambling. It is fair and healthy for there to be enough competition to MS to make them lower their prices and offer better products or services.

    I 100% agree with Yahoo's resistance of MS, because I believe it would taint their long-standing brand, and MS only wants them so they can have a crack at Google's market share, which was fairly won through offering high-quality online services that MS doesn't or didn't originally offer.

    MS is starting to make compromises, and that shows change. (A good change) Linux-based products are just a sign of the times.

  • pps Says:

    Sorry for the obviouness, but I could not resist:

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    Mohandas Gandhi

  • Rambo Tribble Says:

    Absolutely right. It's just like when Star Trek was canceled; that was the definitive and final end to any development of market share by the series. Oh, wait, maybe you didn't hear, someone made a movie out of it. And what's this? A new series? Can't be. I'm sure I heard someone say it was dead.

  • Guy Says:

    I just cannot believe this!! I have just been reading about all the firms trying to compete with the eee by releasing their own Linux pc'S ......

  • Sporkman Says:

    "this sounds like what they said about the mac once upon a time. 1998 called and wants it’s article back…" --Scotty


  • ago Says:


    This year we have seen Linux PC being marketed by ALL major manufacturers. And that would be the end of Linux?

    Why would people buy Linux machine?

    Well guess what, people ARE buying Linux machines!

    In fact they top the charts (see amazon most wanted laptops). In all cases where OEM started selling Linux machines, sales exceeded expectations, out of stock signs everywhere... Unknown companies became popular just because of linux offerings (Everex)... And people keep demanding MORE linux machines (see top ideas in dell ideastorm)...

    And that would be the end of Linux?

    Yeah, MS offers co-marketing agreements (=money) and it is well known that they would not think twice about some arm twisting (see court documents re MS-OEM relationship), so it is little surprising that often OEMs do shy Linux and/or hide it away... But OEM now know that Linux DOES SELL, VERY WELL and that IS affecting negotiations... MS is slashing the Windows OEM price in exchange of keeping Linux well hidden... So for now Linux is mostly a bargaining chip... But the chinese are around the corner too, cheap computers with zero cost OS should sound good to their ear... If you thought that $200 linux machines were chip, well think again because $100 Linux machines are coming to a shop near you, with full 3D desktop...

    Vista on low end is a no go, it might cost "only" $100 more, but I wouldn't inflict the pain of using Vista on such hardware to my worst enemy... MS was caught in the dilemma between keeping XP and jeopardizing Vista (aka Windows ME II) or let XP die and give up completely the low-end market... And they came out with an hybrid monstruosity: keep XP on low-end machines but in such a way that it does not compete with Vista!!! So they had to resurrect a dead OS from 2001, but just a little bit... And that means that Linux is in trouble?

    I also see more and more hardware becoming Linux compatible out of the box... In fact chances are that a random piece of hardware will be more compatible with Linux than with Vista/Mac. And it is not only hardware, apparently legacy Windows apps work better with Wine (fast approaching 1.0 thanks also to Google involvment) than with Vista... The champion of compatibility is XP, but it's (half) dead...

    And now we have giants like Adobe migrating all their offering to the web/flash. Which is to say that major third party apps will be compatible with Linux... So what would be the Windows sale pitch? 1) specialized business products and 2) games 3) unsubstantiated patent threats. Which is not very interesting for 90% of home users out there (the remaining 10% can do with consoles).

    So who exactly is in sinking here?

    MicroSoft is doomed. And the reason is one and only one. Because their entire business model is based on locking-in users and OEMs. And that is fundamentally incompatible with new trends. Buying Yahoo will not help that. And buying certificates from standardization bodies will not help either.

  • Nicholas Herriot Says:

    Hi all,
    I actually believe that the needle is swinging towards the 'Linux' end. SFR in France now sell Asus 3E Linux machines. Further to this Vodafone Global are now looking at supporting a Linux driver for their data card. See here for more info:
    What this means that a global operators is now looking at supporting, and selling Linux UMPC's. With this type of distribution channel, and brand presence pushing a Linux device there is no question in my mind it will go main stream!
    However, I do agree that it's going to be through the back door. By that I mean people will be using Linux powered devices but without knowing they are.

    In case you have not guessed already, I work for Vodafone global and look forward to peoples thoughts myself. You can catch me at:

    Regards, Nicholas.

  • LOL Says:

    trash writing M$ fanboy

  • Julio Cartaya Says:

    Nice trick, Mark. Light-on-the-logic provocations on subjects that people feel passionate are guaranteed to attract a lot of traffic to your blog.

    Have a nice life.


  • Peter Says:

    Don't count Linux out yet. It's biggest advantage is that it's free. Kids like free stuff. It's second biggest advantage is that it's easily obtained and installed.

    I recently read an article which stated that Linux runs best on laptops a year or more old. Have you ever tried to upgrade the hard drive on an XP machine without the manufacturer's recovery disk?

    I see Linux becoming the "alternate choice" for self-install on older machines. Perhaps that machine you were going to pass on to your college-bound child? Reinstalling XP is getting harder to do, thanks to MS's anti-piracy moves. Pretty soon, you won't even be able to get XP, except as a dodgy download off the bittorrent networks.

  • stoobie Says:

    Time will tell...

    In the meanwhile, I think I'll just keep running Linux until something better comes along,
    and Microsoft is nothing more than a footnote in history.

  • PRJohn Says:

    Branding is the issue! Linux succeeds where there is no alternative but as soon as MS comes along advantage lost. Joe public will always buy, favoring brand awareness. Unless Linux et al become active in branding then Linux will always lose.

  • bob dagit Says:

    rock-bottom, i saw teh eepc for sale at BJ's Warehouse for $299. no
    chance to test it there though.

  • SteveOC Says:

    Microsoft seem to have this need to 'WIN' in every market segment .. at whatever cost.

    Its totally fine with me if they WIN in this new EeePC market as well ..

    WHY ?

    Because the ONLY part of Microsoft that makes money is selling their infamous MSOffice bundle. Nothing else the company touches makes any money at all.

    Every time they reach out to take a share of a new market (which is just a knee jerk reaction based on this irrational need of theirs to WIN in every competition) .. they enter into a losing proposition financially.

    They loose money.

    You can betcha that they are losing money by getting Windows XP shoe horned onto the EeePC. Just like they lose money on their XBoxes, lose money every month doing deals to inflate the numbers of IIS servers on the web, lose money making concessions to Dell for not pushing this Linux thing too hard. They loose money on hotmail, they loose money trying to beat google at web searches, they loose money on MSN, they loose money on MSNBC, they loose money on every single thing they touch. They will be loosing money on EeePC's as well. Great.

    You see - The Linux and open source community is only interested in one thing anyway - just making the best possible and most elegant software. Time, money, and market share are just non-issues. Its about quality, availability, and freedom to use and modify.

    However, its only Microsoft that is seeing this as some sort of girly popularity contest .... and like a primary school child with rejection issues .. they will throw all of their time and energy (and all of daddy's money) into winning.

    So I say - LET EM GO FOR IT.

    I hope that Microsoft eventually reaches their goal of being the number 1 brand in every form of human endeavour - from software, media and news services, through to agriculture, dairy products, building cars, construction, space exploration, transportation, airlines, tourism, mining, and even providing 'security' services in Iraq,

    All of it loosing money, and all of it funded from sales of MS-Office.

    Let em go for it ... its laughable.

  • Brendan Says:

    Utterly worthless article. OSs are starting to be marginalized. 10 years on, I'm pretty sure no one with any sense will care (or even know) about the OS they are running...

  • John Joda Says:

    The sky is not falling. The computer world is in a continuous flux.

    I am a believer in the OS becoming irrelevant. Look into the crystal ball and see where they will be in ten years. My non tech sister is using google docs and sharing with a church project.

    Linux is emerging as a baby from a womb. When there really are $199 laptops (like the promise of the EEE)
    People will buy them. People will use them. Walmart will sell them, and they will be running Linux.

  • Petrosyan Says:

    Why are so many people putting the dollar sign $ (superposition of letters 'U' and 'S' which stands for United States), in Microsoft's name? Is it because Microsoft is an American company and Linux was created by some dude from Finland?

  • David F. Skoll Says:

    The dinosaurs took a long, long time to die out, but the mammals eventually won. So it is with Linux and Microsoft: Microsoft will take a long, long time to die out (and will do a lot of damage along the way), but we will win eventually. It just can't compete with the evolutionary advantages of Linux.

  • jmqwerty Says:

    its not over by a longshot, its not going to be over either. slowly linux is chipping away at M$soft's feeding trough and ballmer knows it. it must have really hurt ballmer to have to put the price of xp at dirt cheap where it ought to be. there is too much momentum in the linux\open source field for it to be ignored.

  • frank Says:

    Hey, thanks for the head-up there Mark! I'll pass this along to the developers, distro packagers, and users at the next big secret meeting up there at Freedom Central... and let you know if it dampens their spirits.


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