MSI candidly told us that Linux netbooks see a 4 times higher return rate than netbooks that are preloaded with Windows XP. The comment has attracted lots of comments and interpretations about Linux OSes on netbooks across the Net.
But there was also some room for interpretation in the comment, notably what about Linux netbooks that are not made by MSI? Frankly we can understand why someone would return a Wind running SUSE (see our review of the Wind U90X). But what about other netbooks, like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 or Acer Aspire one, that contain tailored interfaces that make them easier to use?
Well, when we touched base today with Gerry Carr, marketing manager at Canonical (the creator of the Ubuntu operating system) we learned that MSI's research extends beyond its own products. See his comments below, but it seems Linux' future on the netbook is bleaker than we thought.
"We don’t know what the XP return rates are. But I will say that the return rate is above normal for netbooks that offer open-source operating systems," Carr echoed. Carr highlighted a few reasons why Ubuntu-running netbooks are returned more often. "Unclear selling is happening, typically online. The customer will get their netbook sent to their home and they imagine to find something like a Microsoft desktop, but they see a brown Ubuntu version. They are unwilling to learn it and they were expecting to have Windows."
Carr stressed that, in these cases, it doesn't even matter how good or bad the Linux OS is. These customers just don't want to try something new. "We said a long time ago, we didn't want to make a Windows clone. It has a different interface especially with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. We think it’s a better way but it's not the same way people are used to. That unfamiliarity can take a while to learn and there is an education that has to be stressed."