Is Microsoft ‘Buying-Off’ Linux Netbook Vendors? [Updated]

There seems to be something of a military campaign afoot. One that surely shows signs of desperation and anxiety on behalf of the instigator.

First we had Asus telling it’s potential customers that “It’s Better With Windows” using phraseology such as:

“Windows helps you easily get online and connect to your devices and services – without dealing with an unfamiliar environment or major compatibility issues.”

And now we hear that PC World (IMHO probably the worst place to buy a PC or get technical advice anywhere in the UK) are dropping Linux netbooks too. And why?

… because Windows makes it easier to share content, and provides customers with a simpler, more familiar computing experience on the move,

Share content huh? Does Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro of choice) work with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google Apps, or anywhere else where we “share” content? Does email work? Does OpenOffice.org allow me to share stuff with those unfortunate enough to have spent hundreds of pounds on another Office suite? (Hint: The answer is Yes.)

Simpler… Hmmm, I wonder how much truth there is in this? How hard is it to install software on [say] Ubuntu vs Windows. Wander over here and take a look. (It’s pretty funny really).

familiar – Well, OK I’ll give them that. But I could make Ubuntu blue and have big child-like buttons if I really wanted to. Other than that though – what’s the big deal? I have a mouse, keyboard, screen. Yep, check. I move the mouse and click (or double click) on things and I type stuff. Yep. Check. Ahh no I’ve got it. The familiarity is with the dear old BSOD. Now I don’t get that. In fact my PC doesn’t really crash at all. It doesn’t need defragging (whatever that is), it doesn’t need disinfecting, it doesn’t require frequent re-builds because it gets so slooooooooow after a few months of use. Now I see. That’s what users want and are familiar with.

And how about all those Drivers we have to install and update and search the ‘net for? Hey? Drivers? What are they?

And how often do you update your Anti-virus software? You do have AV software don’t you? Oh of course, sorry I forgot. Nope. Viruses are not really much of an issue with a proper operating system. Take a look at the Wildlist.org (the list of “Active” computer viruses) All 451 from March this year target the Win32 API.

And how about all those strange licenses that many people don’t read, but that “protect” you from doing something illegal – like helping your neighbour perhaps?

This whole thing reminds me of the stupid and cringe-worthy adverts you see in the press where Vendor X says that they “Recommend Proprietary OS Home Premium”. Do they hell. Do you think they really believe that? Or do you think they have been given incentives to say so? I often wonder if there could be a case here with the Trades Description Act (if that still exists). IANAL so don’t really know but it seems as though many vendors’ adverts are not being totally honest when they make these recommendations. It’s bloody obvious they are being paid in some form or another to say that.

So, it seems to me that Microsoft are getting a bit fed up with all these really cool little netbooks running Ubuntu or Android or something else that isn’t Windows. They have very deep pockets and can afford to buy off some of the people some of the time. But I do not think they can afford to buy everyone all of the time and some vendors probably have a bit more integrity in the first place.

I suggest that you shop around and – even if you buy a PC with Windows for some weird reason – you go to a vendor or supplier who has not been bought off. At least you can have some level of trust in them.

Of course, you could always visit Naked Computers.org and find a vendor that will sell you a computer without an operating system at all. You can then install Ubuntu or something else on it. You almost certainly have a legal CD of XP lying around somewhere. I have several and don’t even use it anymore, so why should I be forced to buy more of their crap, unsafe, bug-ridden software?

Phew. Well. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

[UPDATE] How coincidental is this? Asus, suddenly pull their Android netbook and can’t really say anything about it…

A day after an Asus Eee PC running Google’s Android operating system was shown at Computex Taipei, top executives from the company said the project will be put on the backburner. …

… “Frankly speaking, the first question, I would like to apologise that, if you look at Asus booth we’ve decided not to display this product,” he said. “I think you may have seen the devices on Qualcomm’s booth but actually, I think this is a company decision so far we would not like to show this device. That’s what I can tell you so far. I would like to apologise for that.”

He declined further comment on the subject.

Yeah right. Of course he did.

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23 Comments

  • scott says:

    nice article ;)

  • GwydionDdu says:

    To be honest, this is what Microsoft are good at doing. Why bother making your product better when you can “buy” all the competition. I have been Microsoft free at home for over 3 years and now my father and in-laws are also Microsoft free (to be honest they haven’t ever used Windows before so took to Ubuntu like ducks to water). I wouldn’t worry too much about PC World, they are clueless. I went into one store years ago and asked for a terminator for SCSI, the guy just looked at me and told me with no uncertainty that they are not a video store, he folded his arms as if to say don’t argue with me. I just patted him on the arm and said not to worry, I’d find a proper computer shop with a grown up who could help me. I have never been in one since.

  • anonymous says:

    Why don’t they just pre-install Conflickr with it? :^)

  • [...] are still plenty of reactions out there. From Alan Lord for example: This whole thing reminds me of the stupid and cringe-worthy adverts [...]

  • 6205 says:

    Microsoft products are the best. That is a fact. Nothing can beat Vista SP2 + Office 2007 SP2 or Server 2K8 SP2 + SQL server 2K8 SP2. Those are pure facts, nothing more. And the same will apply next year with Windows 7 + Office 2010.

  • Eric the Linux cat says:

    @6205
    How much are you going to pay for your holy grail that is Windows 7 + Office 2010? £150? £200? £250?
    Or will you buy a new machine with it preinstalled? £500?

    Get real!! If you are going to pay that then you have more money than sense.

    I’d like to hear your explanation of why Microsoft products “are the best”, and don’t you dare mention value for money, ease of use or widespread compatability.

    • Stephen says:

      Can’t you recognize the sarcasm of 6205 ? I think that the use of Linux on the desktop has hit a tipping point. I started to use it in 2004. The amount of people that use it has grown quite a bit since then. Microsoft has lost market share and it is reflected in their stock price and lost of revenue. Notice how they don’t really attack Mac that much? Apple uses the same business model that they use. They can handle that. It not Unix base operating systems that has them scared. It is the idea of open source. You can make money off of open source, but not the mind boggling amounts they have gotten use to.

      • Eric the Linux cat says:

        Sometimes one can’t tell what is sarcasm and what someone feels is the truth. Given that I don’t use Windows products any more (and have only limited experience of Vista from trying to help my parents set up their new PC), I don’t know whether the products that 6205 mentions are actualy any good or not.

  • tracyanne says:

    Thanks for the link to naked Computers, I’ve been looking for a supplier, in Australia, that I can get Linux Pre-installed or no OS Computers.

  • [...] Is Microsoft ‘Buying-Off’ Linux Netbook Vendors? [Updated] [...]

  • rustam says:

    what did they mean with “unfamiliar environtment” ?
    and who decide which one is familiar and the other is not?
    it’s people who uses the software who has right to decide about this “familiarity issue”, not the vendors.
    “UNIX is user friendly, it’s just picky about who its friends are” — (taken from Martin F. Krafft, author of The Debian System) –.

  • andries says:

    Microsoft’s actions are not directed (directly) towards consumers, but the corporate world where appearance really accounts much more than merit. Corporates suck up to this kind of marketing like a drug addict suck up all this nice illegal substances. In fact they get high on this, because any sentence which does not include the words “open source” and “linux” can be branded about without any political fallout during those “business lunches” and “corporate retreats”. To be fair, M$ is not the only company which uses half truths to further their own end (for example IBM and Oracle does it as well).

  • kalidas says:

    What suprises me is that after all the bad press microsoft gets, no other OS comes close to MS Windows desktop market share. Why? three reasons me thinks. 1. Awful interface (I don’t mean gimmicky stuff, just general UI. Ubuntu, can we have a different default colour please?) 2. Single unified choice – too many Linux brands – with proper support structure. 3. No marketing. Apple and Microsoft spend so much on 1 and 3. With these very reason if I was a vendor I would not choose Linux (My job title has the word senior, so I can). MS knows very well as long as there are no unified brand of Linux they can play ‘divide and conquer’ game. I think most companies would like to be in that position, even the last place I worked at which was a Linux shop. Now I make my living developing mainly with MS tech.

    • Alan Lord says:

      @kalidas,

      I think you are missing some quite important issues:

      1. Microsoft are a convicted (several times over) monopolist. They have been found guilty of many crimes such as using their market dominance to crush competitors, distorting market pricing and bribing their channel (a bit like Intel in that respect) to not sell other vendors’ products.
      2. Your opinion maybe the UI is awful. Mine is not. I really can’t stand the Windows UI, it feels dated, old fashioned and child-like. Oh yes, btw, you can have any colour you like it is easy to change.
      3. Your single unified choice is what has got us in this bloody mess in the first place. “Single” and “Choice” is an oxymoron. Think about it….
      4. Marketing. Jeez, is the world really so full of gullible and malleable people? Please tell me I’m wrong here?

    • Ladislav Kocbach says:

      kalidas asks: “What suprises me is that after all the bad press microsoft gets, no other OS comes close to MS Windows desktop market share. Why?”
      There is a simple answer: all machines come with windows. Anything else is stopped, bought, threatened into the line. That is the first major reason. Then come the small details. During the last 20 years people have accumulated all those small programs which they believe in. I also still have some: a gif animator from 1997, disk monger or whatever showing the disk usage beautifully; a very nice shareware editor, and so on. Only, I do not need them. I have better open source versions on both Mac and Linux. But I am privileged. A person in normal working situation who have bought her windows machines over the years (changing the PC the year the car still lasts) simply copies this personal security from windows 3.11 to windows 95, 98, ME, XP and now Vista. It is all unnecessary in the real world, but so essential in the world of (prison) windows. And then they have this little program they use with their boat, and one MS-DOS database…..
      Well, you know it all too. It is all garbage, lack of information, various hidden agendas. It is called Microsoft ecosystem. The country which first prohibits Microsoft activities by law will make a major leap forward. I hope it could be Norway, but then our prime minister admires Mr. Gates. Perhaps US? President Obama is a macbook user? Can he expropriate Microsoft and dismantle gently the “ecosystem”? The grip is too tight for sudden changes. Look what I googled: Obama, the first true 21st century President, and his staff have arrived at the White House to find themselves stuck with 20th century Microsoft software… and they’re not happy…..

  • Ladislav Kocbach says:

    It is quite clear: the Microsoft Corporation has gone mad. Look at this: BING; ZUNE; SONGSMITH; GATES+SEINFELD movies; WINDOWS VISTA failure; Windows 7 rush; Not to speak about so called charity by family Gates; destroying OLPC; wrecking the concept of netbooks.
    This bunch of extremely rich people has gone mad. They have been a threat to humanity for years, but now it seems to escalate beyond reason. They must be stopped. They are hysterical and dangerous. They waste resources. They put themselves into a position where they control 90 per cent of personal computers. I see only one reasonable solution: expropriation. Declaring them threat to US and the rest of the world. Gradual dismantling of the “evil empire”. Just one question for the admirers of wealth: How can one man become the richest man on this planet by having basically only shares in the company we talk about? How is it possible? Fraud, cheat and petty crime are the answers.

  • kaldral says:

    Haha you guys are some crazy Linux zealots.

    Too funny~

    • andries says:

      Is it to “zealous” to expect Microsoft to stop from hijacking other vendors? Because that is exactly what they did: Adding closed-propriety extensions to open standards, and then holding the whole IT industry hostage to it (Kerberos is a good example). Unfortunately they gained this power not through good quality software and/or smart business sense, but through leveraging their desktop monopoly on the 1 hand and just downright unethical business practices on the other. Take note that the fact that Microsoft has been convicted on Europe and the US of this. This means that in the eyes of the law and their peers, on both continents they are guilty. And any discussion on this is really just academical: Were those courts also “Linux zealots?” Next MS-kiddies will probably start brewing some “anti-MS” conspiracy theories.

  • Ladislav Kocbach says:

    Somebody should do more research on this: In the last big US trial Microsoft was explicitly forbidden to do exactly these things, i.e. threatening manufacturers not to install other systems (but only in some states? – has the court allowed them to be bad guys outside of the “unsettling states” and the rest of the world ?). Also, (this is all 1999-2001) it was ordered to split Microsoft (Clinton administration passed it to Bush). Apparently the first thing Bush did was to abolish all these things. So strangely enough, the problems mankind now has with Microsoft are directly caused by former president Bush. You Americans should do something about it. The court order to split Microsoft must still be somewhere, at least as a historical fact. Splitting Microsoft to about 20 small companies – is it a good or bad idea (I think split to two was ordered in 2000). The trouble is that there is apparently a large group of people who love Microsoft – I quote – it is pearl: “I install 3rd party programs because of that, i would appreciate if I didn’t have to do that because, i personally love Microsoft and hope that one day it will actually think more about customer satisfaction and less about profits (to a reasonable degree of course)”. This comes from the blog Engineering Windows 7 where many MS users discuss windows, worship (and some abuse) Microsoft. It should really be studied, I think it is called “Stockholm syndrome”, i.e. when hostages sort of start loving their jailers. The quoted reader is obviously a victim. But we all are. Our common resources are wasted by Microsoft. And they pollute our public space by inventing ugly words and concepts (“total cost of ownership” is invented to discredit open source, “windows genuine advantage” – what pearl, “low cost small notebook PC” etc etc ). An interesting reading is 1984 by George Orwell – Newspeak – it seams Microsoft marketing mistook 1984 for a manual of good advertising practices.
    So back to my point: Dear Americans, look eight years back and look forward. Have Microsoft put under court administration again. The money they earn are not quite white and the activities of the Microsoft Corporation present a threat to many public and international interests.

  • [...] to pay for software for which we have no need nor desire. Microsoft seem to have successfully closed down many of the earlier Linux bundled netbooks through downright bribery or co-coercion I assume. It is not [...]

  • Les says:

    I strongly suspect that Microshaft is probably paying Asus & PC World to make such statements.

  • When I originally commented I appear to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails
    with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from
    that service? Thanks!

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