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349 comments

The pitch (4, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361334)

"For just a little extra money, you can have degraded performance and not have to worry about all that controlling-your-own-hardware nonsense"

Alas, like most of their similar pitches, I'm putting my money on it working spectacularly.

True, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361482)

Is nigger still on the spoke?

Re:The pitch (5, Interesting)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361494)

like most of their similar pitches
I went for an interview recently, and the owner of the company remarked on my Linux experience and told me how much better the MS environment is for developing in, and how good a "properly set up and maintained" MS server is.

His pitch was a word for word copy of the MS FUD you get on their website.

Re:The pitch (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361806)

Yeah but was the guy a chump or was he just baiting you to assess your reaction?

And just because the guy's a chump doesn't mean that he's wrong. If their cheap hires are *nix illiterate or they suck so badly as an employer that they can't retain staff; then the point-click-drool solution doubtlessly is "better" for them.

Re:The pitch (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361822)

***His pitch was a word for word copy of the MS FUD you get on their website.***

Perhaps you might wish to consider politely turning down any job offer that results from the interview. There are good reasons for having a Microsoft environment. The beauty and elegance of Microsoft's software is not one of them.

Re:The pitch (-1, Troll)

RiotXIX (230569) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361838)

did you get the job, or let your prejudices overwhelm you?

Re:The pitch (5, Interesting)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361920)

Let me say this: I did not get the Job, but I am not upset at that, I was going for the interview in the spirit of "if I don't get it I don't mind."

I have a ton of respect for the guy, he has build a successful business, and is obviously good at what he does.

We had a frank discussion on the platform they use, and he has worked with Linux before. What I did notice was the aforementioned FUD reference. I'd expect more from a guy like this.

If the MS platforms were really that much superior to the Linux platforms why not have more specific and substantiated arguments? I smelled either a test, like an above poster mentioned, or he really believed the FUD, since he had no recent experience in a linux environment - by his own admission ten years ago at the newest.

Re:The pitch (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361940)

no, I think his possible emplyer's predjuces got the best of him first, mindless MS marketing speak after all.

Re:The pitch (5, Interesting)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361654)

I think it's worthy to note that Vista costs as much as the low-cost PCs.

(I base this on the near 300 dollars for Vista Ultimate and near 200 dollars for Home Basic.)

So... (4, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361338)

You create artificial shortages and cripple the hardware to keep the market from "eroding". I guess we don't don't create markets to sell products anymore. We create them for their own sake. That's quite a monster you got there.

Re:So... (1)

rajkiran_g (634912) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361678)

You create artificial shortages and cripple the hardware to keep the market from "eroding". I guess we don't don't create markets to sell products anymore. We create them for their own sake. That's quite a monster you got there.

FLOSS: I will kill your monster.

Re:So... (4, Funny)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361734)

I am sick to death of Microsoft being in bed with the large hardware manufacturers. I'm sure most other people here are too. I wonder if it's possible to look at this in a good light? Hmm...Spin Doctor says:

This move will bring the stability and usability of windows to those who have previously been priced out---damn, not working.

This move will bring the stability and usability of windows to a fresh new market that Microsoft has yet to abuse---dang.

It's just what everyone wanted---more stripped-down versions of windows!

I don't think I'm getting anywhere here. Anyone else care to give it a try?

Re:So... (5, Informative)

martyros (588782) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361900)

You know what's funny, is that just today I took a mandatory online training course on anti-trust regulations, just like everyone in my company does. It was funny reading the article, because like at least 3 or 4 things were specifically mentioned:
  • Predatory pricing to prevent a new entrant into a market by a company with market dominance
  • Limitations on what resellers can do with the product purchased (only on low-end PCs)
  • Arbitrary discounts to some distributors over others
  • Agreements between different members of the supply chain to limit customer choice
If the EU is at all consistent with the policies explained in my training today, MS should be forced to either sell low-cost XP to everyone, regardless of the hardware, or not sell XP at all. Who do I write in the EU to get an injunction?

crippled hardware = bad performance (3, Interesting)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361340)

If the plan is to deliberately cripple the low end Pc hardware specs, then how can you get decent performance out of windows? I remember that XP would barely run wel lat all on my old computer, so wouldn't Windows 2000 be more suited to this task?

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361440)

What were the specs of that old computer? The 1 GHz and 1 GB RAM limits that they impose seem high enough to me.

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361496)

IIRC it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 800mhz and about 512 MB of Ram. Not a great computer even at the time, but it was all that I had. (this was about 1-2 years after XP came out) If I still had it today, it would be running Linux.

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (3, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361824)

I remember that XP would barely run wel lat all on my old computer

IIRC it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 800mhz and about 512 MB of Ram
Ridicilous! I started computing in the '80s, when CPU speeds where counted in a few MHz, with a few hundred KB's of RAM and a floppy drive at best. Yet, power it on, and it's ready for input in 2 seconds, with interactive development environment ready. Insert a diskette, type a short command and your favorite game loads in another 5 or 10 seconds.

Any PC built from, say, year 2000 or later is at least 100 times faster, with equally improved memory, graphics and background storage. Does it feel slow? Then either:
  • You're running the wrong software (like the wrong OS, too much spyware or other crap), or
  • You're using the wrong tool for the job (like trying to run Crysis on a Pentium 3 with onboard video), or
  • Your budget doesn't match your requirements.
Either way: complain all you want, but claiming such a computer is slow, is simply inaccurate.

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (4, Insightful)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361582)

Yeah, the specs seem high enough.

My real reaction to this is nausea. In effect this is what is happening:

"Please please pleeeaaasse sell XP on your products! We'll even give it at a discount, but then you need to do what we say specs wise."

C'mon, why the limits on the hardware specs? Is it to limit the choice of the customer?

"Sorry sir, if you want a touch screen with that baby we'll need to limit you to using Vista. I know you are supposed to have a choice in the matter, but Microsoft policy dictates otherwise. Yeah, in effect they get to decide what you can run on what you buy. A linux alternative, uh sure - I think dell offers a similar spec device with Ubuntu on it... wait, where are you going!?"

When will MS begin to put the interests of their customers first? If they can develop a custom version of Windows for mobile devices, surely they can develop a custom _modern_ version of Windows for low-end or micro laptops.

If a linux community can do that, why can't they? Are they admitting that the open-source community which they deride so is capable of something they are not?

Could it be that they cannot develop something like this? I say they definitely can, so the only other alternative is that they don't want to - hence they don't give a rats ass what the customer needs.

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361634)

When will MS begin to put the interests of their customers first?

Probably not until their customers get educated enough to know what their interests actually are. Your average Joe Sixpac Computer User won't know the difference--all they'll see is "Hey, cheap computer!"

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361636)

"A linux alternative, uh sure - I think dell offers a similar spec device with Ubuntu on it"
Actually, WiBrain offers a 500$ UMPC with a touchscreen and Ubuntu - not Dell.
http://www.wibrain.com/products/b1le.php?Top_Class=A&Left_Class=C [wibrain]

When indeed (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361758)

"When will MS begin to put the interests of their customers first?"

When their customers grow a pair and realize that MS sells something for which there are substitutes.

Also the federal government.

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (2, Funny)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361794)

C'mon, why the limits on the hardware specs?

They thought that would be a better option than a sticker on each of these products that says: "CAPABLE of bearing a sticker with the word VISTA on it!"

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361926)

When will MS begin to put the interests of their customers first?

When their customers' interests start losing them sales, same as every other company.

If a linux community can do that, why can't they? Are they admitting that the open-source community which they deride so is capable of something they are not?

Because "a Linux community" doesn't have to worry about things like profitability.

Re:crippled hardware = bad performance (3, Interesting)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361644)

They aren't as concerned about these ULPC's from running Windows as they are that Linux will use these low cost devices as a springboard into the desktop market. They want to limit the specs so that any machines sold over that spec must be sold with a Windows operating system. That way, anyone outside of the low-cost niche market will still be forced to buy Windows.

It smacks of anti-trust issues but that really isn't a big surprise anymore.

If they want to limit specs... (4, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361346)

How will Microsoft compete? It is very common knowledge that Windows runs slower on any given system than Linux does. The low-end PCs are not beefy by any means. Linux will just feel snappier and also shouldn't need as much RAM for similar tasks.

In the low end, it seems like all MS will be doing is highlighting their shortcomings.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361442)

In this month's print edition of Popular Mechanics they do head-to-head comparisions of Mac and similar PCs (iMac vs Gateway One, for instance).

The Mac's smoked the PCs in pretty much everything, despite the PCs having more RAM. More telling was that the Macs ran Vista faster under Bootcamp than the PCs did.

The morale of the story is, Windows fails even in its native market. I think they're hoping that by getting into this market, they'll make the products so unattractive that no one will buy them (and clearly, if no one wants the EEE running Windows, then no one will want the EEE running Linux, right? *sigh*) at all anyway.

Note, I am not a Mac user -- I'm just saying that there are serious deficiencies in the Windows/PC platform from the get go, and they need to cover that up by making something even worse.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361664)

Well, Apple have one big advantage when it gets to their Operating System.

They get to decide what hardware they use, and limit the hardware to a rather narrow range. Hence they can develop their software to run optimally on very specific hardware. Hence their hardware/software combination is extremely optimized.

MS, and most Linux distributions, need to make sure their software runs on a wide range of hardware, so they cannot spend a large chunk of their developing time/budget on fine-tuning their software to the hardware like Apple does.

The Linux community does a better job at this than MS methinks.

I am very appreciative of what Apple has achieved, but being a Linux fan my loyalty lies there.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361698)

I'm still mostly taken aback that an iMac would do a better job of running Vista with 1GB of RAM than a PC did with 2, even though they had the same processor and whatnot. That OS X would trounce vista head-to-head on their own hardware was no surprise at all.

Then again, in high school I would build my own systems, pick every piece of hardware, then build FreeBSD from source with a custom kernel stripped of everything I wasn't going to be using. I always good very good performance out of them... except trying to print.

Printers and I don't get along.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361670)

they have to scratch Intel's back too! After all, eeePC is using the same low end chips as cheap laptops.... Intel really wants to sell Atom at a lower price... with stripped out performance. Right now eeePC is "too good" and "too cheap" for either company to allow as it makes basic computing very low cost.

Hint: what is the real difference between a $500 eeePC and a $1200 Macbook (with integrated graphics) in terms of general users? Neither is designed for "pro" apps or games, so why buy the really expensive one if $500 appliance will do?

Re:If they want to limit specs... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362026)

Because sometimes it's nice to have a 14 inch screen. I don't mind the idea of a eeePC, but given the fact that I don't feel like spending money on 2 portable computers, I'd much rather have a full sized laptop. I got a $500 Acer Laptop, and it runs Linux just fine.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361956)

The Mac's smoked the PCs in pretty much everything, despite the PCs having more RAM. More telling was that the Macs ran Vista faster under Bootcamp than the PCs did.

Thus identifying that the problem wasn't Vista and the PCs weren't as "similar" as they implied.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362034)

Looking at the article now:

a 20" iMac with 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo 1GB of RAM, 320GB HDD, w/ built in bluetooth, wifi, super drive, Radeon HD 2600 ($1499)

a Gateway One with 19" screen, 2.0Ghz Core2 Duo, 3GB of RAM, 500GB hard disk, wifi, super drive, Radeon HD 2600.

the laptops they looked at were:

macbook 13.3" with 2.2ghz core 2 duo, 1gb of ram, 120gb hard disk and un-named graphics card.

vs

15.5" ausus m51sr w/ 2.2ghz core 2 duo, 2gb of ram, 250gb hard disk, and a radeon hd 2400

---------

They're pretty damned close -- even though the iMac had a faster processor, the PC had 3x the RAM.

Someone else posted the link to the article in the thread, so you can check it out.

They don't discuss how much speed was gained running Vista on the Macs, so not sure how much difference we're talking as far as that goes.

Re:If they want to limit specs... (4, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361642)

How will Microsoft compete?

They don't compete any more. They mandate. Their problem seems to be that OEMs are now following along by releasing systems under their mandate, but also building neat stuff outside the mandate. They can't do anything about the fact that their mandate subtracts value, making the new Linux gear immensely popular.

It's a war.... (1)

AmonEzhno (1276076) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361348)

and, you know what? We're not scared. You see us getting our foot in the door, and you're scared. Be sure that this is the beginning of a long series of victories.
Mircrosoft, DON'T TREAD ON ME. Someone get cracking on the flag.

They have to fight the camel's nose (1)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361352)

Once Joe Random use linux on a low priced pc, why would Joe Random want to pay the Microsoft Tax ever again?

Re:They have to fight the camel's nose (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361402)

Once Joe Random use linux on a low priced pc, why would Joe Random want to pay the Microsoft Tax ever again?

Because Joe wants to run Calendar Creator or some such nonsense. He doesn't want to type "sudo apt-get install $whatever". He doesn't even want to use Synaptics Package manager. He wants the damn CD he bought in the bargain bin at WalMart to load and install.

He wants IE and all the stupid toolbars.

He doesn't want to think about this appliance he bought.

And he especially doesn't want to go online and post a question to a forum. Even the warm and inviting Ubuntu forums. He just wants it to work. (Irony noted).

Re:They have to fight the camel's nose (0)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361490)

He doesn't want to type "sudo apt-get install $whatever".

You've never used Linux, have you?

Re:They have to fight the camel's nose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361648)

He probably fell for the hype and used ubuntu instead

Re:They have to fight the camel's nose (4, Funny)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361514)

He's gonna have a hell of a time finding where to put the CD in on one of these low-cost laptops. I have yet to see one with an optical drive.

Re:They have to fight the camel's nose (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361862)

You mean that he's gonna have a hell of time finding where to put his coffee.

Joe User WANTS to spend more money? (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361552)

So ... your mythical Windows user bought the cheapest box he could find ... and then wants to spend MORE money ... at WalMart ... on applications?

When he could just download the app at home.

Good ole joe (5, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361818)

I know Joe. He wants a lot of things. He wants our web design firm to make it so that whatever funky formatting he tries to paste in from MS Word will come out in the site exactly how it looks in Word.

Joe has a problem: the cost of creating an online application that mirrors Word (and Excel and friends) exactly is in the several-millions, and is furthermore legally proscribed by patents anyway.

We can hook Joe up with some great RTEs and OOo templates that work for a couple thousand dollars, but Joe wants the illegal multimillion dollar project for $2,000.

I'm not interested in trying to accomodate Joe anymore.

Of Course! (5, Insightful)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361362)

Limiting the hardware specs ensures a healthy profit margin on the OS. Sounds like good business.

We wouldn't want folks loading "WinXP lite" on good hardware. It might run really fast and have fewer conflicts, then they'll come to expect that from us in other products.

But are these devices that useful? (2, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361372)

Can someone convince me that these devices are [very] useful to the point of replacing the notebook? You see, I will be returning to this September and would like to consider one of these devices as a replacement for a notebook. Can I for example, load OpenOffice.org on the Eee PC?

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361434)

EEE comes with openoffice.

I personally use mine as a compliment with a desktop pc, and for that it's perfectly functional. I think it can replace most of the functions of a notebook, but you need to look at what you need and then make a decision.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361710)

Yes.

I would rather go for a low-end full laptop than an EEEPC, that said, keep in mind that here in South Africa an EEEPC is about four fifths the price of a bottom of the range laptop which has better specs.

Sure it might be more mobile, but I do not need such mobility, hence in my case a laptop would make more sense.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361484)

Can someone convince me that these devices are [very] useful to the point of replacing the notebook?

The point isn't really to replace the notebook. They'll do that too, though. A modern laptop is ridiculously overpowered for the purpose of running a well designed OS and office application. The idea is to make it cheap enough to not freak out about breaking it, to provide enough power to do your stuff but not so much that you have to be chained to a wall wart to accomplish anything that takes more than two hours.

Can I for example, load OpenOffice.org on the Eee PC?

Yes. And it runs just fine. And with Compiz the visual effects are flashier than Aero if you want them to be. And it will play HD video just fine. And it's got all the wireless features you would expect. And on and on. The screen and keyboard are a little small. The next generation may be better in this regard.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (2, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361778)

exactly, I was STILL using a Dell Latitude C610 with a 1.0Ghz P3 up till 3 months ago. Used iTunes, firefox, open office, YouTube, the whole thing. HD video is out, but other than that it was perfectly functional. Those things STILL sell for $300 on Ebay! The eeePC is just a smaller version of the same thing. Figure the processor is a little more efficient and the ram a bunch faster, and what was a $1500 laptop is now $500 and 1/3 the cost & size!

Re:But are these devices that useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361972)

The Eee PC's screen isn't high enough resolution to display high definition video.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362058)

"HD" is just a buzzword. The point is can it play x264 video at the resolution of the screen? If not then the device needs more power.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362024)

And it will play HD video just fine.

No. It won't. Or, under Xandros(oft) it won't. Also the OOo shipped in Xandros(oft)'s repositories is 2.0.4, IIRC...
If I bought one, I'd put actual Linux on the machine. I still don't get why ASUS picked Xandros, and not Ubuntu...

(Imagines compiling Gentoo on that machine. Got, that'd take a WEEK.)

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361756)

Can someone convince me that these devices are [very] useful to the point of replacing the notebook?

Do you consider your notebook a replacement for your desktop? If it is, then I'd say no, it's not a good replacement.

Personally, however, I don't consider a notebook a useful replacement for a desktop, nor do I consider most notebooks portable enough to even merit bothering with. Some handhelds are there, but are crippled by less-than-useful software, and some ultraportables are there, but are crippled by insane pricing.

The Eee is close to the optimal fit. It's small enough (altho I could use it smaller) to be easily carried around, it can run standard software like openoffice so one can use it for presentations and taking notes, yet it's cheap enough that one can actually bring it along wherever.

It's not going to replace your desktop unless you're a very light user. But it might just replace your calendar and old-style pen-and-paper notebook.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361764)

Ummm, OO.o is /already/ installed on the Linux EEE. As is Skype, Firefox, a ton of KDE apps and applets, etc.

This is going to sound kind of snarky, and I apologize for that. But still. Have you bothered to read any of the reviews of the EEE that have come out? Bothered to spend a minute or two Googling eee and OO.o? These are questions that were answered before you posted.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361768)

I'm, using my Eee PC every day, but certainly not with Windows. Although I can run Win XP in Virtualbox on it, that was just for a lark. Since the Windows display is not properly configurable like Linux, running Windows on these machines is a pain.

Re:But are these devices that useful? (1)

ctilmes (193767) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361788)

Can I for example, load OpenOffice.org on the Eee PC?

No need to -- It comes preloaded as a standard App.

In business school... (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361384)

Do business schools teach their students that it is somehow a good idea to accept the terms of a "discount" from one supplier that require you to ship a POS product, when if you go with another supplier, it's absolutely free and you can sell whatever you want?

It seems people were buying the EeePC just the way it was, with Linux and all, and using it just fine. I can't speak to it myself, as I have no use for such a device. However, what rationale is there for screwing up a perfectly good market just to make Microsoft happy, when they weren't a player to begin with?

Re:In business school... (3, Informative)

uffe_nordholm (1187961) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361894)

The one and only reason I can see for Microsoft to do this is also the reason any company would do anything: survival!

I may be wrong, but I think the low-cost market is a brilliant market for Linux to use to slowly move into the mainstream desktop area. As such, this is a market that Microsoft must dominate if they are not to loose the battle before the war has begun.

Consider what would happen if Microsoft did nothing about dead-cheap laptops being sold with Linux on them: first of all, average Joe would notice that it actually works, secondly that it works well, thirdly that it does not need (for now at least) umpteen other programs to keep it safe (firewalls, antivirus....) and lastly average Joe would notice that Linux is free.

On its own, each of these points is a practically negligible threat to Microsoft, but together they have the power to quickly take over the desktop market*. Therefore Microsoft are essentially fighting for their very existence: if they do not stop Linux from getting into the desktop arena, they will eventually be forced out of it, or have the game rules dictated by someone/someones else, and neither of these two futures is very tempting for Microsoft.





* Not today, or tomorrow. Not even next year, but at some point in the future Linux could achieve critical mass on the desktop arena, and after that quickly become the major player.

Re:In business school... (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362046)

See, I understand Microsoft's point of view. I just don't see why the hardware people would acquiesce to this crap. Their success so far as shown that they don't need Microsoft. People are buying them anyway.

Two things leap out (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361388)

The first is that they limit screen size and also prevent you from having touch screens. Maybe it's just me, but the probability of any device I own having a touch screen goes up the smaller the screen size is, so this seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot.

The other thing that really leaps out is this:

The goal apparently is to limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don't eat into the market for mainstream PCs
I can think of a lot of other companies that have tried to limit the capabilities of products in one market segment so that they don't compete with those in another (IBM with the PC, SGI with low-end graphics hardware) but I can't think of a single company where the approach has resulted in anything other than them losing the market to a competitor. Maybe the MS monopoly is so strong that they can do this, but I doubt it somehow.

Re:Two things leap out (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361470)

The first is that they limit screen size and also prevent you from having touch screens. Maybe it's just me, but the probability of any device I own having a touch screen goes up the smaller the screen size is, so this seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot.

But all we're really talking about is a discount. If you want a little tiny Windows PC with a touch screen, you can OEM XP for the "regular" price. As if you'd want to - XP doesn't work all that well with touch screens anyway. And Vista seems to be out of these little guys' league. Windows Mobile for you, sir!

The other thing that really leaps out is this:
....
I can think of a lot of other companies that have tried to limit the capabilities of products in one market segment so that they don't compete with those in another (IBM with the PC, SGI with low-end graphics hardware) but I can't think of a single company where the approach has resulted in anything other than them losing the market to a competitor. Maybe the MS monopoly is so strong that they can do this, but I doubt it somehow.

It doesn't sound like a carefully crafted bit of strategy. More like a tactical strike while Microsoft figures out how to deal with this market segment in the Usual Fashion.

Re:Two things leap out-DON'T FORGET JR. (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361746)

IBM with the PC

And then IBM tried to protect the IBM PC market from lower-price competition with the crippled PC-Jr.

Not performance limiting restrictions (1)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361392)

Microsoft is only insisting that screen dimensions be limited, that the hard-drive be restricted to 80GB, and that the screens may not be touch-screens. TFA does not mention any restrictions on RAM or processor speed.

Re:Not performance limiting restrictions (2, Informative)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361446)

Posting again to retract the above comment. Later in TFA, it mentions that they must also have no more than 1GB RAM and a single core processor with maximum speed of 1GHz, which should still be more than enough for XP. I'm currently running XP SP2 with 384MiB Ram and a 1.07GHz Celeron cpu - it doesn't take crapware well, but otherwise performs acceptably.

Re:Not performance limiting restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361982)

most people don't need over a 1ghz and windows xp. it was only a few years ago I was running xp on a k6-2 380 and 384mb ram. Still worked fine for browsing and most activities. Albeit divx movies and dvd took almost 100% of procesing. Processor speed is really overrated. Now I'm using a (still slow by today standards think p4 1.4 or amd 1.8) celeron 2.4ghz with a gig or ram. Whats faster? boot time 15sec vs 40sec. Installing programs takes around 2-3 minutes whereas it used to be almost 10. Encoding mp3's probably 3-4 times faster, I coulld do maybe 2-3x on the older machine. I consider myself a power user and I don't even do these activites every single day! How much time could I possibly save in one day? I doubt much

The only reason I have to upgrade once again is the same 2 reasons I had before video decoding and music encoding. More reliably play hd movies. lame at 8x is pitifully slow when you have 1000's of flac files.

Heck I even had win98 on a pentium 90 laptop with 32mb ram. With broadband it still loaded pages faster then anything over a 56k modem.

Re:Not performance limiting restrictions (0, Redundant)

penguinboy (35085) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361454)

Try reading the whole article:

That's where the hardware limits come in. Besides limits on the screens and hard drives, to be eligible, the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz.

Re:Not performance limiting restrictions (1, Redundant)

BobZee1 (1065450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361460)

from the odd little article:

That's where the hardware limits come in. Besides limits on the screens and hard drives, to be eligible, the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz.

Re:Not performance limiting restrictionsCOWARDS! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361780)

Microsoft is only insisting that screen dimensions be limited, that the hard-drive be restricted to 80GB, and that the screens may not be touch-screens. TFA does not mention any restrictions on RAM or processor speed.

Microsoft could have easily enforced this limitation in their software. Refuse to run at a resolution over 800x600, or recognize any space on a hard drive in excess of 80GB. They didn't have to try and lock the hardware down.

Moore's Law will kill them over this. A year from now 160GB drives will cost what 80GB cost today, and if this manufacturer isn't producing larger, higher resolution screen laptops at the same price, someone else will be doing it and eating their lunch.

Microsoft can't stall progress, as much as they might wish to try.

Re:Not performance limiting restrictionsWRONG (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361846)

TFA does not mention any restrictions on RAM or processor speed.

Wrong! If you RTFA, at the bottom is says RAM to be limited to 1GB, and processors to be limited to single core at 1GHz.

XP Home only (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361394)

So if you're looking for thin & light notebooks to join your AD domain, you still need the Linux ones.

They've just defined the features for the next big Linux boom: 12" touch screen, 100GB HDD, dual core. That was clever. Differentiate your product as the less capable one. Genius!

These machines will never run Vista well. Let's keep that important knowledge in front of people. Intel expects to move 10 million Atom platforms in the first wave, and none will have Vista.

Bah! (4, Informative)

njcoder (657816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361416)

I don't know about ultra low cost pc's but I've held on to an old laptop that's falling apart, had a failing drive and the replacement never quite fit so I just pulled it out and have been using a Damn Small Linux CD to boot so I can browse the web and even VNC into my main desktop.

I also found this today. MilaX [milax.org] which claims to be like DSL but is based on OpenSolaris. But it doesn't look like that POS laptop will be able to run this.

MS is planning on charging betweek $26-$32 bucks for Windows XP Home Edition for these machines. That's still a significant cost compared to the price of these machines. Especially the One Laptop Per Child based on reports of what they're planning on charging. But then again it seems their prototypes wound up being 2x as much as planned.

Oxymoron of the nth order (0)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361422)

>"Microsoft is launching a program to promote the use of its Windows OS in ultra low-cost PCs"
Sorry, we don't need that elaborate oxymoron.

Alternatives (0, Offtopic)

nova.alpha (1287112) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361456)

I see it like this:

a) you pay extra buck and receive virus-prone, nsa-prone, starforce-prone, and stupidity-prone OS on a hardware which isn't directX games-capable by itself (10.2" display? I wonder what's GPU)
b) you don't pay a thing and receive a computer with GPL OS on it like Gentoo or Ubuntu which is 99% virus-immune, 99.9% nsa-immune, 100% starforce-immune and to a great extent stupidity-immune, with a lot of software already pre-installed so you don't have to pay additional $ for office suite, etc, etc

I'd go for b), hands down.

And if I was OEM, I'd stick with b) too.

Microsoft abusing monopoly power again (2, Interesting)

alegrepublic (83799) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361472)

If Microsoft attempts to force manufacturers to cripple their products, it is going to be hit hard by antitrust authorities, as this is a clear-cut case of monopoly abuse. So the Europeans will draw more cash from Microsoft and the American politicians will increase their pardon fees. At one point, this is not going to be financially profitable to Microsoft: European antitrust penalty + American pardon fees + very little money from the crippled computers = net loss. So their only goal seems to be killing that market before it becomes unstoppable. But people are sick and tired of carry heavy weights around, so they have to fight not only against the zero cost of Linux but also against the comfort level of travellers, and even if they were able to kill Linux no marketing campaign is going to convince people to carry more weight around other than in their belly and bottoms.

Re:Microsoft abusing monopoly power again (1)

sadgoblin (1269500) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361498)

But people are sick and tired of carry heavy weights around, so they have to fight not only against the zero cost of Linux but also against the comfort level of travellers
Microsoft vs. The People?

Way Cool; now is time to start company (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361504)

With MS trying hard to limit a company's hardware, that means that they will prevent sony and others from competing directly. So NOW is the time to start a hardware company. Do several platforms. The first being something that is XO style. Then go to next levels, which would be just above what MS is blocking. At that level, make it have touch screen. And of course, make it with some form of OSS (most likely Linux). This will allow you to hold down costs, and compete against the big boys

Re:Way Cool; now is time to start company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361692)

All it takes is one company with balls to say F U Microsoft, and to have an ally in the channel of distribution. Remember this last point. MS not only shafts OEMs who don't play their way, they have pull with Staples, CDW, Newegg and the big box retailers too.

Dell (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361740)

The simple fact is, that if you go through a middle man, you are screwed wether MS controls them. That is why it must be sold on the net and directly to businesses. Gateway and Dell both learned it and forgot about that. Start off where nobody is at, but customers want.

E.g. EeePC (1)

tmk (712144) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361518)

With the EeePC Microsoft got a deal. ASUS ships the EeePC with Microsoft Windows XP and with Linux. But Linux users won't get the EeePC cheaper - the have to buy a bundle with another memory card. So both varieties of the EeePC cost the same.

Re:E.g. EeePC (5, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361882)

bingo, that's why everybody is squealing. Asus cut the harware specs to cover the windows costs. To the average user, it will look like two things cost the same one "broken" without Windows but a few GB of ram (who cares about 8GB when there's 500B drives for cheap?) Stores simply won't sell without windows, and I'm sure MS has advertising agreements to sell the Windows stickers with big box stores so the Linux version won't see shelf space.

On another note, a lot of good the "patent" agreement did Xandros here. They got "blessing" to sell their linux with windows "compatible" functions only to have Microsoft come and eat their lunch when they actually make sales.

And? (1, Interesting)

ditoa (952847) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361528)

And what is the story here? Of course Microsoft were going to come up with some kind of deal with the manufactuers of this "new" generation of lowered powered ultra portables. I don't really have a problem. People can use what they want and if Microsoft make another edition of Windows for ultra portables that is fine with me. Competition is a good thing no? Forcing end users to use something they don't want isn't a good solution, choice is. Is that what we say Linux is all about?

I run XP on my first gen Eee PC because I wanted Windows. It runs just as quick as the default Xandros and other Linux distros I put on it. I didn't have to do anything special to get XP running on it either. I borrowed an external CD drive from a friend and installed XP. Installed the drivers and thats it. Same thing for Ubuntu.

People bash on about XP being slow and crappy on these low power systems but in reality it isn't. Vista is going to be another story and so I welcome Microsoft's efforts to make Vista run as well as XP does currently. Stripping extra services out which only 0.1% of Windows users actually use will help greatly. One thing I assume they will do is setup some kind of specification for what is and isn't a "lower powered ultra portable laptop" and then only license this "special version" to OEMs with a system that meets the specs. I also welcome this as it gives Linux a spec to aim at as well.

All in all I welcome Microsoft's decision. Competition is good for us (the consumers). Let's enjoy it and give them feedback on what you want/don't want.

Re:And? (2, Insightful)

JayAEU (33022) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361700)

I run XP on my first gen Eee PC because I wanted Windows. It runs just as quick as the default Xandros and other Linux distros I put on it.

[...]

People bash on about XP being slow and crappy on these low power systems but in reality it isn't.
That's all peachy dandy as long as your install is still fresh. Give it a few months and your precious XP will be crawling like a dog as it does on any other PC it's been running on for a period of time.

With Windows, you'll have to reinstall to regain your original performance. With Ubuntu, it won't degrade in the first place.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23361724)

You didn't address the main point:

They create a $32 edition of Windows for ultra portables, but they're not going to offer shrink-wrapped versions of it in stores. They're only dealing directly with manufacturers. Why? Because they want to enforce terms other than copyright.

To make an analogy, they're trying to sell a book with the promise that you won't read it faster than 1 page per minute. What kind of product is that?

Re:And? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361970)

no, windows should cost the same for everybody. Their price for the same software didn't measure up when Asus was spec'ing out the price. Does Asus get the SAME price for ALL the copies of XP they sell? Can I buy a cheap copy of XP for that same price?

Windows XP and Vista as it was sold to Asus didn't measure up. Asus picked another company fair and square and sold several million units... now MS cuts the price just for them to get back in... that's not fair for them to arbitrarily cut the price to take back a market but not for everyone.

My opinion has always been that the various Anti-trust agencies should have fixed the price of Windows OS at the retail price back in 2003 and eliminated all OEM agreements, everybody buys the same and pays the same.. they're a monopoly is there really any difference. MS can't complain because they'd get more profit.. until situations like these arise when Windows is so overpriced and other competitors rise to fill the void... then MS changes the pricing but adds restrictions to squeeze competition out. It's time to stomp on them hard.

Wow! (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361620)

It is an effort to stop Linux dominating this market

Whoa, we're dominating a desktop market? That's awesome!

Sometimes, when you turn around and look at the path that FLOSS has made over the past two decades, you just have to be proud. Way to go everyone!

2 Ms Stories Back to Back ... (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361624)

It's starting to feel like the good ol' days.

I've missed this. Like an alcoholic having his first sip of the sauce after 4 or 5 years.

Aaaaaaah that's good stuff.

Progress (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361626)

Frpm TFA: Imposing the limitations solves a number of problems for the PC industry, said industry analyst Roger Kay, president of EndPoint Technologies Associates. "It allows PC makers to offer a low-cost alternative, and it prevents eroding of pricing and margins in the mainstream OS market," he said.

It also stifles progress but of course that is not so important. And I'd like to know what the EU has to say about this new monopoly abuse from MS.

Value for the Consumer? (1)

johnrpenner (40054) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361660)


where's the value for the consumer in this -- when the reasoning is to 'limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don't eat into the market for mainstream PCs running Windows Vista'...??

Giving Up The Immunity Necklace (3, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361668)

Why would anybody in their right mind:

1: Give up the immunity necklace?

2: Let Microsoft dictate their product design, especially into a less competitive stance?

Fear and trembling in the PC industry (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361708)

The PC industry is terrified of low-cost laptops. They see $199 laptops in bubble packs at every WalMart, with a profit of about $1 per unit. Dell is in trouble; their custom-build business model is dying. So Microsoft's approach to driving up prices looks attractive.

It won't last, but it might be good for a few years.

Remember, the MS idea only refers to XP Home,... (1)

walter_f (889353) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361736)

... which, considering its LAN deficiencies (among others), is crap - even by MS standards.

Let's wait and see what the terms for an equally severely crippled MS Office "Home edition" will be - text files limited to 500 chars? Or will this be called just "MS Works 2009"?

There is a fundamental problem with this... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361860)

...imagine ten years from now what the computers are going to be like and the price on them.

Imagine paying more for one of these low cost computers running windowsXP than you will in buying something more powerful and for a price half of what you'd pay for one of these.
Technology advancement is not going to stop, nor is the power increase of computer technology.
Yet the constraints MS is trying to apply is not designed with such industry advancement in mind, but rather trying to get better in on a market today, and thats all.

Still its less expensive to use Linux and even customize it to run efficiently on even lessor products today.

At what point in advancement will the low cost laptop computer be more powerful then system in use today? Like didn't that happen yesterday considering computer or 3 years ago and longer, are still being used and they cost a lot more then?

Ultimately this is clearly user constraining MS thinking. Not really something from reality.

Am I the only one to feel... (5, Interesting)

wertigon (1204486) | more than 5 years ago | (#23361928)

It's time for manufacturers to tell Microsoft "Look, we do this on our terms. If you want to cooperate on our terms, fine. If not, then take your fucking ball and go home!"

Seriously, there's a great alternative out there. Microsoft is, for the first time in a very long time, in a position not as the big bully, but as the kid trying to get popular. Let's see how they manage to cope with this...

That's a load of rubbish (3, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362018)

That is an abuse of power gained through their monopoly. They know users would feel more comfortable with Windows so companies would like to use it so they're offering it at a low price but forcing companies to hold back on innovation.

If this is true then people should complain to their governments. I'm sure we can count on the US gov doing nothing about it but hopefully the EU will put a stop to that at least happening over here.

A modest projection (3, Interesting)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 5 years ago | (#23362044)

Open source is likely to be a very good software environment when it is finished. However, that will take at least a decade, maybe two.

Microsoft OTOH is caught in a dead end. The only chance I can see for them to be relevant 20 years from now is a gamble and not at favorable odds. They need to loose WGA, meaningless product definition, and all the other annoying and ineffective marketing tricks and focus their considerable talents on building the best servers and desktop systems they possibly can. They have lost over a decade since their last user oriented release (Windows 95) and will already be playing catch up in many areas.

Yes, they will leave money on the table short term. But if they can get their act together, they may have an expanding base of happy and enthusiastic customers ten years from now. If they don't do that, they are doomed to lose out to Apple, Open Source, and Google who do have such a base.

BTW, I just had to deal with a series of hardware and software meltdowns that required getting both a Windows XP and a Linux PC up with just basic install software and a backup of the old applications. Neither operation was fun, but Windows was especially awful -- a sort of ongoing horror show of stupid and arbitrary constraints on what could be done and how it could be done. The only place where Windows was clearly superior was in installation of a network printer. And eventually CUPS will be usable by mere mortals, so Windows won't even have that to brag about.

To sum it up. Windows and Open Source both have a long way to go. Open Source looks to be chugging along. Windows is lost in a horrendous swamp. It isn't hard to see the eventual outcome.

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