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How Open Source is Faring in Retail

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the man-on-the-street dept.

259

SilentBob4 writes to tell us MadPenguin is running the first of two articles taking a look at the 'world of retail as Tux is experiencing it'. From the article: "Of the stores we visited, only Linspire Linux was sold pre-installed on computers in-store. Those FOSS boxes were often among the store's best volume sellers, primarily because they were the cheapest, according to store staff. The staff believed, based on conversations with frequent customers, that most customers were buying the boxes to install Windows on them. But that is not surprising to us, because, as we discuss in section two, brick-and-mortar "computer" stores are still part of the Microsoft distribution chain. The fact that there were some open source products at all in these stores is actually surprising, as Microsoft guards its distribution chain jealously, and punishes those business partners who stray into carrying FOSS products."

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SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU DUMB FUCKING NIGGERS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990858)

You niggers are so fucking dumb!

Re:SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU DUMB FUCKING NIGGERS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990875)

GNAA reject your application again?

That is a shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990864)

And I figured people would buy PCs with Windows licenses to install Linux!! Glad these people sorted me out on this.

Re:That is a shocker (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990974)

We're forced to do that too, to get decent hardware with our OS of choice. Maybe we can work out something with these guys buying bargain-basement just to put pirated Windows on it...

Re:That is a shocker (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991073)

Nobody is 'forcing' you to do anything. Work something out? How about selling your Windows license on eBay?

Yes, you can do that, yes, it is legal, and no, MS is not stopping people from doing so.

The problem with the Linux community isn't that they don't know anything, it's that they know too many things which aren't true.

Re:That is a shocker (5, Informative)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991414)

"Yes, you can do that, yes, it is legal, and no, MS is not stopping people from doing so."

Maybe now you can after this poor dude, David Zamos, tried to sell his copy [clevescene.com] , and faced the wrath of Microsoft's lawyers. But David fought back. An amazing and sad story, IMHO, how big corps expect us pee-on consumers' to just roll over.

Re:That is a shocker (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991074)

Build. Your. Own. F'en. Systems. And. Stop. Bitching.
Who, exactly, is forcing you to buy hardware with Windows installed on it?

If you really want to buy your systems complete, Dell sells Linux systems or systems with no OS.

Surprised? (2, Interesting)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990876)

"The staff believed, based on conversations with frequent customers, that most customers were buying the boxes to install Windows on them. But that is not surprising to us, because, as we discuss in section two, brick-and-mortar "computer" stores are still part of the Microsoft distribution chain."

And if they sold systems with no OS, they'd sell like hotcakes. Take your pick: pirates or people sick of buying an XP license each time they want to upgrade to a new machine without the trouble of buying it part-by-part?

Re:Surprised? (1)

DominicRahl (963411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990921)

And if they sold systems with no OS, they'd sell like hotcakes. Take your pick: pirates or people sick of buying an XP license each time they want to upgrade to a new machine without the trouble of buying it part-by-part?

That's brilliant. I think you and should go into business selling 'clean slate' computers. We'll be millionaires.

Exactly (2, Insightful)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990930)

This has very little to do with how Linux is doing at Retail. It has everything to do with if given the chance to pirate an OS, will people do i?

Then again, im not really shocked. I think to some degree people view pirating an OS or pirating from Microsoft in general as a lesser form of pirating.

Re:Exactly (4, Interesting)

Remedy_man (922349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991044)

What makes us assume that we are pirating the software? Is it not possible (mind you I didn't say probable) that they are actually upgrading their system? Where does the customer agreement state that they can't use it on a new computer as long as it is not on any other computer? Maybe they are actually removing it from the old system, or maybe their hard drive failed completely and they are taking this opportunity to upgrade their system. Does this qualify as piracy?

Re:Exactly (5, Informative)

aj50 (789101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991166)

That depends. If you got windows with your pc like almost all home users do, then yes.

OEM operating system licences live and die with each pc - they are not transferable

http://www.microsoft.com/uk/windows/licensing/howt ouse.mspx [microsoft.com]

Re:Exactly (2, Informative)

Joe U (443617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991379)

Fine, I'll make sure to move a plastic jumper from my old PC to my new one.

Now it's not a new computer, I just replaced some worn out (and now broken, due to some strange lack of jumpers) parts in my old PC.

Just because Microsoft says you can't do something doesn't mean they're right.

Re:Exactly (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991605)

Just because Microsoft says you can't do something doesn't mean they're right.

I think if its in the EULA of your system, MS lawyers *might* disagree with you.

Just because I'm fanatical about backup and insist I keep no less then 12 copies of all the DVDSs I've purchased (and hey, those things aren't cheap), does that mean I'm a movie pirate? I mean, what if my computer crashes, I'll need a copy at work and maybe a couple local friend could keep an eye on a copy an thier place. And what if I'm hit by a natural disaster, I have friends in another country keeping a copy for me. I figure I'm covered, but again with the lawyers, I'm sure they'll take issue with it.

Maybe (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991181)

A lot of OEM software says you can ONLY use it on that computer. I have seen Windows CDs that claim this. Is it legal? I kind of doubt it. I think this is the reason you are seeing more "restore disks" coming with computers now. The restore disks check that you are only using them on the computer you are supposed to.
Kind of crappy if you ask me.

Re:Maybe (1, Informative)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991438)

Yes, you can enter into a contract to not move the software to another computer (and using an OEM version of Windows is absolutely considered entering into such a contract.) Yes, it is legal. You got a discount on the OEM copy of Windows, the price of which was the inability to transfer the license to another computer. Yes, that's (part of) why you see restore disks these days.

Re:Exactly (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991131)

It's not that it's a lesser form - "piracy" (more properly and accurately known as "copyright violation") is a legal construct. I don't acknowledge it as a moral concept. Or at least, not as an immoral one. And even if I did, I couldn't bring myself to feel bad about doing it to Microsoft. They got where they are through deceptive trade practices. Why reward bad behavior? It only leads to more bad behavior.

Re:Surprised? (2, Informative)

oKtosiTe (793555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991197)

The point is that if you sell your computers without Windows pre-installed, Microsoft won't fund a large part of your advertising campaign, will not lobby for you to their partners, etc.
There's a very good reason why so many manufacterers "recommend Windows XP" for using their products.

Re:Surprised? (1)

aj50 (789101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991261)

And if they sold systems with no OS, they'd sell like hotcakes.

I doubt it. Anyone capable of installing an OS is probably capable of finding a computer store that will sell you a blank box. (example [novatech.co.uk] ) Besides that, with a blank box, you won't get support, so that rules it out as an option for many people, and MS may just have a problem with their retailers selling other OSs preinstalled.

Someone who knows what they're doing with a pc won't buy it from PC World (or local equivalent).

Prostitute Schedule for Mar. 24 at the MBOT in SF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991262)

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Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991267)

And if they sold systems with no OS, they'd sell like hotcakes.

Not really. The "Windows Fee" doesn't add considerably to the cost of a computer, particularly XP Home on a bargain bin Dell. Microsoft gives manufacturers an incredible deal to keep them from selling OS-free systems-- it varies but you're only paying a fraction of the $100 it would cost to buy XP separately.

So yes, if you have no plans to use Windows it sucks to pay for it. But you're not paying as much as people make it out to be, and the OS free computers wouldn't be such a great deal that they'd sell "like hotcakes."

Re:Surprised? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991511)

if they sold systems with no OS, they'd sell like hotcakes

In your dreams.

The PC had been sold as a plug and play home appliance and office machine for over twenty-five years.

The OS free system is for the institutional buyer and the Geek. It is not mass-market.

wow... (3, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990884)

I'm amazed that you can actually find a computer that comes with anything other than Windows pre-installed. This has to be at least one step in the right direction though. Even if people are only buying them to put windows on the effect on the market will be the same as if they were going to become hard-core open source supporters. It still gives a bigger market share to this stuff, and with bigger market shares bigger companies want to get in on the action... then it snowballs

Re:wow... (2, Informative)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991055)

Fry's Electronics does it. They have a 4 foot section on one of their aisles with a GQ computer (their brand) with a Linux Distro pre-installed and a Linspire set pre-installed as well.

Re:wow... (2, Informative)

Crilen007 (922989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991159)

Hi. Mac.

Nuff said.

Re:wow... (4, Interesting)

sud_crow (697708) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991165)

Actually, it isn't that amazing, for the sellers is just reducing costs, and so improving sales, as we all know that cheap sells more.

Anyway, It doesnt really help around, no one will keep the Linux OS, unless they find someone who has it too (so they can share something, at least get some questions answered), they will wipe it out and install a pirate Windows as soon as the kids neighbor brings he's last game, or dad comes with his compay soft. Thats the ugly truth on pre-installed soft, at least here.

Here in Argentina almost all of the electrodomestics and supermarkets chains that commercialise PCs have Linux pre-installed, there is even a local Linux company selling Linux Distributions to these chains (the distribution has much the ways as Linspire, they DO NOT SHARE what they build, they only (ab)use GPL'ed software and build around propietary configuration apps, and give support for the distribution to the final user), this company even implemented a License KEY, just like Windows, so you dont copy the ISO... Which is quite depressing.



Most of the employees tell them to get a technician, format the drive and install a pirate windows, even some of them go do the work as an extra influx of money.

I just think that this kind of things give Linux a bad reputation, they make people believe that its trash and that 'nothing works', so you have to go to windows, which of course they dont pay, because if they actually had to put 1 buck for it, there we would see some massive migrations to Linux.

Re:wow... (2, Funny)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991233)

Yeah...I was even more amazed the other day. I came across this computer from a company named "Apple", and it didn't come with Windows either! A lot of these no name companies tend to not include Windows though ;-) (just kidding btw)

Who cares? Software in boxes is obsolete. (0, Troll)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990885)

Open Source fits in server market (solutions!).

It does not fit in commodity stores who sell milk, minced meat and sucking, proprietary end-used-software with no warranty or service.

Re:Who cares? Software in boxes is obsolete. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990915)

I lik to buy the box becasue i hate having waste 5 discs every time i want to download a linux ISO, even with MD5's clean, these ISOs have a 50% failure rate.

Re:Who cares? Software in boxes is obsolete. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991052)

50% failure rate...You probably need a new burner. I've downloaded many different Linux distros over the last 8 years and have only come across one or two downloads that had to be redone.

Re:Who cares? Software in boxes is obsolete. (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991246)

Ummm, lol, check your burner dude. I've never had an iso of any sort fail me, assuming the MD5SUM was proper. And only once have I downloaded something with an incorrect md5sum. A quick redownload fixed it.

Re:Who cares? Software in boxes is obsolete. (1)

k12linux (627320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991391)

1st, if you have more than one system, most distros can install over a network. No need to burn any but the first ISO to CD in many cases. Granted you'll actually have to read how to set up the network install but that shouldn't be a big deal for someone who is doing as many Linux installs as you seem to imply you do.

2nd, if you have a 50% failure rate on burned ISOs your CD-writer is crap, you are using sub-par CD media or you are burning at too high of a rate. With my cheapo CD burner I get around 5% (1 out of 20) failures and on a better one in my work PC I have yet to have a failed burn out of around 160 CDs at max burn rate on inexpensive Imation CDs.

If you had said that you have dial-up access then a boxed set may really make sense. If you said that you like to support Linux companies I could respect you for that too. This, however, just sounds like you are cheap and lazy.

That's OK (3, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990899)

I buy and wipe boxes with Windows to install Linux.

I hereby grant my unused Windows Licenses to Linspire "customers."

Re:That's OK (3, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991000)

By buying a PC with Windows, you are paying the "Microsoft Tax" as people like to call it. So, you're basically handing MS a cheque, and then not using their product. Not sure why you'd want to do that.

Re:That's OK (3, Insightful)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991134)

By buying a PC with Windows, you are paying the "Microsoft Tax" as people like to call it. So, you're basically handing MS a cheque, and then not using their product. Not sure why you'd want to do that.

Because sometimes, the price to the consumer winds up actually being cheaper even with the cost of the "Microsoft tax." That's because larger suppliers can get better deals at every point of the supply chain. The extra money for Windows doesn't necessarily wipe out that advantage.

Re:That's OK (1)

Zarel (900479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991418)

By buying a PC with Windows, you are paying the "Microsoft Tax" as people like to call it. So, you're basically handing MS a cheque, and then not using their product. Not sure why you'd want to do that.
Actually, the people that paid to have their spyware preinstalled on said Windows box are the ones that are paying the "Microsoft Tax". This is one of the reason why Dell systems with identical specs cost more preloaded with FreeDOS than they do with Windows XP.

Re:That's OK (1)

itdood (938270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991224)

Add me to that list, I've had to do the same thing at times.

I also grant my unsed M$ licenses to pirates. heretofor and henceforth, etc etc

They've already padded the cost (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991506)

Software cost is already padded to take care of pirates. Thanks for the gesture though.

Re:That's OK (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991282)

Just to nitpick, OEM licenses are non-transferable.

Ridiculous argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990901)

>The staff believed, based on conversations with frequent customers, that most customers were buying >the boxes to install Windows on them. But that is not surprising to us, because, as we discuss in >section two, brick-and-mortar "computer" stores are still part of the Microsoft distribution chain

What...If stores are part of MS distribution chain, why are customers installing Windows. Sounds like a senseless argument.

Customers install windows for ease-of-use and availabilty of apps...

Re:Ridiculous argument (2, Interesting)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991022)

Why on earth would anyone buy a PC with linux preinstalled only to install windows on it? Most PC's with Linux preinstalled are alot more expensive than those bundled with Windows XP Home.

I know microsoft got into trouble a few year ago for charging PC distributers for a copy of Windows (Or DOS maybe, oh shit I feel old) even when they requested a different OS preinstalled. Several years later they were fined and told to stop but they appear to have just found a more subtle way of achieving the same result - you want to use something other than Windows, you have to pay more for the previledge.

Re:Ridiculous argument (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991057)

I know microsoft got into trouble a few year ago for charging PC distributers for a copy of Windows

Microsoft also agreed to never use a per-processor pricing model. And yet, Windows NT Workstation can't seem to use more than two...

Pirated Windows (1)

ylikone (589264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991560)

>>Why on earth would anyone buy a PC with linux preinstalled only to install windows on it? Most PC's with Linux preinstalled are alot more expensive than those bundled with Windows XP Home.

Because you can get $199 Linspire computers and a free burn of your neighbours Windows XP Pro CD. Combine those with some easily obtainable Windows key codes from the Internet and boom... you've got a cheap MS Windows box. I think MS relies on the pirates to keep them in business. Imagine if nobody pirated Windows! Windows would be long gone and people would be using primarily free Linux OS's.

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990908)

how true this will hold after Vista is released? Seems to me that the machines being sold are good enough for Linux or WinXP but not for Vista. Will they then be bought and used as is?

Re:I wonder... (5, Insightful)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991264)

Have you ever noticed how many people are still running Windows 2000 Professional? There really are a slew of them

I suspect that, years after Vista is released, you will still find a BUNCH of machines running XP.

One thing I have noticed is the maturity -> longevity effect for computer hardware and software. Years ago, the rapid pace of hardware development and the commensurate evolution of end-user software meant that a three-year-old box was not just NOMINALLY obsolete, it was obsolete IN FACT. New hardware peripherals and (above all) new applications could effectively not be used on systems just a couple of years old.

Nowadays, however, even though an Intel or AMD processor-based system from four years ago might have rings run around it by current stuff, the old systems are still very serviceable and can run almost any software you car to install short of the latest games. And they can be upgraded enough (e.g. video card) where even the "gaming barrier" can be negotiated in large part.

I suspect that a brand new AMD64 X2 processor-based system of today will stil be VERY useable eight years from now despite the advent of Vista or any other software technology. They're just not really coming up with very many "new things" to do with a PC (look at MS Excel 2003, for example. Does it REALLY look or work that differently from a Windows-based Excel spreadsheet from ten years ago?)

And FWIW, you can ALWAYS take an obsolete box, install the latest Linux distro onto it, and breathe new life back into that puppy like you wouldn't believe.

People are keeping their automobiles longer now, and I'm sure that's coming to be the same for PC systems.

Re:I wonder... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991312)

One thing I have noticed is the maturity -> longevity effect for computer hardware and software. Years ago, the rapid pace of hardware development and the commensurate evolution of end-user software meant that a three-year-old box was not just NOMINALLY obsolete, it was obsolete IN FACT. New hardware peripherals and (above all) new applications could effectively not be used on systems just a couple of years old.

Yep, processor speed isn't increasing as fast as before, so people have less reason to upgrade. Also general users who do office and internet stuff will find a 1GHz machine just as good as a 3GHz machine.

Don't know if Linux is the best test. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990911)

Linux is, insofar as these things go, a relatively high-end product, and persons who are knowledgeable enough to want to buy Linux are often also knowledgeable enough to know how to download it. The rule is not perfect but there's still going to be a heavily distorting effect on Linux's boxed-sales levels compared to other potential open source programs. Is OpenOffice available as a boxed retail product? If not, why not?

MS punishing for FOSS? (4, Informative)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990917)

I've worked for both a retail outlet and two small OEMs, one of which is a Microsoft gold OEM partner, or whatever that program is now.

At all three places we talked openly to MS reps about offering Linux to keep prices down. At one of the OEMs we went from all MS to about 20% Linux in the space of a year. Not once did any of that hurt our relationship with them. This sounds like a bunch of FUD to me.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (-1, Troll)

Slash Veteran (561542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990977)

I work for Microsoft. So I am really getting a kick out of most of these replies.

Some of you guys are very good at making it sound like you know what you are talking about.

But trust me.... You don't.

I think you just want to make yourself sound smart, when in reality you don't know what you are talking about.

This is how bad info gets passed around.

If you don't know about the topic....Don't make yourself sound like you do.

Some people will believe anything they read.

Open Source isn't doing well in retail. Microsoft doesn't care whether Best Buy sells Open Source products.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

random_amber (957056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991028)

Hey...who let the Stormtrooper in?

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (5, Interesting)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991041)

Hi Slash Veteran, You are right. Linux is not doing well in retail right now. That is the point of my article. There is growth, but it is slow. Please read the article more closely. The point of the article is that big box retail is a sustaining channel for Microsoft. Linux and FOSS are growing in what Harvard Biz Prof Clayton Christensen calls "disruptive channels."

For example, when Sony first came out with transistor radios, which were disruptive of RCA's big desktop radios, none of RCA's channel partners would carry Sony's transistor radio "toys for teenagers", which were considered by RCA's best customers, adults who wanted high sound quality, to be crap. Instead, Macy's picked up the transistors, and Sony grew its distribution chain from there. RCA is now a shadow of its former self, because it couldn't figure out how to get transistors into its "best products". Microsoft can't figure out how to monetize the production of open source code, and THAT is the key nature of the challenge that Microsoft is facing. THAT is the point of my story. The distribution channels are changing. This story just documents one key little step in the the change, as Microsoft's distribution channels slowly take on the disruptive products from open source challengers.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991592)

when Sony first came out with transistor radios, which were disruptive of RCA's big desktop radios

RCA had one and only one priority in the fifties and sixties: Television.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

daeviltwin (692894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991061)

but if god were a monkey, would you eat his cream cheese?

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

teasea (11940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991062)

Actually, I believe they are referring to the bad old days when it was possible for hardware manufacturers to get 'updated' price per unit if they didn't preinstall Windows.

Retail outlets all charge the same price for XP so, can't see how it would matter to them.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991114)

Open Source isn't doing well in retail. Microsoft doesn't care whether Best Buy sells Open Source products.

Unless it should somehow infringe on Microsoft's shelf space, of course...

It's too bad you didn't actually say anything beyond talking shit. That seems to be typical for Microsoft employees on slashdot. They get all defensive.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

jtwronski (465067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991182)

Troll.

To everybody who replied to this: This is a pre-canned troll that is used all the time on Fark. So much so, that its quickly becoming one of those "fark cliches", and being used as a joke. Don't take parent seriously. Or perhaps nobody got what would have been an obvious joke on other sites.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (3, Informative)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991350)

For those not in the know, "I work for..." is a fark cliche. It's a joke.

Re:MS punishing for FOSS? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991394)

fark you

Punish? (3, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990935)

Microsoft guards its distribution chain jealously, and punishes those business partners who stray into carrying FOSS products.

And the source for this little gem is what? Do you suppose the DOJ would be interested if it were true? Do you suppose that MS' competitors would be screaming if it were true? Do you suppose that with the size of MS' market, the number of retailers and speed of the internet, if this were true it would be on the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal?

Re:Punish? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991018)

"...you would do well to see if there is a Fry's or Micro Center store in your area. Go down there and support their efforts to flirt with FOSS!"

Um...yeah, I'll get right on that.

The author seems to miss the point that half the FOSS solution is the "F" part, and that "F" doesn't involve paying a premium to pick up the crappy computers shilled by your local big box.

Re:Punish? (2)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991077)

Hi xxxJonBoyxxx, I didn't miss the point of free being the F in FOSS. To the contrary. The point is that FOSS will grow in disruptive channels such as LUGs, magazines, books, etc. That is why I video'd the Borders Store. Look at all of those books, many of which have distros in them. The value has shifted, as Harvard Biz Prof Clayton Christensen has said, from the operating system, to the ease of acquisition of installing and customizing your OS exactly the way that you want to do so. There will be many paths to this greater level of customization. Big box retail will only be one path, and it probably won't be the dominant path, IMHO.

Re:Punish? (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991397)

Looks like the value never shifted.

According to Amazon's ratings, the two top-selling books for Linux and MS-XP have the following ratings:

  • Linux Bible 2006

Paperback: 912 pages
Publisher: Wiley; Bk/CD/DVD edition (January 30, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0471754897
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #7,483 in Books (See Top Sellers in Books)
Yesterday: #20,527 in Books

  • Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out, 2nd Edition.

Paperback: 1344 pages
Publisher: Microsoft Press; 20th Bk&Cr edition (November 3, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN: 073562044X
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1,871 in Books (See Top Sellers in Books)
Yesterday: #3,073 in Books

Re:Punish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991040)

And the source for this little gem is what?
Hearsay

Do you suppose the DOJ would be interested if it were true?
They are/were, MS didn't care/paid them off

Do you suppose that MS' competitors would be screaming if it were true?
They do

Do you suppose that with the size of MS' market, the number of retailers and speed of the internet, if this were true it would be on the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal?
No, probably not

Re:Punish? (2, Informative)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991115)

Microsoft guards its distribution chain jealously, and punishes those business partners who stray into carrying FOSS products.

And the source for this little gem is what? Do you suppose the DOJ would be interested if it were true?


If you read the article closely, you will see that the source spoke to me on condition of anonymity. The source is someone who works in retail tech, and knows whereof he / she speaks.

The point is that people are so afraid of the ramifications of giving quotes like this that they won't speak except on condition of anonymity. Face it, Microsoft is a bullying monopoly that abuses its market control to this day.

Oh, and as to the DOJ that you are supposing will take action, would that be the same DOJ that settled the prior anti-trust case against Microsoft with a slap on the wrist?

Re:Punish? (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991335)

Sorry, anonymous source=anonymous coward for the purposes of evaluating credibility. I simply won't believe uncorroborated statements based on anonymous hearsay.

Re:Punish? (1)

jamesl (106902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991411)

If you read the article closely, you will see that the source spoke to me on condition of anonymity. The source is someone who works in retail tech, and knows whereof he / she speaks.

Crediting your information (in the article) to " ... a Mad Penguin (tm) source who spoke on condition of anonymity." gives it no authority. Normally the source's position (user, retailer, vendor, manager, marketer, cook, bottle washer) is identified to give his words some credibility.

Using an anonymous source is bad enough. Failing to give that source any authority is unacceptable.

Re:Punish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991186)

"And the source for this little gem is what?" - by jamesl (106902) on Friday March 24, @04:28PM (#14990935)

Some 14 year old who thinks he is computer god #1 most likely, the typical Linux user.

(That's the usual Linux bullcrap they spout, hoping others out there will believe it. F.U.D. is the trademark of the b.s. artists in the Linux world, period).

"Do you suppose the DOJ would be interested if it were true? Do you suppose that MS' competitors would be screaming if it were true? Do you suppose that with the size of MS' market, the number of retailers and speed of the internet, if this were true it would be on the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal?" - by jamesl (106902) on Friday March 24, @04:28PM (#14990935)

'Oh NO!!! Using facts against me' screams the Linux fools here in general... time to attempt to discredit the sources...

God help you if you confront the Linux dolts with common sense and facts.

The ONLY reason their OS goes anywhere or is used anywhere, is that it costs nothing typically & can do the job as a server (mostly webserver, which isn't really saying much either)... other than that?

Linux is a generic-goods knockoff of UNIX, with PnP support.

Linux (fact): It is 1/10th as useable as Windows is & lacks the sheer amount of HIGH QUALITY softwares and device driver support Windows enjoys, as well as quality of development toolsets. There is a reason 99% of computers out there from desktops/laptops in homes & business, to midrange departmental servers, up to enterprise class servers use Windows: It's got ALL of what I mentioned above well over Linux.

There is no comparison, Windows outright kicks the crap out of Linux, period.

(But God help you if you point out those facts here @ slashdot, lol...)

Re:Punish? (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991539)

Yeah, I have no clue why some people need to use Knoppix (a Linux variant) to boot a new machine to supposedly then download a driver for use on a Windows install. Doesn't make sense at all. Windows runs on anything and always has all drivers on a single CD - it doesn't even need the 7 CDs of a typical bloated Linux system and Windows is far easier and quicker to install than this Linux cruft.

Re:Punish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991620)

Do you suppose the DOJ would be interested if it were true?

No. The Bush administration gave Microsoft a free pass on this one, presumably in exchange for campaign contributions. The DOJ was instructed to fold, even though they had already won, and presumably instructed not to come back to the table again.

Do you suppose that MS' competitors would be screaming if it were true?

Sounds to me like they just did. But by and large most of them realise that with the DOJ uncooperative, there's no point. Screaming to the media isn't going to change anything. Microsoft won this round - via politics rather than lawyers, but they still won it. The next round in the US will probably also be fought by political rather than legal means.

Do you suppose that with the size of MS' market, the number of retailers and speed of the internet, if this were true it would be on the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal?

Yup. It was, a few years ago. When the US courts more or less convicted MS of doing precisely that (but the DOJ folded before the courts got to the point of penalising MS or telling them to stop doing it).

Incidentally, the EU courts are currently in the process of applying penalties to MS for doing the same stuff. I don't believe it's front-page news but if you actually read the papers then you'd see they do regularly print stories about it.

A little patience... (0)

random_amber (957056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990946)

Well, overall it sounds like good news to me. It's going to be awhile before Open Source really breaks into the mainstream, so naysayers can gripe all they want. It's clearly making headway. The Empire wasn't overthrown in one movie afterall. We are barely in the first act.

Random_Amber

History lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990980)

Remember BeOS it went into the grave for this very reason. No larger distributor would touch it because MS threatened to remove any discount if they did. Wow that is freedom of the market in action!

Re:A little patience... (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990999)

dummy, the empire was the good guy.

Re:A little patience... (1)

pl1ght (836951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991030)

I actually think they are still trying to get the script approved...

Remember 1998? (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14990963)

Remember how back in 1998 ("The Year Of Linux On The Desktop!") you couldn't turn around in a CompUSA without knocking over a stack of Corel or Mandrake boxes?

You don't need fancy sociology about "disruptive technology" to explain why Linux distros do or don't have prominent in-store displays. If the makers write their checks to the store, they get their displays; otherwise, they don't.

Re:Remember 1998? (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991143)

... you couldn't turn around in a CompUSA without knocking over a stack of Corel or Mandrake boxes?

When I go into a CompUSA in Chicago I see plenty of Novell SUSE boxes on the shelves. And I usually see a person or two checking them out. You'll most likely never see anybody checking out Windows XP (Pro or other wise), since they most likely have it installed on their PC already.

great 'business' model (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14990991)

so in other words, the FOSS community is content to just act as a 'spoiler' to Windows, enabling the theft of software, rather than actually competing on an equal footing.

And yes, COMPETING is possible; the 'distribution chain' excuse is just that. Linux is FREE, Windows is not. If that isn't viewed as a HUGE fundamental advantage in Linux's favor, you are obviously too drunk on the kool-aid.

Re:great 'business' model (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991183)

so in other words, the FOSS community is content to just act as a 'spoiler' to Windows, enabling the theft of software, rather than actually competing on an equal footing.

No, actually Dell selling Windows preinstalled is spoiling the Linux numbers because many Dell and other computers end up running Linux, in far greater numbers than Windows gets installed over Linux.

I am personally responsible for +2 Linux and -2 Windows in the OS count, and I am about to "upgrade" one more computer.

Re:great 'business' model (1)

Peter Greenwood (211400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991268)

Quite the reverse. This behaviour benefits Windows more than Linux, by increasing its "market" share. This is borne out by the fact that - despite all the "activation" hype around XP and the threatening MS ads - it still seems to be possible to install and even keep updated pirate copies of Windows.

A massive outbreak of honesty would be the best thing that could happen to FOSS.

Re:great 'business' model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991309)

Linux will never, ever be a consumer OS unless one or two distros win out. It seems to me that each flavor of Linux has some advantages and some huge disadvantages. For example, I burned a DVD of the Mandriva iso, then discovered that the fucking thing wouldn't install using my USB keyboard and mouse.

Then there is the whole Open source mentality that says that if nVidia's drivers aren't out on Sourceforge, they are evil. MP3s are evil as well. Well, you know, they aren't. I'd like to use my graphics card, and I'd like to listen to the MP3s that I have. Zealots don't make Linux an easy sell.

Then, of course there is the issue of hardware support. Buy a new machine, and you risk having to compile some beta kernel to support it.

Re:great 'business' model (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991467)

No, actually, the FOSS community doesn't give a hoot about market share or selling Linux in big stores. Market share simply doesn't matter - Who cares whether you sell 1 or 1 million widgets at $0? I promote it as a low maintenance solution to people who care to listen - typically charities are more receptive to this pitch than anyone else.

Easily amused (1)

teasea (11940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991001)

Rumors abound that Google will soon offer some type of operating system, which has led to this hilarious parody by The Register that Google supposedly is planning to create a Ubuntu-based distro hilariously named "Goobuntu."

This guy needs to get out more. I would have thought 'amusingly' to be enough overstatement but, 'hilariously?'

customer support needs to be there first... (3, Insightful)

vacorama (770618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991014)

i think a big problem is a lack of people who could answer any questions on these machines. i bought a 500$ linspire laptop at walmart. the price was cheap enough and the CNR service was pretty cool so i figured, 'why not?'.. after playing around a bit i ended up selling it to a friend after i a got a new power book.. anyways, the amount of questions i got about that linspire machine (how can i set up my printer, why can't my kids use for school, etc..) was a headache enough.. i couldn't imagine a big box store that would be willing to deal with this type of feedback for one type of product.

Re:customer support needs to be there first... (2, Insightful)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991235)


i think a big problem is a lack of people who could answer any questions on these machines

That and a lack of hardware quality. I non-technical friend of mine, a certified, card carrying Microsoft hater, bought a Linspire box from Fry's. The first thing he did was try to get a printer to work. He spent hours doing that, then finally took it back to the store. Turns out there was a hardware problem. So if time is worth anything, the Linspire became quite a bit more expensive than the $180 he spent for it.

I would guess many of the Linspire boxes sold at Fry's are bottom of the barrel in terms of hardware quality, given how that store operates.

Check MicroCenter (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991063)

They have been running diskless Linux terminals on the POS stations for years. But they would let anyone know it because they are afraid of MS.

morans (-1, Flamebait)

vettemph (540399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991102)

>>>best volume sellers, primarily because they were the cheapest... most customers were buying the boxes to install Windows on them.

1) It is sad that "Linux means cheaper" to these people. Linux is for powerful workstations, It happens to be shared freely and openly because that is desirable to those who need/want it. So what if it scales down to your POS PC.

2) Linux users upgrade the stuff that matters. (not the outside box)
      If I bought a new box everytime I wanted all the electronics upgraded in my PC I would need my own personal land fill.

3) Why the hell would anyone install windows on anything? morans!
    I could understand ditching Linspire for Ubuntu or Fedora Core, but windows?? :)

Re:morans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991221)

No dude, you're the moran!

From a slightly different angle... (4, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991109)

I misinterpreted the title at first, and thought it might mean Linux in the retail industry. I'll pass this anecdote on anyway though.

In the UK, the PC World [pcworld.co.uk] chain is the main purveyor of PCs at retail. It, err...well. How shall we put this? It doesn't have the greatest reputation for knowledgeable staff and customer service. Alternative names I've heard for it are PC Woe and The Purple Temple Of Sadness (which is the best term I've heard for the place).

As you'd expect, it pushes cheap* PCs and whilst the odd Mac sits at the back somewhere, it's pretty much a Windows-only place, happily pushing Microsoft Anything and Norton at people.

It came as a surprise then, when I needed to grab a router right that moment and so went in, to find internal stock lists and part numbers getting checked using OpenOffice spreadsheets. Interested, I had a word with the guy doing the check and he said OpenOffice was used throughout the store.

I'm not certain as to whether he meant just that store or the entire chain, but it was interesting to see OpenOffice having taken over a shop so strongly identified with WinTel and Microsoft-only solutions.

Cheers,
Ian
*Not that I have anything against cheap PCs - all depends on people's needs really.

Re:From a slightly different angle... (0)

glas_gow (961896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991225)

I think I'll check out the Glasgow branch tomorrow.

Re:From a slightly different angle... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991265)

It came as a surprise then, when I needed to grab a router right that moment and so went in, to find internal stock lists and part numbers getting checked using OpenOffice spreadsheets. Interested, I had a word with the guy doing the check and he said OpenOffice was used throughout the store.

Jaycar [jaycar.com.au] use linux to access their stock control system at the point of sale. Strange that their website uses ASP, though.

Re:From a slightly different angle... (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991407)

not strange at all, they either pay an ouside company to host their site, or they bought a pre-packaged solution that uses asp and IIS.

in a business environment you don't have time for brand loyalty when your competitor is shaving $0.03 every transaction cost by going with the best deal regardless of brand.

So,,, what's the problem here? (3, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991122)

Can't RTFA but discounting the usual Slashbot FUD that Microsoft 'punishes' those who stray into selling Linux (or whatever)... what exactly is the problem here? That retailers "should" sell Linux because "everyone" knows it's "better" than Windows? What is the rationale for expecting Circuit City to sell boxes with some other OS preinstalled?

Re:So,,, what's the problem here? (1)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991236)

The idea is not that any reasonable person would expect a retail outlet to sell a product like Linux for religious reasons. The purpose of the article was to document the mechanics behind the way that this market leader (Microsoft) jealously guards its distribution chain. And they do. Guard it jealously.

^m0d up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991280)

ppor dead last racist? How is to make sure the they're gone Mac

It's not all Microsoft's fault (4, Insightful)

Blacklotuz (575879) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991281)

Every time I read a slashdot article about linux it seems like all the Linux fanboys do is blame Microsoft for keeping Linux down. While I do know that Microsoft has forged some exclusive deals with PC manufacturers, I don't feel that thats the main reason why people arn't adopting Linux. I frequently build my own systems and have plenty of experience installing Linux, but I chose to use Windows as my primary OS. Linux is still lacking in many areas and if I were to try to switch the rest of my family over it would be a nightmare. Windows does have its own flaws but all in all it's the best thing on the market for most people. Back in the day of Windows 95/98 the OS bluescreened at least once a week and full OS crashes were constant, but with XP I hardly ever experience a full OS crash and I leave my system up for weeks at a time. It's usualy third party applications and drivers which cause the crashes I deal with but people are quick to blame Microsoft for these faults. A good example is my firefox install, which has been crashing quite frequently recently. I know this is probably caused by a poorly writen extension but yet I find myself thinking 'Damned Firefox'. I have a feeling that when a third party app causes trouble people are quick to blame Microsoft.

Re:It's not all Microsoft's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991627)

Good read, I agree with most of it. If you didn't use the word fanboy you might have been modded up. Then again perhaps the mere use of objective thought isn't worthy of karma.

Good for them! (1)

naelurec (552384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991313)

I'm glad to hear that these low-end Linux boxes are selling. Perhaps the majority of these boxes will get a pirated version of Windows installed but who cares?

I would imagine that this Linspire is profiting on these units. Linspire has provided financial support to a wide variety of projects which is a good thing.

If sales are as good as this article makes out -- it would stand to reason that these retails (And others) would be more open to stocking additional models (perhaps higher end) and provide some additional numbers for hardware manufacturers to provide support (drivers, etc).

Where can I get one? (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991318)

A PC without Windows installed, that is? I mean, yeah, I can get one with Linux installed and still pay the Windows tax, but I'd really prefer to save my money rather than sending it to Bill...

Re:Where can I get one? (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14991583)

Go to Google, type "barebones pc" and press enter. Not too difficult is it?

The Microsoft Commandments (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14991367)

Thou shalt not install any open source operating systems, or any likeness of any thing that is not Microsoft Windows XP. Thou shalt not recognize the commercial viability of Linux, FreeBSD, or otherwise: for I Microsoft thy Monopoly am a jealous Monopoly.
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