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Why You Can't Buy a Naked PC

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the put-some-clothes-on dept.

Businesses 367

ZDOne writes "A piece up on ZDNet looks at the issue of naked PCs. ZDNet UK phoned around all the major PC vendors and not one of them would sell a machine without Windows on it. IT professionals are being forced to adopt Microsoft's operating systems — even if they tell their PC supplier they want a system free of Microsoft software. On the other hand, even if it's almost impossible to buy a PC without an operating system installed, companies like Dell and HP are now committed to supporting Linux as well. 'Murray believes there is a market for Linux in the UK but is also aware of the issues facing any large supplier who wants to make Linux boxes available. "It means diverting production lines and that is a lot of money and so we have to prove the business case," he said. However, he made it clear that he is enthusiastic about the idea and wants to make it work. "We just have to show it is worthwhile," he said.'"

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367 comments

Why does it matter if it's free? (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380217)

I don't get it. You get the Win for "free" (or less) due to the nagware installed. Why not just get the pc with linux-capable components, let the advertizers pay for your unused copy of windows, and install your favorite flavor of linux (or whatever you plan on using)?

I have yet to get a new pc I didn't re-image or install from scratch anyway. If I used linux I'm certain I wouldn't like the vendor's setup any more than I like their win installs. Too many custom setting to get these kinds of things to work they way we use them. If the windows is effectively free, and you have to do a reinstall anyway, why not just ignore it?

Oh, right - it's far more appropriate to whine about it.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (4, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380247)

How do you figure you're getting windows for free? I guarantee that the vendor is paying Microsoft for the license (even if it's heavily discounted), and they're not going to just swallow that cost - it will get passed on to you.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (4, Insightful)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380509)

Its discounted sure, but there is also a lot of other revenue they make when Windows is preinstalled. Google (or some other search provider) pays to have thier search engine set as the default, AOL pays to have thier crapware installed. McAfee pays to have thier 60 free-trial installed. etc, etc, etc.

I don't know that any real numbers have ever been released, but many analysts I've read think the main PC sellers actually make money just by including Windows because of all the other stuff they install on the PC with it.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (4, Informative)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380619)

The last few new Dells I've dealt with had a bare minimum of crap installed, Google Desktop was pretty much all there was.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (2, Interesting)

Ryan274 (1067758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380793)

You might not get windows for free, But:

- Nag-ware - Dell/HP are PAID to include them
- Bulk Purchasing - They buy HUGE quantities of PC parts, and thus get them way below retail cost
- Cheap Licenses - I've bought a $400 Dell PC with Windows XP, So I really doubt they weren't paying the $125 for the OEM version (or that was the price in Aug/06 in Canadian Dollars)

Take these three together and the cost of a Dell/HP pc with windows will work out about the same as building a PC from parts without an OS. This doesn't hold true at the extreme end but for the $500-1'200 mainstream range will be fairly accurate.

So if you don't want Windows but you need a pre-made box with customer support, why not just buy it - burn the recovery disks (just in case you want windows/drivers) - format it and use the distro of your choice?

And for the record... I don't imagine any Slashdotters doing this, but in a corporate environment with an agreement to only buy PC's from XXX. Or the home user who wants linux but doesn't have the knowledge to put together a PC from parts (and wants Dell over the local guy) and may need some customer support with diagnosing a hardware problem (and I bet you laughed when I said burn the recovery disk before formatting)

Because It Isn't Free (5, Interesting)

panda (10044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380269)

You can buy servers from Dell with no pre-installed operating system. I know 'cause I've recently bought two.

Interestingly enough, when you choose the no operating system option, the server suddenly costs $799 less than with Windows 2003 R2 installed.

I don't know how you do math where you are from, but where I'm from $799 isn't free.

Oh, and that's U.S. dollars, just to clarify.

Servers, but what about clients? (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380349)

You can buy servers from Dell with no pre-installed operating system.
So what Dell client machines connect to these servers? Do those need Windows?

Yes, clients as well (1)

dereference (875531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380889)

You can buy servers from Dell with no pre-installed operating system.
So what Dell client machines connect to these servers? Do those need Windows?
See www.dell.com/nseries [dell.com]. No, they don't need Windows.

I'm not sure why this always comes up; Dell has been selling these for years.

Re:Servers, but what about clients? (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380909)

If you know what you're looking for you can find the Dell N series [wikipedia.org].

Sometimes they are slightly cheaper than their Windows counterpart, other times if you look carefully you might see things like smaller disk by default, CD instead of DVD, then when you configure them you'll note they lack the same offers and savings that their exact same windows counterpart enjoy. In the end, when I've tried it, several times the machine without Windows ended up more expensive than the same one with. Which makes the exercise rather annoying (and raises a nagging suspicion that you're still paying for Windows and they're just not telling you about it...).

If they added 'FreeDOS', 'Linux', or 'No OS' to the 'Operating System' choice option the whole deal would be quite a lot more obvious and available. If that's what they're actually interested in.

Oh, yeah, and I have no idea wether it's just a webpage or if it's actually possible to get an N series machine delivered. If the journalists cant find a salesperson that knows about it, well...

Re:Because It Isn't Free (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380395)

Funny, I just ordered 2 dell servers sans OS as well. If you have a lot of OS install disks hanging around, it's a great option, especially since they were running some kind of special. I ended up buying two for under a grand, and I usually prefer to roll my own.

Fair warning, though, when you don't buy any extras, it makes them really sad. [slashdot.org]

Re:Because It Isn't Free (0, Offtopic)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380641)

I feel a Matrix quote coming on... But, as you well know, appearances can be deceiving, which brings me back to the reason why we're here. We're not here because we're free. We're here because we're not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist. -- Agent Smith aka Windoze Bot.

Re:Because It Isn't Free (1)

Joe5678 (135227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380683)

The GP's point was that they don't give you a "No OS" option because they get paid to install all the extra crap on top of windows (toolbars, media players, etc). They wouldn't be able to install this extra garbage if they didn't have an OS.

Dell obviously doesn't install this garbage on their servers, that's probably part of the reason for the full $799 cost of the server OS.

I'm not sure I buy into the fact that all the extras end up negating the cost of the OS in the end, but if you're going to argue, at least argue against the point the GP was making.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (2)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380277)

Other than Microsoft being able to claim that Windows runs on 99.99% of the PCs sold, you're absolutely correct. We Linux guys are picky enough we know exactly which distro and what version of that distro, and which of all the available packages we want installed - and we'd probably rather do it ourselves, anyways. So yeah, there's little point in whining, except for that statistics thing.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

pchoppin (864344) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380331)

Agreed.

Yes, we purchase servers w/o operating systems. Yes, we install whatever we want on them. Yes, it's cheaper (and better) this way.

End of story

Preinstalled ensures that drivers exist and work (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380415)

We Linux guys are picky enough we know exactly which distro and what version of that distro, and which of all the available packages we want installed - and we'd probably rather do it ourselves, anyways. So yeah, there's little point in whining, except for that statistics thing.
And the tendency of too many hardware manufacturers to 1. not provide Linux or *BSD drivers, 2. not describe their hardware in enough detail to allow the free software community to develop and maintain its own drivers, 3. silently replace the chipset with an incompatible chipset in a revision of the same make and model of hardware, and 4. promote such incompatible hardware to OEMs. Buying a PC with preinstalled Ubuntu OS at least makes sure that your PC contains Linux-compatible hardware.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380291)

It's not free at all, you're paying for it as part of the cost of the system.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380313)

You really think the "nagware" is paying for your copy of Windows? As in, Dell (or whoever) doesn't have to pay Microsoft a dime for Windows?

Wow. Just wow.

They pay Dell (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380455)

You really think the "nagware" is paying for your copy of Windows?
Yes.

As in, Dell (or whoever) doesn't have to pay Microsoft a dime for Windows?
Dell isn't paying for Windows home editions. AOL, Symantec, and the like are paying for Windows home editions. These companies pay Dell to install their software, knowing that they will recoup the expense if some percentage of end users decide to upgrade to the full version.

Re:They pay Dell (2, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380681)

You are assuming that the amounts paid by the entities described
are passed on to the consumer in some way. It is entirely possible
that the amounts find their way, in part or in whole, to the
companies bottom line instead.

Dell != monopoly (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380833)

You are assuming that the amounts paid by the entities described are passed on to the consumer in some way. It is entirely possible that the amounts find their way, in part or in whole, to the companies bottom line instead.
Unlike the products of Microsoft, the products of Dell have meaningful competition from those of Gateway and Hewlett-Packard. Threats of price cuts on Gateway and HP PCs prevent Dell's bottom line from becoming too fat.

Re:They pay Dell (0)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380861)

Of course, if your goal is to not have MS make any money on the PC that you buy, it doesn't really matter who is paying for it - you'd just want the naked PC.

I'm more pragmatic - I'll take the free copy of Windows.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380461)

Nagware pays dell, dell pays MSFT.

Either way you get a box cheaper than if you rolled it yourself.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380567)

This is the key. The hardware vendors are getting paid to pre-install a bunch of software. How much do they get for that AOL icon on that first boot?

I put forth that Dell and company actually make more money from the pre-install junk then they do from the actual sale of the machine. This fits with the perception that the hardware vendors aren't really interested in meeting obvious consumer demands, such as OS-less machines.

Note, I specifically said CONSUMER. We ain't been customers for some time. ;]

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

bfields (66644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380953)

You really think the "nagware" is paying for your copy of Windows? As in, Dell (or whoever) doesn't have to pay Microsoft a dime for Windows?

The second doesn't follow from the first--they could be paying Microsoft but still coming out ahead in total (after taking into account income for the various ISP-advertising icons, etc.).

But I wouldn't be at all suprised if Microsoft was close to giving away the OS on a low-end PC ("Home" Edition, Microsoft Works, ...). The advantages they get from such complete dominance of the low-end desktop are just too valuable, and there's so many other ways they have to make money off them (selling upgrades, driving traffic to their websites, etc.), that it wouldn't be worth charging license fees that would make a significant difference to the cost of the cheapest machines.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380439)

I agree.. Ok, whine that you cant buy it without windows. But enough with the hyperbole.

Nobody is "forcing" IT professionals to use Windows.

Unless you want to redefine "IT professionals" as "people who cant install an OS themselves".

I travel around and been in plenty of data centers, and have seen plenty of boxes running Linux. So, SOMEBODY out there is managing to install it.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380759)

WRONG. I maintain that by selling in this manner (a Windows license for EVERY box, various "deals" subsidizing the cost of the PC) the industry status quo is enforced.

Dell and company don't want to rock the boat, their business depends on cheap Windows licenses, Microsoft will beat them down.

Symantec and company don't want to rock the boat, their shit depends on Windows, Microsoft will beat them down.

Monoplies suck and this would be why.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380551)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If you don't know Clarus from Carl Sagan, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real Mac users [atspace.com]. Keep your filthy PC fingers to yourself.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380753)

I switched from Linux to OSX, mainly because I liked the Macbook Pro. No regrets at all. (I still run linux [my own debian-ish flavor] on my home and office desktops, and my music studio PC is Windows XP, for reasons related to my choice of applications.)

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380595)

I don't get it. You get the Win for "free" (or less) due to the nagware installed.

Actually, the best estimates I've seen place Dell's price for an OEM copy of Windows Vista home at about twice the price Dell is paid for installing nagware. As the computer company you are dealing with gets smaller their Windows discount gets smaller and this delta grows even larger.

Why not just get the pc with linux-capable components, let the advertizers pay for your unused copy of windows, and install your favorite flavor of linux (or whatever you plan on using)?

Because if they could sell in volume without Windows it would be cheaper yet (drastically cheaper if they lined up Linux nagware) and because without the vendor pre-installing and testing Windows any guarantee that it is "linux capable" is subject to being an exaggeration or just plain wrong. For example, at a previous company we bought Dell towers in bulk that we destined to run Linux, OpenBSD, and NetBSD. We already owned a site license for Windows with plenty of free seats. We still had to pay for licenses for those machines even though we did not want them. Also, being Dell, despite having the same model number and being part of the same shipment, only about 1/3 of the machines actually had all parts that were the same as the test boxes we were shipped and had all the drivers we needed. Out of a few hundred machines we got 3 different video cards, several controllers, hard drives, CD-drives, etc.

I have yet to get a new pc I didn't re-image or install from scratch anyway. If I used linux I'm certain I wouldn't like the vendor's setup any more than I like their win installs. Too many custom setting to get these kinds of things to work they way we use them. If the windows is effectively free, and you have to do a reinstall anyway, why not just ignore it?

You and I are going to image anything we get. The average consumer does not know what an OS is and would never attempt to install one. More importantly, the vendor having to ship with Linux and support it insures all the hardware will have drivers and you have a source for those drivers.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380617)

You are PAYING for that copy of Windows.

Also, I have no idea what they are talking about with regarding to having to divert production lines. I can order a cheeseburger minus the tomato and they don't have to make it on a separate production line. They just... don't put that on it.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (5, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380653)

>I can order a cheeseburger minus the tomato and they don't have to make it on a separate production
>line. They just... don't put that on it.

In case you are too young to remember, Burger King actually built their market niche on that problem. The other big Hamburger restaurant had developed a model where the food was prepared in advance and special orders were a problem. Burger King came along with a whole marketing angle based on making the burgers fresh, and they promoted it with one of the catchiest jingles in all of advertising history :-)

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380875)

>>I can order a cheeseburger minus the tomato and they don't have to make it on a separate production
>>line. They just... don't put that on it.

>In case you are too young to remember, Burger King actually built their market niche on that problem. The other big Hamburger restaurant had developed a model where the food was prepared in advance and special orders were a problem. Burger King came along with a whole marketing angle based on making the burgers fresh, and they promoted it with one of the catchiest jingles in all of advertising history :-)

This reminds me of a great story.

I went to BK during said promotion (Have it your way). I tried to order a whopper with just ketchup, mayo, pickles. Hey, it was what I liked at the time, and they said I could have it my way.

So the first burger comes with the standard ingredients, including mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato. They throw away the old burger (they have to throw away all returned food, good policy, i'm just pointing out the cost to them).

So I take it back and request they remake it. They do. This one just has mustard and pickles.

So I take it back, and they remake it. Mustard, Onions, Lettuce. My theory is now that the guy is either MR or screwing with me, so I ask to speak to the manager. I explain about the 3 wrong burgers, and he says: I'm sorry, I'll make it myself.

Ketchup, Mustard, Pickles, Onions. Closer. I get another apology, and on the fifth try, I watch him make it. As he reaches for the mustard, I give him a quick 'mayo' shout, and his hand changes direction. Burger comes out correctly.

Hooray victory! Boo 4 wasted burgers.

The moral of this story was, I think, that even though they made marketing claims, their staff weren't really trained to provide non standard orders.

Oddly enough, I pretty much switched to McD's after that incident (in the days when I still ate fast food). McD's was also pretty much completely successful at fulfilling custom orders for me.

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380685)

Business plan 2.0 for Dell.

1) Take X$ per machine from crapware providers for installing crapware on windows
2) Save Y$ windows license per non-windows machine sold without telling crapware providers.
3) ...
4) Even more profit!!!!!

Re:Why does it matter if it's free? (1)

TheCoelacanth (1069408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380901)

Or better yet, let the advertisers pay for the copy of Windows that you return to Microsoft getting the small refund.

I blame the Religious Right (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380223)

I blame Bush, the Religious Right and the Christian Coalition. As soon as you talk about anything being naked, they're hitting the speed dial to call their lawyers...

Re:I blame the Religious Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380307)

Damn. Mods today have NO sense of humor.

Re:I blame the Religious Right (1, Funny)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380427)

The first requirement of a joke, being funny, was not met in the original post. Only the most rabid of Bush haters can still laugh at the same jokes 6 years later. The rest of us are just waiting for the next shithead so we can make new jokes that you guys can copy for years after.

The article... (1)

Mizled (1000175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380233)

The article doesn't really present anything new. We all know the major reasons for it are because of money and pressure from M$.

wait a sec (1)

Unreal7000 (728903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380237)

At first when I read this I thought it said "Why You Can't Buy A PC Naked".... dell.com take clothes off oh a Naked PC... I gotcha

Re:wait a sec (1)

Soko (17987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380299)

I was also afraid.

I really don't want to see a PC naked [apple.com]. Nor a Mac, for that matter. Bleah.

*Breaks out the mind bleach

Soko

Here Comes the Waaahhhmbulance (5, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380263)

If Dell or Gateway won't sell a naked PC, then let that be their folly if such strategy fails. In the meantime, do a bit of research and find smaller vendors that will sell a PC sans OS. Here's a small company that sells many brands of laptops with no OS by default: www.powernotebooks.com. If it wasn't for the Intel Macbook line coming out, I would have gone with something from them.

Put your money where your mouth is, do business with those small companies and they'll eventually become big ones if the demand is great enough. Dell once started out as a small company and selling computers with Windows worked for them.

Mod parent up, underrated (0, Redundant)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380473)

Why does Rude Trump's post not get modded up even though it presents a clear and obvious solution to this problem?

Small businesses are far more market-agile and thoroughly trump the Dells of the world where this is concerned.

Worth your While? (1)

MindSlap (640263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380267)

"It means diverting production lines and that is a lot of money and so we have to prove the business case," he said. However, he made it clear that he is enthusiastic about the idea and wants to make it work. "We just have to show it is worthwhile," he said.'"
Really? It regards to bare machines, yoinking a box 'off the line', and dropping an unformatted HD in it 'costs money' as opposed to developing your windoze configs, loading all the adware and other junk and copying it all to a hard drive? Neat trick!

Re:Worth your While? (1)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380413)

Yes, there's no installation of crapware or anything, but there are two other factors in play that make it easier and more cost-effective for them to be Windows-only. First, I'd bet they're using disk images and not installing everything by hand. Second, they have a very standardized, assembly-line-esque process, and any deviation from that is going to slow down their operations. Between the comparatively low demand and pressure from Microsoft, they have no real incentive to try too hard to offer Linux.

Re:Worth your While? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380523)

It regards to bare machines, yoinking a box 'off the line', and dropping an unformatted HD in it 'costs money' as opposed to developing your windoze configs, loading all the adware and other junk and copying it all to a hard drive? Neat trick!
Yes, for several reasons:
  1. The publishers of the adware pay the OEM for each machine shipped with Windows and adware. They do not pay the OEM for each machine not shipped with Windows and adware.
  2. You now have multiple piles of hard drives: one that includes Windows and adware, one that includes Ubuntu, and one that includes only the FreeDOS-based hardware test utility (for quality assurance of "naked" PCs). Warehousing these hard drives and installing the correct one into each product imposes a cost per distinct stock-keeping unit (SKU).
  3. Warehousing finished products also imposes a cost per SKU.

How Can I Buy An Apple Computer W/O An OS (5, Funny)

BSDetector (1056962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380273)

Can someone tell me where/how I can buy an Apple-branded computer without an Apple-supplied O/S?

Re:How Can I Buy An Apple Computer W/O An OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380517)

Try Ebay. :)

Re:How Can I Buy An Apple Computer W/O An OS (2, Interesting)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380613)

No fair bringing the real world into this! We insist that you can't buy a computer without Windows, so your facts are irrelevant!

Seriously, notice the use of the acronym "PC". It's a semantic trick to exclude non-Windows systems from the analysis. Even now that Macs are x86, they're STILL don't qualify as PCs. People will always find some way to exclude the facts to support their beliefs. One current belief, quite popular in Linux [sic] circles, is that people are forced to use Windows. Those of us who don't use Windows know this is utter rubbish, but you can't convince a Linux user that he has a choice to use Linux. It's sad in a funny sort of way.

Re:How Can I Buy An Apple Computer W/O An OS (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380687)


>No fair bringing the real world into this! We insist that you can't buy a computer without Windows, so
>your facts are irrelevant!

I worked in a shop that itemized into its Microsoft site license, all the Sun servers, Linux desktops, Apples, and the Dell laptops that were running the OEM Windows install they came with. I don't know if I've seen anything more ridiculous than a Sun E10K with a Windows license.

Re:How Can I Buy An Apple Computer W/O An OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380877)

Apples to Oranges, my friend. There's no such thing as a "Microsoft Computer". There's only the OS that they've stongarmed various generic-equipment assemblers into adding to the price. An Apple computer is much more than just your average piece of shit PC... and that's before you add the OS. An Apple computer without Apple's OS wouldn't be an Apple anymore. But a PC without windows? We call that an UPGRADE.

Danged nanny state... (5, Funny)

Boadi (1010283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380279)

Anyone above the age of 18 should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to see a naked pc. Wait...

Err, what about Dell's n series? (4, Informative)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380293)

Dell sells the n series with FreeDOS. That's about as close to a naked PC as you can get. They also sell workstation-class systems (the Precision series) with Linux pre-installed, we buy them at work. You can even download drivers that work from their site, as I found out recently with a Precision 690 running WS4. Their sound drivers went in, and after removing the included non-functional driver everything worked great. I can't complain. HP also sells Linux systems, and we have a few.

Aside from those vendors, and numerous others that specialize in Linux, I build my own systems for home use. Not a one of them has ever come with Windows.

Re:Err, what about Dell's n series? (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380481)

The ACTUAL reason, since you CAN buy PCs with operating systems other than Windows (as you say) is that they don't want to let a PC go out the door without an operating system on it. That lets them prove that it works, and it gives them SOME means of troubleshooting (although I don't know what tools FreeDOS has for, say, checking PCI IDs and the like. But it could have something, I wouldn't know.)

Re:Err, what about Dell's n series? (1)

JedaFlain (899703) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380497)

Sure, Dell and HP sell non-Windows systems, but what about all those other vendors out there?

Sure, I blame MS, but... (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380309)

I think it's a bit more complicated. Sure we know that, historically, Microsoft has engaged in anti-competitive practices like "the Microsoft Tax". But I would think that Dell, HP, and the others are probably equally scared of people like my friend "Joe". He's cheap as (fill in your preferred perjorative here), and if he could save a few bucks buying a PC without an OS he'd do it. Problem is, he is not tech savvy in the least - so he'd get some cut-rate version of Windows one way or the other, try - and fail - to install it, then spend hours on the phone with Dell arguing over "why their computer is broken". I've tried helping him with tech problems over the phone before, and I'll tell you - it's like pulling teeth getting just basic information from him.

When the vendors claim they don't want to sell naked PCs because of the potential support nightmare, I believe them. It's not the Slashdot crowd that's the problem; but there are 100 "Joe"s for every 1 Slashdotter.

Naked PC == Parts (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380343)

A medium sized company I used to work for sold PCs and parts. If you did not want to pay for Windows, then they wanted to sell you parts so you could build the PC. This became policy after they got real cozy with MS and their service reps came to visit. They went from being a Red Hat partner ( in Raleigh NC) to no naked PCs/ no linux sold, installed or serviced.

Generally though, if someone really wants a naked pc, they are probably capable of building it from parts. MS just seems to try to make sure that building it yourself is the most common option.

Re:Naked PC == Parts (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380665)

On the other hand you really don't need to know much to assemble a PC once you got parts that fit together. Mainboards come with complete manuals with step-by-step instructions and jumpers are only a backup option for people unwilling to set their options in the bios these days. Cases have rounded edges so your hands no longer look like you were cutting thorn bushes, CPU sockets and DIMMs are formed so they only fit in the correct position, same for IDE cables if you're not using SATA, almost all cards you'd put in the sockets are onboard now.

Re:Naked PC == Parts (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380867)

Yup, seen that before. I know several places have barebones kits that come without O/S and something else usually missing. Buy one of these and add a CDROM or whatever.

or

My local shop will build me one with no O/S. Buy local :)

or

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtool s/configdetails.asp?Base=2371075 [tigerdirect.com]

I might try this next time, looks like they actually send you a disk to install yourself on a naked PC if i pay for windows. But the ones i just bought with XP were pretty clean (after unchecking a few boxes)

or

Use windows to build a dual-boot out of your Dell/HP to play games during lunch ;)

Other then Laptops I build my own (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380353)

Ok, that's not a good answer for everybody. I suspect I am not alone here in this philosophy and I usually save about $400+ for quite a bit more then Fry's the model of the week. If something breaks I just replace it or upgrade it.

I am about to send my Pavilion laptop back to HP for service, it will take a week and a half and the only reason is that it will cost me nothing in time or materials to put in a new motherboard.

Re:Other then Laptops I build my own (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380553)

Ok, that's not a good answer for everybody. I suspect I am not alone here in this philosophy and I usually save about $400+ for quite a bit more then Fry's the model of the week. If something breaks I just replace it or upgrade it.

This is only possible if you spend a lot of money on the PC. If you're going with something low-end, which these days is a dual core (or at least it's over 2 GHz) and has a gig of ram, you're far better off buying prebuilt. I mean, pick up the paper any day of the week and you can find a dual core with a gig of ram, at least 120GB of disk, and a 17" flatscreen for $600 or less.

Re:Other then Laptops I build my own (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380895)

I acknowledge that, and I will admit that I am likely cannibalizing other boxen to build it. I also don't need a dinky little 17" monitor, I got one 120GB disk, it's in an external case and it's just old storage. My general boxes have at least 3GB ram and SATA drives and 256M Video standard. And don't get me started on my Sun Ultrasparc boxes.

This being Slashdot I expect that the Pro IT ratio be very high.

freedos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380355)

freedos has been available for a while in particular on office and server systems. ask for it then install what you want.

I'm a PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380357)

Mac: Hi, I'm a Mac.
PC: And I'm a PC.

*shudder*

Re:I'm a PC (4, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380633)

Mac: I'm a PC too, just dont tell the elitist douchebags who own me - they shelled out a lot of cash, and think they bought something "high end". Also, I go with your drapes and swing both ways. Let me just pop up my collar and we'll buy some songs on iTunes, I know *ALL* the indie bands.

my naked pc horror story (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380365)

i bought a naked mac from apple. when i opened the box, a naked homosexual jumps out, shot confetti everywhere, turned on gay techno music, then tried to sodomize me. he had an ipod up his ass and he sorta looked like the apple guy from all the hi i'm a pc and i'm a mac commercials. is this acceptable products from apple or am i just a very unlucky customer?

It Is Possible! (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380371)

What the summary actually wants to do is to buy a naked pc from some well-known pc resellers at a price below a Windows-equipped pc.

There's a million reasons why this wont happen. Most of which comes down to the expense to do so in a big pc reseller like dell. What role does the pc reseller have left?

In this _very_ specific case it is the consumer that has to do a little searching for a naked pc.

And yes, it will be more than an os-equipped PC. Microsoft, for once, is not directly to blame.

Paid Placement (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380599)

While M$ is the biggest one, there are other software vendors who are paying Dell/Gateway/HP etc to put their program on your new computer.

A PC wholesale to say CompUSA or Fry's is usually about half or less what you pay that means a $800 laptop was bought for maybe $350 into Dell's pocket. Not much is it?

Dell doesn't pay the M$ tax, Microsoft pays Dell to put the OS on it, so that $350 may have just jumped to $380/$400 then there is Adobe, and tons of other demos and what not. Maybe they have moved that revenue back up to about $800 by the time they are done. I had to wipe off a full gig of trailers from movies including 'Babe, Pig in the city' (in 2006 no less). PC vendors make a tidy profit from these add-ins.

The rest I leave to your imagination.

Re:It Is Possible! (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380631)

There's a million reasons why this wont happen. Most of which comes down to the expense to do so in a big pc reseller like dell. What role does the pc reseller have left?

It's worth pointing out that in the Mini-ITX market, resellers don't have too much of a problem in that regard.

And the colourful CD from VIA that gets included typically has Linux/BSD stuff on it, too. How cool is that? ;-)

Mod Parent Informative. (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380823)

ITX computers are the perfect example of a PC with few, if any hidden revenue.

Thanks.

Spoils the fun (5, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380379)

It's kind of like lingerie. A lot of the fun is getting it naked. If it just shows up to your door without anything, it just seems too clinical and a little tawdry.

Yep. I'm a geek.

Actually, I think the title says it... (4, Interesting)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380385)

I think the first thing that must be changed is the concept that you are "buying a naked pc". That implies that without the operating system, the PC is naked! Why isn't a PC without it's case screwed on considered a naked PC?

Basically, vendors don't seem willing to believe that people have the know-how to buy some hardware and then somehow make it work, which kind of makes sense. For example, I'm sure few people would buy a PC without the BIOS installed, and Dell and the like aren't going to cater their huge business to the hobbyists who would flash a PC with their own BIOS, for example.

On the other hand, why they can't make a small stipulation to sell X% of units raw to folks that are DIY'ers, is beyond me.. they could even sell it with a disclosure that they don't support ANY operating system in their contract, however their hardware has been tested with XYZ operating systems.

-6d

Support obligations (1)

Kawolski (939414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380393)

The big computer companies probably don't want to take tech support and customer service calls from grandmothers complaining their Windows apps won't work because they picked a Linux distro by mistake. "Oh hey! $100 off the price!"

The good thing is... (1)

Butisol (994224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380403)

I put off purchasing a new machine because of the steep Vista requirements. A few more months and I can get a Q6600 on the cheap. Microsoft will still get their loot, but at the expense of Dell not selling me an overpriced C2D machine right now. Whateva, fuckers!

Dell (1)

Kerkstraat (1076779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380411)

At least in some countries you can order a dell without OS. They don't mension it on their site, but if you order by phone it is possible if you order for a company, I don(t know how the policy is for home-users.

Sadly Windows == PC (1)

hey (83763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380441)

Sadly Windows == PC to most people. Maybe someday it will change. I hope so.

Especially for "Home Theater PC" (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380447)

MythTV is getting quite mature but since you can't "naked" version of any "Home Theater PC" offered by any vendors it makes it very hard to build them for anyone but yourself. You are invariably forced to build each one of them from scratch so each "version" is subtly different. In some ways, "do it yourself" is great for cutting costs but in other ways, like "gift giving" it becomes very hard to justify.

No Microsoft tax on eComStation or Linux preload (1)

user_ecs (878826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380485)


For Christmas I bought a system preloaded with eComStation. I paid no Microsoft tax. All you have to do is support THE vendors of good quality products. Like buying high quality Snapper lawn movers instead the disposable Wal-Mart ones.
(The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapp er.html [fastcompany.com])

You can avoid the Microsoft tax too.

eComStation user group - http://www.os2voice.org/ [os2voice.org]
eComStation - http://www.ecomstation.com/ [ecomstation.com]

eComStation preloaded
http://www.curtissystemssoftware.com/preloads.htm [curtissyst...ftware.com]

Also Linux preloads
SUSE preloaded
http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS7778908329.html [desktoplinux.com]

Fedora preloaded
http://www.emperorlinux.com/ [emperorlinux.com]

White Box Inc. (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380505)

1) Form a company
2) Assemble PC hardware
3) Don't licences Microsoft cr*p OS
4) Offer it for sale online
5) Profit!!!!

If you want a naked PC (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380557)

Roll your own, or go to a local comp shop, have them roll it, or go to one of a million sites online and purchase it.

Why should Dell, Gateway, or anyone else have to offer you this? How does there refusal to do so "force" IT professionals into Windows?

I really don't get the logic. Maybe they should, maybe if they thought it was profitable, they would There's no money in it. The site you are reading is owned by a failed linux box provider, they should know more than anyone why Dell doesnt promote or sell boxes with Linux.

But why should they have to? Why do you think you have a right to go to Dell and ask them for this?

Should EB Games have to carry Neo Geo titles? I like my Neo Geo. Lots of people do, there's a very active community behind it. Whats the difference?

Naked PCs are not hard to find in the UK. (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380559)

I buy lots of bits from Novatech, a company based in the south of England. They list their pre-built PCs with a "naked" option and are transparent about the price of having Windows pre-installed.

One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18380569)

My ex-wife used to work for a PC building/selling operation. She actually assembled them and tested them. She never knew what Linux was even though there were Red Hat CDs laying around the house all the time.

Oh, and if something that was out of the ordinary happened their line was down for hours while one or two semi competent employees tired to figure out what the deal was.

Now, introduce the Linux option to this environment and you just destroyed their productivity. They could barely understand files and folders, leave alone file permissions in Linux.

Rolling out the obligatory quote . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380579)

"A Linux System Administrator who doesn't build his own box is like a Jedi who doesn't build his own lightsaber."

Besides, when building for a non-Windows PC, one has to exercise extra care to ensure that one gets hardware that will be supported by the OS one intends to install. Unfortunately, Linux just doesn't have nearly as much vendor buy-in for hardware support as MicroSoft Windows. Thus, while many pre-assembled PC's may have hardware suitable for use with a non-MicroSoft OS it's still easier IMHO to just "bare-bones" an appropriate system together. YMMV.

Deferred payment system (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380583)

What if MS allowed OEMs to install a trial version of the OS and then only bill when activated? The customer could choose to purchase what was installed or run just run fdisk instead.

Problem is, (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380621)

The PC sellers don't make much money on the hardware, they make their big bucks on support and extended warranties.

They are too "Linux ignorant" to support Linux, IE field tech support calls, hell they barely can handle supporting M$. But your typical PC owner is dumber than the cue card readers at the tech support centers and they think the person reading cue cards in India or Pakistan are GODS of technology. What's the typical solution to a PC problem? Put in the system restore disc, wipe it clean and install a fresh copy of M$. What a wonderful solution. Solving Linux problems that way isn't acceptable and reading cue cards for Linux won't work either, it requires someone that knows what they are doing to solve a Linux problem over the phone.

Dell and companies like them rake in huge $$$ fielding calls for the M$ boxes they peddle and for selling extended warranties. I know several people that recently bought new Dell's and they dropped an extra $500 for priority support. One person had a mobo die and Dell sent someone out to replace it the next day.
That was fine for them, for Dell, warranties are a crap shoot, just as all "insurance" is.

As long as they can make money from your misery you'll never see naked PC's being offered by the big companies. Their business model is a parasitical one.

Dell don't (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380675)

But they don't pay a per-unit price for Windows so it wouldn't make any difference to them.

A lot of smaller places that do custom PCs will allow you to specify "No OS" as an option. They'll usually let you remove any other component as well, if for some reason you object to having a processor included.

Sell those Windows licenses! (2, Interesting)

SigNick (670060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380709)

Every time I buy a new laptop it has Windows pre-installed.
My solution is simple: the first thing I do is to put up an online auction with no starting price or reserve price and every single time I've gotten 90% of the official OEM price or better even when there are dozens of sellers.
Then I simply remove the license sticker and mail it to the winner - 'problem' solved.
Getting $100 back from a $600 laptop gives a nice discount too.

Is reselling software forbidden in some countries or why this simple option hasn't come up yet?

Re:Sell those Windows licenses! (1)

gunny01 (1022579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381065)

Most Windows that comes with pre-bought PC's is OEM software, which means it is tied to a single computer: i.e the one you bought.

IANAL, but if you refuse the License agreement, you might be in the clear.

Don't buy from the man... (1)

jerpyro (926071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380713)

Disclaimer: At the risk of this sounding like a plug, no I don't work for JNCS.

I buy my Office's PCs from http://www.jncs.com/ [jncs.com] because they're local, I can swap and return parts myself, and I always get high-quality, stable components that beat the heck out of what Dell puts in their PCs. They also offer systems without OSs.

I would suggest finding a local retailer you trust and that works for your business. The service is better, the PCs are better, and the warranties are better. Support your local enthusiast PC shop.

Use a smaller supplier then! (1)

HuskyDog (143220) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380731)

I live in the UK and have recently purchased a 'naked' Laptop from Transtec [transtec.co.uk]. I also had the option to have it supplied with SuSE. The naked and SuSE machines were cheaper than the Windows ones (once you get the hardware configuration the same). I understand that they will supply desktops without Windows as well.

They are a smaller supplier, but not tiny. They are an approved supplier for some central government departments.

If the big companies don't want to sell me a naked or Linux machine then that is fine by me. I will take my custom elsewhere and they are the ones who will lose out.

there's not enough demand (3, Insightful)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380735)

I'd wager that there's not enough consumer demand (or business consumers) for naked PC's. but there are other factors as well. one, there is but one windows, and dell, et al., can taylor it to their machines and make it work at least out of the box. no, they don't have the control over it as they would linux, but they have enough. when you screw with the machine, it's you screwing with it. and help is much easier, and cheaper, when there's a single OS. imagine having to figure out the distro, the kernel, etc. it'd be a disaster.

that linux is "free" in all senses for you and me, doesn't make it free for dell, etc. to add an OS would be very expensive and to provide none (for every comptuer), would terribly diminish their product. the OS for dell is a complementary good without which, they couldn't sell their product. not to defend MS or dell, but the truth is, MS is well within their rights to demand that dell sell a copy with every machine to get a volume discount, ability to modify it, etc. but the bottom line is that there just isn't enough interest to justify naked PC's. however, notice Dell's server line. you can get them, which ought to tell you something.

Shameless plug.. (1)

valkabo (840034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380737)

Need a computer without an OS?! Email wireless@computercom.com for price quotes, all systems built using top quality parts and all completly made to order!

Now, you see how effing stupid this article was that slashdot linked? Its not hard to find them.. go to a computer store and ask for them.

k, have a nice day

Never had a problem with getting naked Dells (1)

DrPeper (249585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380783)

I've never had a problem with purchasing naked Dells, both workstations and servers. I've always just explained to the phone sales person that the system is replacing an existing (but crashed or in the process of crashing) system. They've always sent naked systems this way.

Who's your Daddy now? (2, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380871)

In 1994 I tried to buy a bare desktop PC from Dell or Gateway. Since it was to replace my old dead IBM PC (dead after 13 months), I didn't need a new OS. But both Dell and Gateway insisted I buy a new license of Windows anyway.

These days when I buy a laptop, it comes with Windows. When the laptop dies, I can't transfer the license to another PC. They simply don't even provide OS or recovery CDs/DVDs.

So much for the DOJ's Anti-trust agreement with Microsoft. Nothing has changed.

Problem - Solution (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18380997)

1. By your computers wherever you want - Buy bulk get discount.
2. By harddrives from wherever you want - Buy bulk get discount. *
3. Swap out hard drives
4. Install whatever operating system you want
5. New PC = Naked PC
6. Sell old hardrives on eBay = Profit

* You could also just completely erase their hardrives, but buying things and putting them in PC's give the tech guys something to do.

Isn't it about cost efficiency? (0)

caywen (942955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381035)

Should Nokia and Motorola be in the business of selling naked smartphones? Should Apple and Creative start selling naked media players? The PC is just a device that a company like Dell and HP designs and manufactures to certain specifications. What you do with it afterwards is your business, but to ask them to one-off something just for you is like asking Apple to ship you an iPod without the stock media. Not a big deal technically, but a real time and resource waster from a corporate efficiency perspective. The fact that a PC is able to run other OS's is a useful feature for the customer, but not one that the manufacturer is obligated to support, in my opinion. However, I'll bet that as soon as it is actually economical for the big 5 to sell naked PC's, they would. In general, they don't actually answer to Microsoft any more than they answer to Intel. BTW, as an exercise, how about asking Dell to ship you a PC without memory or hard drive?

I had no trouble buying a naked PC (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381049)

Because I bought it used [wisc.edu]. It wasn't the very latest and greatest, but it works just fine, thanks. And yes, they really did sell it to me without an OS.
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