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Countering the Arguments Against Unbundling Windows

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the package-with-a-live-cd-and-wrap-with-a-bow dept.

Microsoft 624

An anonymous reader sends in a link to a blog posting by Con Zymaris arguing for competition regulators to force the unbundling of Windows from consumer PCs. The argument takes the form of knocking down one by one the objections raised by "unbundling skeptics."

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But then ... (5, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906407)

"GASP! Windows won't be FREE!"

So many people only use Windows because they think they didn't pay for it. That's why they have such a low expectation of quality - when it crashes they say - Well, I didn't pay for it, so its not like I can ask for my money back."

Unbundle it and let the competition flow. I can see Apple doing a big push for OSX as an aftermarket product. Also, Novell's openSUSE 10.3 is a keeper.

Re:But then ... (5, Insightful)

athdemo (1153305) | about 7 years ago | (#20906473)

Highly doubt you'll ever see Apple putting OSX out for the x86 market. If they do that, Dell could push out a bunch of mac clones for way cheaper than Apple themselves offer. They wouldn't be as pretty, but it wouldn't be in Apple's interest anyway. The people who want OSX right now have to buy a Mac, too, and that's how they like it. (Well, you can pirate osx86, but you can pirate everything)

Re:But then ... (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906569)

It came out a while ago that Apple has OSX running on plain vanilla x86 (non-Apple) hardware. Now look at how many people buy iPods, and compare that to the number who buy cheaper competitors, say Zunes. Apple has reached that "sweet spot" where they can have the best of both worlds - high sales of hardware/software bundles, as well as selling just the OS to those who want it on non-apple hardware.

Dell gets the support headaches, apple gets the $$$. And those who want to "step it up a notch" are still free to buy iMacs, same as they buy iPods.

Re:But then ... (2, Insightful)

athdemo (1153305) | about 7 years ago | (#20906649)

Yeah, I know you can run OSX on regular old x86 hardware. I got it running on my rig from some torrents of it, but I don't use it.

What I was saying was that I think that they could turn the majority of the potential software only sales they'd be making into full blown hardware/software packages. Someone that wants OSX is usually going to be willing to shell out the extra few hundred bucks or so to get the Apple hardware with it, and those that actually need OSX for whatever reason would then be forced to get the hardware with it, which would be a better deal for them.

Re:But then ... (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#20906821)

what bullshit. Do you think Dell doesn't make money? a quick google reveals them as being on par.

you think apple doesn't have support costs? i know an apple service tech, he's a busy man.

Re:But then ... (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906955)

Where did anyone say that Dell doesn't make money, or that Apple doesn't have support costs?

The implications were that Dell would continue to make money, but that support costs would be transfered to Dell, same as with Windows, if Dell started selling PCs with OSX on them.

Re:But then ... (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | about 7 years ago | (#20906767)

mod parent informative; i don't think it was meant to be funny.

Re:But then ... (2, Funny)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | about 7 years ago | (#20906475)

You know, if Apple opened OSX so it ran on more than just their own hardware, they could make a serious attempt to dominate and crush Microsoft on the desktop. It's a pity they don't allow clones.

Re:But then ... (2, Informative)

imamac (1083405) | about 7 years ago | (#20906523)

Been there done that. If they do it again, they want to e absolutely certain it will work in their favor and not the other way around. It almost killed them last time.

Re:But then ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906599)

OSX does run on plain vanilla x86 hardware - Apple was doing that a couple of years ago, but the existence of this was only leaked last year, and didn't get much attention. If and when the numbers are right, they'll release it, but not before.

Re:But then ... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#20906957)

huh, if the numbers are right? last i checked the x86 dominated the market. please explain what you think apple are waiting for?

fact is apple doesn't want to unbundle osx for the same reason ms won't unbundle windows - to maintain their iron fisted grip on their users.

Ubuntu's chance to shine.... (3, Interesting)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | about 7 years ago | (#20906517)

I think Ubuntu would have a very good shot at competing with Windows if users are given a choice...I have been mainly a Windows user for many years, but recently have been using Ubuntu on one of my workstations. Quite frankly, I have been VERY impressed with its usability and the choice of software available for free. Plus the ease at which you can install any additional software is very appealing. The other day, the integrated sound card on that PC started cutting out and I was dreading having Ubuntu start barking tons of error messages about unknown hardware, etc when I installed a spare sound card I had stuck in a cabinet (older Soundblaster card). But I was pleasantly surprised when the newly installed card started working with no prompts to install or download any drivers! My wife is big into digital photography and if I could get up to speed with The Gimp, I could totally ditch Windows!

Re:Ubuntu's chance to shine.... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906635)

As far as image editing goes, the newest version of openSuse lets you choose between the GIMP with the old interface, or reworked to be more photoshop-like.

I didn't get a chance to test it, because my new RAID1 died - no thanks to Seagate (second set of bad drives in 2 weeks).

Ubuntu, openSuse, RedHat/Fedora and everyone else in the party would eat Microsofts' lunch within 5 years if Windows is unbundled.

Except it costs less than free (2, Informative)

MushMouth (5650) | about 7 years ago | (#20906693)

The complete window license is more than paid for by all of the bundled trialware and desktop real estate installed by the OEM. If a manufacturer thought they could get the same cash for a free Linux install they would be all over it. In this case regulation only hurts the consumer on both the long and short term.

Re:Except it costs less than free (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906861)

The OEM is free to make the same deals regardless of the operating system. For example, they can install free trials for various ISPs, trialware for multi-user games that work over the net, etc. About the only software they would take a hit on is anti-virus software.

Re:But then ... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 7 years ago | (#20906815)

I'm okay with bundling, what I hate are those marketing schemes they try to do with the subpar bundling. I had an old friend who brought her new laptop to me for me to take a look and see what I could add to it (I previously had assembled one or two desktops for her a few years ago), she even said that the laptop was with Vista (cause you know, those sales people are bragging about it). I had wished that she consulted me first before buying one and when I had opened it, it was what I had expected.

512MB of RAM on Vista Starter Edition (it's available in my country)

Something died inside of me afterwards and I bet something else died while I am trying to tweak it. I would have put XP on it instead but hesitated since it would mean an additional purchase for her, I just left it on Vista since our meeting was shortlived.

Conclusion: A sales person is a sales person, one worried about sales more than anything else.

I wished instead of marketing it as Vista, they should have said it was the lowest form of Vista possible that would make an otherwise normal laptop into.. I can't say it, something inside me would die again...

Re:But then ... (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906933)

I was in Future Shop this weekend with one of my daughters and her boyfriend. From the conversations I heard, a lot of people don't want Vista.

If her laptop can take a second drive, its cheaper to install a second drive and linux than to buy an XP retail license. She can then run Windows in a virtual machine right on the linux desktop. (oh the irony or funning Windows in a window).

Also, check out the "downgrade rights" - everyone's doing it nowadays.

Or suggest she return the laptop because its not fit for the purpose for which it was purchased.

What about Macs? (1, Redundant)

JonXP (850946) | about 7 years ago | (#20906445)

Should Macs be forced to come "unbundled" as well?

Re:What about Macs? (3, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 7 years ago | (#20906463)

This is covered in the article, but no, they shouldn't. No more than you'd expect a cell phone to come without software.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

JonXP (850946) | about 7 years ago | (#20906545)

Indeed, I skimmed TFA and somehow missed that point. I would say, however, that anyone I know who buys a computer in a box no more expects it to be without software than they would a cellphone.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 7 years ago | (#20906571)

And that option is still open. Vendors can (and in my opinion, should) offer a default choice of Windows. But they should also offer the option to get an unbundled system.

Re:What about Macs? (5, Interesting)

markdavis (642305) | about 7 years ago | (#20906793)

It is even easier than that. Manufacturers should be even allowed to PRELOAD MS-Windows and not include any other OS, if they want. As long as it is UNLICENSED. If the customer wants to ACTIVATE the preloaded MS-Windows, let them pay for it separately (for the activation code), and not through the hardware vendor.

In this way, people who want MS-Windows have it. They have it quickly. They have it easily. They have it customized by the OEM. But people who do not want (or need) it, do not have to pay for it and are not pressured into it by the OEM. They don't have to order "special" models.

Re:What about Macs? (2, Informative)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | about 7 years ago | (#20906915)

And that option is still open. Vendors can (and in my opinion, should) offer a default choice of Windows. But they should also offer the option to get an unbundled system.

This is exactly what I came in to say. If a mostly-Microsoft vendor is worried that people will be "confused" (an oft-cited argument for bundling), then make the Windows OS a default choice. Let the people who don't want to buy it change it to something else.

More importantly, let people see what they are paying for. If it costs $x for an OEM version of a Windows OS, I can make an informed decision as to whether I want to get it or not. And so can everyone else.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | about 7 years ago | (#20906597)

The problem is that the article singles out Microsoft as the only one that should be unbundled.
Apple should have to sell computers without an OS too.
Also where do you start to draw the line with computers, pdas, cellphones as the lines start to blur?

Unbundling the OS makes a computer just hardware that can do very little on its own. A computer manufacturer also can't support every single OS out there.
There are definite practices of Microsoft that need to be curtailed but unbundling only Windows (even unbundling all OSes)isn't the solution.

I also believe Microsoft should be able to bundle browser, firewalls, antivirus, media players, etc with their OS as long as they don't actively try to make other software not work. After all, cars come with pre-installed stereos and the after market stereo industry still makes money, though I have seen some car manufacturers that are making it harder for them.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 7 years ago | (#20906831)

The problem is that the article singles out Microsoft as the only one that should be unbundled. Apple should have to sell computers without an OS too. Also where do you start to draw the line with computers, pdas, cellphones as the lines start to blur?
There is a very simple answer to your question. You draw the line when a company becomes a convicted monopoly (like Microsoft is, in this case). If Apple had 90% of the market and had hardware that supported competing OS's, and was ruled a monopoly, then sure- they should be forced to unbundle, too.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

swillden (191260) | about 7 years ago | (#20906841)

The problem is that the article singles out Microsoft as the only one that should be unbundled. Apple should have to sell computers without an OS too.

Why? What has Apple done to require such regulatory action? When has Apple even been in a position to illegally leverage a monopoly and bring on such regulation?

Re:What about Macs? (5, Insightful)

Tsagadai (922574) | about 7 years ago | (#20906939)

A computer manufacturer also can't support every single OS out there.
Of course they can. All they have to do is make their hardware work to a set of common standards. That's why so many different operating systems work on different hardware already, the manufacturers' made there hardware open and follow standards and guidelines. It's pretty simple really the only reason they don't is they are producing a shitty product or they are lazy. There is a 3rd reason that they are deliberately making their hardware uninteroperable but that is another issue.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | about 7 years ago | (#20906877)

That's not quite true anymore.

The Mac is no longer a proprietary platform and it is certainly not a cell phone. In fact, other OS's run on Apple hardware. However if you want Apple hardware you still have to pay for the OS. I think there would be a serious issue if the roles were reveresed.

Re:What about Macs? (1, Interesting)

Solder Fumes (797270) | about 7 years ago | (#20906465)

The article says no. And at that point, I ceased to take the article seriously.

Re:What about Macs? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906531)

That was my initial impulse as well, however he makes a reasonable point that if Windows made their own branded PC in the same way as Apple makes their own branded computer, they have every right to have Windows as the only option.

Opposing view?

Re:What about Macs? (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 7 years ago | (#20906713)

I guess it opens another can of worms: what constitutes your own branded OS? If Dell buys the rights to use the Windows source code, makes some superfluous changes, and calls it DellOS... can they bundle it? Are you going to start regulating the source of the OS source code now?

There are better ways to break the MS monopoly if you are so inclined - break off the company's OS division, for instance. Or, force the company to license its code. Or, split MS into two companies with identical product offerings. Each of these is a one-time move that would probably remedy the situation, whereas the solution in TFA would require constant regulation.

Re:What about Macs? (3, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 7 years ago | (#20906747)

1) Microsoft is a convicted monopoly. Apple is not.
2) Microsoft has a hugely bigger install base than Apple does.
3) Microsoft does not make computers or bundles of hardware/OS. Apple does.

Forcing Apple to play by the rules that should apply to Microsoft doesn't make sense; not now, anyway.

So you'd rather... (2, Funny)

Jon.Laslow (809215) | about 7 years ago | (#20906829)

...be reactive, instead of proactive?

I for one applaud the '+Funny' modding overlords.

Hell of a time for mod points to expire (1)

4e617474 (945414) | about 7 years ago | (#20906911)

Funny? WTF?? Straightforward, factual, logical explanation to a question. Perhaps the mods, failing to recognize the format, took it as some form of parody.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

jmv (93421) | about 7 years ago | (#20906777)

When MS drops to less than 20% market share, I will also stop asking to unbundle their OS.

Re:What about Macs? (5, Insightful)

kyrhash (1166823) | about 7 years ago | (#20906479)

From the Article: "What about the Apple Mac? Shouldn't that also have the OS X operating system unbundled? No, for two reasons. Firstly, the Apple Mac is a product with hardware and software from a single vendor. If Microsoft wanted to sell a Windows PC that it itself made, then this also wouldn't be a problem. It would substantially tick off Microsoft's hardware OEM partners, but wouldn't be a problem from a competitiveness perspective. In fact, if that happened, there would be a substantial acceleration of hardware partners adopting alternative platforms, like Linux. Secondly and more crucially, the Apple Mac doesn't have 95% market share, and the immense leverage that such market share delivers unto Microsoft. If Microsoft Windows only had 5% of the market, then there would be no pressure to unbundle it from consumer PCs. We wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place."

Re:What about Macs? (1)

kcbanner (929309) | about 7 years ago | (#20906529)

...the Apple Mac doesn't have 95% market share...
Neither does Windows.

Re:What about Macs? (2, Funny)

parodyca (890419) | about 7 years ago | (#20906585)

...the Apple Mac doesn't have 95% market share...

Neither does Windows.
You're right I'll fix it for you

...the Apple Mac doesn't have 99% market share...

better?

Re:What about Macs? (1)

kcbanner (929309) | about 7 years ago | (#20906659)

OH! We're talking about outside of my home? Oh well yea its more like 90% out...there.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

imamac (1083405) | about 7 years ago | (#20906495)

No. We're special. Didn't you know that?

Re:What about Macs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906781)

No because it would force Apple to sell OSX separately, and if they had to support the millions of configuration that Microsoft does, it would just as buggy a mess. I don't love Microsoft, but I hate having to buy OS specific hardware. Vendor lock in, no matter who sells it, is still vendor lock in.

Re:What about Macs? NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906535)

Mac OS is not a Monopoly.

Apple does not abuse it's OS dominance (it doesn't have "dominance") to force dominance in other markets.

By the way, it's ok to have dominance in a market if you don't abuse it in a monopolistic fashion.

RTFA (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 years ago | (#20906563)

That will answer you question. Short answer. No.

Re:What about Macs? (1)

Kelerain (577551) | about 7 years ago | (#20906857)

No, Apple is not a convicted monopolist. This is a crucial difference between the Microsoft situation and others than people frequently ignore. When Apple gets big enough to have a monopoly to leverage, they would fall under the same standard of scrutiny.

Help us government, because we can't win? (2, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#20906447)

I would think that if Linux was that much better than Windows, that consumers would demand Linux powered PCs. If you build it, they will come.

Re:Help us government, because we can't win? (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906543)

> "I would think that if Linux was that much better than Windows, that consumers would demand Linux powered PCs. If you build it, they will come."

Most people don't even know about the possibility of alternatives. To them, a PC is any computer that runs Windows, same as, for a long time, the Internet was Internet Explorer or AOL.

The cost of an OEM Windows license is a large portion of the cost of a new machine, compared to any time in the past. For the cost of Windows and Office, you can buy 2 or 3 computers with no OS, and install linux. the problem is, the consumer is not given a choice, so we don't know how many would take the opportunity.

Since that choice never happens, software developers develop for the Windows platform, ensuring lock-in.

Of course, now that Novell's openSUSE can run Windows in a window in a VM [slashdot.org] , there's more reason to buy a new machine with linux, then move your old copy of XP or 2k to a virtual machine on your new box, rather than paying the Microsoft tax a second time (and yes, you can move your license to your new hardware, despite what Microsoft tries to FUD. Just make sure you remove it from your old hardware at the same time).

Re:Help us government, because we can't win? (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#20906573)

Most people don't even know about the possibility of alternatives. To them, a PC is any computer that runs Windows, same as, for a long time, the Internet was Internet Explorer or AOL.

You miss the point. Buy a thousand motherboards, chips and cases, put Linux onto them, then walk into computer stores and sell them. There's nothing that precludes you from selling Linux PCs of your own brand.

Surely, someone could sell Linux PCs, preloaded off the Internet, or even through a catalog. At one time, Michael Dell built PCs in his dorm room and sold them over a catalog. Instead of trying to get the government to force Mr. Dell what to sell, why can't you sell what you think should be sold.

Please, spare me the excuses. Microsoft has no monopoly power over you, if you sell Linux powered PCs.

Re:Help us government, because we can't win? (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906681)

Actually, I think you're missing the point - competition only works when there is no pre-existing monopoly that got there via illegal means.

We depend on the government to step in to protect us from predators who use illegal means to gain control of a market, same as we depend on them, via police and firemen, for local protection from robbers and fire.

Extreme situations call for extreme measures - unbundling sales of the OS isn't anywhere near extreme. To turn your argument on its head - if Windows is so good, it should have no fear of being able to compete in a truly free marketplace, solely on its merit.

Free competition scares the crap out of Microsoft, because it can't win. Where its forced to compete, it loses market share - just look at the embedded, server, and cluster markets.

Re:Help us government, because we can't win? (1, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#20906757)

Actually, I think you're missing the point - competition only works when there is no pre-existing monopoly that got there via illegal means

You are making excuses. You want Linux powered PCs, make them and sell them. Microsoft does not control CPUs, motherboards, or cases or keyboards. You can go right ahead and make PCs, and put Linux on them, and sell them. There's absolutely no reason a consumer could not benefit from that offering, and its not Microsoft's fault that you Linux people are too big of pussies to actually sell your own offerings.

The craziest part is, you obsess over Dell PCs, and Dell's are the biggest stock part PCs of them all. They don't do anything special - stock motherboards, stock CPUs, stock graphics cards. There's nothing Dell puts into a PC that you could not put into yours when you sell it.

What's the mental inhibition that precludes any of you from making a Linux powered PC, picking up the phone, calling Walmart, or hell, even a smaller store, and selling them?

You people are lazy!

Re:Help us government, because we can't win? (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20906907)

"The craziest part is, you obsess over Dell PCs, and Dell's are the biggest stock part PCs of them all. They don't do anything special - stock motherboards, stock CPUs, stock graphics cards. There's nothing Dell puts into a PC that you could not put into yours when you sell it."

All my PCs are self-built (laptops excepted). Been like that for years and years. I have never owned a Dell or a Gateway.

"There's absolutely no reason a consumer could not benefit from that offering, and its not Microsoft's fault that you Linux people are too big of pussies to actually sell your own offerings."

Actually, now that Christmas is coming, I plan to give away a few hard disk/openSUSE install combos as small presents. I know a few people who are running windows on hardware thats 2-3 years old, and could use both the extra disk space, and the stability of linux. They'll be able to continue running Windows via a VM (no longer a need to dual-boot) until they get used to the new setup.

There's tons of Windows users out there who are only a hard disk away from running linux. They get to keep all their old data, they don't have to shell out big bucks for the latest bloatware, etc.

If every linux user did this for just 2 people this Christmas, Microsofts' stranglehold on the market would be over in a year.

D.O.O.P. sends its regards (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#20906455)

An anonymous reader sends in a link to a blog posting by Con Zymaris

Wasn't he defeated by Zapf Brannigan?

Re:D.O.O.P. sends its regards (1)

kcbanner (929309) | about 7 years ago | (#20906481)

One word: ThunderCougarFalconBird.

hard to parse much? (4, Insightful)

XaXXon (202882) | about 7 years ago | (#20906459)

Was the triple-negative really necessary?

Re:hard to parse much? (3, Funny)

Non-Huffable Kitten (1142561) | about 7 years ago | (#20906575)

"Are you unsure you really don't want to cancel the deletion of this file? One of the buttons in this dialog always lies, the other always tells the truth. Timeout in 5..4..3.."

sweet some answers! (1)

HartDev (1155203) | about 7 years ago | (#20906467)

I can't wait to see what windows has, and any negative heat from Linux will be removed and microsoft embarrassed, then the race of Operating Systems will begin!

Author of TFA is showing his nerd credentials. (4, Interesting)

brassman (112558) | about 7 years ago | (#20906483)

Author of TFA said "meme-transfer." Bzzzzt!

His use of "laissez-faire" as something other than "free" or "open" is simply bizarre.

His repeated insistence that Microsoft somehow got its monopoly dishonestly wears thin by the end of the piece -- even though I agree with him. (I once earnestly wished for Microsoft to eat IBM's lunch; I won't make that mistake again.)

I remember when the "real" computer stores looked the way videogame stores do today, with separate sections for each platform, and woe betide you if you picked up the wrong version of M.U.L.E. or Choplifter. I'd like to see an article that spells out in detail how we ended up with the Microsoft monoculture.

Re:Author of TFA is showing his nerd credentials. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 7 years ago | (#20906921)

"I'd like to see an article that spells out in detail how we ended up with the Microsoft monoculture."

We ended up with a monoculture because computing is fucking hard. Period. I think that's the often overlooked factor in all this Windows Vs Linux Vs mac bullshit is that software development is complicated and slow because the tools themselves are not that good. Application compatability is paramount, the reason DOS died a long slow death was because of the widespread use of DOS applications everywhere (read: Games), a similar thing will begin to happen once we move to 64-bit memory spaces, Supreme Ccommander (a game) is practically is begging for 64-bit memory addressing and the removal of the 4GB addressing/ram limit now in current desktop PC's, and this is not counting the plethora of other non-gaming applications that would benefit (like databses, etc) from 64-bit addressing.

Look at how long it to get to the point where VM's are halfway decent, look how long it took to get to a point where we had a genuine 32-bit operating system that practically didn't crash (windows 2000 / XP) unless you happen to get poor hardware/drivers or bloat the sysem up too much with junk.

hmm (4, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20906515)

Sure us nerds can sit in our ivory tower and say that people would like Linux (or other alternatives)because they won't know the difference. But the truth is: people don't want to do backflips for an operating system in order to make it work the way they want. Windows just plain works for the vast majority of people. I guarantee that the unbundling of Windows from PCs in the EU will have no effect on Microsoft's sales just because people will use what they are comfortable with.

Re:hmm (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 7 years ago | (#20906553)

I'm not sure... I've been able to get my girlfriend and sister to use my linux system without problem. What needs to be done is to focus on out-of-the-box usability. Turn it on, jump through a minimal number of hoops, and never worry about it again. Kinda like Macs do. We need to hide the "magic" of config files, the different system services, and the rubble from the various wars (KDE vs. GNOME, RPM vs. Debian packages, etc). Windows has done this very well, and it's time we caught up.

Re:hmm (2, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20906591)

In deed. I agree with the hiding of all the things that make Linux so daunting. And congratulations on bringing your sister and girlfriend into the light. But not all people have people like you by their side every step of the way. What if someone who really likes music but knows nothing about computers decides to try Fedora (or some other flavor of Linux with an easy install process) and is wondering why all their MP3s and WMAs aren't playing in Amarok? Who will help them?

Re:hmm (2, Informative)

brue68 (1159419) | about 7 years ago | (#20906773)

well, when I try to play WMAs in Ubuntu, I get a message asking if I want it to search the repositories and automatically download and install the necessary packages. It explains the difference between open and proprietary, and prior to install has you accept an agreement that you are using it for "research purposes." Quick and painless.

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906557)

I guarantee that the unbundling of Windows from PCs in the EU will have no effect on Microsoft's sales just because people will use what they are comfortable with. ... if that's the case, let the users choose and see the results. Right now this is not possible to test.

Captha 'retail', how convenient.

Re:hmm (1)

grimwell (141031) | about 7 years ago | (#20906595)

because people will use what they are comfortable with

For sure comfort level is part of it but the other sticking point is office apps; word, excel, outlook, etc. The documents are "stuck" in Microsoft's format... tough to advocate switching OSes when the "work" is in Microsoft formats.

Microsoft should give up the ghost on desktop/consumer OSes and just port their office suite over to *nix.

Re:hmm (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20906645)

I've been saying for years that Microsoft should either:
1. Make Windows an open kernel for people to distribute their own flavors of. (Windows as a standard instead of an OS)
2. Make Windows into a closed-source desktop environment built on the Linux kernel. That way anyone can have Windows and/or Linux (KDE, Gnome) running on the same machine without the multiple partition bullshit we all have to go through if we want dual boot.

Of course, then what would we all argue about on /.?

Re:hmm (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | about 7 years ago | (#20906851)

You are completely insane.
No way would MS ever do anything like that. It is far too risky.
Dual booting is nearly impossible from a windows standpoint. If you want to dual boot, screw you is the work from the MS camp.
Build a separate DE, that is even more impractical. Why would they change the way the entire system works, but keep all of the bad stuff about it.

neither of these points would ever cause anything but more problems for everyone involved... well the F/OSS community would probably like it, but who cares what they think. :)

Called the bluff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906677)

if you truly believe this then there is no reason not to do it. no one loses. However if people switch then clearly there was an anti-competitive practice going on.

f

Re:hmm (1)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | about 7 years ago | (#20906789)

people don't want to do backflips for an operating system in order to make it work the way they want.

Yeah, tell me about it. Even worse is when you're forced to pay for the operating system you don't want as well.

Oh, you were arguing for bundling Windows?

Re:hmm (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 7 years ago | (#20906917)

But the truth is: people don't want to do backflips for an operating system
But it doesn't *have* to be difficult. The OEM could preinstall MS-Windows and have it already configured and ready to go, just unlicensed. All you would need is an activation code from MS or a SEPARATE retailer. Not much more effort that a user is already required to perform in order to "register" their MS-Windows, now. But unbundling would have the effect that:

1) MS Windows would no longer be a tax.
2) Users would have the freedom to install an older MS-Windows or some other OS without paying yet again.
3) Consumers will *SEE* the price of the OS, which is an important part for fostering competition.
4) OEM's would not have to maintain "separate" versions of identical computers (hardware)- some with MS-Windows, some without.
5) OEM's could not force a premium on non-MS-Windows machines.

I guarantee that the unbundling of Windows from PCs in the EU will have no effect on Microsoft's sales just because people will use what they are comfortable with.
I think you would be surprised. Once consumers started seeing the prices separately and being forced to make active decisions, the alternatives will start to gain more and more popularity.

Wouldn't most consumers choose Windows? (1)

Alexx K (1167919) | about 7 years ago | (#20906533)

From TFA:

How is it possible to provide for both consumers who demand Windows and also ensure a fair and open marketplace for competing platforms? That's the $64 billion question, isn't it? Here's how it can be done. All hardware manufacturers should ship personal computers with no pre-installed operating system. They should include within the packaging of the computer a media copy of the then current Microsoft Windows recovery CD. They should also include a copy of one of the main Linux distributions which are freely-redistributable at no charge. Upon unpacking the computer, the consumer must then make a choice of either: a. loading Windows from the Windows recovery media, then using the brochure included with the recovery media to contact Microsoft and through some form of financial transaction, acquire a licence to use Windows, or b. load the Linux operating system from the CD/DVD included, and use it as their computer operating system.

The problem is, I'm sure most consumers would fork over the Windows licensing fee meerly because it is familiar to them. Most consumers do not know what linux is, and thus will not install it.

Re:Wouldn't most consumers choose Windows? (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 7 years ago | (#20906849)

"The problem is, I'm sure most consumers would fork over the Windows licensing fee meerly because it is familiar to them. Most consumers do not know what linux is, and thus will not install it."

Familiarity is worth the money. They don't NEED Linux. "Good enough" is the enemy of "the best".

Summary of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906537)

"I think that all the existing rules should be changed to be 'fair' to my platform of choice because my it can't compete on its own merits."

Cry moar, noob.

Drivers, Compatability Testing, and Support (4, Interesting)

awitod (453754) | about 7 years ago | (#20906549)

It seems to me that this is a bad idea for two reasons.
The first is that it would require vendors to ensure compatibility at all levels of two different configurations and have two sets of support. Support and warranties aren't free and the cost would be passed on to the consumer either directly as vendors recover the costs or indirectly to to crappy kit if the vendors fail to properly spend the money in the first place.
Secondly, it assumes that Linux has a god given right to exist on the mainstream desktop independent of its merits and that Windows is the inevitable winner unless someone stacks the deck. I take the long view and I think that in the end the platform that provides the best value will win and that the market will do its thing without the regulators taking sides. It might take 10 more years, but as computers evolve into things we can't even imagine (wearable? pervasive and ubiquitos with a universal network maybe?) that Windows will take it's place in the history books as will Linux.

Re:Drivers, Compatability Testing, and Support (2, Insightful)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | about 7 years ago | (#20906837)

... without the regulators taking sides...

Attempting to stop a convicted monopoly from dealmaking that excludes competitors or allows them to collect money per PC regardless of the OS isn't a matter of regulators "taking sides". It is stopping said monopoly from abusing its position further, and actually giving competition a chance to thrive in an area despite the monopoly's best efforts to exclude.

Software + Hardware Comparison Flawed (1)

tshak (173364) | about 7 years ago | (#20906581)

Comparing the cost of Software to Hardware is fundamentally flawed. They are two distinct components of a product. Each component holds their own value irrespective of another. For example, Adobe CS3 could easily cost 300% of the hardware that you bought to run it on, but that doesn't take away from the value of Adove CS3. The same goes for Windows. The only reasonable argument that the author makes is that you can "get the same functionality from Linux for free". At least this argument makes sense logically, although it has yet to be proven by any stretch of the imagination.

Best use of Not Avoiding At Least Enough Negatives (2, Funny)

poppycock (231161) | about 7 years ago | (#20906583)

Great headline there. Its like a parsing test for natural language AI engines. :-)

no triple negatives please, my brain hurts... (1)

jdogalt (961241) | about 7 years ago | (#20906587)

Countering, Against, Un-

I can't stand the idea of more market restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906607)

I don't think forcing an avenue for competition through government intervention would do much, either, to open the way for alternate operating systems like Linux as a viable and widely-used desktop alternative OS. The majority of personal and business desktop computer users are going to expect Windows with their brand-new PC, and forcing Microsoft to loosen its grip on the major OEMs won't change this.

Also, from the OEM consumer's naive I-just-want-something-that-will-let-me-do-what-I-need point of view, *there's already a choice*, and Macs aren't exactly dominating the market, although there's admittedly much less software available for Macs. (games especially)

My opinion is probably the minority here, but I thought I'd share it anyway. I hate excessive market regulation, in any form, especially when it won't really benefit the majority of the Windows-purchasing consumers anyway.

One point not raised (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 years ago | (#20906619)

I have observed that with the infrequent release of Windows versions, people are buying more PCs with the same OS installed. While they generally dispose of the old PC in some way, they have ultimately re-puchased the same software license that should have been transferred from their old PC.

What should be happening is the PC maker should offer the OEM software, but the user should be buying the one and only seat that they want of Windows. No multiple purchases necessary. This CLEARLY serves the interests of the consumer... it does hurt the Microsoft cash-flow but I don't care much about that anyway.

The point I'm making is that consumers are routinely being abused by this bundling because they are being forced to buy and buy again the same stuff over and over.

Re:One point not raised (1)

Shados (741919) | about 7 years ago | (#20906743)

I think in the end that Microsoft calculates the "repurchases" into their OEM cost, so technically you're not (always) paying for multiple installs... That is, if they ask 5$ for an OEM (which is probably not far from the truth right now) for -every- purchase, or 10$ the first time, transferable, well, its the same thing unless you buy 3 PCs... Even if you purchase separately:

Looking on Tiger Direct, an OEM (that is, tied to hardware) license of Windows is almost -exactly- half the price of a non-OEM one. So you pay less (much less) for a non-transferable license... I almost always purchase OEM, because I normally dont replace my motherboard (or something) more often than I change windows version (I upgraded from Win2k to XP about 2 years ago, I keep my PCs 3 years or so...).

Its no difference from how when I purchase a plane ticket, I can bring the price down (a LOT) by choosing it to be non-cancellable/transferable.

And routinely being abused... the "windows tax" on PCs is less than the freagin -tax- (in most states/countries, not all obviously) you pay on the darn computer. Much less in many cases.

Be careful of what you wish for... (2, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 7 years ago | (#20906641)

... it might come true.

As a MSFT shareholder, it might be nice if the company split in to OS, Software, Entertainment, Hardware, etc. complanies.

At least then I could sell off the losers (Zune, cough, cough).

Please Unbundle.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20906655)

So prices will go up because you will have to pay more for the OS after the fact, giving MS even more money. Those thinking that it will drive more people to Linux are smoking crack....

People will have to buy Windows to play games....or for the ease of use, etc. Linux is nowhere ready for grandma's typical home....and when she needs support....g'luck there - where she'll spend more money on a Linux service call than a Windows...

So, please, unbundle...means MS makes more money, making ME more money for my stock :)

Re:Please Unbundle.... (2, Insightful)

brue68 (1159419) | about 7 years ago | (#20906901)

actually, the evidence seems to suggest that advanced users of windows have a more difficult time switching than novice users. A novice is used to clicking through menus and trying to figure out the buttons, whereas a more experienced user already knows shortcuts and practiced movements. So, given a stable install and a novice-friendly distro, grandma may actually be more successful with Linux than the experienced gamer just my $0.02 would make a great study, any graduate students in need of a thesis?

why ship with no system installed? (3, Insightful)

LordGlenn (656863) | about 7 years ago | (#20906671)

I read tfc but I guess I'm stupid. I'm all for unbundling, but why can't I pick an OS and have Dell/Hp/whoever install it for me before shipping? I don't think the avarage consumer wants to install their own OS.

Re:why ship with no system installed? (4, Insightful)

EXMSFT (935404) | about 7 years ago | (#20906715)

You're not stupid. The average consumer doesn't want to install their own OS. The average consumer cannot install their own OS. The author of the post makes several assumptions that the average consumer is just as much of a tech-loving, curious prosumer as he is. They aren't.

Strawman (2, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | about 7 years ago | (#20906895)

You're not stupid. The average consumer doesn't want to install their own OS. The average consumer cannot install their own OS.

Who claimed they did want to install their own OS, and what does that have to do with bundling? Bundling is unrelated to pre-installation.

Re:why ship with no system installed? (1)

hellfire (86129) | about 7 years ago | (#20906929)

Hey while we are at it, I don't want to pump my own gas either. How about I pay Ford 5 times the price of gas and have them pump it for me every night?

Or, I could save a whole shitload of money and learn to pump it myself.

Installers these days are that easy. Apple, Windows, and even many of the latest Linux installs are simply step by step, hit next and answer questions. It's not that hard! People are intimidated for no reason than they are taught to believe it's complicated.

And if they don't want to learn, they can pay Best Buy/circuit city/compUSA/Joe's computer imporium a fee to install it, or save the money and have their geek friend/relative do it.

Well (4, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 7 years ago | (#20906685)

This suggestion might appeal to fellow slashdotters.

IMPLEMENTATION of the option :

As most of us know, installing an OS - any OS - properly for a given piece of hardware can be complicated. Getting the best possible drivers (which is not always the latest version), setting all the internal OS settings to appropriate ones for the computer being sold is a complex process. I am aware that many commodity PC makers do a shitty job of setting up the software for a PC, but they DO set it up a certain way when they make that disk image.

(if the computer is a gaming PC, the OS should be set to be efficient, if it is a work PC, it should be pre-installed with running anti-spyware and virus programs, ect)

SO...there would be recovery CDs, but everything would be on the new computer's hard drive.

When you start up the new pc, you would be taken to a screen where you can choose to

        1. PAY the OEM price by credit card for Windows. The partition containing Windows preinstalled, a clean disk image all ready to go with appropriate drivers, is made the primary partition. The other partitions are deleted from the drive index table. There could easily be different options : Vista Home, Premium, XP, ect, and a version of Windows loaded with other programs in a bundle. You could either pay directly if the PC is connected to the internet, or, when you bought the PC you would have been given an activation number to type in.

        2. Pay nothing, have the Ubuntu partition made primary
        3. Pay nothing, wipe the disk so that you can install your own OS.

A small entry would be added to the BIOS Flash once you pay for Windows successfully. That way, if you have to use the Windows recovery disk, the PC already knows if you have paid for the software or not.
       

Re:Well (1)

EXMSFT (935404) | about 7 years ago | (#20906891)

This is an absolutely yummy idea. I don't see this adding any financial or time complexity to the already complex task OEM's face of building out thousands of machines each day. And then the tens (perhaps even hundreds) of customers every month who want linux get to install it too - and they get to bless the average technophobic user with a stripped PC, hunting for drivers... Yeah. Awesome.

Anyone who actually thinks that linux is ready for the desktop needs to spend more time with the average computer user. It is not ready for the average consumer.

Linux is not ready. (3, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | about 7 years ago | (#20906699)

It isn't. No matter how you try to cut it - geekiness is ingrained into the culture.

Look! This text is on a different line.

I used <br> tags.

Slashdotters are so used to doing things in a technical way that they disregard the very real usability issues that surround Open Source. If I put text on a different line in this textbox I should not have to know or care about the br tag. This is FOSS's greatest barrier to adoption in a nutshell.

Re:Linux is not ready. (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 7 years ago | (#20906905)

That's

why

I

use

Plain

Old

Text

format.

I don't code web pages for a living, and I don't have all the codes memorized, so I use the options suited to me. You should too.

My gripe about this comment page is they removed the checkbox to post anonymously. How am I supposed to anonymously troll if I can't be anonymous? :)

Linux at retail stores hurting reputation of *nix (2, Interesting)

Zantetsuken (935350) | about 7 years ago | (#20906711)

I'm assuming here that the average idiot is too... well, idiotic to realize they can download a distro and install it themselves. Instead, they'll do what they always do and just spend cash to solve their problem by going to Best Buy or Radio Shack...

Also, driver problems in both Windows and Linux suddenly aren't accounted for...

While I really do love Linux (need to get round to trying the BSD's, etc), I can see that sort of situation being actually bad for Linux. "Oh, whats this 'Xandros/SuSE/RHEL/Linspire/etc' - its cheaper than that Windows software box over there, I'll get this instead!" They either pay the store something like $50 bucks to install it for them or are somehow able to do it themselves - "Oh wow, the interface is different!" and "Oh, shit. I can't figure out how to do what I want - Linux sucks, I should have just coughed up the change for Windows!"

Also, the retail stores might find a way to make all the Linux distros more expensive than Windows even before people get out of the store. $50 bucks for the distro itself, $50 to $75 for Geek Squad to install it for you, and another $50 to $100 for 3 years tech support over the phone. That doesn't even include people getting home and spending time (time=money) to re-learn how to use half the GUI (only because things aren't in the same place) or paying tech support a wad of cash to learn how. Anybody that goes through that will tell their friends that its not only cheaper but also easier to just buy Windows.

Meh! (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | about 7 years ago | (#20906721)

I think everyone is missing the real issue. I personally don't give a stuff what Microsoft bundles with their OS if the users are happy. What does piss me off is how Microsoft makes removing the bundled applications and replacing them with ones I prefer intentionally difficult. It's simple, Microsoft needs to open their desktop up for competition and remove the built in walls that restrict it.

How to force Linux on everyone Fan Fiction (3, Insightful)

director_mr (1144369) | about 7 years ago | (#20906749)

These articles that talk about how Microsoft is shoved down our throats read more like Geek fan fiction than actual good policy. Its as if the writers fantasize about a way to show people Linux is the one true Operating System, and the only way is to take away the convenience of using Windows. No manufacturer is FORCED to bundle Microsoft XP or Vista with their hardware. They have the option of not including an operating system at all, or also selling Linux versions. The reason this is not more prevalent is that there is no demand for it. If there were wide demand for pre-installed Linux boxes, they would be out there all over the place. I can recall quite a few Linux boxes that were sold as ultra-low cost alternatives to Windows boxes and they failed in sales quite badly. One of them that comes to mind was sold at ALDI. Microsoft may have unethical tactics, but to force changes on the way computer manufacturers bundle and sell their equipment is an exercise best left to communist and socialist countries where the government knows better than the consumers and businesses in the market place. There is no barrier to computer sales that I can see. If I wanted to, I could sell a director_mr brand computer tomorrow. BUT BUT no one would buy it you might say. That is because the demand for computers is being met adequately by the marketplace. If you really think there is demand for pre-installed Linux boxes then sell them, and become the next Dell or Gateway or HP. Forcing Dell or Gateway or HP to be what YOU want them to be by changing the laws and making them become that is VERY inefficient and foolish.

He's left out one (1)

davmoo (63521) | about 7 years ago | (#20906807)

I have one reason he left out...

The US government fucks up almost everything it touches. Especially while being run by the current Court Jester. I want them to stay away from my computer, even if that means it comes out of the box with Windows on it and Balmer delivers it in person.

I also disagree with his argument that the cost of Windows makes up 35 percent of the cost of a PC. He must be another one of those glue sniffing idiots that thinks OEMs pay retail prices for Windows. Even on a bargain basement PC, unless its from a tiny mom-and-pop business like "Wang Foo's Corner Custom Computer Barn", the cost of Windows and Windows related software will not be more than 10 percent. And if Acer really is paying 52 percent in Europe, then they're fucking stupid because no one else is paying that.

I'd like to see those Acer numbers (1)

Wasse (1169711) | about 7 years ago | (#20906809)

I fail to see how Microsoft's software could cost 52% of the laptop's cost. I have to imagine they were factoring a high priced version of Vista, as well as office. None of which is mandatory. As to be honest, I'm not sure what other products MS charges for (besides OS, and Office) that the average user uses. (The average user isn't using SQL server, or Visual studio). And there are alternatives on the Windows platform for office software. So that 52% number sounds BS.. Unless they were trying to install it on the OLPC computers.. in which case it might be 52%.

Ummm... (1)

thepartyanimal (1149043) | about 7 years ago | (#20906875)

So you can't compete, so you just want them to remove it? you guys are some real dipshits. what the point. everyone would just put windows right back on it.

RTFA... /fanboyism (-1, Troll)

torkus (1133985) | about 7 years ago | (#20906893)

Ok, so the article reads like any other piece of "news" drivel.

The guy pulls numbers out of his ass (despite references, he still makes most of it up).

Idiotic claims like "OS was 5% of a PC cost x years ago and now is 50%". Well enjoy the idiot award. because *ONE* court case in europe managed to quote ONE example of where they claimed the cost was 50% does not mean that's what it is for EVERY PC.

Good god. Take and apply to and...well...oh yeah! Slashdot news. Right.

Inflection point? (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 7 years ago | (#20906903)

If even 10% of these consumers take up the Linux option, that would translate into a doubling of desktop Linux users, in effect, hastening the onset of an inflection point.

And yes, while more people know Windows, there are tens of millions now who also know Linux. Linux is fast approaching that first inflection-point. A move by regulators to ensure that there is a breathing-space for competition will likely see that inflection-point come sooner than later.


You use that word a lot. I don't think it means what you think it means.

It indicates a point where the second derivative of a function is zero - less technically, where the curve is temporarily straight, or the transition point between acceleration and deceleration (either way). The author seems to think it is a good thing. I can only make sense of this if the author thinks that Linux adoption is currently decelerating, and so passing an inflection point will move into accelerating adoption.

Problems (1)

xigxag (167441) | about 7 years ago | (#20906913)

1. Forcing computer users to install their own operating system may seem easy-peasy the Slashdot crowd, but in reality, a lot of people will have problems with this initial step. And that will translate into higher support costs. Which will translated into higher retail costs. In other words, goodbye huge savings. Hello having to pay for other people's "free" Linux installs.

2. Oops, except for Apple. So suddenly the choice will boil down to getting an Apple PC all set up and ready to go OR getting another brand that you have to basically set up yourself. I understand that people want to punish Microsoft but it doesn't seem quite fair that Dell, Acer, HP etc should be penalized as well.

3. Of course, in reality what would happen is that the big box stores would set up, install and warranty your PC for a fee. 90% of people would get this option even for their Linux install, because horror stories will get passed around and nobody wants to be the person who bricked their $1000 system. So thanks to paying the "Geekdog" premium (or whatever they call it) people would wind up paying MORE for their Linux model than the equivalent Windows model in the old system. And they STILL won't be able to play Bioshock.

4. Here's my compromise: Force hardware manufacturers to install Windows dual boot with another OS if they bundle it at all. For example, get Windows/Ubuntu installed in dual boot configuration OR get Ubuntu by itself for a discount which must by law be equal at a minimum to the wholesale price paid for the Windows OEM. Or of course, get a bare system, but then no OS warranty, and the cost of you screwing up your install isn't passed on to the rest of us.

Imagine... (2, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 7 years ago | (#20906951)

If Windows had a package system like rpm for its internal parts. If you're setting up a server, don't install the gui. If it's a gaming machine, don't bother with all the database stuff. For a development machine, install everything. Windows would actually be a lot more interesting and useful.

"Naaaah" - Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber
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