Microsoft Thanks Ubuntu For Increasing XP and Vista Sales

It’s great that Linux is finally getting the exposure it deserves, thanks to Dell, but the question still remains: how is Dell profiting from its Ubuntu offering?

We know that the net margin for Dell, as a whole, is around 5% [the true profit made on revenue]. While we can compare this number to the industry standard, it does not tell us anything about the margins Dell pockets on its commodity PC and Notebook lines.

Per system, it is rumored to be around 2% or less and to be razor-thin and ever decreasing.

Considering that Dell pays $25-$45 per OEM volume XP/Vista license and profits $45+ from the “Desktop Real Estate” provided by Windows, where is the profit made when a Ubuntu system is priced less than it’s Windows counterpart?

Surely not with the upgrades that are either lacking or similarly priced [that sometimes cost more].

Publicity.

The profits made on selling Ubuntu systems at cost, or even at a loss, is with the free publicity Dell is generating for itself via major news and social network sites around the net regurgitating on this deal literally every few days. This in turn generates traffic and sales on profitable items, such as the Windows systems, for Dell.

Breaking News: Wal-Mart to Sell Linux Laptops at Below $400, and PCs For Less Than $300

WalMart Linux Laptop: $398

Just don’t get too excited, because this is old news [circa 2004]. And something that is currently being rehashed as new on Digg, Slashdot, and Linux sites…

I’m sure you have seen it too: the news along the lines of “[insert random OEM here] releasing incredible Linux offers”, quickly followed by naive comments proclaiming the end of Microsoft.

The fact is, OEMs and companies like Wal-Mart have been attempting to sell Linux based PCs and Laptops/Notebooks for years. Take a look:

Unfortunately, most of these attempts have resulted in complete failure or extremely small volume [Wal-Mart couldn’t even sell 1000 of those Laptops]. And every few years, the waters are tested again, with the same exact outcome.

Lets face the truth: Linux does not work for the average consumer, it never has, as “choice” is not something that consumers are looking for. Familiarity, function, and eye candy are the determining factors here.

As “Linux” is not synonymous with “Wal-Mart”; it neither is with “Desktop.”

See more for yourself at the Google News Archives and here.

It’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature… No, It Really Is. Microsoft vs. Linux

Make an HTML form with a text field and two submit buttons. Load Firefox and IE, bring the text field into view, and press the enter key.

When you have a form with one or more buttons, hitting enter under Firefox will POST the value of the 1st form button. On the other hand, with IE, unless a specific button was selected, no button values will POST.

At this point, I know a lot of people would start claiming that Microsoft is sloppy, IE is brain dead, Firefox is so much better, and more similar tripe… But think about it, how should the browser know which button is “first”? Should it be the 1st one in the HTML code? Should the “tabindex” value affect the situation? Could something be manipulating the button visibility or placement under CSS or JavaScript? Can the true human-interpreted layout even be determined by code?

And what about the question of whether the ‘enter’ key signifies “submit form”, or “submit form and the 1st button value”?

Windows has been deployed on hundreds of millions of systems, if not more. The user-base is very diverse: with different cultures, languages, and processes. If you want to cater to that user-base, you cannot make assumptions. IE is absolutely correct in not POSTing the value of an unselected form button on an ‘enter’ key press.

And this does not even touch on the fact that when you have 100s of millions of users, you also absolutely have to consider backward compatibility. Who knows how this used to work in the past, or what assumptions coders have made.

As is turns out, this really is a feature after all. And chances are, the rest of what the Linux fan-base complains about with Microsoft falls exactly along these lines. I’m all for GNU/Linux, just not mindless accusations and false claims.

submit.php

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
	"http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
<html>
<head>
<title>It's not a bug, it's a feature!</title>
</head>
<body>
<form action="submit.php" method="post" name="form" id="form">

<p><?php
if (isset($_POST['action'])) {
	if (isset($_POST['submit_1'])) echo $_POST['submit_1'] . '<br/>';
	if (isset($_POST['submit_2'])) echo $_POST['submit_2'] . '<br/>';
}
?></p>

<div>
	<input type="text" name="text" id="text" tabindex="1" value="" /><br/>

	<input type="submit" name="submit_1" id="submit_1" tabindex="2" value="Button 1 Clicked" />
	<input type="submit" name="submit_2" id="submit_2" tabindex="3" value="Button 2 Clicked" />

	<input type="hidden" name="action" value="submitted" />
</div>
</form>
</body>
</html>

Smartest Linux Move Ever? And Why Ubuntu will Fail

Linspire, Microsoft in Linux-related deal

Linspire Inc. has announced an agreement to license voice-enabled instant messaging, Windows Media 10 CODECs, and TrueType font technologies from Microsoft for its Linux distribution.

Shuttleworth Denies Ubuntu-Microsoft Deal

The head of Ubuntu says his company isn’t interested in forming a deal with Microsoft along the lines of those recently reached by Linspire, Xandros, and Novell.

I’ve always said that for Linux to have a chance on the desktop it must be turned into Windows. I know how that might sound to most, but that statement is completely true for one reason: people like what they know, familiarity is comfortable.

So what reason is there to switch away from Windows, something known and used, to Linux, a complete unknown?… Because it’s free and Microsoft is an evil monopoly!?… I think we have to do better than that. We have to give the people what they “want”, and not what we think they “need”, all while making the transition completely seamless.

The average desktop user just wants to power on, browse the internet, visit a few social sites, send email, do some IM, watch videos, and nothing more. And this task needs to function and look exactly like it does on Windows.

Yes, I know you can track down Codecs and TrueType fonts, and install them, but this is beyond what 95% of the desktop market is willing to do. It has to be already provided and look exactly like it does on Windows. If this task takes a single click, it’s already one click too many.

Every year since 2000 it was the year Linux was going to displace Windows. And every year it has failed miserably on the desktop. Linux is by the developer, for the developer. It works best server-side. The desktop/UI is horrible and always makes you do things differently, for no reason at all but “to be different.” And its type of “difference” is not the cool type, it’s downright scary.

Why learn from Microsoft’s mistakes and success, taking what works, when you can spend time and effort re-inventing the wheel. And until this gets fixed, Linux will alway turn away the desktop market.

Another huge problem I see is with providing the user with too many choices… You give someone multiple distributions, all with their own ways of doing things, with multiple applications that have the same function, with too many different options and ways of performing tasks, and the user becomes confused and disoriented. He begins to distrust the product. Time is waisted.

The majority of the desktop user-base want their hand held and told that everything is okay. And Linux slaps them right across the face. Very little is standardized or uniform. This type of “choice”, in this context, is not a strength, but rather a weakness.

While this move *is* the smartest move ever, it never the less is too little and too late — or to put it more correctly: completely and utterly pointless. Why you might ask? Because it’s not free, you pay $60 for Linspire. I can get Windows cheaper than that, even for free, and have no problems doing more with it as a Desktop.

Ubuntu’s Endgame, Adding Insult to Injury

It’s time for all the fans that rallied behind the idea of Dell providing Ubuntu, or any other Linux distribution, to follow through and purchase a system

Scratch that, they have all disappeared!

Some choice quotes from the same exact fanbase-type “users” that posted to Dell’s IdeaStorm:

“I don’t know how I feel about the “for advanced users and tech enthusiasts” bit. Seems like it undermines my stance on what Linux is about. Dell will not be getting my business until they change.”

“Ubuntu is great, but until it can play all Windows games at near the same performance, I don’t believe it will ever be “better” for my uses.”

“I would definitely pay $50 for a Windows license and a better video card in the Dimension, even more!”

“I’m disappointed that they only offer shitty models and options.”

“I’ve NEVER liked or bought any DELL products, and NEVER will. Why would I want to save 40 bucks on something I would never buy…”

“I love Linux, Ubuntu, and the open-source/GPL movement, but I like to put my systems together personally.”

“If Ubuntu was anything BUT a technical nightmare to configure, what would be the reason to buy one of these? Yes, it installs really easily. Getting it to WORK is next to impossible.”

“You get a computer with an OS you can ***download for free*** pre-installed. Wow!”

“I’m not really interested in buying a PC with an OS, as much as buying a PC with no OS installed.”

How the tides have turned! Not that I, or anyone else, should be surprised. This was to be expected. After all, our fanboys are our biggest hindrance… They talk the talk, but never walk the walk.

Something to consider: once you price the exact same XPS 410 [Vista Home Premium] and 410n [Ubuntu] system, take into account that Dell is offering free shipping on the Vista system, while the Ubuntu system will cost $30 to ship — you are saving only $10!

[I’ve taken the comments from digg and slashdot, and have slightly edited them for better readability]

Ubuntu’s Death Rattle

Having just posted my thoughts on the Dell/Linux sham, it hit me… This must be the sound of Ubuntu’s death rattle.

Having failed to turn a profit year after year, Canonical/Ubuntu has put all of its remaining energy into this deal: from the website re-design with the focus on Dell, to the recent video/talk marketing efforts made by Mr. Shuttleworth.

I _would_ say that all the eggs have been placed into the same basket, but if you look at the past, you quickly realize the rest of the eggs have already been broken and this is a last effort attempt to save a sinking ship.

Since the beginning, Canonical/Ubuntu has been burning millions per year, without seeing any returns — even with a userbase of 2-6 million, and a deployment on 4-16 million systems. And this Dell move is supposed to turn things around?…

Do the numbers:

Dell’s expected sales are at 20,000 systems per year. Who and how many are going to shell out $65 for 30-days worth of support? Zero. Maybe, at best, less than 1%. Same logic applies to the more expensive, yearly, support contracts.

This Dell deal is a joke that’s going sell a handful of systems and net Canonical a few more contracts, relatively worth pennies. Pushing Linux on the average Joe [who is just going to ship the system back] will also backfire. I mean, who else is going to buy these systems? The fanboys that started this mess in the first place? Don’t make me laugh!

And for Ubuntu, after Dell, where is there to go from here but down?

It almost sounds as if this deal was set up to fail from the beginning. If Microsoft is behind this move, they have done a good job of pulling the strings. It’s a sad day today.

Dell’s Linux Offer, still too early to tell

When Dell first announced that Linux was going to be offered as a choice on their home systems, many Linux fans rejoiced on the news. GNU/Linux was finally going to make headway in the desktop market, with Dell being the catalyst to displace the Microsoft Windows monopoly. And while everyone was quite happy about this event, I took an alternative view to the situation…

Some of you might have read my negative view-point on Dell’s Linux offer: that it will never work, or worse off, that it might be a set up move by Microsoft to further tarnish Linux. I made my statement, and have been patiently waiting to see the actual Dell offer before saying anything more.

Dell Offers Three Consumer Systems With Ubuntu 7.04

It’s finally here. Later today, Dell will offer U.S customers three different systems with Ubuntu 7.04 installed: the XPS 410n and Dimension E520n desktops and the Inspiron E1505n notebook. These systems will be available at www.dell.com/open by 4pm CST today. Starting price for the E520n desktop and the E1505n notebook is $599; the XPS 410n starts at $849.

Hardware support will come from Dell. Beyond that, users can turn to the Linux section of the Dell Community Forum. Users also have fee-based options for operating system support through Canonical, including 30-day Get Started, One-year Basic and One-year Standard.

I’ve prices two same systems…
XPS 410: Windows Vista Home — $889
XPS 410 N: Ubuntu Linux, no support from Dell or Canonical — $849

The support for the Linux system only comes from Dell’s Community Forums and can be purchased from Canonical at…

  • 30 days Starter Support: $65
  • 1 year of Basic Support: $125
  • 1 year of Std Support: $275

This offer is targeted “for advanced users and tech enthusiasts” and “we expect these systems to be less than 1 percent of our OS mix for the entire year which is ~20,000 systems annually.”

All in all, I am still a bit disappointed. Yes, you do [at this time, with no offers] get a system for a few dollars less than one with Vista, but what’s going to happen when the average Joe gets in on this great deal and finds out he can’t install iTunes, MS Office, nor his games, and nothing works as it should? Answer: Curse Linux and send the system back! And when Dell figures out that this model is either not profitable, or too small volume, what’s going to happen then? Answer: Blame Linux!