I saw this morning I’m getting a little (I mean little) stream of traffic from an anti-Microsoft site. I decided to look at the referring page and saw that someone had posted a link and kindly called the linked page “a great blog posting.” Thanks for the props. And thanks to other sites and places I’ve seen that particular entry posted.
Normally I wouldn’t respond to hysterical types who frequent sites like the referring site, but I want to take exception to two who left comments. First, someone said my arguments that there’s not a “Microsoft tax” were hollow and not serious. In fact, I pointed out that the only people to whom it can even be considered a tax are those who want a different operating system than most people; I added that after explaining that most people — the masses — who buy computers demand they come with Microsoft Windows. Those mainstream users, who make up over 90% of the computer market, aren’t paying a “tax” to Microsoft or anyone else. They’re getting a value-added feature at a lower price than they would get if computers came without any operating system and, accordingly, no savings from a bulk OEM license agreement.
In my blog article in question, I pointed out that those who don’t want to buy a computer with Windows pre-installed have several options. Among those options is either building a computer yourself or having one custom built either by a small custom shop or by one of the OEMs (which they will do for you but sometimes at a higher price because such a computer is “custom”). So the argument that it’s impossible to buy a computer without Windows is bullshit. You can. The question is whether you’re willing to practice what you preach. I’ve suggested before that the people who call it a “Microsoft tax” are too lazy to do that. I am correct about that. Not only are they too lazy to practice what they preach, their thinking is so slovenly that all their arguments are intractably bound to their shitty little jingos. Linux advocacy has, unfortunately, become the domain of the intellectually lazy and the brazenly dishonest.
The second commenter at that particular site makes a similar, common error among those who consider bulk OEM license agreements some kind of tax — that a lack of computers with Linux or any other operating system is proof of some kind of monopolistic “tax” on buyers of OEM hardware. I think that’s a non sequitur.
The reason OEMs install Windows by default is because of the more than 90% of buyers expect a computer to come with an operating system, and the demand of the mainstream buyers that the installed operating system be Microsoft Windows.
It’s about supply and demand. That’s all. Little or no demand for Linux, very few models are offered with Linux. Great and nearly 100% demand for Windows, guess what gets installed.
I’ve covered related issues previously, such as when data about netbook sales and returns showed displeasure with Linux-based models. The fact that Windows XP continues to gain marketshare against Linux on netbooks is prima facie evidence that demand for Linux is not only waning but it’s never really been there. When the earliest models were 100% Linux-based, the first major hack was installing XP (or, for more daring souls, Vista or OSX). Return rates were very high. Then the OEMs started selling XP-based models. Before long, the Windows netbooks were outselling Linux models at rates similar to other laptops and desktops — 9:1 or better. And the return rates for Windows models were much lower, more comparable to return rates of general computers.
It should come as no surprise when companies like HP, Asus, and Acer curtail or even eliminate availability of Linux-based models when sales demonstrate next to zero demand for Linux and nearly unanimous demand for Windows models. When Linux has been offered in the past, sales rates have never been high enough to show that it’s profitable to continue. There just isn’t the demand. At least in most Western markets.
Accordingly, it would be extremely impractical for them to put Linux on n% of computers, where n is either the rate of current Linux use or much higher (using the whiny demands of the fucktards who insist OEMs install Linux on more computers headed for store shelves). Their distribution models are for a generalized market, not for serving a niche. If n is the 1-2% (conservative) of desktop Linux users, a line up like Dell’s Ubuntu-based offerings is more sensible. But there’s simply no way OEMs are going to put greater than that amount on store shelves even if they want to: the stores won’t stock what they can’t sell and they’ve already learned they cannot sell Linux models at a rate which makes sense for them. The “if we install Linux they’ll buy it” business model doesn’t work (except in the isolated markets where demand for Linux is already high), and OEMs and retailers would rather deal with a tiny group of clueless, whiny Linux advocates zealots than throngs of dissatisfied customers who expect Windows on their computers.
Worse, in a sense these kinds of Linux advocates zealots would restrict mainstream users’ choices when they buy computers. Think about what they’re really advocating. Either OEMs and retailers comply with their demands and put Linux models on the shelves or they only stock no-OS computers and either install for customers or force them to install it themselves. No OEM or retailer is going to like the last option which will most likely drive down sales and/or increase calls to tech support. The current model is to cater to the most significant demand. Just like when you order a Big Mac it comes with the meat, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, etc., on a sesame fucking seed bun. If you want your Big Mac customized, you have to wait for them to make it for you. They’re not going to make a bunch of fucking sandwiches only one or two people are going to order, and it’s not a “McD’s special sauce tax” just because you’d rather have yours with mustard instead. Fucktards.
Geez. It must be nice to have such a simplistic, jingo-filled view of the world that lets you see supply and demand as a “tax,” or which views any deviation from the pro-Linux side as “angry” or “hollow.” I think it’s ironic the number of Bush-haters I saw using Linux and on one hand mocking the previous administrations’ “them versus us” view of the world while doing the same with the other hand with respect to software. Don’t blame me for calling out your hypocrisy or muddled thinking.
As for the suggestion that I spend my time on a platform I actually like, I think I already do that — I make my own choices without tying myself down to brain-dead “this good, that bad” thought processes. I use Linux and BSD when I want, I use Windows when I want. Big fucking deal. I’m not threatened when someone chooses to buy a computer with whatever operating system on it, I really don’t care what they choose to run — I don’t see it any different from what brands of cars they drive, what color houses they live in, which god they worship (so long as they don’t sacrifice or harm other humans), or any other personal decisions they make.
For many people, Windows is ideal and Linux just won’t cut it. Really. Get over it.