back to article Microsoft tells US retailers Linux is rubbish

As the launch of Windows 7 approaches, Microsoft is distributing literature to American retailers claiming that Linux works with few peripherals or online services, offers limited software capability, affords no authorized support, does not work with games "your customers want," and cannot use video chat on any of the major IM …


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Another Linux story

Hi !

I'm using Linux Ubuntu on a bunch of machines, and gradually removed all the dual boots with Windows.

For some engineering and architectural specific software of a friend of mine, I created a Virtual Machine (VirtualBox) on a QuadCore system with WinXP (he paid for those sw and had a licensed copy of XP).

I was given a notebook (Compaq 6720s, dual core centrino 1.8 GHz 4GB Ram) with Vista Home 32bit (so only 3Gb of RAM were accessible, factory standard ...).

I never booted it up ... reformatted and installed Ubuntu 9.10 64bit ... I 've never had troubles ... even if with and old WinOnly external GPRS modem (a little wvdial script made ... wonder!)

CPU load, when system is almost idle, is around 3-4%, Ram fingerprint is about 400 Mb (with Apache server, ftp server, telnet server ... other services ...).

PS is fast, it seems not a notebook ...

Yes, Linux needs knowledge of the PC (many tasks are better done with console, Linux is not for the Point-'n'-click only dummy) ... has some drawbacks, like Windows ... but it's FREE, and,

in the average, works a lot better than Win$

Silver badge

A couple of rejoinders ...

@ Patrick O'Reilly : "Shouldn't the Linux Foundation be able to sue Microsoft for defamation?"

I wish they would. Have the balls to stand up and be counted, and then the matter can be put to rest rather than fanbois on all sides crying, "mine's better than yours".

So why don't they ?

Is it because so-called "lies" are not lies ?

@ magnetik : "Linux can run any Windows program through the likes of VMware. Do you understand the difference between WINE and a virtual machine?"

I do. My Windows programs run on Windows and in a VM on anything I'd guess. They don't all run in WINE. As a "user" I shouldn't care about technicalities beyond do my applications run ? On Windows, Yes, on Linux, No.

Do you understand it's a simple as that ?

I was making the point that the VM argument is a red-herring; all OS's are equal if that's the way taken to run anything. WINE is equally a band-aid for Linux; when it runs a Windows App, great, when it doesn't it's useless, not fit for purpose.

There's lots to praise Linux for, I run it as a server ( and wouldn't touch Windows with a barge pole for that task ), I have embedded Linux systems I tinker with, but for the desktop - which is the "most people" this relates to - it's not up to par with Windows.

I installed Windows 7 RC and was amazed to find it was painless, fast, and found all drivers. That impressed me. It trashed the hard disk while reverting to XP-only which IMO is par for the course. But we're talking "user experience", and Linux is not top of the class there.

Silver badge


I just looked at my laptop (running Linux Mint) and the update tool has a settings option to set proxies, just like you find under Windows. So no problems there.

Linux has come a long way in the past few years. It still has some way to go, but for anyone who hasn't tried it for a while, you might be pleasantly surprised at the improved usability and device support.


Arse Covering

MS are covering their arses. They know that if they tried running this shite in an advertisment it would get pulled and they would get a very public dressing down. Bad publicity. They probably thought that by doing it this way they would be covering their arses by making resellers spout the shit instead. Then the resellers would be the ones to take the flack.

Somebody should make a song and dance about this in the mainstream media.

However it doesn't help that a lot of resellers think like this anyway. A non-IT friend of mine asked about Linux in PC World and was told by the acne-attack-in-a-shirt that "Linux doesn't work with intetnet explorer, so you need windows to go on the internet". Ho hum.


Despical yes, but not all wrong.

I've tried Linux, however I found that it took MUCH LONGER to customise to my tastes, and keep updated, and even then, it couldn't do some stuff as well as windows. I'm sorry but WINE is not good enough, and you need plenty of spare RAM to run VirtualBox VMs of Windows.

The Linux distro builders, and especially the Linux application developers, need to understand that computers are primarily tool, and time really is worth money! Until this is understand and acted on, I'll probably stick with windows.

An example of the rampant OSS usability disconnect is NetBeans, I still have to dive into arcane project properties and XML files because not enough config is exposed in the project GUI.

Anonymous Coward

Wisdom from convicted criminals?

Both of these companies have been convicted of consumer fraud and other crimes.


corporate ****ers

This is not the first Ive heard about MS lying to the general public and corporates, its quite rife in fact from what I can gather. I have heard at work of a 'representive' from MS attempting to

talk an employee of a large client out of using linux based solutions because of lack of security.

Fortunately this employee wasnt an idiot.

They should be held to account and I hope this scuppers their 'partner program' which is obviously only meant to defeat any competition from the inside - the game they have always played - if you have an inferior product - either buy out the competition or if that doesnt work use alternative tactics.

Most of the microsoft code base and applications has either been copied (badly) from linux/unix or bought from another company and hacked - they dont make software - they market it. So looking forward to more court cases while they dig they own grave slowly.


Welll let's look at it THIS way

M$ certainly weren't sensitive enough when they made that, in the name of competition. The games topic is certainly true, after all unless you want to play year old games while the WINE crew try their darnedest to catch up you want to play the latest stuff while the online servers for multiplayer are at their peak. For ease of use it's certainly Windows that takes the biscuit there too. The Windows live stuff? Well OF COURSE it's going to run on Windows......that's a bit silly. If they are going to tell retailers what to put they could do a bit better and have them say "Unless you want to have a fun time trying to wriggle through a trainwreck of bash shells trying to get stuff that you don't even know if it'll run on your linux distro because the lot that make is are fighting with their stuff that they think is coolest. Windows, it just works! Just make sure you RTFM..


Out come the power users I see.

I notice how many of the people sticking up for Windows are the ones who know how to install Windows and its device drivers as well as how to do complicated (by man in the street standards) things like using a proxy.

How many old dears know how to install Windows? How many know how to set a proxy server?

I wasn't going to get involved in this whole thing again but I can't resist replying to the comments from people who think "Linux is too hard" because they assume they "know about computers" because they know where the dialogue boxes in Windows are an are used to the typical MS hidden settings:

If you don't understand how to, for example, set a proxy server in Linux you do not know about computers -- you just know about some operating system versions by Microsoft.

If you can't install wireless drivers with ndiswrapper using instructions on the internet you don't understand computers -- it's very simple to do.

I'll admit Linux has its limitations -- but granny not being able to install and configure it it is a limitation to Windows too.

Both OSs have their places and their uses -- but morons who think they "know computers" and say "Linux is hard to use" piss me off -- if my computer semi-literate pensioner of a mother, amoungst others, can boot into Kubuntu and find her way around with no training you must be extremely stupid if you can't use Linux day-to-day.

Thumb Down

Doesn't anyone think that ...

MS are not even comparing like with like? That makes their whole exercise invalid and meaningless.

Its like comparing a Trebant to a Chieftan tank.

With Windows as the Trebant.


@Jason Bloomberg

"WINE is equally a band-aid for Linux; when it runs a Windows App, great, when it doesn't it's useless, not fit for purpose"

Depends on how you look at it. I consider WINE to be a complimentary system, not a band aid. Sure, I can run any Windows apps I might need in a VM but using WINE gives me advantages such as better performance and security. True enough it's more technically difficult to set up than a VM but CodeWeavers do a good job of making it easy enough to use for most people.



The DOJ needs to launch an investigation into this matter.


atn: anonymous troll

re: proxy, by Anonymous Coward

"getting Updates to work..... Linux: first we need to create a new file in the /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/ path"

Total nonsense. The GUI installer in Linux is known as Synaptic. (Why do they have to engage in obviously willful untruths to get their point across. Surely the two systems can be judged on their respective merits.)


wndows vs linux

I reinstalled my OSs the other day - I have ubuntu for general use (and work) as is more stable, runs faster - and doesnt require a fresh reinstall every 6 months after the whole thing has slowed down to a crawl, and a fresh untouched xp install for games ONLY.

Here are the facts:

It took about 6 hours to install XP + all the service packs and updates and drivers and third party software that you need because theirs is crap. This includes about 15 reboots after every fecking update which happens more and more often and hunting and downloading all the software from different places.

It took 20 minutes to install ubuntu from scratch with 1 reboot after which most applications I require were installed already including drivers - and then another 5 minutes to install all the other software I required - wiht no reboots required.

No contest. Windows users are all morons sick of hearing them stick up for that crap - games is what its good for only - everything else I can do on linux. Most of them probably havent even tried it - or are microsoft employees.

Also my laptop came preinstalled with vista home which I tested briefly before wiping - took about 45 minutes to install with about 3 reboots - the whole screen then filled up with popups before hanging like a dog. Immediatley wiped and installed ubuntu with all graphics, sound and wireless working fine in 20 minutes.

Windows is for idiots, linux is for people who are sick of windows been rubbish.

Im technically minded and have used both for about 10 years so enough time to evaluate them both and make my own choice - I have also programmed in both for this time and windows api is hideous compared to Qt for example - windows obviously has the market share anyway but linux distros like ubuntu are catching up very quickly ...


Who controls your grandchild's ability to get rid of a turd?

Normally the notion that you (the consumer) should be using Windows is implied. The idea is not to actually consider that it's there or realise you're paying for it. Likewise retailers just accept Windows as a fact of life. When the explicit statement, "Don't use Linux" is issued by Microsoft that says a lot. The "I'm a PC" campaigns from Apple and MS both let the assumption be implied that PC=PC and Windows. They both prefer it that way. If either of them mentions any other possibility it's because they think the cat is already out of the bag and have commenced damage limitation. You don't hear anything from them about FreeBSD, mostly because granny isn't *already* using it.

And once again, the main points are about third parties more than anything else. Each year this third party support argument is brought up by MS and their devotees, each year it is less compelling. The fact is some of those average customers have heard of Linux, some of them do understand vendor lock-in and an increasing number of manufacturers and developers are catering to these people.

The use of these tactics by Microsoft is a positive sign for the future of open standards. This is actually good news for everyone now, better news for our grandchildren. They are the ones who will have control and ownership of all their appliances in the future because lock in tactics were undermined now and in the past. Imagine if your toilet refused to flush because you wouldn't pay for a software update? That's what we're looking at if we're not careful.


Windows Apps

When I switched to Linux I tried to use only Linux native apps ...

A lot of Windows users only write some stuff and surf the web ... so they use easily a modern Linux distro ...

You can't claim "Windows works" or "Windows is better" only because is more user friendly, and his kernel is a pain ...

And there's no reason to put Linux in the shame because it needs more knowledge of the PC.

IMHO I think that the PC shouldn't be used at all from people who doesn't know anything about ... I don't like the plug-n-play for dummies ...

So, If you prefer Windows, I respect your choice ...

I need an OS, with solid services and full control on the machine.

If you need a multimedial toy (expensive and clumsy), your choice will be Windows.

If you need something else, your choice is Unix or Mac.

Windows is more supported, yes, there's a lot of money around it.

Once I went to a conference (I'll not reveal the brand) and they told that there's not support for Linux. When the conference ended, they told me: "We can't distribute Linux drivers ... we have an agreement with Microsoft ... but if you send us an email, we'll give them to you"

This speak for itself.

I understand that M$ sees a threat from a totally *FREE* OS ...


For Cameron Colley

I agree with everything you wrote... I used Windows 7 today (the release not RC) and must admit I don't really see the point why people think its so good - I don't really see the point in Windows any more...

Alot of the problems/issues with Windows still mean to be there:

- Indexing on drives by default.

- GUI seems to have stupid changes (why did they medal with the GUI???).

Good point, seems quite quick on low system resources (3.0GHz P4, 512MB RAM) thugh I bet if McAfee was installed on it, it would run like a dog - I know if I insalled linux (Ubuntu) on this, it would run like shit off a shovel..

I personally don't run Windows at hom anymore, I used to use Windows 2000 and Windows XP but got tired of reapriing or reinstalling it - I think every device in my house now runs Linux of some description.

Router - Netgear DG834 v1 running OpenWRT though doesn't autodial ADSL connection.

PVRs - Both Humax boxes run a linux flavor though cannot find the source code for it...

My three PCs run either Debian or Ubuntu - I prefer Debian for my server but Ubuntu is good for normal desktop PCs.

My mum uses Ubuntu - seems to run quickly and I don't really need to look at it to often.

My Amiga 4000T will run Debian 4 Etch or Lenny if I can find a case for it..

I do have Windows XP on a VM and caddie but this only gets used if I have a Fallout 3 or S.T.A.L.K.E.R craving...

I think Microsoft are scared that businesses will adopt to linux.



Why I use Linux (and other complaints)

1) WINE stands for WINE IS NOT AN EMULATOR. It is not an emulator. It's basically a chunk of DLL files that provide the same DLL dependencies in Linux as Windows.

2) World of Warcraft works perfectly well in Linux via WINE. And it's not difficult. Install WINE (no, you don't have to configure it), pop in your World of Warcraft disc (or go to wherever you downloaded it if you don't use a game disc), and double-click the WoW installer. That requires ZERO usage of the command line or anything strange. Easy. If you can't figure that out, you shouldn't be installing things on any OS.

3) My step-mother, father, and fiancée all use Ubuntu. I didn't provide any training. They are very happy. My step-mother is especially happy since her Ubuntu install runs much faster than the XP install that was formerly on the box.

4) I have a ton of customers (I do tech support for a living) that need hand-holding for Windows. A few that I've converted to Ubuntu haven't called in ages for help. It just works. And they aren't techies. The few that I've moved to Mac OS X also haven't called in ages. It just works. But *all* of those people were previously on Windows and did need help all the time. Windows is *not* more reliable or easy. But I lose money (hourly pay!) every time a customer moves away from Windows.

5) I stopped using Windows myself ages ago. I think the last time I used it as the primary OS was in 2005 or so. Every game I want to play works without tweaking and messing about. Every application I need is either already in the package manager (simple click of "Applications > Add/Remove..." and navigating to the app I want) or works perfectly well via WINE. WINE lets me use all of the annoying Adobe products (Flash, Dreamweaver, etc) that I want without fail.

6) I get to use applications that follow proper standards without the headache. No need for the "Adobe Quick-Start Tooltray" (whatever it's called) nonsense. No "quick-start" anything. Everything runs perfectly fine and fast without this pre-loading/memory-wasting junk.

7) Everything that is required to properly use the computer is available and is easy in Linux. If you are trying to do something that requires a techie to figure out, you'll need a techie to do the same thing in Windows. And in Mac OS X. Just because *you* know how to set some special thing in Windows doesn't mean that everyone else does. And just because you don't know how to set it in Linux doesn't mean it's actually a difficult thing to do. It's almost definitely just as easy to set that special thing in Linux. And sometimes you won't even need to do that tweak.

8) When was the last time you had to defrag a drive in Linux? I'll let you spend time thinking about that. Never? Yeah, me either. How about anti-virus?

9) When was the last time you screwed up your Windows install because of some bad/buggy program you installed? With a proper package management system (no, you don't know it exists.. just go to the "Applications > Add/Remove..." thing), you can very cleanly purge anything you don't want on your system. It's just like you never had it installed in the first place.

10) When was the last time your mother screwed up her Windows install (... she doesn't know *how* it happened, of course)? I'll tell you when my step-mother last screwed up her Ubuntu install: it hasn't happened. And she doesn't know anything about computers that your mother doesn't know.

11) Hardware? I haven't had a problem. My desktop computer runs perfectly well with two monitors, NVIDIA video card, surround sound, wireless keyboard, USB mouse, bluetooth-sync'd phone, SD cards, bluetooth headset, gigabit ethernet, wireless card, Sprint wireless card (stopped using it a couple years ago because I didn't need it anymore), bluetooth dialup networking via phone, and everything else I've thrown at it. I have never, ever had a hardware problem in the last three years. On the other hand, when I installed Windows on a spare laptop so my girlfriend (now fiancée) could watch some Silverlight-required thing, I had to use a separate computer to download the wireless drivers, the video drivers, the sound drivers, Silverlight itself, a ton of Windows updates, and had to prove to Microsoft that I didn't steal the whole mess.

And here's some techie extras: (which are completely optional and not at all required for happy computing)

1) On my network, it takes about 5 minutes to install the newest Ubuntu release... with no preinstalled OS nor an install disc. Tell the computer to do a netboot (PXE, for those in the know. Just press F12 or whatever your motherboard likes you to do) and pick "Install: Ubuntu 64-bit Stable" or whatever architecture/version/distro you want. It installs from a local proxy (but fetches new files if there are newer versions). It installs all of the fancy little codecs and plugins and junk that you want. It makes sure you can play encrypted DVDs on your fresh install. No need to install extra stuff later. This single, initial install does it all at once. And as a bonus, a complete computer-phobe could use the installer. And no need to pay for some per-seat or per-computer license for this nice installer system.

2) Want to make your own packages? Go ahead. You don't need to ask the Linux gods or vendors for permission. You don't need a local install server. You even get the bonus of signed, secure packages from your custom trusted source. For my Debian-based and Ubuntu-based servers, I have fancy, custom packages that do everything I want to do. My Debian server usage is very advanced; my packages make it so easy to go from new server to working server doing real work in less than 20 minutes. And that even includes scheduled encrypted, off-site backups.


Windows vs Linux

I grew up on Windows but now my affiliation lies with Linux, with which I have relatively little experience.

I use Ubuntu, and have used XP and Vista (but not Win7 - I just don't care any more) and they each have their pros and cons. I'm not going to BS anyone that either OS is better. If I had the money I'd happily give OSX a fair trial too.

These marketing materials are only putting into print what the majority of Windows users (and by extension the majority of PC users) have thought for years. The majority of users think Linux is shit. And it's an opinion they will hold vehemently without having a shred of actual knowledge on the subject. Do I want those people on board with Linux? No not really.

All MS is doing is putting their target markets opinion into words and printing it up for the sales reps (as if they don't already know?) And that's just good marketing tbh.

I do find it amusing that Windows Live doesn't work on Linux. Can anyone guess what made me switch to Ubuntu? That Live stuff thoroughly bolloxed up my Vista install. Nice.

/Beer because that's what I was drinking when I wrote this


Incidentally ...

Linux installations don't start slowing to a crawl within weeks and astoundingly (to those first intoduced to Linux) it doesn't need defragging, third-party anti-virus or anti-malware software, it never thrashes the disk like hell, I find it runs Windows games just fine, its a joy to program with and there is no tie-in to anything.

I've never had hardware or compatibility problems and yeah even my printer works. Just fine. Even though its an HP. Never even had to search for a driver for it. Common Unix Printer interface worked well.

Every utility I spent years ammasing for Windows was already there installed by default with Linux. Oh and I can make it look/feel like any other OS I like if I have a mind to.

Bronze badge


Well, there is plenty of FUD on both sides, and this is no worse than either side has pulled out in the past. I notice that none of the commenters above dared to say that you could get good support for Linux. I wonder why?

What would have been really interesting would have been if Apple were included in the comparison too - but since they would have rated as 'Best' in each category, that might have spoiled the effect, no?



This is the latest example of unfair business practices by Microsoft. How many lawsuits have they lost? Linux has a history of being cutting edge - multiprocessor support, advanced disk systems, and now USB 3.0. Ubuntu's goal is a 10-second boot time in the near future (how long does Windows take?). Official support is available with several distros, such as Ubuntu, SUSE, and Red Hat. Hardware support is, in my opinion, no worse than Vista. The Gutenprint project has made printer incompatibility rare, indeed. Community support is excellent. And all the free software you need for basic work. WINE takes care of compatibility with a lot of Windows apps.

I've used Ubuntu for several years and own no Microsoft products. My biggest complaint is that it is boring! No firewall intrusions, no viruses, no registry repair, no blue screen of death, no disk defrag. It just works, day in and day out. Oh, and how about compatibility with open-source standards. Then the big one --- it's free.


Both arguments are correct.

Sod 'em both. I'm sticking to Solaris.

Anonymous Coward

Fingers plugging the holes....

Really, funny I went to LINUX in the mid-90's because I needed a good technical computing environment, back then you did have to tweak C-code and device drivers to get things going. I converted over to LINUX a little over a decade later for a 180-deg opposite reason I wanted something that "It Just Works", I was sick of:

- Defragging

- Hunting for drivers for every piece of hardware

- Firewall

- Anti-Virus

- Registry corruption

- recovering from Mal-Ware

- BSOD's

- Forced upgrades that Break everything

- Forced upgrades that cuase network problems, machines that couldn't even talk to each other

- Forced upgrades that make you relearn the wheel

- Product activation/WGA/nagware

- Having to support family/friends/neighbors with problems with "that other OS"

- Wireless never working

This comparison is a load of Crap, and support from any of the commercial distro's (Red Hat, Canonical, Xandros is probably MUCH better than the usual alternatives (Apple, MS)


stop being stupid!

Microsoft = A Company = Requires Money to pay it's staff and shareholders !

Hopefully most of the people on here actually work for a living and don't just claim benefits, would you all sugest that people stop using whichever product of software your company makes and look for a cheaper or free alternative??. Also do any of you complain when you go into your local supermarket and you are bombarded by adverts that their products are cheaper and better than the competition?

Linux and open source has a place and is fine used by a percentage of people but if it were used by everybody there would be several issues not least of all that it would not exactly help the economy and many of the readers of the register were nobody to pay for any software ever and that hackers / malware writers would then be forced into finding ways to attack it more than at present

and as far as the comments for ubuntu = works , my PC works day in day out without any problems despite me regularly installing and removing software


I am now MS free... yay!

After progressively switching to Linux apps all I had left was the archive of my old Windows disk... After grabbing the personal data I still needed, I invoked the command:

rm -r /windows

Boy, did that feel good!


@The Original Ash - Belkin drivers

Due to patent crap and trolls making reverse engineering illegal, writing drivers is not as simple as just coding.

All the device writers are allowed to do is write wrappers than allow you to extract the Belkin driver firmware from the Windows drivers, than interface that with the Linux driver code. Distros do not have right to pass the firmware code out, so you have to do it yourself, so the distro makers don't get taken to court!

The thing that always amuses me is that you install the distro, then says it cannot install the wireless card without downloading the drivers first. Yes, but the wireless doesn't work yet, so how to I get the drivers down to make it work!?! You have dig out your trusty old ethernet cable and wire up to the router, under the stairs in my case, get the drivers, then pack the cable away, go wireless!

Thank Microshaft! Thanks for making the industry such a pleasant place to try to simply use a piece of hardware I paid for, its mine but I want use differently without your malware ridden piece of crud O/S!


MS software can seriously waste your weekend!

I totally trashed GDM (Gnome Display Manager - one of the many choices for a graphical desktop environment for *nix) the other day on my Ubuntu system (completely my own fault, being a little too zealous when removing 'orphaned' packages).

This in itself is not a unique Linux phenomena, I have terminally broken *plenty* of Win installations, they are just not as easy to fix.

So, I was faced with two simple choices (only no.2 would have been available with Windoze);

1) find, fix and reinstall the broken packages using the command line.

2) reinstall the OS.

I estimated that I might spend and hour or more on option 1, so I got out my CD and reinstalled (20mins).

Now, *here's the real killer*. After reinstalling the OS from scratch and rebooting, everything was still as I left it. Junk on my desktop, emails in my inbox, all passwords remembered, browser favourites, even my WPA keys! Do that on a windows box. I bet you can't.

Personally, I have pi$$ed away entire weekends reinstalling Windoze and the apps I had, then copying back all my data (if I had a recent backup).

The secret sauce? my home directory (it's like 'My Documents' but better because it actually contains *all* your stuff!) lives on a separate partition to the OS.

People that whine about Linux being hard to use make me want to puke. Have these people used Windows? I can only imaging that they haven't. My 2 year old daughter can use a Ubuntu machine with ease and, best of all, she can't break it. She can break a windows box in a few minutes!


Linux - it just works!

I became battle-hardened on XP, but have had the misfortune to use both Shista and Win7.

To be fair, Win7 is a helluva improvement on Shista, but it still blows bigtime in comparison to any modern Linux distro. I have to work with crappy MS products, but I wouldn't switch my own machines back if you paid me. Probably not even then!


Who want's 'em?

In all honesty, what kind of a fskced group of people is going to want to have anything to do with the kind of gobshites who are going to believe this?

We know the kind of idiots PCworld .etc employ, we know the kind of idiots that are also users and we don't want them clogging up the forums asking where the "any" key is.



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