back to article Free-market think tank urges EU to unbundle Windows

The Globalisation Institute, a European think-tank run by free market advocates, today went on the offensive against Microsoft, calling on the EU to require all PCs to be sold without operating systems. It says this will not make consumers' lives more difficult, as they would simply be asked to insert an OS DVD when they …

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  1. Chris Miller

    Massive over-reaction

    Instead of making life twice as expensive (and ten times more complicated) for the vast majority of purchasers of desktops and laptops, all that needs to happen is to prevent Microsoft selling an OEM licence that is only available to manufacturers that agree to installing it on *every* PC they produce. Volume discounts are absolutely fine, but manufacturers should be allowed to supply bare PCs without losing the ability to produce (cost-competitive) PCs with Windows preinstalled.

    Then if there's a commercial (albeit minority) demand for unbundled systems, the market can meet it without introducing significant penalties for the majority.

    Perhaps this proposal is intended as a negotiating position, rather than a suggested policy. I certainly hope so.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Already law in Germany

    Germany already has something similar, any PC can be bought unbundled. It works quite well, but I'd like to see the price of Windows broken out into a separate price since I don't believe I get the full refund when I buy a stripped PC in Germany.

    What is wrong with offering people the choice of buying the PC without Windows on it?

  3. Alan Donaly

    batteries not included

    This seems like a good excuse to charge a markup for the install dvd in addition to the PC not that I have anything against profit it seems a natural evolution. Have to buy the usb and other cables a seperate monitor it's making money by slightly raising the component pieces.

  4. Tom Silver badge

    FM probably wont work either

    "Laissez-faire, unlike the free market, is an ideology that doesn't work"

    No-ones ever tried the free market. Because it wont work either - everything would eventually belong to one entity.

    Monopolies commissions sometimes manage to stop its worst excesses.

    The most successful economic policy so far is the one that pretends theres a free market and equality of opportunity so the proles will work hard for someone elses profit.

    But dont tell everyone otherwise it wont work...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even windows benefits from unbundling - from a purely technical perspective

    The report claim that unbundling will have little effect on users as they easily can install the OS of choice from a supplied external media.

    It is in fact increasingly common that computers are delivered not with a pre-installed OS, but with an installation image on a dedicated harddrive partition that is customised for the particular computer. To have this customised OS version supplied on an external media like a DVD for those who choose Windows as their OS makes little difference to users. One might argue that it even is better as no space on the harddrive is wasted for the install-image, and that it makes the hardware more flexible as it becomes possible to replace the harddrive separately without loosing the install-image.

  6. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Yes, please unbundle

    This is probably the first time ever I find myself agreeing 100% with something a free-market think tank says! There is no level playing field in competition for desktop operating systems, as long as the market leader is forcibly bundled with each new PC (unbundled PC:s do exist but are harder to find, and are no-name brands which puts off some buyers. Unbundled laptops are even rarer).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not thought through

    For this to work the "OS DVD" would have to be specific to the hardware anyway. If it wasn't then the average consumer would be screwed - most can barely deal with being talked through a recovery disk scenario (insert CD/DVD, reboot and select boot from CD, then sit back) now so installing a new OS? Dream on.

    That being the case then it would have to be the OEMs that produced the "OS DVD" - much as they do now. They aren't about to do that for niche OSs (Linux, much as I like it is a niche OS) for every hardware configuration, so the consumer would get a limited choice of hardware if he chose a non-MS OS. Either that or the consumer would get no OS at all.

    Now maybe its just me but doesn't this sound like the current market situation? You CAN get pre-built hardware without an OS. You CAN get hardware with Linux on it - not all hardware configs though. You can of course get Windows on everything.

    I agree its not a satisfactory situation having Windows as default (and often the only choice) OS. However consumers in general won't buy a "bare" PC and it will cost the OEMs money (LOTS) to provide "OS DVD" disks for all their pre-built configurations. So who is going to pay the OEMs for this? Consumers? Government?

    Pie in the sky nonsense I'm afraid.

  8. David Ginger

    Pirate Charter

    Anyone who buys a PC without a copy of windows must be reported to the police and the Microsoft Intelligence Services (MIS). It is anti-american ( by declaring someone or something to be anti american it is now impossible to argue with this point )

    Of course anyone who buys a PC without Windows is aiding pirates, whom fund terrorist. Worse still somebody who belives in the constitution. "You are either with us or against us" . . . . in this global war for domination . . . the 3rd reich will rise again zieg bush, zieg microsoft, kill those liberal hippie communist linux types.... They are the scum who point out that all the science points towards 911 being an inside job.

    So if you see anyone running that hippie scum operating system that just happens to be secure, stable, and works, call the anti terrorist hotline on 666 I LOVE SATAN VOTE 4 BUSH.

  9. John Stag

    Good move

    This is a brilliant move. Clearly separating the price of Windows from the price of "a PC" will make it much easier for everybody.

    - The people who don't want Windows won't be paying the Microsoft tax or wasting months trying to get a refund.

    - The people who do want Window will clearly be able to see how much it's costing them.

    It could be even simpler than "Insert DVD" - the computer could pop up a choice on first boot.

    a) Enter a registration code for Windows

    b) Format disk

    The Windows registration code could be sold separately on a little holographic plastic card or something.

    The important point is that Microsoft isn't automatically included in the sales process, buying Windows should be a conscious decision, not a default state of affairs.

  10. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    A natural monopoly

    I love the argument that the diversity of Linux (market share, -15%) when compared with the monoculture of Windows (market share, 115%) somehow proves that operating systems aren't a natural monopoly.

    But I agree that paying for a copy of "Home Edition" every time I buy a PC is a little annoying. (Even if I wanted Windows, it wouldn't be *that* Windows.)

  11. Bob Bobson

    If there was a market...

    If there was a market for PCs running Linux, and costing £480 rather than £520, PC World would sell them. There isn't. So they don't.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets go one further ...

    ... and insist that every PC manufacturer be required to create and supply an auto-install CD that gives the user a choice of linux and any other operating system that the owner cares to distribute as open source software.

    People who want to install commercial operating systems can then BUY it -- and insist that there are no special deals other than bulk pricing. A company buying 10 or 1000 or 10000 or 100000 copies must pay exactly the same price as every other company buying the same quantity, regardless of what country they are from and whether they plan on using them themselves or selling them on.

    Much of microsoft's monopoly has been achieved by abusing the distribution mechanism by giving preferential pricing to some countries and some types of business. It's THAT which has to stop. Not the irrelevance of whether you get browsers and music players given free with the product.

  13. Greg

    I agree, but not on their methods

    I totally agree that consumers should be free not to pay the Microsoft tax, not to mention that this would better educate users on the alternatives. However, if I were running the store, I think it would be better to say "What operating system do you want?" rather than "What operating system do you want to install yourself?" That's just going to confuse the hell out of Mr Average.

    Allowing users to choose their OS - yes.

    Making users install it themselves - no.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dreamworld...again...

    Ok Mr average goes into PC Planet.

    Here is your pc.

    You can have....

    Windows for £x

    Unbuntu for £x

    RedHat for £x

    Unix for £x

    etc etc for £x

    Customer: What's Unbuntu?

    PC Planet It's Linux.

    Cust: What's Linux?

    PC Planet It a bit like Windows..

    Cust: Will all Windows software and printer etc work.

    PC Planet: Maybe, Maybe not

    Cust: Maybe?

    PC Planet: Well you can download xyz to get abc program working. But you may have to get widget code to get onto the web in the firstplace. Oh and the camera you have doesn't have any Linux Drivers yet, but hopefully in few months time there maybe someone will write some.

    Cust: I'll take Windows.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sledgehammers for brain surgery

    Right, so does that mean that Apple can't bundle their OS anymore either? Do the mums and dads of the world get free phone support when they are trying to install the Linux distribution they bought on the cheap? Are customers ready to pay the increased price for an unbundled Windows, and increased hardware prices due to the lack of 3rd party bundled "software"?

    Don't get me wrong... I'm all for free markets & choice but as Chris said above, this solution sounds like a dumb and spiteful sledgehammer where some creative thinking would have been much more appropriate.

    Tom

  16. Silo Spen

    Sure but....

    I'm a linux fan, I run 3 Ubuntu computers (Quiet you "Ubuntu isn't proper linux" lot :P ). I'm pretty well versed in computers, yet it still took me a good hour to get my video card working with 2 monitors and my soundcard working with mixing (so you can listen to 2 audio sources at once, eg XMMS and Firefox).

    Anyway, my point is that Linux is great for the low down computer users who just want to check their emails and maybe type a few documents, great for the geeks who want to do everything else and have some control, but it's terrible for the medium power users.

    You know, the guys who want to listen to music, play games, etc, who don't particularly care about how their computer really works. Which I suspect is the majority of people, or at least, the loudest group of people.

    Point is: What needs to happen is manufacturers need to release decent drivers for their hardware that run on linux (you listening ATI?), but that isn't going to happen until something like this happens. But it's a bit of a catch 22, because until this decent support is available in linux, the group I discussed above aren't going to buy into (or not buy into, as it's free) Linux.

    So, hey ho, I hope it goes ahead for the "free market" etc. But on the other hand, if I get millions of phone calls from my parents demanding tech support, i'll be pissed.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WIndows *would* benefit.

    I'd have thought that the perceived reliability of Windows would improve dramatically, even if sales fell a tad. This would be because all those who are too dumb to follow basic instructions in the OS install process wouldn't be able to use it. These are almost certainly the same people who are too dumb to follow basic instructions like "you should install an Antivirus package", "you should install these critical security updates", "you shouldn't type all your personal information into this strange looking Russian website form" and "you shouldn't click on 'Yes' when asked 'the application rogermymachinesideways.exe appears unsafe, are you sure you wish to run it?'".

    They're also the same people who would always log in to their Linux installation as "root" to make life easier. Do you want them in *your* support forum rather than on the phone to MS?......:-O

    TeeCee

  18. Karl Lattimer

    What about...

    everyone that pays for Microsoft Licensing for XP professional say, then when they buy a new machine it has XP home on it. Or even worse, vista!

    You end up paying MS twice for something you should only be paying once.

    Unbundling the machines also fixes the issue of returning a machine to its factory default configuration easily. Having install images on hard drives means I can't repartition my disc, which in itself is an OEM lockin method, by destroying the "hidden" partition I end up voiding any warranty I may have had.

    Its time to do away with stealth taxes in computing, especially those taxes that go to MS.

  19. Steven Walker

    Dreamworld again ...

    Stu Reeves

    There were some obvious typos and below I submit the corrected last paragraph:

    PC Planet: ... Oh and the camera you have doesn't have any Vista Drivers yet, but hopefully in few months time there maybe someone will write some.

    Cust: I'll take Linux.

  20. Jon Lawrence

    No go.

    Nice idea but not feasible.

    I've been running Linux for over 12 year now - so yes I know how to install an OS.

    The average PC owner struggles to even get the preinstalled Windows images to work correctly - how they get that wrong is beyond me but they do.

    Install your OS of choice from a DVD image - yeah, dream on.

    For the box shifters the margins are too low to force them to carry more cost so it ain't going to happen.

  21. David Ginger

    Dreamworld Still

    I think Stu Reeves hit the nail on the head. The problems are with the consumers, thats how we got in this mess in the first place. Its worth pointing out that in any democratic system, you get what you deserve.

    Here in alternative dreamworld reality

    Ok Mr average goes into PC Planet.

    You can have....

    - Windows for £x

    - Linux for FREE

    Customer : Which do you recommend, Windows or Linux ?

    PC Planet : Well it depends, do you want to play games or use the computer as a tool ?

    Customer : Well I want to do work at home. Erm which is more secure ?

    PC Planet : Linux, Windows and Security is an oxymoron

    Customer : Whats an oxymoron

    PC Planet : Oh.., right..., sorry..., you know ... like Military and Intelligence

    Customer : Ha,ha, I get it

    PC Planet : Anything else you would like ask ?

    Customer : Which is more reliable ?

    PC Planet : Linux can run for years.

    Customer : What about Windows, what is the real difference ?

    PC Planet : Well Windows works to start off with, then slowly falls apart.

    Customer : Is there anything else I should know about ?

    PC Planet : Well, Linux comes with free Wordprocessor, Firewall, Programming Tools, and pretty much anything else you can think of, even Astronomy.

    Customer : What does everybody else use ?

    PC Planet : Well most people use Windows.

    Customer : Why ?

    PC Planet : Because it can run Direct-X Games,

    Customer : I'll take Windows

    PC Planet : But you said you wanted a biz computer

    Customer : Look you lied to me, all that stuff you told me can not be true, other wise why would everyone else have Windows ?

  22. James Radley

    CDs are not so bad

    I am sure that the last Apple laptop I bought ( in fact, the only apple laptop i bought ), came in the form of brick + install CD. It was only when you mated the two ( at first boot ) that you got a laptop.

    If the Mac fanbois can install their operating system at first boot, and still hark on about how wonderfully easy to use their systems are, I don't suppose it should be an issue for everyone else.

  23. Richard Lloyd

    Just offer no OS or Windows pre-installed...it's that simple

    Taking Dell as an example, they already do this on their PowerEdge server line - you can choose no OS, Windows Server 2003, RHEL or SuSE Enterprise when you buy the server - all just a simple radio button OS choice (one model of machine - not separately "hidden" like their Ubuntu desktops/laptops).

    And yet we *still* don't see the same OS choice on the desktops Dell sells, not even a simple "no OS" vs" Windows Vista" radio button. I don't agree with the "insert a DVD and install Windows" idea - I think that if you are going to sell a desktop with Windows, too many people are clueless to install an OS without help (unless MS and the OEMs can literally provide a "foolproof" install DVD, which the current Vista install DVD certainly isn't - in oher words - insert DVD, click on EULA, then click on *nothing else*...watch the OS install and the machine reboot and you're ready).

    It's a real shame that the major OEMs still refuse to let you buy one of their desktops or laptops with no OS. If it can be done by whitebox shifters (many have a config tool on their website where you can get no OS pre-installed with the desktop) and Dell can do it for servers, then why can't major OEMs supply no OS options for desktops too?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Stu

    And yes he may well take windows - but he will realise the cost of it. At the moment that "cost" is hidden - which is the whole thing about the OEM bundling.

    So if the cost is : Windows £130, Ubuntu £5 (or less) then some people may well take both.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unbundling means "any OS" not "no OS"

    What is important is not how unbundling is done technically, but to make sure that consumers:

    1. are made aware of the actual cost of the software.

    2. can rest assured that not a cent of what they pay for the hardware goes to a software manufacturer.

    It doesn't prevent selling an OS with each PC. It just can no longer appear as if it's thrown in for "free".

    I have not been a windows user since the days of win 3.1, but have purchased a number of computers in the past 15 years, each with some form of dos/windows OEM license. To buy a machine without the SW has been either impossible or more expensive, and it has in reality been impossible to get a refund. For how much longer will I have to pay for something that is of no use whatsoever?

  26. Matthew

    What a laughable idea

    I can't imagine a non- technical minded person being able to buy a computer and install windows let alone linux without any help :-)

    It just isn't practical...

    Anyways having a generic OS is a good thing i think, if everyone used different a different OS i.e. 20% buisness used osx, 20 windows, 20 linux, etc etc what a headache that would be for software devalopers.. they can't even get windows working properly let alone moving onto new OS's... what a joke..

  27. MacroRodent Silver badge

    @ Jon Lawrence

    "Install your OS of choice from a DVD image - yeah, dream on."

    The funny thing is, the last few times I have installed Linux it has been pretty much like that: Just works. Possibly because I take care to buy only HW that is known to be Linux compatible.

    If mainstream box vendors knew that the OS is unbundled and the customer might well choose Linux, the reaction might well be that they, too, start avoiding Linux-incompatible solutions and hopefully even actively start providing support for Linux developers, in the form of specs. Just to lessen their own support burden. So another beneficial side-effect if OS unbundling could be that hardware becomes more open, because vendors could no longer get away by providing only closed Windows drivers.

  28. lucmars

    Good recommendation but...

    It's too late.

    Nonetheless, pré-installed OS should be a service (for free or not, it's up to the vendor) and the bundling practice should be banned.

    Note: Mac user used to install from a CD - as well as for recovery and upgrade. That seems very odd for a Windows user, nonetheless, the Mac hardware isn't a surprise, so the installation is easy.

    This is not the case with a PC, even Windows can't be installed so easily.

  29. Nick Pettefar

    What would that mean

    for Apple? Would Apple Macs be sold with no OS? Would Apple shops be forced to stock Linux (I think that is the only alternative that runs on a Mac) and would Microsoft write a version of Windows for Mac? The mind boggles (slightly).

    Mac User

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or, lets go TWO steps further

    The preinstall image compulsorily supplied with the machine should have as one of its options the choice to install, in ONE pass:

    a) Linux

    b) Any or all of:

    i) Open Office

    ii) Firefox

    iii) A suite of well chosen open source applications covering email, graphic design, photo editing etc which the manufacturer chooses, recommends and pre-configures to work with the hardware

    OR, by paying an extra fee

    Windows OR OS-X or others, together with a package of applications equivalent to the above (whether part of windows or otherwise).

  31. Jonathan Samuels

    Normal people don't install OS's

    When will geeks get it into their heads, normal people do not install operating systems, they don't install windows they don't install Linux.

    Any operating system that needs to be installed is a waste of space for the mass market

  32. matt

    Windows will cost more?

    PC World is selling Vista Home Premium online for £180 (or £220 instore).

    So when you buy a PC from them without Vista on it, will it be £180 cheaper? Obviously no because PC World, must get an OEM version much cheaper than that.

    So the average PC user, who will still want Vista will get screwed by this (while windows owns the monopoly) as they'll have to pay the full retail price for Windows.

  33. Tom Silver badge

    Re Bob Bobson

    There is a market for the £480 pc - but they cost me less £400 and I have to build them myself.

    Takes less than an hour.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Matthew - RE:What a laughable idea

    You wrote: "I can't imagine a non- technical minded person being able to buy a computer and install windows let alone linux without any help :-)"

    My most recent PC purchase, a best-in-test home-user-oriented Acer laptop bundled with Vista, came with install/recover software on a dedicated harddrive partition. At first boot it would perform a vista-install including some Acer-specific drivers and tools onto the rest of the disk.

    How is that not a software installation procedure?

    How would that be significantly worse if the same software was loaded from a DVD?

  35. greg

    This won't be as simple as it seems

    I'm all for unbundling Windows and creating some better competition in the OS market. However, some serious thinking would need to be done from the point of view of the PC stores (which for places like PC World, would be a first!).

    They (PC highstores and manufacturers) will have to come up with some suitable alternative packages. They already know their market, so they'd need to spec something up around what the needs are. For example, You can get a Windows Media PC, which has the media centre verison of Windows on and all the necessary stuff like WMP, TV tuner and preinstalled drivers and software. The same thing should be done of Linux distributions. You can't just leave it up to the user, as 99% of people that use PC world are computer iliterate.

    So if someone walks in and says "I want a media PC", the salesperson can offer a Windows solution which would cost more, or a cheaper (and likely less annoying/more stable) Linux option.

    And don't get me wrong here, I dont even use Linux. If all my PC Games worked on it without a detremental effect on PC performace, I'd switch at the drop of a hat though. I hate Windows.

  36. Stu

    Games support??

    I like the idea of unbundling Windows, its high time the MS monopoly ends - they've had their chance and have proven time and time again that they only come up with bloatware, crapware, crashware and simply-doesn't-work-ware.

    However, there should be CLEAR INDICATION on the box of each PC that states that the vast majority, if not all, mainstream PC Games you may think of picking up in Game, HMV, Virgin, or wherever, will NOT work on a system that has Linux installed.

    And what about the likes of the big players Adobe, Discreet, Avid etc.

    And herein lies the problem, The successes of MS have resulted in multiple massive industries that are far too far down the path to change over to a completely different base OS and development environment.

    As time goes on with this scheme in place, Games development, along with apps software development will have to account for multiple OS bases, this is NOT a good thing and will result in a price explosion worse than what we have here in rip-off-britain.

    Regardless, knowing from the get go that the vast majority of commercial software packages only support Windows (this wont change the instant this scheme is in place of course) then the choice will be made by the average consumer - a prediction from me - stick with crap Windows - it is well known, well supported, and has a large software base.

    I'm sorry but The Gimp doesnt cut it in the Photoshop world.

  37. Adam

    I'm no MS fanboy but...

    Have they considered just how many people will copy Windows and use a crack?

    When I built my new PC I bought Windows Vista, and my other box runs Ubuntu. If I didn't want to pay for Windows, I wouldn't have bought it and just used Linux. However, most (also geek) friends were surprised to find that someone had actually PAID for Windows, as they just download it! That means I'm subsidising the tight-a**es who have the "I won't buy it because I think it should be free/cheaper" mentality. MS has a product, I want it, I'll buy it. However, most other people also want it, but would rather steal it.

    I'll just don my asbestos overcoat before saying... Windows and MS software in general is good, and it's actually a lot more stable and configurable than most of the crap software in use in industry. There, I said it.

  38. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: If there was a market...

    "If there was a market for PCs running Linux, and costing £480 rather than £520, PC World would sell them. There isn't. So they don't."

    Last time I looked, I couldn't buy Vista for £40. (Well, not a legit version anyway.) Mind you, I probably *would* be able to if it didn't come pre-installed, because then MS would have to charge a realistic market price for the CD-ROM-in-a-box version.

  39. Martin Owens

    Are the same crowd

    Do I hear the voices of decent coming from those who value practicality above doing what is right? Yes it will hurt, yes the market will need to change. But the fact is doing the right thing isn't a buffet where you can pick and choose based on what suites you at that moment.

    Now I hope Windows becomes unbundled, because having the market suffer now will lead to long term growth and stability.

  40. John

    I think this is a great idea.

    Giving the consumer more choice is a great idea.Companies shouldn't be able to say Joe Blogs is too stupid to use Linux. It also makes sense to get rid of a monopoly that allows one company to control a majority of the worlds computers. The more people who use Linux the more likely the hardware vendors will start supporting Linux by releasing drivers. That would also bring more developers to Linux and heopfully improve the various applicatiosn available. Big companies like Google, Mozilla and Dell are already starting to support Linux and that's really good for the future of computing. So yes, any support for a more competitive operating systems market is good for Linux and good for people who want to customise their computers.

  41. BitTwister

    @What a laughable idea

    > I can't imagine a non- technical minded person being able to buy a computer and install windows let alone linux without any help :-)

    Which is why such a non-technical person would likely buy a machine with Windows pre-installed. Of course they'll *still* need technical help when, inevitably, the wheels fall off.

    But the point is - some of us don't want or need Windows and it would be rather nice if we didn't have to pay anyway for a pre-installed copy. That's just a PC stealth tax, and further serves to inflate Microsoft's unfounded "users choose Windows" guff.

    Choice doesn't enter into it, but it should.

  42. Joe

    15 years too late!

    These were all good, workable concepts back in 1992 when there was actually some competition for MS...

  43. Richard

    Not necessarily Linux

    Who said the alternative had to be Linux?

    Vista is still too new for me to be happy to use it - it needs another year or so in the wild for all the bugs to be fixed. If I was getting a new PC I think XP would be a better option at the moment - but how easy is it to buy a PC with XP nowadays?

  44. Chad H.

    Hmm

    Whilst I Support the idea of having a No OS option, it will cause a noticable rise in piracy. After all, this is why China banned selling PCs with no OS.

    As for those uninformed mac comments. My mac was running OSX straight out of the box. In Addition, it can bootcamp into windows. Pay attention!!

  45. Andraž Levstik

    @Silo Spen

    ATI/AMD is listening they have relesaed 2d drivers code and specs for 3d hardware(check some linux news sites) which means that there will soon be improved stuff on ati drivers under linux...

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Level the playing field /americanism

    I think the Stu Reeves lot are missing the point. Stu's example conversation would be accurate 90% of the time. Initially. And that's absolutely fine. However, it should make it a little easier to introduce other OSs (including XP [9% of the time]) and also be a little fairer on those of us who don't want to have send of for a refund whenever we try to buy an off-the-shelf box (1% of the time).

    It would be interesting to see how well Windows did at producing a proper install CD. I often get asked to reinstall my friends' virus laden machines and it's always driver hell. At least you used to be able to revert to a disk drive.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LINUX DOESN'T WORK

    I agree with some of the people here that choice might be a good thing but to those others who are arguing for it to become law - you are crazy...linux simply doesn't work...

    THERE IS NO VERSION OF LINUX AVAILABLE that will install on a brand new piece of hardware and have ALL of it's device drivers working straight out of the box...

    Customising a version for each machine would cost money and therefore take the customers existing choice of a free operating system and destroying that - it will mean the death of the open-source o/s....

    I work in support and trust me, your average customer can not install linux - indeed even experienced users have trouble tweaking linux to work properly and for all of you experts...you should be building your own pc's and not buying them off the shelf ANYWAY!!!!

    OK - Rant over - Microsoft is here to stay - deal with it

  48. Adam Potts

    RE: I'm no MS fanboy but...

    ..."Windows and MS software in general is good, and it's actually a lot more stable and configurable than most of the crap software in use in industry."...

    I couldn't agree more. I work for a £2.5billion-worth multi-national outsourcing company and the 3 major pieces of software I personally use are in-house/custom and they are RUBBISH!

  49. Richard

    OS/2

    I'm surprised nobody's mentioned OS/2 so far. What's needed is for Windows to be opened up, or at least for MS to publish its APIs so other Windows-compatible OSes could be written. What I'd like to see is a situation where Windows is available in various distributions like Linux is.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid Users

    Many of the posts here seem to be from smoke and mirrors types that consider all non techies completely useless where computers are involved and that they should be allowed within 100 feet of a keyboard.

    Maybe its simply the fact that M$ have treated the entire domestic market as incompetant lusers that need the computer to manage their 'experience' for them

    My 68 year old grandmother is perfectly at home with her computer and although it was purchased from tesco its functional and arrived with a set of recovery and driver CD's. She has been able to follow spoken instructions (i live 230 miles away) on how to rebuild the computer using said discs and install the drivers and software she requires.

    I used linux years ago and I've recently tried out several of the linux distros (live dvd versions) inc Suse and Ubuntu - the install on a custom PC built with a random selection of parts i had lying around was painless.

    Only opening up the market will persuade the majority of hardware vendors to develop and release drivers for the mainstream distro's and Mono and Moonlight will enable strictly M$ developers to develop app's that work with Linux.

    I for one would look forward the day that i could walk into any distributor and purchase a PC that had been certified compatible with both windows and the major distro's and a choice of M$, linux or no media.

    Bring on the revolution!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only Windows are suitable for the PC - or not?

    First some practical points of windowless PC-sales:

    There is this "Ghosting", i.e. the so called "Symantec Ghost" and similar

    disk-image practices. The manufacturers are clearly not sitting there and

    installing Windows. They do it once, make some sort of image, and then simply

    dump the ready made images to thousands of the empty hard disks (some

    probably even using some Linux tools for it, I would not be surprised).

    So you could buy a PC with self-installing image-DVD (the excellent Vista would not fit on a CD) if you wished so, or just PC without that DVD as I would.

    It would actually be simpler for the manufacturers, simply add the Install-DVD

    for those who want to pay for it (this DVD would not be the MS-DVD - it would be

    an image prepared by the manufacturer for that particular hardware

    configuration).

    It would be exactly the same as today, the only change being those 10 to 15

    minutes it takes to dump 5 GBytes from a DVD-disk to hard disk (the manufacturers do it faster by not using DVD, but the end user has one to install,

    not thousands)

    Now back to my title:

    Only Windows are suitable for the PC - or not?

    The contributions from the "Windows side" illustrate an interesting point, well

    known to us others: Windows is not suitable for "ordinary people". If the thing

    does not come pre-installed, it is not suitable. It takes lots of work to bring it to

    a reasonably usable state, whether the hardware is new or old. In contrast to

    that, if you take any decent Linux distribution, and an older hardware, in most

    cases Linux will install in no time (20 minutes or so) and it will simply work.

    Why is that so: Windows are full of strange things, drivers, old things from DOS

    times (on XP: try to rename a file to con.txt .. you still can not .... is it still there

    in Vista ? ).

    The manufacturers must usually modify "Windows" by smuggling in

    drivers etc. Linux distributions, on the other hand, usually collect all the drivers

    known for all the interesting and thinkable hardware - but only when the hardware has been around for some time, so that the "heros" hardware writers

    can have time for their detective work with little or no help from the MS-enslaved

    industry (well Microsoft tries to do the same collecting, but it is simply more

    messy).

    Yes, you told us yourselves: most Linux distributions are much better suited for

    non-tech people, since you repeatedly stated that Windows can not be installed,

    while most linux live-CDs simply work - and e.g. Ubuntu installs itself from

    live-CD without problems. The only problems appear for some unknown

    hardware. What is "unknown hardware" and how is that possible? It has

    happened over the years, supported by Microsoft philosophies.

    The industry should also be forced to publish the interface details for

    construction of "drivers". Drivers are no "rocket science" if a list of

    all actions and all to them related commands are known (it is not difficult

    to talk to postscript printers, is it - well not so easy on MS-windows, the "driver"

    might be wrong somehow - guess why).

    Open standards and open specifications would not mean that everybody

    needs to read them and write their own drivers.

    In the old times (like 10 years ago) you would get an electronic design drawing

    of your TV, with specifications - and you probably never looked at it - but the

    repair shop on the corner (when such shops existed) would be able to figure

    out from it what to do with your seemingly dead TV-set.

    Nowadays construction details vave become a "trade secret", in particular

    in the IT sphere. Together with the "drivers". All that nicely supported by the so called "microsoft ecosystem".

    If the proposed move would happen in Europe, it would really change the whole

    situation and really contribute to lots of innovation - and bring "back to normal"

    a whole industry.

  52. Paul Daniels

    Bundling only part of the problem

    The free market has not stinted the growth of MS monopoly as it excels in redefining the software license paradigm.

    Your MS software license is not transferable, linked to the one PC system, and bundled when you purchased the thing.

    Removing any one of these licensing problems will not open the market. All three must be removed.

    This would enable a second hand market to flourish, for all those extra licenses, that are forced to be discarded when equipment is disposed of.

    This idea is completely pointless, of course

    It would only last as long as it took MS to redefine the license into some new grey area ie. It is only licensed to work with some HW verification key, that then must be soldered onto the system.

    Then we have the court processes again, the political influences, a couple more decades, some minor semblance of fair trade, then back to the beginning.

    Probably enough time for a couple of new MS operating systems before we start all over again.

    But that's the free market for you.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: What would that mean

    Microsoft doesn't have to rewrite Windows for Apple. XP is perfectly content to run on modern Apple computers, as long as the processor is Intel and you've installed a certain program called Bootcamp (or Parallels). As for the reverse... look up OS X 86 project in Wikipedia. No, I haven't downloaded it. But the thought of running Tiger - or Panther - on my PC...well, it does leave me drooling. One of the reasons OS X runs so well is because it's based on Unix.

    I agree and disagree with the idea that people can't install an OS. It's not made easy to install by the manufacturer, unless it's the recovery...then it's just a matter of getting it started. I've installed 98, Win2K, Many Errors, er, I mean Me, Server 2003, XP, and talked people through Shmista...sorry, Vista. Anyone with a fair amount of common sense and intelligence can do it; I said fair (there are people out there who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a computer, I agree. Definitely PICNICs). We need to keep in mind that 1) They probably didn't grow up with them in schools the way most kids today have; 2) they don't have an interest, hobby or professional 3) they don't have the mindset.

    This whole thing could be solved easily - if a bit more expensively for stores. Purchaser: I want this system, with this OS. Store: it will be ready in an xxx hours. Store loads the OS for the purchaser. Two, maybe three techs... a small installation fee...

    Problem solved.

  54. jubtastic1

    pft

    The current situation, where most punters don't even realise Windows isn't part of a PC and the few major brands that will sell Linux based machines somehow manage to make them more expensive and with inferior specs is pure lunacy, this is not a free market, there is no competition, it's a racket.

    This solution isn't the answer though, all it's going to do is confuse the hell out of joe public and allow MS a great opportunity to double/treble the windows tax while blaming someone else. Some commenters seem to be suggesting that your average PC Planet staff member not only knows what Linux is, but might endorse it, shame on you, in your heart you know this to be pure fantasy.

    The root of the problem is clearly the contracts MS is making with OEM's that pretty much forbid them from either selling alternative OS machines or bundling other OS's in a dual boot machine. Crack down hard on those deals, mandate the software costs are prominently included in PC Prices and lets see how the market deals with dual boot machines, because I guarantee you that when Windows inevitably slows to a crawl and dies those Linux partitions are going to get used, and a whole bunch of people will discover it's more than capable enough for what they need.

  55. Victor Szulc

    There is no alternative

    To Windows... The alternative is so horrible, (Linux) that people don't want it, even if it's free...

    And if you appreciate everybody being able to read your documents, thank god for Windows and Microsoft. There is one standard, instead of a hellish brew of different OS, computers and software standards that won't work together.

  56. Tom Silver badge

    Actually cheaper for the OEM's

    Making an image DVD in mass production quanities is cheap. Less than $.20 or so in 10,000 unit quanities. The cost of OEMs putting an image on an IDE hard disk in fixtures and time has to cost more.

    Now the "install" process can't be that bad. It could be a bootable DVD that copies what is necessary over to the hard disk in the computer can be a simple image (partition tables and all!). If this takes over 30 minutes (DVD drives run at over "4X" these days!), it will be part of the process. If some printed material were made available during that time, it might even be read during that time, and might even eliminate MANY service calls.

    Think of the "better informed" users!

  57. Mike

    cut them some slack

    Microsoft...

    The fact that windows even works at all is a miracle - let's look at the opposition...

    MAC OS - yes it works but despite mac users opinions and at the risk of upsetting and causing a holy jihad here- IT DOES CRASH OCCASIONALLY which is unforgiveable from an operating system which is designed to work on a very small subset of the available hardware and it seems that everytime they change the colour of the unit they have to recompile and distribute a new operating system...!

    Linux? Yes it works but getting it installed and finding drivers tests todays users beyond endurance - it is simply NOT ready...it doesn't install - sorry linux users - but it doesn't...put it on a machine 3 or 4 years old and hey presto - it works...put it on a machine off the shelf today and it won't work...and if you try to make it work - back to the command prompt you have to go - people will not do this - it's as simple as that...

    Windows? As i said, the fact that it works at all is a tribute to microsofts ingenuity - any pc - any hardware - and yes i know it wouldn't be any better than linux if it wasn't for the drivers the hardware manufacturers produce - but the fact is THEY PRODUCE THEM....

    Microsoft has spent a lot of time and effort in creating this monster - the result is a relatively stable operating system that does what most end-users want it to do...the software is widely available...you can make the machine do pretty much anything you want it to do...

    Why would a customer buy a linux machine, or even a mac pc for that matter when the first time they want to go and buy a peripheral, the majority (or in the case of linux - EVERYTHING) simply won't work...!

    It's isn't down to bundling microsoft on everything - if linux or any of the other operating systems were viable then they would write the drivers...they won't because there is nothing in it for them to do so...

  58. Svein Skogen

    I simply don't recognize the world you're coming from.

    "Driver Hell"

    "Cannot work with all the hardware"

    "Cannot envision a user running the install process"

    I simply don't recognize your problems. Maybe because I stick to hardware that works, not "Joes truckstop and Computers" style equipment.

    My ThinkPad shipped with XP, and software to drop the XP down to a boot-cd+data-dvd combo. I've used it several times. It simply starts a scripted install of XP (And I mean scripted!). I used it when I tripled the hdd size, and I've used it whenever the XP has gotten to the point of unusability.

    In january, I Purchased a Vista Ultimate license (not the upgrade, I'm not that stupid), since some of the users I regularly help would inevitabilly end up with Vista computers, and I believed it a smart thing to be ahead of the crowd, and actually get my hands on it (beacuse every windows version is a tad different from the other ones) as soon as possible. Before the installation, I used my server-installation-cds (read: FreeBSD bootcds) to make sure the internal hdd was blank, with no residue of old OS to clobber things.

    I booted off the vista DVD, answered to what nationality my keyboard was, clicked install, and sat back. When it was finished, it dropped me in the standard "What's your name" dialogue we've come to expect from OEM installs on first boot. After entering my login details, and logging on, I ran the "System Update" tool from IBM/Lenovo, allowed it to automatically download all the drivers from the OEM, and it installed it.

    I fail to see why regular users can't do this, it's plain dialogues, and if you read the language (I opted for the English version of the OS, even if that isn't my local language), you can answer the questions.

    What unbundling would effectively mean, was that more manufacturers would have to get their act together and write sensible applications (such as the "System Update" tool from IBM/Lenovo), to make installing the OS as painless as possible for the end user. They have to do that, or see their customer choosing a supplier that does. This can't possibly be bad.

    I mus admit, I have never tried Linux on this laptop, but I have run FreeBSD on it for a long time, and it's painless. The laptop contains standard components such as pci bridges, instead of the more exotic ones, so hardware support is pretty painless

    Unbundling windows from the PCs, would mean that hardware companies that use unstandard components will have to mark their equipment with a big, red "only works with!" label, that would most definitely make customers choose another brand, even if they are running windows. If a petrol station set up signs "our fuel only works with Ford cars", you would drive to the next one, even if you WERE running a Ford, simply because you would be suspicious about "why does it only work on a Ford? What does it do, that doesn't work on other cars?". If if you don't trust end users, atleast trust them to spot a conspiracy. Even when none exists.

    As for installing Windows (3.0, WfW3.11, NT, NT3.51, 95-98-ME, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista), and Mac OSX (all current 10.x versions), I must say that the easier today, by far, is Vista. Again due to hardware that actually works (And I've installed it on other boxes aswell. No problem.)

    Now for the other problem envisionaged, the problem that the software industry isn't ready to support more than one OS.

    Is it such a bad thing if software manufacturers must actually state on the outside of the box the software and hardware requirements? The games-industry has had to do this FOR YEARS! If it drives companies that refuse to adopt into the ground, so what? Where's your sanity? It's survival of the fittest, honestly, you should see that! Other suppliers that WILL ADOPT, WILL TAKE THEIR PLACE! Don't worry.

    I fail to see a single downside to unbundling windows. Even for windows users. Maybe especially not for windows users, as more hardware suppliers will have to get their act together.

    Regards, Svein Skogen

    x sysadmin/netadmin

  59. Graham

    We are already doing it.

    If you buy a new PC it has a re-installation disc.

    This is provided for anyone who completely f**ks up the installation and can re-install everything.

    It gives the buyers of new PCs that warm feeling knowing that if all else fails (i.e. I click on some icon and the screen locks up) I can wipe the hard drive and start again.

    Anyone who says the average user can't handle that should ring some customer support number and ask what to do about something.

    It's one of the first thing those dumbassess suggest straight after "Are you sure it's switched on?".

    So for the M$ zealots to suggest it's beyond the realms of the average Joe is just fanaticism gone too far.

    That includes the ones that say "I'm no M$ fanboy, but...".

    To move to the user install would give the user more confidence in being able to repair their own machine since they would have already done an installation once.

    There are only two arguments against this:

    1. M$ monopoly is a good thing, to mess with it is bad for computing.

    2. Users don't want this so why provide it.

    The rebuttal to both are generally a matter of opinion.

    My opinion is that I would rather not pay for an OS which I don't use and being a techie type I do want to choose not to install.

    I'm sure Microsoft will fight this with their last lawyer paying dollar, because it's means they will have to finally justify the the user why their OS is so crap.

  60. Graham

    To those who think Linux is not up to the mark

    Have you tried it lately?

    OpenOffice 2.2 is actually better at reading MS office documents than MS Office 2003.

    I have proof.

    Oh did I mention that open source stuff is available on Windows too?

  61. james marley

    Cost

    "Last time I looked, I couldn't buy Vista for £40. (Well, not a legit version anyway.) Mind you, I probably *would* be able to if it didn't come pre-installed, because then MS would have to charge a realistic market price for the CD-ROM-in-a-box version."

    True you can't buy it for £40 but you can buy an OEM copy of Vista for £70 so its reasonable to assume that a company shipping serveral hundred/thousands gets it way cheaper than that, so £40 then sounds like a good discount.

    It'll never happen as other people have stated most users can't even cope with Windows which is way easier to use than Linux.

  62. Trevor Watt

    Free? You want free?

    You idiots really thing ANY retailer is going to recommend a free OS when they can make £40+ selling a copy of windows.

    I suggest you look up 'retailing' in a dictionary.

  63. Mike

    openoffice blows

    i have tried openoffice recently - the new 2.3 version - it's not compatible with word 2003 - it makes a reasonable effort but it just isn't the same...

    having said that - word is irrelevent...

    excel is the industry standard...

    openoffice makes a complete hash of excel documents...there is just too many existing excel documents that cannot be converted succesfully or without too much hassle involved...

    trust me, i have tried.

  64. James Pickett

    @Stu

    Cust: What's Vista?

    PC Planet It's a bit like XP..

    Cust: Will all Windows software and printer etc work.

    PC Planet: Maybe, Maybe not

    Cust: Maybe?

    PC Planet: Well you can download xyz to get abc program working. But you can get a code to make it work like Windows XP. Oh and the video card you have doesn't have any Vista Drivers yet, but someone will write some RSN.

    Cust: I'd rather have XP, how much is it?

    PC Planet: We don't have that anymore.

    Cust: What else is there?

    PC Planet (through gritted teeth): Well, there's Ubuntu, which is 99p

    Cust: Why didn't you tell me?

    PC Planet (having given up all pretence): It doesn't help our sales targets.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unbundling will only cost the users more

    What is this think tank thinking when it says that PC's should be sold without an OS? They are the biggest idiots and as much as I hate Microsoft, at least having an OEM version of windows on there saves support costs and more importantly, its cheaper than purchasing a full windows licenses......

    Sometimes I think these think-tanks act like shit-tanks.

  66. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Free? You want free?

    "You idiots really thing ANY retailer is going to recommend a free OS when they can make £40+ selling a copy of windows. I suggest you look up 'retailing' in a dictionary."

    You think MS don't charge that retailer for the OEM copy? I suggest you look up 'retailer' in the dictionary. As noted by others, you can buy an OEM copy of Vista for about £70, which presumably does include some profit for whoever sells it to you, so I suspect the true profit margin on a £40 copy would be less than zero. That's why I queried the figures.

    These days, a usable PC is under £400 for the hardware. Adding an OS and office suite from Microsoft at off-the-shelf prices would more than double that figure. What we see instead are retailers configuring disc images and bundling those with each PC at no profit to themselves. Doesn't it strike you as suspicious that retailers bear the cost of maintaining Microsoft's monopoly?

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ubuntu just works

    Absolute rubbish. Try installing it on a optiplex 740. It cannot run the graphics card and just shows a black screen. With a standard end user they now have an unusable system. So a phone call to tech support to find out that they have to interrupt the boot sequence, login as root, run a text editor, navigate the minefield of directories that are created with any default linux install (etc? bin? dev? var? mnt?) edit the correct file with info that to them means nothing and so on. 6 months later, they upgrade the graphics card or buy an external device to find it isn't recognised without major editing of text files and have to go through the whole thing again. Try explaining that to the large amount of users out there who don't know what a c: drive is. With windows, it detects if there is no display and automatically starts in vga mode the next time so a driver can be installed easily. Linux needs a serious amount of work before it is user friendly enough to become a standard desktop

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mike -- First impressions are everything.

    Quoted from Mike:

    "i have tried openoffice recently - the new 2.3 version - it's not compatible with word 2003 - it makes a reasonable effort but it just isn't the same...

    having said that - word is irrelevent...

    excel is the industry standard...

    openoffice makes a complete hash of excel documents...there is just too many existing excel documents that cannot be converted succesfully or without too much hassle involved...

    trust me, i have tried."

    This is a shinning example of why Microsoft should *NOT* be bundled with computers !!

    OpenOffice has its own document formats that work just fine. Microsoft is crap, so why does everyone complain that the other alternatives are not 'like Microsoft'?

    Excel was not the first spreadsheet !

    It is not the best spreadsheet !

    It is not the most cost effective spreadsheet !

    But it is used because it is the "industry standard" and it became the standard because Microsoft will happily give it away to be bundled, pre-installed and even distributed through internet piracy until it becomes the standard. Just like a drug pusher giving out 'free' samples to get you hooked.

    Once they control the 'standards' they will continue to update and tweak them to make the output from any competing product look as bad as possible (ask Netscape)

    I have been using computers long before Microsoft and I can say computers would be more developed and computer users would be more intelligent if windows had never become the standard that it has.

    Working in front of a windows machine all day is as bad for your brain as watching cartoons all day is for children. People who want to tell me how productive windows makes them obviously have no clue what their computer is really capable of.

    "Microsoft, you've got questions, we've got a dancing paper clip"

    </rant>

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not everyone is a power user

    Every single time I visit my mother I have to 'fix' her windows installation, sometimes I am lucky and can get away with cleaning all the malware without having to re-install XP, but not often. It is usually only a few weeks before the flurry of e-mails she has sent since my last visit dries up because the system is unusable again.

    The only thing she uses the machine for is webmail, surfing the internet, looking at photos. Her husband however seems to have a porn habit. I have found both Ubuntu and Mandriva Spring to be excellent hassle free installations so next time I visit they will have Mandriva installed. It allows them to do all the things they want without being owned every time they visit a malicious website.

    Once consumers are offered a choice of OS at point of sale it forces them to try to understand the issues (which they WILL because it is their money they are handing over and they want to make the best use of it) and realise that there might be alternatives. Currently many non technical users don't even realise that 'Windows' isn't just part of the hardware.

    Sure the market will be in a state of chaos for a while and retailers will be panicking, however they will soon be scrambling to succeed in the brave new world.

    The only way to break the Microsoft hegemony is to force some chaos in the market place.

    I welcome the news.

    (Windows application developer, so I have the best of reasons for hating the crap they force on us)

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OS wars are alive and well..

    It's rather amusing that I'm being referred to as a "Windows fanboy" because I suggest that users are incapable of restoring a machine from the manufacturers disks. I base this on REAL WORLD knowledge when trying to help friends/family via phone - oh and several years of running a small business dealing with ermmm, home users.

    To the lost soul on about OS/2 - do get a grip lad. I do remember OS/2 Warp fondly - voice recognition that WORKED on a P166 with 32MB memory, Object Desktop, etc etc. Then I rapidly remember the single input queue and various other quirks. It was certainly the best embedded OS of the day (probably still is) and I remember laughing at NatWest cash machines showing the NT4 BSOD - they moved to NT4 that year and my god did it cost them!

    The point that you all seem to be ignoring is that Windows "wins" because :

    a) MS "encourage" OEMs to use it ;-)

    b) MS assume everyone (including "admins") are fuckwits*

    b) Drivers

    c) Drivers

    d) Drivers

    e) Drivers

    Getting there are we?

    WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR DRIVERS WITH A FREE OS?

    It will require someone to pay for them - just as MS did to start win32 driver development.

    I don't care what OS you use, I really don't. At one point in the late 90s I had three versions of Windows, OS/2 (main OS), Linux and Solaris all on the same machine. Obviously SCSI as there was no way you'd get boot files for all that within logical constraints on IDE back then - well not unless you were some sort of nutter anyway ;-)

    Unbundle all you wish but it simply won't work if the aim is to diversify OS use.

    *Yes we all know this is one of the main, if not THE main problem with default policies on Windows machines so don't bother arguing. The clueless (hint - the majority?) view this as a "good thing" as it lets them "do things".

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    It's about time someone took "William" to task and broke his dominance in the market.

  72. Edward Rose

    People seem to miss the point.

    Haven't read all the posts, but unbundling MS Win does:

    not equate to supplying alternatives.

    not mean the customer must pay retail price for MS Win (still pay OEM)*

    not mean that the store can't install it for them. **

    not mean the customer must /install/ the OS. ***

    mean customers can see the true costs.

    mean they can opt to buy a PC and do what _they_ want with it.

    mean that other OSs will slowly start to gain a /chance/ for a foothold.

    *If buying certain (amounts) of hardware, OEM software can be purchased. Else, you would never have it installed. You are buying it either way.

    ** A free 'after sales' service. "Would you like to buy Win? Would you like it installed free of charge?"

    *** When prompted put disk in drive. Hit enter. Damn it man, even I could manage that one.

    I fully support the move until I see a sensible argument.

  73. James Pickett

    Basics

    "Currently many non technical users don't even realise that 'Windows' isn't just part of the hardware."

    Indeed. In fact, a lot of people end up disappointed that it doesn't actually 'do' anything useful, and that the office applications they have seen on other computers are an (expensive) extra. This is the main reason that MS is so damned rich - people have been suckered into buying a computer that needs more money spent on it to make it work, and are almost invariably 'advised' to spend it with MS. Or they 'borrow' their work copy, which only reinforces the habit...

  74. Outcast

    STOP!!

    When Jo/ann Punter gets their O/s-less system home from PC's R Us and they switch it on... They get greeted by an animated "insert Boot disk" screen similar to the old Amiga boot screen.

    They then look in the box for the Destructions and find a Disk named (surprisingly) BOOT Disk with some written destructions.

    Namely..

    1: switch on Computer (after you connect all the bits)

    2: insert Boot disk

    3: Press Ctrl -Alt Del simultaneously (reboot)

    4: Requester pops up ... Install popular distro's.. And name a few or have an advanced option for Uber Geeks

    4: You have selected to install Windows Turbo looney please insert your credit card details. "You have been charged ... X amount.. Would you like a free re-infection with this install ?"

    5: You have selected Linux, Propellor head version ... Cursor blinks... & blinks .... & blinks ....

    6: You have selected Ubuntu ..Chillout and your system will be installed pronto (don't install the 64 bit version though - They are still coding for a "last millennium 32 bit system - HINT HINT!!)

    7: You have selected Amiga Os4 ... Please wait "Just two more weeks" (tm)

    Easy Peasy... Job sorted.

    "NEXT - Splendid !!"

  75. David Ginger

    RTFM

    Before you think of flaming me, Read The FM regarding The Linux Kernel.

    Drivers for Linux are not a problem, unless the manufacturer has no intention of co-operating with the Linux Community. This is not my fantasy, like I said, read the fcuk faq for the Linux Kernel.

    Now the really, really interesting question is why anyone would want to obstruct the kernel community from providing drivers for free...

    Although this is one question, it has many answers.

    Lets look at Modems, as they provide a historical example, and they are relevant to the modern world and other devices.

    Well, for starters, Modem Drivers are trivial, but WinModems are a nightmare. WinModems replace hardware with software, so really calling a WinModem a Modem is a farcial lie. Support under Linux was slow to non-existent, for one blinding obvious reason... Why on earth would anyone want to spend there free time writting an awfull lot of complex code for a bit hardware that is a piece of crap.

    Now this issue applies to an awful lot of hardware sold to the public. After all it lowers the component cost at the expense of the consumer. You will find this issue not just with Modems but with Printers, Scanners and a whole bunch of other junk sold in PC World.

    So before you next buy any hardware for your windows box, consider checking out if it has any Linux Drivers.

    By the way, if says Intel, it will work flawlessly and probably have less bugs and run ever so slightly quicker.

    So the moral of this story is get your self educated and do not repeat received wisdom thinking people will think your clever.

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