PC makers would just preload with Linux
They did for Netbooks, with varying degrees of success. I have one that now has CF card adaptor instead of the too small Flash PCB and a big CF card. Running Linux Mint 18.3 Mate fine.
MS paid the makers to put on XP, which eventually along with price & Spec increases and better tablets killed the niche.
I have two other Netbooks of various vintage now updated (not re-installed) from XP to 17.1, to 17.3 and then last week to 18.1 and after to Linux Mint 18.3 Mate.
All using mad broadcom WiFi drivers (which admittedly had to be manually added to 17.1 clean install over XP and fine since.
OTH recent Win 10 upgrade of Win10 couldn't install the sound card drivers properly! Uninstal in Device Manager and then "search" Windows.old for drivers succeeded perfectly, whereas search on Windows update or automatically didn't fix it.