Most people have heard the phrase “the last straw“. When it comes to Microsoft, people will moan and groan that they wish their Vista computers didn’t suck so bad. Yet they still bought them, many even knowing Vista’s reputation. Most knowing, first hand, Microsoft’s reputation. Why? Because that’s what they came with.
After reading my 2010 post, “John” added a comment to to Ubuntu’s Bug #1: “all we need to do in order to get rid of Microsoft once and for all is cutting their connections with hardware vendors […] bundling Windows with the majority of new computers (most notably laptops) and therefore denying ICT users’ the right to freely choose their OS is probably the the fundamental cause of all this mess. […] i suggest we should do our best to make bundling illegal”
Imagine for a moment what only allowing blank computers to be sold would do for Linux adoption. Yet its a harsh remedy; OEMs wouldn’t be able to sell functional products and average users would be forced to do something they just do not do right now because it seems scary: install their own OS. What is really needed is some way of making that final purchase step for the consumer just ever so slightly too painful to bear: add up all the grief you’ve ever had with Windows, all the terrible things you’ve ever heard about Vista, [update July 28: for real, here and here] and just make one last annoyance visible for the consumer to reflect upon before finalizing their purchase: the ‘Microsoft tax‘… Here’s what I replied for Bug #1:
I’ve been thinking about this thread on-and-off all day and just a few minutes ago a possible solution struck me:
What if OEMs were required to sell the software separately from the hardware, BUT still be allowed to preinstall? Specifically, think of this scenario:
Major OEM makes notebooks and preloads them with Windows, but does NOT activate them. The notebook has one price and a sealed envelope with the OEM Windows Key Sticker, backup CDs, etc. has a different price.
If the user wants to buy Windows for the notebook, they just pay the extra $ for the envelope too and when they first bootup the machine they enter the code and affix the sticker as per the EULA.
Oh wait, what’s that other stack of disks next to the Windows envelopes? Ubuntu Linux disks? What’s that you say; they’re FREE? And Ubuntu can do pretty much everything Windows can and a few things it can’t? And if I don’t like it I can come back next week and still buy the OEM Windows disks? Hmm…
In this sort of environment, how long do you think Microsoft would last? O:) How long would it take for the OEMs to just start preloading Ubuntu to save the hassle? Is anyone, perhaps starting in Europe, up for a little legislation? >:)
Update: Speaking of Vista’s reputation, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I note today that MS is planning on spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to “overcome the common view that Windows Vista is a failure”. Wouldn’t this be like spending lots of money to counter the ‘common view’ that Ishtar, Waterworld or any of these weren’t that good? Perhaps instead of using that money to pretend that a sucky product isn’t, they should partially reimburse past buyers, or discount future sales, or maybe just invest in making the current or next product better.
Also, I note that there’s an article up mentioning that businesses that want to switch away from XP can save one to two thousand dollars per seat in hardware and software costs by switching to Linux and reusing old boxes instead of Vista on new machines. But if you do that, how will Microsoft pay for the ads that tell you what a great deal you got running Vista? ;)