Slashdot recently featured a post (mirrored here with working images) that shows what Microsoft is telling retail employees to tell customers to get them to not buy Linux netbooks; it’s the usual sleazy marketing FUD we expect from Microsoft.
Tellingly, Microsoft omits any question of cost; while it pushes the point that ‘Macs are more expensive’ in the Win7 vs Mac section of their online training, it never once mentions that Windows based systems are going to be more expensive than Linux ones; and not just for the cost of the OS (and the hardware needed to run it… which is why Windows Vista never made a dent in the netbook market). You want Microsoft Office? That’s another $100 at least. Most Linux distros have OpenOffice.org or some other word processor that saves in an open format preinstalled…
Then there’s the ‘big lie’; “Linux is safer than Windows” is called a “myth”. I think anyone outside of Redmond can easily laugh that one off. But more amusingly, they push the fact that Windows has IE8 as some sort of big deal that you’ll be missing if you run Linux! :) Earth to Microsoft: most people who use IE do so only because it was on their computer when they bought it; most people who actually care about the browser on their system download and run Firefox… which, coincidentally, is what you’ll find on most Linux distros ;)
Microsoft also specifically targets Ubuntu regarding their update process. I have to say that Microsoft seems to think that the world only wants to run Microsoft apps that can be updated through Windows Update, since my memory of updating other software on my system in Windows is that it was a mess. Also, Microsoft’s once-a-month Patch Tuesday approach to software updates leaves people vulnerable most of the month; it was designed to cut down on the amount of negative press of patches constantly being released for severe security issues.
Finally, I should mention a sneaky sleight-of-hand Microsoft doesn’t want you to notice: when dissing Linux, they mention “Because there are different ‘flavors’ of Linux, you can’t learn one version and be sure you know them all.”  yet at the same time, they say “Most customers have used Windows before. Windows 7 offers many new features, but it still provides the same great Windows experience they’re familiar with.” What they fail to mention is that most customers have used Windows XP before. Switching from XP to Vista usually involved a steep learning curve since Microsoft seemed to have made ‘change for change’s sake‘ all over in Vista. The XP to 7 learning curve should be similar; I seriously question whether it would be easier for XP users to migrate to Vista/7 rather than Mac OS X or Ubuntu.
 an aside: all the Linux distros packed onto netbooks these days are GUI-based; how hard is point-and-click? Also, since Ubuntu is the ‘leader of the pack‘ when it comes to desktop Linux distros, it’s what people are most likely going to run into when they try ‘Linux’…
In short, if you know someone is going to buy a netbook and you know more than they do about computers, go with them and make sure they don’t get suckered into buying a Windows lemon if that’s not what they need.