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Anti-Linux Propaganda du Jour: Windows Owns 96% Of Netbooks

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The anti-Linux propaganda du jour, being dutifully parroted by "news" publications everywhere, is that Windows now owns 96% of the netbook market, and that Linux netbooks are returned four times more than windows netbooks. Both are untrue and have been debunked repeatedly. Yet they persist-- why?

I think Microsoft is growing increasingly desperate, and in hard economic times is finding equally desperate publications who will say anything for a few bucks. Which may be a harsh judgment, but I would rather believe that than believe they simply don't care to do even the simplest, most basic fact-checking, or are such hard-core Microsoft fanboys that they are only pretending to be journalists when they are really stringers for Microsoft's marketing department. How else can we explain the same nonsense repeated endlessly, their allergies to saying "Windows" and "malware" in the same sentence, the short shrift given to non-Windows software, the mind-boggling assumption that Windows is computing?

As it is not part of Microsoft's business plan to participate in a genuinely competitive marketplace, expect to see this sort of thing become even more prevalent. If that is possible; I thought the FUD and anti-Linux propaganda had already reached the saturation point, but it looks like I was wrong.

This is decent article from Computerworld that dismisses the the bogus 4x higher return rate, which was claimed by MSI and has been proven wrong many times already:

Are Linux netbooks really returned more often than Windows models?

"Solis said in a March research note that Taiwan's MSI had not yet shipped a Linux-based Wind at the time of the comment to the magazine...Acer, Asus and Dell have all built customized versions of Linux for their netbooks. Solis said that Asus has noted equal return rates for Linux netbooks versus those running Windows."

Steven Vaughan-Nichols wrote:

"LaBlanc opened by claiming that almost all netbooks sold today are sold with Windows. Well, no, not really. The numbers LaBlanc cites are from NPD's sales survey. NPD focuses on brick-and-mortar U.S. sales, not overall sales. Notice how many Linux systems you see at Best Buy? NPD numbers say a lot more about retail channel sales than it does over-all sales. Besides, as Canonical's director of business development Kenyon wrote, "However here is an interesting fact--when customers are offered choice on equally well-engineered computers around a third will select Ubuntu over XP."

Microsoft owns the retail chain and exerts tremendous pressure to keep competing offerings off the shelves. The big vendors like Lenovo, HP, and Dell either have no idea how to market Linux, or are vulnerable to pressure from Microsoft, or maybe a bit of both.

Individual Actions Count Big

As I wrote about yesterday, Linux and FOSS are all about individual computer users having power. We can make a difference. Here are some ideas for what we can do:

  • Write polite correction letters to reporters and news organizations. Even if they refuse to change their ways, you're letting them know you're not fooled. The more readers who are not fooled the more they have to pay attention
  • Write polite comments in response to incorrect articles
  • Write polite letters to online vendors and retail stores letting them know that they are losing your business because they either don't stock Linux, or bundle it with inferior hardware, or force Linux customers to have the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes to find their Linux machines
  • Don't buy a Windows machine and then put Linux on it, because your money still goes to prop up Microsoft. Shop independent vendors who specialize in Linux; LXers Pre-Installed Linux Vendor Database might help you find some.
  • The world is full of used computers that are still plenty good; Linux loves recycled PCs

I know that buying a Windows machine is often the least-expensive way to get a new computer. But please consider the long-term view; it might save you a few dollars now, but it reinforces Microsoft's lock on the marketplace, which will cost plenty more over the long-term. Not only in prices, but in variety and quality. Microsoft depends on lock-in to survive; a genuinely competitive tech marketplace is what is best for us, and it is Kryptonite to Redmond. Nobody is going to fix this for us-- not the US Department of Justice, not the European Union, not Linus or Richard or Mark or any of the other movers and shakers in Linux and FOSS. It's up to us.

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