10.22.08

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Apricot Dumps Novell’s SUSE, Are Microsoft Predatory Pricing Tactics to Blame? (Updated)

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, OLPC, SLES/SLED, Windows at 9:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Price of Windows XP suddenly falls, Ballnux dropped, ASUS contradicts MSI cheap shots

Back in May, we saw Microsoft responding predatorily to the popularity of GNU/Linux on sub-notebooks. Suffice to say, GNU/Linux the only thing keeping Windows XP alive (in the sense that it is still being sold). According to this new article from Linux Magazine, sub-notebooks still have GNU/Linux installed on more than 40% of them (rough estimate). It’s the same figure that NComputing reported, although it seems to be in a process of capture by Microsoft.

Several months after Microsoft’s predatory pricing documents had been leaked, it turned out that Microsoft was pressuring ASUS, a company which is often attributed the genesis of GNU/Linux sub-notebooks, mimicking OLPC XO in the more modernised world. We saw evidence of manipulation several times since then [1, 2, 3]. Now comes this post/article from David Meyer, who is no foe of Free software. He writes:

“I have blogged a couple of times about the Apricot netbook. Just to recap, it’s the resurrection of a nostalgic brand by virtue of a guy buying the brand a few months ago and launching a rebadged FIC Via under it.

“A representative told me today that they have decided to dump the Linux version of the device. This was to have been priced at £279, with the XP version costing £329. There is now only an XP option, priced at £299.”

So suddenly it’s £30 cheaper? That sure seems as though Microsoft gave them a considerable discount and knocked SUSE out (yes, its very own partner, Novell). Is Microsoft pressuring vendors using discounts and/or dumping? This was done before and it's part of a trend.

Also worth mentioning is the recent FUD from MSI, which related to Ballnux laptops. One simple answer from an MSI executive absolutely flooded the mainstream media for no good reason, so it was was suspicious. Well, in the following new interview with the CEO of ASUS, this MSI (MS?) FUD is being refuted. Jerry Shen was asked: “We have heard that return rates have been higher for Linux-based netbooks. Can you share information on sales of the Linux Eee PCs versus Windows XP versions? What about return rates overall for Eee PC netbooks?

Here is his reply (emphasis in red is ours): “I think the return rate for the Eee PCs are low but I believe the Linux and Windows have similar return rates. We really separate the products into different user groups. A lot of users like the Windows XP, but in Europe a lot of people want the Linux option. Actually in Linux we support the Easy Mode and in Q4 of this year we are going to start selling Windows XP with an Easy Mode.

Update: The Register turns out to have run a similar story (totally independently). Watch the excuses from Apricot and also the comments.

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4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Good catch. It’s very common for notebook and subnotebook makers to offer linux for only a short while with inexplicable intermittent returns to XP. As noted the return rates are similar for both Linux and legacy models. Otherwise we’d see a good market for discounted refurbished units.

    The times I’ve checked in the brick-n-mortar stores, I’ve seen the Linux-based units move quickly and the Windows based ones gathering dust for weeks and months.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 22, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Gravatar

    A lot of the FUD came from MSI. I have just found this:

    MSI Systems Integrators Earns Gold Certified Partner Status in Microsoft Partner Program
    http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/234651/msi_systems_integrators_earns_gold_certified_partner_status_in_microsoft/index.html

    As a reminder, MSI immediately chose the Microsoft-’approved’ distribution, unlike many other OEMs that picked sub-notebook-optimised distros. H-P is also very close to Microsoft, so it chose SLE as well. It was not designed for this type of machine, so the only suitability was software patents related.

  3. pcole said,

    October 22, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Most of these NComputing manufacturers seem to start off the same way.

    – They put together a net book with Linux installed.

    – Make a lot of quick sales.

    – Then “knock, knock”, ms comes calling.

    The second or third release usually includes an xp version, and making the xp version look better by adding more memory, more disk space, etc.

    So when people look at this type of behavior every time ms rears it’s head, is it a “consistent coincidence” (anti competitiveness).

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 23, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Gravatar

    Remember that none of this is a mystery. It’s out there in the open.

    ‘”[Low-cost PC makers] have made some good inroads with open-source, and Microsoft wants to put a stop to it,” the official said.’

    http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=D04AB1F8-17A4-0F78-310F5F4479DEEE86

    Microsoft worried over Linux ULPCs
    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/05/12/microsoft-worried-over-linux-ulpcs/1

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