08.16.09

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Does Microsoft Violate the First-sale Doctrine?

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Law, Microsoft, Windows at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tablet PC

Summary: Microsoft’s practices in sub-notebooks raise more questions about illegality

WE recently showed that Intel and Microsoft had probably colluded in order to assassinate sub-notebooks as an attractive choice [1, 2]. The evidence is sparse, but it is extensive. As the Managing Editor of Linux Today puts it, “Why are two monopolies allowed to dictate what a netbook is allowed to be like?” She links to this page from PC Magazine which says:

It’s no secret that Intel and Microsoft have a firm grip on what a netbook may or may not use in terms of features and parts; hence the many look-alikes in this pervasive category. But there are a handful of them that are considered exceptions to the rules handed down by Wintel.

Another new article from PC Magazine is titled “5 Netbooks Microsoft Has Crushed”

To quote:

Think most netbooks have single-core processors, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive because their manufacturers like conformity? Right. The reality — never officially acknowledged — is that Microsoft doesn’t cheaply license its operating systems to netbooks with specs that are too good (see the limitations at TechARP). The result, as evidenced by the looming retirement of Dell’s Mini 12, is tiny netbooks with lesser hardware than full-sized laptops.

A handful of laptops, including the Mini 12, have broken the mold, but they all pay the price in some way. Here’s a list of naughty netbooks that Microsoft is crushing with its hardware limitations…

An obvious victim of this is GNU/Linux. But according to a third new article from PC Magazine, “Dell Looks to Linux to Expand Netbook Presence”

In an effort to expand its Linux offerings, Dell is researching new netbook-type devices and will soon offer netbook Linux OS upgrades, a company official said on Wednesday.

The company is researching the possibility of offering new Linux-based mobile devices called smartbooks, said Todd Finch, senior product marketing manager for Linux clients, at the OpenSourceWorld conference in San Francisco. The company will also upgrade its Ubuntu Linux OS for netbooks to the latest version in the next few weeks, he said.

As people may recall, Dell more or less accused Microsoft of lying about GNU/Linux-powered sub-notebooks. That was a few days ago and we are finding new examples of GNU/Linux success in Dell’s sub-notebooks.

There are many reasons that this is news. Dell is the quintessential user computing device vendor. They have a well recognized brand and off and on, have courted Linux on the desktop. Linux has a lower acquisition cost for a hardware vendor — and on a $300 computing device, there isn’t a lot of margin.

Barring all of that strategic schpew — the fact is, my wife uses an Ubuntu laptop and seems to have taken to the netbook with a minimum of fuss. I use her viewpoint as an indicator of sorts. She doesn’t hold much back in terms of criticism — if it sucks I’m going to hear about it in short order. She’s not a technology lightweight — she uses facebook, email and web browsing as good or at a higher competency than all but my tightest technological contacts — but she’s not a programmer or IT type.

“I booted up Linux on a my cousin’s computer and she didn’t even notice,” writes Fewa. “Just click on Firefox icon and was off. The netbook sellers just need to go back to Linux.”

MinceR argues that “Dell won’t do that,” but Fewa — pointing at the articles from PC Magazine — insists that “Microsoft needs to be prosecuted for this clearly anti-competitive act. It clearly violates the first-sale doctrine at least.”

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A Single Comment

  1. TheTruth said,

    August 16, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Gravatar

    >”As the Managing Editor of Linux Today puts it, “Why are two >monopolies allowed to dictate what a netbook is allowed to be >like?””

    Roy, Im sure you know who the managing editor of Linux Today is

    As you know, the Managaging Editor of Linux today is Carla Schroder.

    You are attributing the comment “Why are two monopolies allowed etc..” to Carla, that comment is a comment in response to a PC Com article.

    The poster of that comment was not Carla, but someone called “sm”. Who made a comment to the LT post (and link to PC COM).

    Carla always signes her comments to other comments by her name and title.

    Most people question you, and fact check you, when they follow the very first link you offer in your article to confirm your accuracy they find the first think you have done is misquote a leading figure in the FOSS movement. A provide a clear link that what you are stateing is at the very minimum inaccurate. At worst an intensional plan to provide misinformation, and misleading details to make your version of the facts suit your bias?

    How are we suppose to believe anything you say, after your first confirmable statement of claim can be proved false in seconds. ?

    Whats that do to your credability ?

    It appears netbooks seem to be one of the fastest moving IT products at present, hardly the result of any assasination of the formfactor.

    Sadly OEM’s make their profit/living from placing a small markup on each product they sell, RAM, HD’s Mobo’s, CPU’s ect, this also applices to software applications and operating systems.

    If there is no cost, there is no markup, no markup == no profit
    and
    no profit == no business

    OEM have to sell RAM, HD’s, CPU, Boxes, laptops, operating systems, applications, batteries and so on, to make a profit to stay in business.

    If all the component manufactures made and provided their product for free, the OEM would not be able to markup the product, no markup == no profit and no business.

    What I dont understand, with arguments such as DELL, you want them to sell linux boxes.
    IF you feel the business model is so strong and viable for FOSS, for a consortium, draw up a business plan, seek out a VC investor or bank or similar business partner, you rock solid business plan with win them over.

    Purchare 1000 or 10,000 naked boxes at wholesales prices, fill them with you’re FOSS product and sell to your pre-orders.

    Thats what you do in business, if you see an opportunity you take it, if you feel you have a viable plan, you execute it.

    You dont spend all your time trying to eliminate the opposition to make your job easier. Instead you do the right thing and compete.
    The amount of effort that goes into this web site would be more than enough to create a strong and vaible business plan.

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