Bonum Certa Men Certa

Dell: Whose Tax is It Anyway?

Speculations about GNU/Linux 'tax' by association

We have recently been discussing various ways in which Microsoft can collect money from the use of GNU/Linux, contracts with educational bodies being just one prime example which comes under considerable scrutiny nowadays. But there are other ways of achieving it.

“Amidst fresh reports about Dell reviving its Windows Mobile business, one has to wonder again about the mysterious Dell/Novell/Microsoft deal.”This includes the deal with Novell, which enables Microsoft to collect royalties at software distributor/vendor level. But what about our continued suspicion that the same goes for collection of royalties at hardware distributor/vendor level, e.g. Dell, H-P? By all means remember how close those companies really are.

Amidst fresh reports about Dell reviving its Windows Mobile business, one has to wonder again about the mysterious Dell/Novell/Microsoft deal. What was it about? What were the implications? And why would Hewlett-Packard sell a Linux PC only with a Microsoft-taxed GNU/Linux (Ballnux) distribution? Despite the downgrade options for a rather horrid Vista, these companies never divorced, so to speak. They have a systematic workflow of money, almost a kickback.

All the above questions and suspicions return to mind due to some very recent reports such as this.

What is Dell doing with Ubuntu?



[..]

But Dell seems to be using Ubuntu to its advantage rather than passing the cost savings to the customers. Today I found this deal in deals2buy.com. A Dell M1330 loaded with Ubuntu (30 day support) is only $10 less than Windows loaded machine with extra fingerprint scanner.


This is not the exception, but it's the latest apparent example, which is explained politely. It's not a rant, but the point is very legitimate. Assembly charges for 'out of sequence' orders needn't cost as much as a Windows licence.

For almost a year people have been complaining about the cost of Ubuntu PCs from Dell. Comparably, the PCs are expensive and while some shoppers are encouraged to just buy an operating system they do not want or require, others just find that savings are laughable in case the Linux options are offered. Eventually, they just buy a Windows PC and dual-boot, which helps Microsoft rave about 'market share' (never mind install base). Therein lies the issue of Microsoft making Linux non-gratis and rather expensive at times.

Here is another new & frustrating story:

Here’s the scenario, a friend of mine just bought a new laptop. When he was buying it, he indicated that he did not want windows on it (which should make it cheaper). The response from the vendor: “We can’t do that, it comes with Windows”. When he became a bit more aggressive, they indicated they could give him one without Windows (Vista SP1), but it would cost and extra $70!

[...]

In my opinion, the above scenario is nothing more than trying to bully your way into retaining market dominance. And certainly does not do much to improve public relations or save Vista from becoming a bigger flop than it already seems to be, compared to earlier releases of Windows.


Perhaps unbundling would be the best option, never mind Microsoft's cries about what it conveniently calls "naked PCs", basically claiming that their buyers are prospective "pirates".

Consider reading posts about Microsoft's exclusionary deals with OEM and the unbundling question. The worry here -- however baseless it may be -- that Microsoft wishes to ensure it gets paid for GNU/Linux deployments no matter where you get it from.

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