Re-thinking the Windows Refund

Posted by dcparris on Jul 25, 2006 6:50 AM EDT
LXer Newswire; By DC Parris
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LXer Feature: 25-Jul-2006

LXer's Don Parris challenges the Windows Refund movement to rethink its platform.

The Pricing Problem

Typically, computers sold without a copy of Microsoft Windows pre-installed cost more than those sold with Windows pre-installed. Obviously, it appears that the user who does not want Windows pre-installed is getting ripped off, since the operating system accounts for the lion's share of the cost of the whole computer. Since some kind of software is required to make the computer actually do anything, it would seem to follow logically that a computer with an operating system should be more valuable than a computer without an operating system. Some people get really bent out of shape over having to pay more for less.

On the other hand, I would like to draw your attention to the real estate market. In my subdivision in Charlotte, North Carolina, we are allegedly sitting on a gold mine, vis a vis our property values. Our community is centrally located to 2 Interstates, the soon-to-arive outer beltway, two lakes, a brand spanking new mall, and one of the best darned barbecue joints in the state. Property values around us are going up - as are property taxes. Yet, because our community has experienced a high volume of distressed property sales, the values have actually gone down. My house is now worth less than what I paid for it.

Consider Microsoft Windows in a similar light. It has the lion's share of the desktop market. It has a huge selection of applications that people can choose from. Yet, because of its historical instability, insecurity, and because it's practically impossible to fix without re-installing the whole OS, for which the vendor no longer includes any media, it has lost tremendous value. Indeed, one needs to deduct about 10% from the value just for the Windows Registry alone. I won't mention Internet Explorer. In fact, Windows has lost so much value, that computer manufacturers can actually dump Windows PCs on the marketplace cheaper than they can offer computers without any OS.

The value of a PC With No OS

Computers without an operating system actually have tremendous value. Consider that having Windows (or any OS) pre-installed robs you of control over how the system is installed and what packages to run. You lose the opportunity to optimize the system for your specific hardware. Until the next version of Windows comes out, it is still possible to accidentally connect to the Internet while logged in as an administrator, especially if you aren't the advanced user you think you are. Having Windows pre-installed also means a serious lack of initial choices in Internet applications. For example, you actually have to use Internet Explorer to download Firefox, since Microsoft does not include other browsers with their operating system.

Being able to install the operating system yourself offers a number of advantages, including what operating system to install to begin with, as well as the packages that system will run. You can choose from a wide range of operating systems, including various GNU/Linux systems, the BSDs and even those old legacy systems. Most GNU/Linux systems don't even require a web browser (though it's usually helpful) to find new software to download. Users typically get to choose from a variety of office suites and other useful applications when installing the GNU/Linux or BSD system of their choice.

Save Your Money

Instead of fretting about getting a refund for a nice box with that legacy system that bogs down and crashes for no reason every other week, I would encourage users to save their money a little longer until they can afford the nicer boxes with no operating system, or that comes with a modern, robust system, such as GNU/Linux, already installed. After all, we sure don't want to encourage the folks at Microsoft to develop more shoddy software. It's kind of like buying a Yugo because it's cheap. It's cheap for a reason, and you get what you pay for.

If you value your hardware, you'll choose an operating system that will help your hardware hold its value. If that means saving up a little extra money to get a PC without an operating system, then by all means, that is the way to go. It is frequently necessary to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. If you're willing to pass on cheap, you can install an operating system that will extend the life of your hardware almost indefinitely. I know. I've still got some old 450 MHz machines running the latest versions of Ubuntu and SUSE.

Well, there you have it. You can either throw your money away on legacy, shoddy software, or you can save a little longer to get good hardware and install an operating system that will help you maintain the value for years to come. It's your choice.

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features; Groups: Community, GNU, Linux, Microsoft, SUSE, Ubuntu

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Wow, another article, another opinion wind0wsr3fund 24 2,616 Jul 27, 2006 10:01 AM
Take advantage of the windows refund ExWindowsUser 18 2,667 Jul 27, 2006 12:38 AM
Getting the "cost" of Windows repaid dominic 9 3,759 Jul 26, 2006 6:36 PM
does not work for everyone mbaehrlxer 3 1,728 Jul 26, 2006 9:21 AM
Windows already saves Linux users money jkouyoumjian 9 2,105 Jul 26, 2006 7:13 AM
For those that want to actually DO something wind0wsr3fund 41 2,357 Jul 25, 2006 9:19 PM
Did you ever have to make up your mind? dinotrac 12 2,440 Jul 25, 2006 6:07 PM
GNU/Linux pre-installed grouch 2 1,951 Jul 25, 2006 2:38 PM
Waste of Time vonskippy 3 1,723 Jul 25, 2006 11:47 AM

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