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In Australia, XP Cheaper Than Linux On Eee 900 319

KrispyDollars writes "It sounds crazy to say this, but the XP-based version of the Eee PC 900 (the new version with the 8.9" screen) will actually be considerably cheaper than the Linux-based version. At the official launch today, the company told journalists that 'Microsoft has been a longstanding supporter of Asus' to explain the price discrepancy. And — get this — only the XP-based machine will be sold at mass-market retailers, while the Linux-based model will be consigned to computer stores."
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In Australia, XP Cheaper Than Linux On Eee 900

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @09:55AM (#23336802) Journal

    At the official launch today, the company told journalists that 'Microsoft has been a longstanding supporter of Asus' to explain the price discrepancy.
    It might also be nice to quote the prices ($600 Vs $650) and the physical discriminator which is (and this is from TFA): "the XP model has just 12GB of storage, while the Linux version has 20GB."

    I'm pretty sure the only reason the pricing is different is due to the storage factor. I've suspected for quite sometime that Microsoft basically gives away XP & MS Works with Dell computers and now that the price of hardware is dropping, they're going to have to. Works is a real piece of work, FYI ... my signature heavily applies to that software in this case.

    Is it ok to chastise Asus for denying customers the choice of OS independent of HDD size? Yes.

    Is it ok to go on a rant about Microsoft's hidden costs? Definitely, in fact I'm sure there's going to be a few +5 insightfuls with that theme.

    Is it ok to wig out and claim that Microsoft is cutting deals with Asus to insure the downfall of Linux? No. You're wasting your time--spend it more constructively coding open source or lobbying for your company to use open source.

    Asus is free to do as they please and if Microsoft thinks it's a good business move, let them. The funny thing about open source is that you don't have to promote it to end users. It's slowly and steadily being adopted. The end state is open source for everyone everywhere; it's unavoidable; it's just a question of when it happens (and no, I'm not going to personify software or data as 'wanting' to be free because it's about what improves the community not what software 'wants'). As long as Microsoft isn't doing something shady to keep Linux out of the Enterprise, they can do whatever they want. I don't even know how they could do that. If you look at the trends, whatever is adopted by the Enterprise is usually adopted by the single consumer in due time. DoD is starting to mandate open source also.

    Ubuntu 8.04 was a marked improvement over 7.10. Aero was on par with XP. Microsoft has parked themselves at the head of the pack and are now relying on Business and Marketing to promote a Technology. It's a good sign of bad times for Microsoft.

    So why is everyone fretting? Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Please, don't be one of those guys who preach about open source in a RMS religious zealot style to end users who just want their goddamn iPod to work on their home machine (Oh, by the way, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my shuffle Just Worked when I attached it to Ubuntu 8.04). You're doing more harm than good.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:02AM (#23336888) Journal
    If you live in the East of Melbourne (Australia not Florida), I highly recommend Bitronics. [bitronics.com.au]

    I've bought all my stuff from them for well over a decade. They opened a shop when I lived in Bayswater, had doom parties, piles of second hand stuff, kept the local teenagers busy, ect. They become pretty big now and lost a bit of that garage feel but they are still light years ahead of ASUS. I've lived by the beach now for ~3yrs but still browse online and pick it up from the warehouse. Not even sure the same guys own it but they will sell you a naked PC, pre-configured, built to order, pre-installed distro, distro on disc, windows, whaterver your poision,,,err...passion.

    I've had problems but I've had them fixed without fuss.

    Disclaimer: I've been a proffesional developer for ~20yrs. The only relationship I have with bitronics is as a customer, caveate emptor, shop around, and all that.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:02AM (#23336904) Homepage
    We all know that a lot of price conscious Australians will buy the cheaper model and load Linux on it. :) I know I would.

    When I buy computers in general, I buy it with the smallest drive and least amount of RAM possible. I know I'm going to upgrade anyway, but the prices the OEMs charge for RAM upgrades and larger drives is ridiculous. Buying with the intent of upgrading is a nice way to save some money if you have the skill and confidence to open it up.

    By the way... probably not a correct place to put this new information, but yesterday I came across something that shocked the hell out of me. On Dell's support site, I discovered that not only is there a DOS/Windows BIOS update utility for the Precision M4300, but a Linux version as well!! That has got to be the first Linux BIOS update utility I have ever seen. Perhaps others have seen this, but it was a first for me and Dell is doing it. Unfortunately, my Latitude doesn't have the Linux BIOS update method available yet so I'm still booting from flash drive DOS for updates, but perhaps it's only a matter of time.
  • by gnutoo ( 1154137 ) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:05AM (#23336932) Journal

    Perhaps, without Microsoft interference, Asus would have a $400 12 GB model and a $500 20 GB model. That would more closely match the US prices and falling hardware prices.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:06AM (#23336944) Journal
    (the 701 model, to be clear), I have this to say to Asus: I understand what is your level of commitment to Xandros Linux on your computers, so I hope you will be happy of losing one of your customers. And perhaps some 10-20% of other potential customers, too.

    The Eee PC was my first step out of the MS upgrade treadmill nightmare, and you want to pull me right back? Sorry, no can do.
  • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:11AM (#23337006)
    So the Linux version has 8 GByte of flash disk more and costs $50 more? Even with today's hardware prices, the Linux version seems like the better deal to me.

    If only the XP version is available at "mass-market retailers", that is a bit suspicious but understandable. Users with little experience may be better off if a salesperson explains the difference to them. Competent salespersons tend to be rare at supermarkets.

    Overall, I don't see much evidence of shady deals here.
  • One of the most common reasons cited for not adopting Linux, is that people perceive things that don't cost anything as being worthless...

    In this case, the Linux option is more expensive, and demonstrably superior (larger storage, boots quicker, comes with a much wider selection of applications). How many people will consider the extra $50 worth it for a significantly better package?

    Also perhaps people might like to buy the cheaper windows version, and then "pirate" linux to get some of the additional features only usually available on the more expensive model?
  • Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Aethereal ( 1160051 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:29AM (#23337240)
    Is there any reason why you couldn't just buy the XP version and put a standard Linux distro on there? Has anyone done it? I haven't seen it on www.linux-on-laptops.com.
  • Re:How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:30AM (#23337252) Homepage
    It wouldn't be surprising. I worked for Fujitsu Siemens for a while and they got paid by Microsoft to put the "Fujitsu Siemens recommends Windows XP Pro". Depending on where they put it varied the amount of money they got, so they slowly moved it from "high up the page" to "in the header".

    It wouldn't surprise me if there was a similar offer here, plus another offer for selling only the Windows Eees in "select retailers".
  • Get What Exactly? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:38AM (#23337348) Homepage
    only the XP-based machine will be sold at mass-market retailers

    There is no crime there! The retailer's job is to offer what the consumer wants with no regard about the wisdom of their choices. When Shuttleworth has enough money to advertise Linux everywhere like IBM did, then the retailer might go for it. Furthermore, the retailer specs the machines far more than the average consumer may comprehend.

    While it's interesting to see that they are going cheap on storage to get the price point, it shows that Asus is still getting screwed by Microsoft. You can calculate the spread if you guestimate the OEM in quantity costs of the two drives.

  • by Poltras ( 680608 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:59AM (#23337696) Homepage
    I sincerely wouldn't call VxWorks crappy... for instance, it's the only OS to have left the earth, which is something. For one who have worked with VxWorks, I can only say that it is so modular and low-level that the end result is as crappy as you want it to be, but not as VxWorks have made you crap it. You have to admit that Linksys crapped the Linux base version (without hacking) too ;)
  • by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:14AM (#23337938) Homepage Journal
    I am not here to dis Windows XP. I like Windows XP.

    However, the whole point of the Asus Eee PC is that it is a stripped down unit for common tasks, generally net-based. You write a letter or short text on an Eee, you surf the net, you check your email, maybe SSH into a UNIX host.

    For this, even for longtime Windows users, a light implementation of Linux is probably better. There are fewer licensing issues. All necessary tools are built in. It can maximize the limited processor, memory and disk of the Eee.

    I could see installing Windows 2000 on one, sort of, but in my experience, the overhead of Linux is a lot less because it does not have to support binaries from the past 3500 generations of Windows.

    Please, let us return to sanity. You may want Windows XP on your full-size HP laptop, but on your Eee, go light.

    Asus Micro Laptop Brings Linux to Desktop [chrisblanc.org]
  • by guisar ( 69737 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:40AM (#23338342) Homepage
    I'd have to agree with you. Maybe the eeePC has enough market recognition to survive now but I bought it because it was cheap and small- cheap and small enough for me to ignore it's issues (no bluetooth, rather crappy screen, stupid touchpad, weird linux distro and now annoying DOS like drive naming. At $650 even with the larger screen I'm not sure I'd buy it. I don't really need the extra storage, putting things on an SD card works just fine for me. Cheap and small asus- cheap and small.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:46AM (#23338448)
    You're right that storage isn't the reason for the higher price. Asus explained a while back that the whole reason that the Linux model has a bigger SSD, is because they saved money on the XP licence, and used that to upgrade the storage rather than dropping the price of the unit. I wouldn't be surprised if MS mandated that too - it would look bad for the price of Windows to be right there on the box as a $100 mark-up.
  • by SwordsmanLuke ( 1083699 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:29PM (#23339062)
    I converted my house to Linux around the time of the Fiesty Fawn Beta. I did keep one XP partition to keep my wife (and my games) happy. At first, my wife hated Linux and refused to use it. However, over time it grew on her, especially once I showed her the ease and flexibility of the Synaptic package manager.

    After awhile, she began to really value the power Linux provided to her over the hand-holding Windows takes. We recently purchased a Eee for her. She installed KDE on it herself. Her only complaint so far? It wasn't obvious how to open a terminal from within the initial setup. 8^)

    My wife's not a technical person (horticulture major), she needed Linux to pass a certain threshold of "ease of use" before she could get into it - but once she did she came to appreciate that Linux exposes more control to the user than Windows and as a result feels easier to use.
  • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @12:58PM (#23339544)
    Part of that $50 may also be the loss in fees from the vendors that wanted to add their craplets to the base system.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:24PM (#23339982) Homepage

    Also perhaps people might like to buy the cheaper windows version, and then "pirate" linux to get some of the additional features only usually available on the more expensive model?

    Good idea. Maybe someone should set up a "PirateLinux.com" website to help consumers find various versions of Linux for free. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:59PM (#23340534)
    I have pictures showing GRiD OS (running on the first laptop computers) on the space shuttle in 1985.

  • by QX-Mat ( 460729 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @03:07PM (#23341586)
    I did a little checking.

    Regarding the UK, it might be possible to get damages from a UK court as Art. 82 is directly applicable (it is after all a treaty article and regulation) and thus has horizontal effect.

    One would expect enforcement in a UK court to provide a little more than just a civil award between competitors. If you follow the obiter from Garden Cottage Foods which hints at individual rememdy, Courage v Crehan should apply?

  • by honeypea ( 556690 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @03:26PM (#23341802) Homepage
    ... typing this on my shiny 900 (delivered yesterday, UK), interesting to note that the 20GB linux-loaded version still has a large section in the manual on "how to install XP". I wonder if the 12GB version has a section on installing Xandros...
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @03:49PM (#23342108)
    Ahhh. Can you smell the panic from Redmond?

    First, Microsoft is forced to backpedal on it's announced kill-off of XP, I suspect precisely because of the introduction of the ASUS eee. (Balmer didn't anticipate a popular move to machines which deliberately sport lower power. Vista was released on the assumption that machines keep getting faster and stronger, and lamer companies like HP were happy enough to oblige by designing their "2133 Mininote" to handle Vista, which is why they're going to fail to achieve any sort of dominance. The hip and trendy market, while usually as silly and as easily misled as a highschool girl, are surprisingly astute when it comes to matters of intent with regard to wanna-be pretenders. (Crocks still sell like hotcakes, but the next factory-formed plastic sandal-thing which is basically identical but made by the wrong company gets the brush-off.) --And who'd have thunk that the next big thing in computers was going to appeal to the iPod user market where what kind of operating system being used is kind of, 'who cares?' (My girlfriend would be happy with a pink eee, and doesn't know a Linux from a Window. It's the device, not the OS which counts.)

    So it's damage control time! MS awkwardly announces the extension of the XP life line. But that's not good enough, because ASUS announced the now famous deal, (the eee900 with Linux costs the same as XP but has a bigger drive.) You just know a number of MS employees have had some late nights and stomach troubles over that one. So now they're not just extending the XP life, but actually giving it away just to maintain their hold on the public perception. And I wonder. . . How many Linux-baked eee's does it take to shift the paradigm with regard to OS's? We may not find out as soon as I'd like if this latest desperation move by MS pans out. At least, not this year anyhow. (How far off is the next new Microsoft OS from release? Ha ha. That's Balmer's stress response you can smell in the wind over Redmond.)

    Australia also has a test-bed sort of feel to it, but I can't point to anything which confirms this. Just a feeling.

    In any case, I find it fascinating how all of these moves have been put together within just a few weeks. There must have been some heated international telephone calls and business meets going on. None of this has had the time to gestate like a normal evil corporate plan. It feels young and fresh and desperate and nobody knows how it will all turn out. Cool! (I'd be happy if ASUS continued to ship another few million eee700's with Linux on them, introducing a new flavor of OS to the public in the form of an easy-to-use and fast booting OS. That'll make them ask when it comes time to buy their next laptop or desktop, "How come it has to come with Windows? Can't you just sell me one with one with something like my eee had? I should get a discount that way, shouldn't I?").

    And that's all a fairly grand achievement for ASUS, even if it was unintentional; to make Microsoft dance around in fear of losing its legitimacy with the young & trendy market? That's hilarious!

    Anybody else see that video of the two eee700's booting up next to each other, one with Linux and one with XP? Saving an extra 20 seconds of your life every time you hit 'On' is easily worth $50. And so is the extra drive space. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out over the next few months. For my part, I'm still waiting for that Atom chip. . .


  • Re:How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:16PM (#23345638)

    If I was australian and wanted to buy one, I'd throw in the extra cash to show that linux users exist as a demographic.

    I am Australian and I would do the same if I wanted one.

    This is a bit off the topic of the original story, but hopefully relates to the thread.

    Another good trick I used just recently to show that there is a market for Linux in Australia is to complain about the OEM OS that comes machines from the viewpoint of statutory warranty.

    I bought a notebook which, according to the display in the shop, came with Vista Home Premium. According to MS, Vista home premium has excellent repair tools and can be installed on a 40GB partition, but the version on my notebook could only be installed by wiping the entire machine and taking up the 150GB of the 160 GB disk.

    I argued that what they gave me was not Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium as advertised. I pointed out that the box including the term "OEM" did not fully explain the limitations of the included software and that reasonable research into Vista on the Microsoft site gave me a completely different idea of what I was buying. It wasn't until after I opened the box, installed Linux and then wanted to put Vista on a 40GB partition for testing purposes that I found out about the limitations, and then it was only after I called support.

    After a several conversations with customer service and tech support, I finally got them to pay for full installation media from Microsoft. I know MS still got their money, but the story has spread through the OEM about how Ubuntu is easier to use and quicker on my notebook than Vista and I have soured the relationship further between MS and a supplier, which according to some candid conversations with support and business people within the supplier is already pretty sour.

    I should stress that all the way through the process I was polite. Every time customer service attempted to transfer me to tech support, I explained that the problem was not a technical one, but a business one, namely that they had to provide Vista Home Premium as described on the Microsoft site or they were in breach of the statutory warranty. Every time they said "We don't support downgrading the unit," I politely corrected them, informing them I had upgraded it. Every time they made reference to the "recovery partition", I corrected them telling them that from a customer's point of view wiping the entire system clean is no recovery.

    Sure I am only one person, but seeing as you can no longer get a refund for just the OS on an OEM product, if everyone does what I have done instead of silently installing Linux, the manufacturers will start to see that there is a market for desktop Linux here.

  • by Digana ( 1018720 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:39PM (#23345802)

    Otherwise, they'd have a bunch of confused users wondering why they can't run iTunes on their new computer.

    The Xandros with the Eee PC comes with Amarok. It's dubbed "music manager" or something to that effect in the Xandros menus. It works fine with iPods (or it has for me).

    With any luck, users won't even notice the difference. :-)

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