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The Truth Behind the Death of Linux On the Netbook 406

eldavojohn writes "Groklaw brings us news of Microsoft holding the smoking gun in regards to the death of Linux on netbooks. You see, the question of Linux on netbooks in Taiwan was put forth to the Taiwan Trade Authority director, who replied, 'In our association we operate as a consortium, like the open source consortium. They want to promote open source and Linux. But if you begin from the PC you are afraid of Microsoft. They try to go to the smart phone or PDA to start again.' It's simple; fear will keep them in line. PJ points out, 'So next time you hear Microsoft bragging that people prefer their software to Linux on netbooks, you'll know better. If they really believed that, they'd let the market speak, on a level playing field. If I say my horse is faster than yours, and you says yours is faster, and we let our horses race around the track, that establishes the point. But if you shoot my horse, that leaves questions in the air. Is your horse really faster? If so, why shoot my horse?'"
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The Truth Behind the Death of Linux On the Netbook

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  • by viralMeme ( 1461143 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:58AM (#28401471)
    "There is simply no hard evidence that Microsoft is abusing its monopoly to crush Linux on netbooks"

    'The very next day, Asus' chairman, Jonney Shih, after sharing a news conference stage with Microsoft corporate VP, OEM Division, Steven Guggenheimer, apologized for the Android Eee PC being shown []'

    Microsofts Walmart/Linux Taskforce []

    'We invest big [], big $$ in Dell .. we be quite prescriptive in our investments with Dell relative to the competitive threats we see with Linux .. we constantly benchmark ourselves against the actions they do with RedHat'

    'A cross-group team has been working for the last two weeks on a proposal to have a more planned response process to defend against Linux [] and other low-cost/no-cost competitors in large education/government deals in both developed and developing subs'
  • Don't forget Intel (Score:3, Informative)

    by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:25AM (#28401649) Homepage Journal

    If anyone these days has the balls to take on Microsoft, it's Intel. Intel has Moblin, and just sunk a pile of money into Moblin. I suspect they're also a bit tired of getting the screw-deal from Microsoft, too. Intel's entire low-end is pretty much zero profit - they make all their money on the high-end that piggy-backs on top. The lion's share of profit on low-end computing goes to Microsoft. Most live with it, I suspect Intel is tired of that situation.

    Not that Intel doesn't have their monopoly abuses, too.

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:39AM (#28401761) Journal

    When the eeepc first hit the market, two things showed up:

    1. Blogs and forums about how to get terminal and root, so that one could edit the package repo list and install debian packages.

    2. Blogs and forums about how to install xp...

    Asus eeepc used a xandros made distro, based of a somewhat aged debian version...

    Acer aspire one used a linpus made distro, based of a similarly aged fedora version...

    MSI wind used opensuse, but messed up when it came to drivers...

    I'm not fully sure what HP is using...

    Dell uses ubuntu...

    HP and dell was slow onto market, and may well be the ones that triggered the price climb towards the low end laptop range. The first HP model was higher priced then the rest when it first launched, with the excuse that it was aimed at the prosumer or business market.

    Also, Acer at least ended up shipping windows models that had more bang for mostly the same buck. Only asus did the opposite when they launched the 900 with more flash storage on the linux model vs the windows one, at the same price.

    And speaking of flash storage, it seems that most netbooks these days comes with a hardrive rather then flash. Sad really, as my opinion was that flash, tho giving less overall storage, allowed for a more rugged machine. Comboed with the price, that allowed for a machine one could "abuse" a bit more. And all had a SD slot anyways, so if one needed storage, grab a couple of SD's and stuff them in the wallet or some other container and swap them as needed...

  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:59AM (#28401915) Homepage

    They make unnecessary changes to major application's UI which serve no real purpose but confuse trained users. They force expensive upgrade and purposely break backwards compatibility to this end.

    I don't think in a discussion about Linux it is reasonable to be critical of Microsoft's frequency or degree of UI changes nor of their binary formats not being stable enough.

  • Origins (Score:3, Informative)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @11:05AM (#28401949) Homepage Journal

    The first "netbook" that started all the craze was the XO... everyone wanted one, even paying twice, donating one to schools to get one of those. And run Linux. The first next ones (asus, msi, etc) consolidated the trend, and run linux too. Till last year, most if not all netbooks had Linux as alternate (if not main) OS. And a bunch of distros/interfaces of linux specialised in netbooks started to show up (eeebuntu and similar, ubuntu netbook remix, moblin, android, etc)

    Then the campaing started. Microsoft using a chainsaw to manage to show XP in an XO. Then saying that Linux netbook returns were 4 times higher than Windows ones (at least what an msi exec said [], an asus one denied that []). Some vendors giving lesser options/specs for Linux netbooks than for Windows ones. And linux offers and showings in netbooks starting to fade

    The next incoming market for Linux in small pcs are arm based net/smart books. Started with linux in general, then Android, but recently started a push to say that the right OS for that platform is another Microsoft one, Windows CE [].

    Clearly this is not a smoking gun... the room of Neo's "guns, lots of guns" is tiny compared with the amount of weapons Microsoft is using in all fronts to try to stop the flood. Will it succeed? I only hope that not.

  • KOF! bullshit! KOF! (Score:4, Informative)

    by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @11:49AM (#28402275) Journal

    Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is either an illiterate moron (not very likely, for someone who is a "Former Ziff Davis Enterprise Editor-at-Large") or is a Linux-Loon spreading FUD ("Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols ran Linux-Watch from 2005 until April 2008.").

    Let me quote the fine link you have posted, but apparently haven't read beyond the Microsoft in the title (and that is often translated to Evil Empire, as later in the text - "The Evil Empire wants to make that up this year by forcing netbook customers into buying over-priced, under-powered Windows 7. "):

    Shih said, "Frankly speaking ... I would like to apologize that, if you look at Asus booth, we've decided not to display this product. I think you may have seen the devices on Qualcomm's booth but actually, I think this is a company decision so far we would not like to show this device. That's what I can tell you so far. I would like to apologize for that."

    Here, a shorter summed up version:

    I would like to apologize that, we've decided not to display this product.

    He is NOT apologizing for showing the product, BUT for it NO LONGER BEING SHOWN!
    That should answer the question that was bothering SJVN "What the heck does he have to apology for?" (Apparently he is a tad illiterate, seeing that one should "apologize for" and not "apology for").

    Also, from TFA linked in that article:
    Asustek puts Android netbook on ice for now []

    Qualcomm showed an Eee PC running Android on Monday as part of the company's display of new products with its Snapdragon chips inside.

    The Eee PC with Android is not ready yet because the technology is "not mature," said Jonathan Tsang, vice chairman of Asustek, on the sidelines of a press conference at the show Tuesday.
    "For the time being this project is not a priority because our engineering resources are limited," he added.

    When asked about rumors that Asustek faced pressure from Microsoft and Intel over the use of Android and Snapdragon in the Eee PC, Tsang said "no, pressure, none."

    Another Asustek representative suggested that Qualcomm displayed the Android Eee PC without permission. But Qualcomm vice president of business development Hank Robinson said Asustek approved the use of the device so long as they did not discuss any of its specs other than the Snapdragon chip.

    Further more, SJVN originally talks about "Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan" and the "ASUS incident" and to strengthen his position adds:

    If this was an isolated incident, I might not make so much of it. But, it wasn't.
    On the other side of the world, PC World, Britain's self-professed largest specialist chain of computing superstores, announced that, regardless of what was coming with Linux netbooks, it would only be selling Windows netbooks.

    Does he even read his own texts? On the other side of the world? How is that related to something happening at the trade show in Taipei?
    Well, simple - by using the magic "Evil Empire Invoking" words, such as "Windows".
    And then, he continues to cherry pick his quotes from this article [].

    SJVN tells us that:

    In a statement, Jeremy Fennell, Category Director at PC World, said, "Despite initial hype that netbooks would move more users onto the Linux platform, Microsoft has emerged as the preferred operating system because Windows makes it easier to share content, and provides customers with a simpler, more familiar computing experience on the move."

    Therefore, "Based on this insight, all the netbooks in our stores will feature Microsoft Windows, larger screens and keyboards, and greater colo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 20, 2009 @11:51AM (#28402291)

    I like my Eeepc 701, and well deserves 50% credit for the fact that linux soon thereafter became my primary OS at home and work for the first time since college, but... frequently resorting to things like typing "sudo echo 0 > /proc/acpi/asus/cardrdr" and then its opposite is fine for me (glad it's that easy to work around a problem), but not really going to fly with most users.

    I'm actually impressed how much that little machine just worked... it did a lot to convince me that linux on the desktop is viable. But they've got to get those remaining rough edges fixed, and track ongoing changes - for example, had to replace flash player once when facebook changed things, and now it looks like I'm going to have to find a way to hack flash player 10 onto there because facebook changed yet again.

  • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @12:29PM (#28402493) Homepage Journal

    What flood of returns? MSI reported higher returns for Linux (on the net books they shipped with Linux without drivers for the hardware), but Asus said return rates were similar.

  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @12:55PM (#28402629) Homepage

    I like Linux just fine when it has all been installed and is working, and why wouldn't I? Gnome and K-win basically copied the Windows UI...

    Actualy, both Gnome and KDE have innovated and pushed GUI design quite a bit over time. They've each added their own unique features and concepts (tear off menus, panels, etc) to the basic CDE concepts that emerged in the early 90s. CDE (Common Desktop Environment) was a psudo standard that was created by IBM, Digital, and many others where mainframe, mini and desktop would use very similar menus, visual cues and keystrokes. This was used to sell graphical computing to large corporations in the late 80s and early 90s (why else upgrade your terminals?). Windows 3.11 and newer, Motif and OS/2 Presentation Manager all were CDE conforming GUIs. We can all thank the CDE spec for little up and down arrows, for paste, alt-underlined letter, and for menu came from.

  • by orasio ( 188021 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:15PM (#28404369) Homepage

    That's the problem with anti-competitive behavior. The market can't work if it never gets a chance to. If we want the best products at the best prices, we need fair competition.

    Get over it. There is no such thing as a functioning free market. The only way "the market" can work is when it's heavily regulated against "bad" competitors. At that point, it's no longer a free market.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"