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EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs - I just want options

I saw this and just thought it was very silly.  I do need to point out that this is a personal opinion and not one that represents Microsoft or that of its employees.  However I do think that this idea ranks right up there with "everyone should write their own software" which an certain Open Source advocate once said to me.  So let me get this right, the reasons why people like pre-loaded software are:

  • Machines can be turned on and used
  • OEM supplied software is supported by the same people who supplied the hardware, so one stop show
  • OEM software is great value and often less than retail software
  • Drivers and add-on software are all provided in the box so no searching around to set the system up
  • More tools in the box from 3rd party vendors
  • No technical knowledge required to set up machine

The reasons why OEMs like pre-loaded software are:

  • Machine will be usable as soon as turned on making happy customers
  • Easier to support a known installation configuration
  • Financial incentive from some 3rd party software packages to pre-load their software

The reasons why some people don't like pre-loaded software are:

  • They might get something they don't want
  • Removal can be cumbersome

Now, if we remove all pre-loaded software and make it all the end users responsibility, then the pain of what works, how it is supported, how to get the drivers, pay retail prices and potentially higher prices for the hardware if the 3rd party subsidisation is removed.  Of course OEMs are starting to answer the two dislikes with more PCs being available with either plain Windows, a.n. other OS or bare. 

To prove just how silly an idea this is, look at Windows N - that "much sort after" item by consumers.  Recent figures suggested that 1 in 15,000 copies of Windows in Europe is the "N" version that does not have Media Player - that is just 0.0066667% of the consumers when given the choice said yes, yet the market owned by non Windows Media Player products is higher I am sure, so did the idea of removing the options for consumers really help them?

Have a read of Microsoft Vs. Europe: EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs -- Microsoft -- InformationWeek which states things like

An influential European think tank has released a position paper calling for PCs to be sold in the EU without pre-bundled operating systems like Microsoft Windows.


The paper's author, Globalisation Institute president Alex Singleton, says monopoly tactics have allowed Microsoft to enjoy the lion's share of the European desktop market. European consumers, Singleton writes, are "not able to purchase a commodity PC without automatically paying for Windows."


The Globalisation Institute has the ear of many of Europe's top policymakers, so its call for Windows-less PCs on store shelves could gain some traction in Brussels and Whitehall.

On the other hand, European consumers have shown that they seem to care less about competition in the PC market than their politicians. Microsoft has reported that PC buyers on the continent and in the U.K. have overwhelmingly shunned Windows Vista N, the version of the OS that does not include Windows Media Player.

It completely ignores the fact that Microsoft has not been found guilty of gaining a monopoly illegally, but of using it once it had it and that ever since the DOJ ruling Microsoft can't do anything to persuade OEMs to only supply Windows machines.  I have even heard of campaigns where OEMs are paid for an OS to be sold with a motherboard/pc, even if it is a non-Microsoft OS.

OK, that is the end of my rant.  Well, except to say that I don't think everyone should write their own software - I think they should be able to pay someone to use something that the other person has written! 




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Posted Sun, Oct 14 2007 11:55 PM by David Overton


AdamV wrote re: EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs - I just want options
on Tue, Oct 16 2007 1:09 PM

I totally agree, the ruling made sense politically but the reality is that no-one really cares.

Anyone who knows enough about the subject to care about whether they can use a competing product to media player already knows enough to go and buy or download an alternative.


As for OEM-bundled software, I am less convinced that lots of pre-installed applications are a good idea.

Maybe inclusion of a CD or a hard-drive folder of installations would be OK. The OEM can still verify that these will all work, coexist etc.

Trial versions should simply be banned - especially for tools like Anti-virus where the intention is to lock you in to a product when the three month renewal pops on to your screen. That is just as anti-competitive as anything MS have ever done, especially when removal of the trial AV is often hugely problematic and requires things like preventing a service from running at startup in order to then be able to uninstall after a reboot. One vendor in particular comes to mind.

I think the "Office ready" initiative is a good direction to go in.

PS: there seems to be a word missing from this sentence: "The reasons why don't like pre-loaded software are" - did you mean the customers?

David Overton wrote re: EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs - I just want options
on Tue, Oct 16 2007 3:02 PM


thanks for letting me know about the typo - it is fixed now.  While you might not like trial software, some do, although I agree that it should be very easy to remove!  

Of course, bundled OEM software includes the operating system.  Without an operating system loaded, the amount of drivers and trial software you would have to provide would grow hugely to cover any/all operating systems that could be loaded on that PC.  For that reason I support OEM software (providing the user can say no or it is easy to remove).



Tim Long wrote re: EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs - I just want options
on Fri, Oct 19 2007 3:18 PM

The asserttion that consumers can't buy a Windows-less PC is just not true. I would be happy to sell anyone my TiGra Networks brand PCs without windows and I know of at least two other local company that would also do that.

I basically don't make any profit preinstalling Windows and it is a lot of extra effort for me to do so. I do it because I think it is what customers want and I like to deliver a high-quality product that is ready to go. But if asked, I would certainly supply a PC without Windows. So if anyone thinks it's not possible to buy Windows-less PCs, just send them in my direction.


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