The 24-hour Linux phenomenon

by Bharat Suneja

Interesting observation by InfoWorld columnist Neil McAllister. He quotes Jim Allchin (Group VP of Platforms at Microsoft).

Excerpts from the Open Enterprise column (emphasis mine). Standard disclaimers (including “take this with a pinch of salt”) etc. apply… I do think there’s some element of truth in this – having heard from or of people who’ve bought cheap desktops with unheard of OSes and installed Windows…. or taken Apple’s “Switched” campaign too seriously and then returned to Windows… few hundred (or thousand) dollars poorer.. :

Microsoft gave up pretending that Linux isn’t a threat to its Windows server business a long time ago. But when the soft-spoken Allchin first brought up the server market during our conversation that afternoon, he dropped the L-word with such candor that I was frankly shocked.

Linux is the expected winner,” Allchin says, “with its lineage from Unix. But we’re happy, because we’re winning market share.” Got that? Not only is Linux a formidable competitor in the server market, but now Microsoft actually paints itself as the underdog.

Allchin was far less charitable (about Linux on the desktop) ….. attributing Linux’s reported growth in the desktop market to something he called the 24-hour Linux phenomenon.”

According to Allchin, most customers who buy a new computer outfitted with Linux instead of Windows are doing it solely as a cost-cutting measure. They avoid the Windows license fee at the cash register when they ask for systems with Linux preinstalled. Once they get the hardware home, however, that Linux OS is quickly erased and replaced with a pirated copy of Windows — often within 24 hours.

Allchin calls the practice of replacing the default OS with Windows “flipping,” and he says it’s particularly prevalent in Asian markets, where software piracy is rampant. In China, he says, shipments of desktop Linux are actually declining. The reason? Vendors who once shipped systems with Linux preinstalled are now switching to free or low-cost versions of DOS. That’s because it’s a lot easier for a customer to flip a system loaded with that bare-bones OS than it is to flip a comparatively more Byzantine Linux system.

Read it on –

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