Dell Downgrades to XP; Examines Ubuntu Linux
Apparently, many PC buyers prefer Microsoft’s older, poorly secured operating system rather than the shiny new Windows Vista. In fact, Dell has decided to re-introduce Windows XP on some of its consumer PCs, effective immediately. Next up: There’s a high possibility that Dell will introduce PCs with Ubuntu Linux, The VAR Guy hears.
Dell’s moves, while not crushing blows for Microsoft, show that customer demands–rather than Redmond marketing–now drive the PC industry’s direction.
In a note posted on Dell’s Ideas in Action Web site, the company says “We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back” to Dell consumer PCs. Effectively immediately, XP is once again available on six Dell consumer models.
Meanwhile, Dell continues to prep Linux-based desktops and notebooks. More than 100,ooo people participated in a Dell survey about Linux PCs in March. The company’s Ideas in Action site says “Dell has heard you” and the company plans to offer “Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems.” An update is expected within weeks or even days, Dell insiders tell The VAR Guy. The VAR Guy is standing by with his credit card in hand…
So which desktop Linux will Dell offer? Red Hat and Novell are the obvious choices. But take a look at what Michael Dell himself is running at home: Three Windows Vista machines… and a notebook with Ubuntu Linux installed. One source close to the PC company tells The VAR Guy that “Michael’s home systems have always been a pretty good indicator of where we’re going.”
The upshot? Microsoft says it has sold 20 million licenses for Vista, “the best version of Windows yet” (according to Walt Mossberg). Yet significant portions of the PC industry are saying “no thanks” because of compatibility issues and a lack of new applications. All major PC companies are now testing or offering Linux–albeit on only selected products. And Apple’s quarterly Macintosh sales grew 30 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to Gartner Inc.
The VAR Guy isn’t predicting mass migrations away from Windows. But Apple now has 5 percent of the PC market, Gartner says. And if Linux can manage to land on 5 or 10 percent of new Dell desktops and notebooks, things are going to get real interesting.