On Dell’s new customer feedback website, pressure is growing for them to ship desktop machines with Linux pre-installed. Often, when this sort of thing is suggested, there’s an expectation that the machines will be cheaper, due to not having to pay the “Microsoft tax”. But would it actually work out that way?
Surprisingly, perhaps not. Robert Accettura comments on a candid blog post by someone from Lenovo (whose WordPress server seems to be down currently) who points out that the reason they preload all those apps which clutter the Windows desktop is that they get paid for doing so. Users are much more likely to buy copies of apps which have cut-down or demo versions already installed.
Such payment would probably not be available for machines shipped with Linux. If those income from these apps offset the cost of Windows itself, and if the vendor’s support costs are higher for Linux and the volumes are smaller, might it end up being that computers running free-of-charge Linux distributions would still cost the purchaser more than those burdened with the Windows tax?