Unbundling the OS From PCs

“Due to licensing terms dictated by Microsoft to all vendors in the industry, a PC must ship with an operating system installed. It can be Windows. It can be Linux. For our large customers, we’ve even shipped a few machines with PC-DOS on them. However, until those licensing terms change, it won’t be possible for us to ship anything to any customer "bare metal."”
see Expanded Lenovo Linux Offerings – Perspectives – Lenovo Blogs

How times have changed. Since those days all the OEMs are shipping GNU/Linux and FreeDOS in place of that other OS and usage of GNU/Linux has multiplied. Many regions do offer GNU/Linux on retail shelves, but still not in Winnipeg.

Ask yourself, why did M$ insist it’s customers not ship bare metal? Did M$ want to ensure end-users had less choice of OS? Did M$ want to ensure it had a larger market-share than it was otherwise earning on price/performance? Were they afraid people would realize the price they paid for that OS?

A market that does not offer choice of OS is broken and governments should have smacked M$, OEMs and retailers long ago over the practice of bundling the OS. It’s clearly an anti-competitive act. Where I live one can buy a bare-metal PC but only as a “bare bones” system to which you must add components or as parts. That worked for ATX PCs but it does not for notebooks and tablets which so far don’t have many user-changeable parts. Freedom in ATX is fading with the decline in “desktop” PCs. They’ll likely be available for years longer but unless we demand notebooks and other PCs offer a choice of OS, bundling will be coming back in a big way. M$ may yet try to get OEMs to ship nothing but M$’s OS.

One of the effects of preventing disablement of “secure boot” on ARMed PCs for “8” is preventing installations of other operating systems, the ultimate “bundling with glue”. M$ will do anything to remain relevant. So far it looks as if they are misfiring but we must be vigilant. Keep pestering retailers about */Linux. Maybe they will offer choice if we demand it.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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50 Responses to Unbundling the OS From PCs

  1. Ted says:

    “Ted please look closer I have not been exactly defending ram.”

    Quite the opposite, in fact. You only succeeded in making the hole he dug for himself even deeper.

  2. oiaohm says:

    Ted please look closer I have not been exactly defending ram. Barebones don’t include CPU or harddrive or ram.
    Base spec does.

    pcsol.com.au is not cheep acquirement either.

    Ted white box pricing using server parts is not getting that expensive any more. Ok normally if I was building a workstation to go against mid range gamer I would not be using stock intel boards. I would be using some like a ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS. These are designed for duel and quad video card.

    Ted the first clue Ram made mistake was Intel xeon boards. You can build a very decent Xeon gaming machines. Its very much choosing right motherboard.

  3. Ted says:

    Seeing as you’re completely missing the point of this discussion;

    Ram wrote;

    “Yesterday I received an advertising flyer from a well known consumer electronics chain advertising a Microsoft 8 “Extreme Gaming” machine. I was equipped with a 4 core i7 and a reasonable graphics card.

    Trouble is, for the same money I can get a dual Xeon server (8 cores each, 16 threads each, for a total of 32 threads) with a killer professional graphics card, that runs Linux for considerably less money.” [emphasis mine]

    I’ve shown that he’s lying through his teeth.

    One of the *barebone* kits ram linked to is more expensive than an Alienware X51!
    (Why Alienware? Because they’re often regarded as over-priced. I’m actually being generous to you and him in my comparisons. White-boxing the gaming system would leave server pricing for dead.)

    oiaohm, all your flailing and making excuses for him has just proved me more right.

    Every system you list is *less* than the specification ram cites for this mythical server, and *far more expensive* than a mid-range gaming system.

    “Ted if you were competent”

    Ad hominem? Others have been banned for that. I bet you won’t be though.

  4. oiaohm says:

    Ted you are being a idiot not reading completely again.
    P4304BTSSFCNR and P4308CP4MHGC are bare bone. The P4304BTSSFCNR-SYS and P4308CP4MHGC-SYS are not there is a base specification to the -sys.
    http://www.pcsol.com.au/Prods/Intel-P4304BTSSFCNR-SYS.asp
    This is single chip only 4 core provided.

    http://www.pcsol.com.au/Prods/Intel-P4308CP4MHGC-SYS.asp
    This is a 6 core provided.

    Yes a open site showing the base specifications. Yes even that Altech sells these wholesale they don’t sell them retail. Yes the bundles are cheaper than buying all the parts individually.

    This is duel cpu motherboard base. Sys bundle is only a single cpu to start off with.

    Ted also take a close look at those Australian pricing for a single Quad core Xeon is about the same price as a i7 or less even on a duel cpu motherboard(unless of course you are getting ripped off). 6 core at times can be price competitive.

    Ted duel 6 core Xeon is possible for under 1999 without video card from Dell of all places.

    Currently PowerEdge T420 tower. OS free addition in Australia due to glut of Xeon 4 Cores not one wants in server farms has two Xeon 4 cores default (power vs processing power issue).

    Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2403 x 2. Yes a 8 core system for $1999.

    Altec is known as do not buy from them unless you have a volume supply account. Its always over priced ted. Non Australia not in the Australian industry would not know this.

    Heck dell is always slightly over priced for what you can get wholesale.

    Ted if you were competent you would have noted ram largest system shown is a 6 core not a 8. As I said I could make it work for a duel 6 core without video card under $2000 dollars with only a minor enterprise discount. Also will turn up on dell specials.

    Ted with current pricing at some point in the near future. Top end desktop and bottom end server have to but heads.

    Cheapest Dell single 4 core Xeon is $699.

  5. Ted says:

    “P4304BTSSFCNR-SYS and P4308CP4MHGC-SYS from Intel”

    Those are barebone server chassis kits that are not supplied with CPUs. Or memory. Or storage Or “killer professional” GPUs.

    The second one is also more expensive than a decent complete gaming desktop. As it should be – it’s an enterprise kit of kit.

    As your prices are in AUS$ – an Alienware X51 with i7, 8Gb. GTX660 and Windows 8 is AUS$1699. A dual XEON server from Altec is around AUS$3500, and that’s for a *single* slow quad-core not a pair of 8-cores, on-board GFX, and 4GB of RAM. Lets halve it for “wholesale” pricing and it’s AUS$1750. Still not cheaper.

    I can only surmise you were either extremely mistaken or you were a touch economical with the truth in your initial assertion.

  6. ram says:

    P.S. Wholesale prices are around half the retail price. Even less on “popular” retail items. OEMs buy wholesale, as can medium to large corporates.

  7. ram says:

    That server offer was from Altech (http://www.altech.com.au) to wholesale dealers. The items are P4304BTSSFCNR-SYS and P4308CP4MHGC-SYS from Intel

  8. oiaohm says:

    The cheapest Dell servers are tower configuration not rack(its plus about 500 for the rack form factor.) And I will admit a Opps I had ticked a 6 core not a 8.

    And you cannot put a powerfull video card in a 1U rack. Now a duel 4 core with means to take duel 8 when prices come back is doable. That is still more than a i7 normal quad core.
    Intel® Xeon® E5-2609 2.40GHz x 2 basically. That starts around 1600 without graphics card.

    Also I do expect this to get closer. More and more server nodes are being GPU accelerated.

    The price difference between i7 and entry level Xeon is getting quite small.

    A single Xeon chip takes you back to less than the i7. Ted entry level Xeon server is very much getting to be the point of being the same as top end i7.

  9. Ted says:

    @oiaohm;

    “I would say he forgot to add video card.”

    He explicitly said this was with a “killer professional” graphic card.

    He also claimed that this cost the same (and also *less* in the same sentence for some reason) than a name-brand desktop. I believe he meant Lenovo’s X700 Erazer, from his use of “Extreme Gamer” which Lenovo use in the X700’s marketing. The X700 is supposed to start at $1500, not $2000. You can also get an Alienware X51 with an i7 and more than “reasonable” GFX for about $1200.

    “1999 is what dell sells a duel xeon for without OS and without good video card.”

    With 8-cores per CPU? Baloney. The cheapest 8-core XEONs are $1100 each at tray price, according to INTEL themselves.

    From Dell’s US site – a dual 8-core 2.0Ghz PE R620 with only 4GB of RAM and the on-board graphics is over $3500.

  10. eldarion says:

    Every time i see the word “M$” in an article i stop reading and close the page. Lacks maturity.

  11. oiaohm says:

    Ted
    –Still no link to the dual-CPU, 16-core monster with killer GPU that’s cheaper than a single i7 with a middling GFX card?

    You weren’t fibbing, were you?–
    I would say he forgot to add video card. 1999 is what dell sells a duel xeon for without OS and without good video card. Quick look at price lists can cause compare screw ups.

    Interesting change this year is default state of Dell Windows servers has changed to blank. Yes this can be nasty for those who don’t read the specs. Reason the installation media is not include and there is no recover partition. Nada. Yes it a tick box to get installation media or to have it installed on the hard drive. Yep a Windows license sticker on side of machine and no direct way to use it.

    This also lines up with Dell offering OS free Servers fairly much everywhere.

  12. Ted says:

    @ram

    Still no link to the dual-CPU, 16-core monster with killer GPU that’s cheaper than a single i7 with a middling GFX card?

    You weren’t fibbing, were you?

  13. Maou Sadao says:

    Good parents don’t let their kids use Linux.

  14. Ted says:

    @Ram

    “Trouble is, for the same money I can get a dual Xeon server (8 cores each, 16 threads each, for a total of 32 threads) with a killer professional graphics card, that runs Linux for considerably less money.”

    Any chance of a link to this monster? Or links to the parts necessary to build one?

  15. bw wrote, “These kids do not have any such experience with Linux on PCs, so your premise is not valid.”

    So, (sarcasm) you think M$ and Apple is in human DNA(/sarcasm)? It’s a GUI. Kids point and click and figure things out rapidly. I have seen my granddaughter rip along with no problems running the browser and several other applications. I taught kids as young as 5 years old in schools. They were the easiest to teach because they had no inhibitions. They certainly are not locked in to that other OS in any way.

  16. bw says:

    “Since kids now experience mouse/keyboard/monitor from cradle to grave there aren’t many questions about the OS itself”

    If the OS is Windows or Mac, that is close to true, but enough oldsters exist to keep the call centers in business. These kids do not have any such experience with Linux on PCs, so your premise is not valid. I don’t think that you can seriously suggest that and OEM could get by without offering any support call service for Linux computers though. That is a big expense to provide with no way to recoup as I pointed out. Thus there is not going to be much of an effort to sell Linux computers, at least in developed countries that have a long history of using Windows.

  17. bw says:

    “Try a good search engine or the site’s internal search function. It works for me.”

    Doesn’t work for me when searching Newegg for the computer model that you claim validates your belief that Newegg is selling OS-less units to individuals.

    They say:

    We have found 0 items that match “Acer TravelMate TMX483-6856 Notebook”.

    Just another mystery, I guess.

  18. bw wrote, sarcastically, “All those call center guys are just sitting around all day playing Angry Birds and Candy Crush. The OEMs just keep them around for show. Customers are so familiar with Linux that they are never going to call.”

    The OEMs have those call centres around for several reasons:

    • broken stuff/warranty calls
    • broken users who have not RTFM or plugged things in. “How do I turn it on?” is a popular question.

    Since kids now experience mouse/keyboard/monitor from cradle to grave there aren’t many questions about the OS itself. An older kid shows a younger kid once and everyone knows how to point and click. It’s a GUI, for pity’s sake, imitating the actions of one’s index finger…

  19. bw wrote, “You have a knack for finding Linux offerings that I plainly do not have. I search Newegg, as you suggest, and come up empty”.

    I don’t have the time or patience to teach you how to use the web. Try a good search engine or the site’s internal search function. It works for me.

  20. lpbear wrote, “So much for your bullshit myth.”

    Amen.

  21. Ted says:

    “Trouble is, for the same money I can get a dual Xeon server (8 cores each, 16 threads each, for a total of 32 threads) with a killer professional graphics card, that runs Linux for considerably less money.”

    Any chance of some links to this bargain?

  22. ram says:

    Yesterday I received an advertising flyer from a well known consumer electronics chain advertising a Microsoft 8 “Extreme Gaming” machine. I was equipped with a 4 core i7 and a reasonable graphics card.

    Trouble is, for the same money I can get a dual Xeon server (8 cores each, 16 threads each, for a total of 32 threads) with a killer professional graphics card, that runs Linux for considerably less money. This is why the desktop “PC” is dead.

  23. lpbbear says:

    “Sure they do. All those call center guys are just sitting around all day playing Angry Birds and Candy Crush. The OEMs just keep them around for show. Customers are so familiar with Linux that they are never going to call.”

    Yes, apparently you are really THAT ignorant and stupid! As several people here at Pog’s blog can attest, the kind of support you refer to is rarely needed with Linux. Now don’t get all weak in the knees and faint on us but I have converted a large number of Windows users to Linux over the years. None of them have needed any of that kind of support and rarely did they need any help from me at all after being set up.

    The other day I was in the local library in my town. I took note of a very busy little public computer room full of people using the library’s public computers. Curious I walked in to see what they were all up to. Several systems had happy kids playing games. A couple systems were occupied by adults who were busy on some project and using the printer. EVERY one of the systems was running Linux.

    So much for your bullshit myth.

  24. bw says:

    “see NewEgg:”

    You have a knack for finding Linux offerings that I plainly do not have. I search Newegg, as you suggest, and come up empty

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&Description=Acer+TravelMate+TMX483-6856+Notebook&N=-1&isNodeId=1

  25. bw says:

    “Nope. Consumers turn the things on and they run, just like lamps.”

    Sure they do. All those call center guys are just sitting around all day playing Angry Birds and Candy Crush. The OEMs just keep them around for show. Customers are so familiar with Linux that they are never going to call.

  26. bw wrote, “They cannot realistically do that with individuals so they do not make the offer.”

    The fact that some OEMs do ship no-OS and GNU/Linux PCs to consumers is a counter argument.

    e.g. see NewEgg:
    “Acer TravelMate TMX483-6856 Notebook, English Only Intel Core i3 2377M(1.50GHz) 14″ 4GB Memory DDR3 1066 500GB HDD DVD Super Multi Intel HD Graphics 3000”

    e.g. No-OS PC for consumers. That outfit also sells vacuum cleaners and kettles. ie. They do sell to consumers.

  27. bw wrote, “The OEM has to provide a lot of support service to its customers and that service is dependent on technical expertise with the OS.”

    Nope. Consumers turn the things on and they run, just like lamps. Very few consumers will have a problem requiring help from an OEM. Consumers don’t even know OEMs exist.

  28. Quibbly says:

    @ipbbear:
    Apologies for a late response to your interesting theory on BeOS. I think your memory may be failing you on that one: BeOS was never going to be the “replacement for Windows.” Jean-Luc came from Apple and was intent on returning to Apple, except that he got greedy and Jobs beat him to it.
    BeOS was clearly intended to be the replacement for the creaky old Mac OS. And in the 1990s, I was all for that. I bought and ran two or three versions of BeOS, and I thought they were fabulous. (Compare and contrast to Linux circa 1996, btw. It wasn’t. Yup, I installed Slackware, too.)
    I think the strategy was sound, too, though the execution was obviously nutsoid. Had they got Apple to buy the team back, they could have provided a decent (though not overwhelming) alternative to Windows by the time XP rolled around.
    Tiny problem with applications, though. Properly speaking, other than a browser and a naff word-processor, there weren’t any.
    However, to frame this debacle in terms of being shafted by Microsoft is just daft, if you ask me. Not that you did.
    I notice that Palm didn’t really do much with their bargain-basement $12 million acquisition, even though they had unencumbered hardware to flog BeOS on.

  29. bw says:

    “Chuckle”

    If a user has their own IT department, perhaps using Linux is more ,manageable, but that is not the point. The OEM has to provide a lot of support service to its customers and that service is dependent on technical expertise with the OS. They all have Windows staff now. They must re-educate them or else acquire additional staff if they want to provide similar services to Linux users. That is a non-zero cost certainly and I would think that it might be a fairly large cost for the OEM that would need to be recovered somehow. As I pointed out, there would not be any additional sales to factor in, so taking on Linux can only end up as a huge expense that OEMs are not interested in paying. Those are the sad facts of life and argue that Linux will never move out of the shadows into retail commerce. If a large customer demands blank machines, provided by throwing a FreeDOS disk into the box, then the contract doubtless limits what support goes with the package. They cannot realistically do that with individuals so they do not make the offer.

  30. bw wrote, “That is a total myth, told and retold by members of the IHateMS club to one another. It seems you have been misled.”

    M$ paid SCOG for a licence… when they did not even ship Linux.

  31. bw wrote, “the major cost would be acquiring a sufficient support system to handle start up calls.”

    Chuckle. GNU/Linux is far less trouble than that other OS. I remember a lab I installed with GNU/Linux. Requests for support dropped to zero and I wandered by a couple of times to figure out why. All 24 PCs were working fine. Before that we could only keep about 14 running with that other OS.

    A school division in Saskatchewan changed from that other OS to Solaris thin clients and they increased the number of seats fourfold without adding any staff. The French police reported huge savings in licensing and no increase in support needed.

    So, quit yapping about burdensome support for GNU/Linux.

  32. bw says:

    ‘Are you purposely trying to be that ignorant and stupid?”

    You are a sort of oiaohm, but lacking the specious and rambling tales of technology. No soup for you anymore either.

  33. bw says:

    “I can object because I would prefer to buy a noOS PC than one with M$’s OS. It’s that simple”

    The damned souls in Hades are clamoring for ice water, too, but there is no profit for the devil.

    “It would cost them very little to do that since the major cost is copying to the hard drive,”

    I would rather think that the major cost would be acquiring a sufficient support system to handle start up calls. They pay a lot for Windows support staff already and having two sets of staff would likely be a very high expense. They get no return on that investment, since, as you point out, the market is not growing much and may actually be shrinking. They would never recoup that investment since a Linux computer would be sold at the loss of a Wintel sale, as you also predict, so what is in it for them? They could keep any money that they now pay for Microsoft Windows if they kept the price the same, but then where is the savings for you? It is a losing proposition for the OEM and they will likely ignore your pleas until the end of time itself.

  34. lpbbear says:

    “That is a total myth, told and retold by members of the IHateMS club to one another. It seems you have been misled.”

    Are you purposely trying to be that ignorant and stupid?

  35. bw says:

    ” IBM counter-sued the bastards and M$ supplied them the cash to go to war”

    That is a total myth, told and retold by members of the IHateMS club to one another. It seems you have been misled.

  36. lpbbear says:

    “It looks like BeOS is indeed some sort of solution in search of a problem that got bound up in the sue Microsoft frenzy at the turn of the century. They appear to have collected $23M upon settlement, which is about the low end of the scale for those suits. Not much of a footnote, even, compare to most of the rest.”

    Not at all. They only sued Microsoft after Microsoft abused its monopoly to force OEM’s to hide the BeOS option as a preloaded product offering. The CEO of BeOS is famous for making the mistake of thinking he could peacfully co-exist in the market with Microsoft.

    “I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”

    This was a real shame because BeOS was a MUCH better OS than any version of Windows then and now. I used it for a few years while it was around and it was not only way ahead of Windows, it was well ahead of Linux at the time as well. The only issues it suffered from was not enough driver support and a smaller number of applications than the Windows environment. That was steadily improving before Microsoft interfered with its ability to be marketed to consumers as a preloaded OS. Losing it as a consumer OS choice was a terrible loss for consumers and set back the quality of multimedia operating systems for a decade…..all thanks to Microsoft being too damn paranoid to compete in the marketplace other than through the use of monopolistic attacks…..and through the exact method you claimed earlier they never did. That is exactly why Microsoft LOST the lawsuit.

  37. bw wrote, “It seems like a reasonable requirement and places the OEM with the responsibility to discourage software piracy. How can you object?”

    I can object because I would prefer to buy a noOS PC than one with M$’s OS. It’s that simple. The FreeDOS models are often not what I would want to buy. OEMs should make noOS, FreeDOS, GNU/Linux available as an option on every PC. It would cost them very little to do that since the major cost is copying to the hard drive, the same cost for any OS. The installation and configuration of a prototype is a tiny part of the cost of a PC when millions are sold. That OEMs sell just M$’s OS is evidence of collusion in monopoly if you ask me.

  38. bw wrote, “Don’t be so smug as to think that they have such a terrible fear of Linux that they would violate antitrust laws.”

    Uhhh…. They paid SCOG ~$50million to sue the world over Linux. Of course that action collapsed under its own weight of fluff before any criminal action developed but SCOG went as far claiming the GPL was unconstitutional. I think SCOG went far enough there could have been fraud charges or stock manipulation charges but so far nothing has come of it. They certainly were a “partner” of M$. ie. IBM counter-sued the bastards and M$ supplied them the cash to go to war.

    SAMBA was all about GNU/Linux.

  39. bw says:

    It looks like BeOS is indeed some sort of solution in search of a problem that got bound up in the sue Microsoft frenzy at the turn of the century. They appear to have collected $23M upon settlement, which is about the low end of the scale for those suits. Not much of a footnote, even, compare to most of the rest.

  40. Maou Sadao says:

    BeOS was destroyed by Be’s incompetence. They created an operating system nobody NEEDED. Then they were surprised that nobody wanted to buy it.

  41. lpbbear says:

    “What is BeOS and what did they lose?”

    Hmmmm, thought you were an expert in all this stuff?
    I won’t go into detail but BeOS is the OS that should have replaced Windows as a commercial OS were it not for Microsoft’s interference.
    Imagine running an original Pentium with 32 mbs of Ram and being able to run multiple video and audio files simultaneously with no stutter and slowdown. Something the bloated pig called Windows still can’t do. Look it up.

  42. bw says:

    “Yep, and in the BeOS case they lost.”

    What is BeOS and what did they lose?

  43. lpbbear says:

    “So you cite some jamoke named “Hacker” as some sort of proof”

    Jamoke??? Man you’re a real doofus.

    “that your paranoia is validated?”

    and I’m paranoid? Wow!

    “a twelve year old piece at that?”

    What difference does the age make. As true now as it was then.

    “Microsoft has been selling their OS products for over 30 years and their practices and actions have been litigated from pillar to post throughout the world.”

    Yep, and in the BeOS case they lost.

    “Don’t be so smug as to think that they have such a terrible fear of Linux that they would violate antitrust laws.”

    Not smug at all. That trait is all you and your fellow MS supporters. MS does have a fear of Linux and that is clear by their actions over several years. You simply chose to ignore the obvious.

  44. Maou Sadao says:

    Total bull. Microsoft’s licensing terms do not forbid shipping PCs without an OS in any way. It’s just a convenient, legit-sounding excuse by Lenovo because they don’t have the guts to simply say: “We don’t really see a profitable consumer market for PCs without an OS.”

  45. bw says:

    ” Shipping a box with Freedos or some Linux distro stops Windows piracy how?

    It makes the OEM a conscious participant in the process. There is nothing that physically blocks piracy in doing that, but it shows that Microsoft has made a reasonable effort to protect themselves and that gives them an argument in any litigation that might occur, since the pirate has overtly replaced the FreeDOS with the illegal copy. It makes any “I didn’t know!” argument less persuasive.

    I run Ubuntu but for the rare Windows programs I use I have installed Win XP and Win 7 in Virtualbox”

    Of course you have valid licenses for both XP and Windows 7? Microsoft thanks you!

  46. bw says:

    “In actual truth …”

    So you cite some jamoke named “Hacker” as some sort of proof that your paranoia is validated? a twelve year old piece at that? At least Pogson’s cite was only 5 years old.

    Microsoft has been selling their OS products for over 30 years and their practices and actions have been litigated from pillar to post throughout the world. Don’t be so smug as to think that they have such a terrible fear of Linux that they would violate antitrust laws. Nothing that they have been sued over in the past was ever in regard to Linux either.

  47. Bob Parker says:

    bw – Shipping a box with Freedos or some Linux distro stops Windows piracy how?
    I run Ubuntu but for the rare Windows programs I use I have installed Win XP and Win 7 in Virtualbox.

  48. lpbbear says:

    “They allow OEMs to ship Linux in lieu of Windows”

    Ahh if it were only as sweet and simple as you would like to paint it…..

    http://www.birdhouse.org/beos/byte/30-bootloader/

    In actual truth Microsoft uses the threat of blocking an OEM’s access to Windows licenses to keep OS competition down. Having an OS installed as a requirement is more about blocking competitors. The rest of the reasons you mentioned are more of a smoke screen to hide the ugly truth.

  49. bw says:

    Having an OS installed on products shipped by an OEM is merely a contractual term that Microsoft uses to qualify a customer as an OEM who would be entitled to discounts on Microsoft products under and OEM license arrangement. Their concern is piracy, pure and simple. Pirates and would-be pirates oppose this, of course, but the rest of the world goes along. It seems like a reasonable requirement and places the OEM with the responsibility to discourage software piracy. How can you object?

    Microsoft does not worry about people buying Linux machines. They allow OEMs to ship Linux in lieu of Windows as verified in your citation above. what they do not want to do is make it easy on pirates to buy bare metal PCs with prominent brand names and install illegal copies of Windows for sale at market prices.

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