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Sell PCs without Windows urges think tank

Published: 24th Sep 2007, 23:42:14 | Permalink | Printable

And the Iyonix without RISC OS?

Alex SingletonComputers should be sold without a bundled operating system, free-market think tank Globalisation Institute urged this week. In a submission to the European Commission, the Institute argued "bundling of Microsoft Windows with computers is not in the public interest, and prevents meaningful competition in the operating system market."

Former RISC OS magazine and IT journalist Alex Singleton, who now heads the Brussels-based policy examining organisation, alleged the dominant position of Windows has slowed technical improvements and prevented new alternatives from entering the marketplace. His report goes on to say that interoperability and open standards would be encouraged in a more competitive market.

The plans, if seen through, would break Microsoft's monopoly in the desktop PC market. Although these proposals could then open up access to more file formats and Internet-based protocols for RISC OS users, they could also impact computers systems closer to home.

Alex, pictured, said: "Our submission to the European Commission, if implemented, would have implications for the sale of RISC OS computers. I think the A9 series would be excluded because really it doesn't count as a traditional desktop or laptop computer, rather as a specialist embedded product.

"For the Iyonix, it might well be such that Castle would have to sell it without the OS, especially given that it is being sold as a general purpose computer."

Alex's work was published a week after a top European court turned down Microsoft's appeal against an anti-trust ruling made in 2004 by the European Commission. The Commission fined the Redmond-based software giant nearly 300 million quid for abusing its OS monopoly by bundling media player software with Windows - which was alleged to have harmed competitors such as Real Networks. Microsoft was also ordered to reveal the finer secrets of its protocols for the benefit of third-party clients.

Alex's report was posted to European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes, who lead the recent anti-trust case against Microsoft.

Alex added: "The fact is, when you go into a computer shop, the majority of consumers are not faced with a choice. Just because on the margins you are offered something else, I don't think those choices mean there is real competition.

"For two decades, Microsoft has enjoyed monopolistic power in the operating system market. We are calling for the European Commission to liberalise the market and let consumers benefit from cheaper prices, greater competition and more innovation."

On the anti-trust case, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said: "Everyone agrees that the version of Windows that we offer in Europe today is in compliance with the Commission's 2004 decision, and I'm also gratified that we were able to have the kinds of constructive discussions with the European Commission last year that enabled us to bring to market Windows Vista in conformity with the Commission's 2004 decision."

Microsoft spokesman Jenny Wong said: "You can already buy a PC with no OS, with Windows or with Linux, or indeed a Mac with the Mac OS so all such options are available and consumers make the choice already."

Links

Download the think tank's report

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Discussion

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The 'box shifters' won't like that. They would have to provide 'real' support and that could be a major headache without intelligent, knowledgeable and informed staff.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 25/9/07 2:32AM
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It hardly matters for Ionyx if you can't bundle the OS. It can't really run anything else apart from, possibly, Linux, and you wouldn't buy it to run Linux. Same thing about A9 and (to some extent Macs).

So unbundling the OS really only matters for mainstream PC hardware, where unbundling the OS will make the cost of Windows more visible.

As for box-shifters, they can unbundle the OS by unbundling the HD, so you get a choice of a HD with pre-installed Windows or an empty HD. If they get the Windows HDs from the vendors, they don't need to do more support than they do now (except for putting the HD into the PC).

 is a RISC OS Usertorbenm on 25/9/07 9:28AM
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If this goes ahead with any degree of fairness, the company that's really going to lose out is actually Apple, as they'd have to let people decide which OS they want on their shiny plastic boxes. The article above seems curiously silent on that issue.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 25/9/07 9:34AM
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I wonder if this would make them officially release a PC version of OS X?

There ought to be exceptions for existing products. What are the RISC OS options? Since RISC OS performs the function of the BIOS in a PC, a RISC OS system without an OS is useless for anything. I suppose the options are a bootloader (with presumably the option of installing an OS to flash) or a cartridge based OS.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 25/9/07 10:03AM
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This may also make people who *want* Windows pay more, as if it isn't bundled, the cost of Windows will be more.

jess: Doubtful. Apple are a hardware company, not a software company - they're business is selling expensive ornaments that just happen to run OS X.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/9/07 10:08AM
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Actually they would have to sell it separately. So all it would need would be for someone to come up with a loader (which has been done for illegal installs already).

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 25/9/07 10:12AM
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drobe:"The plans ... would break Microsoft's monopoly in the desktop PC market." Of course they wouldn't. They might *help*, but I suspect it would take more than that to defeat the behemoth that is Microsoft.

rjek:"if it isn't bundled, the cost of Windows will be more." Why? Presumably MS will still give large discounts to the "box shifters".

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 25/9/07 10:23AM
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jess: Even if they didn't include it with machines, there's nothing stopping them putting licensing conditions in such that it can only be run on Apple's hardware.

Also, they already sell Mac OS X without hardware. People already have opportunity to make a "loader".

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/9/07 10:33AM
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That's only for PowerPC at present isn't it? (and the existing loader just allows it to install on unsupported old models).

breaking license conditions isn't as bad legally (usually) as pirating software, and the conditions may not be legal everywhere (or even under the new legislation).

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 25/9/07 10:48AM
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Jess: No, it isn't just for PowerPC.

Breaking licence conditions is precisely as bad as using pirated software. Neither are illegal, but both are copyright infringement.

I doubt making it illegal to *not* do business with people for non-race/sex/gender reasons in the EU will ever happen.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/9/07 10:54AM
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I'd assume any EU introduction could simply be bypassed by the vendor asking "I assume you'd like the standard software with that?" (or some equally loaded question) for each PC, which would make it something of a non-event. Right now, you're supposed to be able to get versions of XP without Media Player (following an EU ruling), but I've never seen them in the oem channel, and I think they cost as much as the normal copies, so that SKU disappears uinder the waves.

Still, it'd be nice if the EU did something positive with all the VAT earnings they get their hands on!!!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 25/9/07 11:12AM
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arawnsley: But presumably the point would be that as part of the unbundling the retailers will have to advertise both prices - that's the crux - to make the pricing transparent so the concept of "cheap" linux actually starts to mean something to punters. Clearly the XP "N" thing is a bizaare lame duck since no-one in their right mind would buy a less capable (and probably deliberately broken) product for the same price as the full version.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 25/9/07 12:26PM
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A ridiculous ruling. Far better would be a ruling that customers have the option to buy the PC without an OS installed. That way, I could buy (for example) a laptop and install linux on it without having to pay any licence fee to M$.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 25/9/07 12:30PM
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I can't see how not supplying a computer with and operating system is in in the public interest. Most people with computers couldn't install an operating system, even if it was supplied on a hard disc in another box ready to plug in, so how would it be in their interest? The alternative is to have the ability to specify which OS you want to be supplied with the computer but that would make the computer more expensive.

As I see it it's nothing to do with public interest it's to do with linux users being upset at having to pay for windows, they'd rather pay more for a computer than pay microsoft.

 is a RISC OS Usercoling on 25/9/07 12:35PM
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coling: "I can't see how not supplying a computer with and operating system is in in the public interest. Most people with computers couldn't install an operating system, even if it was supplied on a hard disc in another box ready to plug in, so how would it be in their interest?"

From what I've heard, even if you buy a computer with Windows "pre-installed" it doesn't boot straight into a usable Windows desktop - instead, it chugs away for a couple of hours finishing off the install started in the factory. So I doubt somehow that making someone pop in a CD/DVD with the right software and having it copy everything over would be any more hassle than things already are.

"The alternative is to have the ability to specify which OS you want to be supplied with the computer but that would make the computer more expensive."

And *why* is that? Isn't this the whole point of making people unbundle stuff? There's absolutely no pricing transparency at all. You ask not to have an added extra and suddenly the product costs *more*! Sounds like a subsidy is in there somewhere.

"As I see it it's nothing to do with public interest it's to do with linux users being upset at having to pay for windows, they'd rather pay more for a computer than pay microsoft."

It's often worth paying more for a better product, but if the reason for paying more is some kind of penalty for not having chosen Microsoft software, then I think that an investigation is very much in the public interest. What if your Iyonix (or Omega, or whatever) had a £50 levy on it for not running Windows (on top of any price for the OS) because the vendor could have sold you something with Windows on it? I think you'd change your tune.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 25/9/07 12:47PM
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My iyonix has a 500+ukp levy for not running windows and I was happy to pay it.

Mac users also pay a premium for not running windows.

If RISC OS ran natively on a PC I'd get be able to get a cheap computer courtesy of the PC manufacturers - microsoft symbiosis which would cost far less than an iyonix. PC manufacturers make their products with windows in mind and that is what drives the prices down. Linux has taken advantage of the cheap hardware produced by this relationship but the hardware is only cheap because of microsoft.

Why haven't companies decided to sell only linux PC's after all linux is free. The reason is that they can't sell them cheap enough to tempt people away from windows PC's.

 is a RISC OS Usercoling on 25/9/07 1:08PM
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To quote the article>"His report goes on to say that interoperability and open standards would be encouraged in a more competitive market."

And then it is inferred that Iyonix (the only RISC OS machine with an open source version oif the OS) is the one required to be supplied *without* an OS while A9Home which has a "closed source" version isn't. Beggars belief.

As to the quote that "For the Iyonix, it might well be such that Castle would have to sell it without the OS, especially given that it is being sold as a general purpose computer." So A9 isn't a general purpose computer. Well that'll be news for the people who bought it I guess.

A9 *has* no alternative OS at all. It is *totally closed* and there *is* no competition. Iyonix you have Linux, RO5 and the option (albeit unlikely) of Select. Surely the suggestion of fostering competition would *more* apply to A9 where there is *less* (as in NO) choice of OS.

But eh why let a bit of logic creep in where it isn't required eh ? ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 25/9/07 1:52PM
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coling: "the hardware is only cheap because of microsoft"

I can't follow your logic. Why on earth do you think the hardware is cheap because of Microsoft?

AMS: I think you're reading too much into some off-hand comments unrelated to the main issue! ;) Also - the Iyonix doesn't have an open source OS.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 25/9/07 2:28PM
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I'd suggest people actually download and read the report, which is linked at the bottom of the article. I think it will clear up a few things, among which that Apple has been "exempted". By the way, just for the sake of clarity; this report isn't a ruling. Merely a piece of advice.

In my opinion, the think tank's advice can lead to a distinctly positive outcome, if properly debated by decision makers in Brussels. I am of the strong opinion that the current situation is extremely unhealthy for everybody except Microsoft. I'm all for de-coupling Windows as the default OS on IBM-PC compatibles. However, it should not mean a user must purchase an OS separately and install it manually. I'd suggest a consumer should be able to opt for a PC with Windows, a PC with a particular (and properly supported) Linux distribution or simply a PC without an OS.

I believe it's totally cool if Microsoft started manufacturing their own PC's, like Apple builds their own PC's. Like Acorn, Atari, Commodore, etc. used to. People tend to forget that a Macintosh simply isn't a IBM-PC compatible, even though it technically almost is. The fact that it can run Windows isn't anything new, nor should it mean it should therefore come without OS X and Apple should sell OS X for IBM-PC compatibles. Macintosh computers have been able to run Windows for years, but until now it can only do so through specially designed software. A Risc PC can run Windows or Linux natively. If Castle still sold them, would they therefore also have to be bundled without RISC OS, so that a consumer can opt for it to solely run Windows or Linux? No, simply because a Risc PC (or Iyonix for that matter) isn't an IBM-PC compatible and it requires special software to run an OS other than RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 25/9/07 2:58PM
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They recommend that an Apple Mac isn't thought of as a commodity computer, if that were the case then the Iyonix certainly isn't either.

However, they need to come up with a definition that achieves what they want without being unfair. Much as I dislike M$, a rule needs to be fair.

Even if they say that the rule applies to any OS with a certain market share. (which of course wouldn't be likely to affect Vista for a while :) :) )

Perhaps they could define it as any OS run from any re-programmable medium. Which would allow RISC OS and symbian, wince etc.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 25/9/07 4:06PM
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coling: "Linux has taken advantage of the cheap hardware produced by this relationship but the hardware is only cheap because of microsoft."

Nonsense! Hardware is cheap because of the demand for hardware and high volume cheap manufacturing in the Far East. You can claim that Microsoft drives demand because "they make computing so easy", but that would be quite an incredible thing to claim in the RISC OS scene, given that even platform naysayers like myself are fully aware that RISC OS was usable enough for punters almost twenty years ago, and we all know that driving demand isn't as simple as that, anyway.

Perhaps Windows 3.1 and 95 stimulated demand (alongside the hype) beyond what DOS and Windows 3.1, respectively, previously offered, but I think you'll find that a range of alternatives could have kept the punters just as satisfied. If OS/2 had been dominant, I'm sure you'd be thanking IBM for making hardware cheap instead.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 25/9/07 11:51PM
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Coling wrote: "Why haven't companies decided to sell only linux PC's after all linux is free. The reason is that they can't sell them cheap enough to tempt people away from windows PC's."

I rather think it is because their licensing deals with Microsoft makes them pay a license fee for every computer they sell, regardless of whether it was Windows or not. So there is no incentive for them to sell with another OS. And while they _can_ get a licensing deal that makes them pay only for machines with Windows installed, that is a much more expensive per-machine license. This is, IMO, a clear case of abusing a de-facto monopoly.

Forcing vendors to unbundle the OS will make a per-machine license unenforceable, which helps competition.

 is a RISC OS Usertorbenm on 26/9/07 8:35AM
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It seems obvious to me - but my logic always seems to be at odds with everyone else :-) It has nothing to do with my opinions of the operating systems involved I would think the same if the roles of linux and microsoft were reversed.

Microsoft make an operating system and the machines that it uses are designed to run windows. It's no different than riscos and iyonix except that more than 1 company is involved. The price is driven down as manufacturers all want a piece of the microsoft hardware pie and think that they can make a profit making windows boxes cheaper/faster/better.

You can't tell me that any company starting up a hardware business making PC hardware don't have at the top of it's agenda that the hardware must work with windows. They don't care about any other operating system The only profit in the game is to sell windows boxes because you can sell them fast.

Then there are the box shifters. As long as microsoft has such dominance they only need stock boxes of windows PC's if they had to stock boxes with other operating systems the waste of floorspace taken up by computers they can't sell as quickly will drive the average price of a box up. If windows boxes outsold linux boxes 5 to 1 then you would have to make 5 times as much profit on the linux box to justify keeping it in stock and that is why buying a windows box and putting linux on it is the cheapest way of getting linux.

 is a RISC OS Usercoling on 26/9/07 8:59AM
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In reply to coling:

If you don't preinstall operating systems, you don't have to stock computers with different operating systems - you just stock OS-less computers and have boxes of CDs (that take up next to no space) with different OSs. Or better yet - you download the newest updated version and give it to the user on a CD or flash card.

As for hardware being made for Windows, the only way this is visible is that the vendors supply drivers to Windows. Most devices these days use standard interfaces (USB, ATAPI, etc.) that aren't specifically targeted to Windows. And if it was not for Windows dominance, all devices would now carry their own drivers in bytecode on a flash ROM and upload it to the host when plugged in. No more messing with drivers etc. - you get real plug and play.

 is a RISC OS Usertorbenm on 26/9/07 9:09AM
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I don't think this proposal if enacted will actually change anything on the ground. A punter will still go in to PC World or some other idiot-shop and come away with a PC with Windows installed on it, via some dodge or another. The only benefit is if the retailer is forced to state the price of an OS-less machine with the price the manufacturer is paying for the Windows OEM licence removed, so people can see what the real cost of Windows and any bundled software is.

As we've seen in comments about the EU vs Microsoft judgement by ordinary punters in places like the BBC News website, people think Windows is free because it comes with the machine, and Microsoft shouldn't be punished for being so generous. They aren't aware of the either the real cost to them, or the vast profit margin on the pre-installed OS and Office.

The proposal would hopefully put an end to the ridiculous situation where companies such as Dell make it as difficult as physically possible to actually obtain an OS-less or Linux pre-installed version of the boxes they claim to sell (to escape allegations of unfair practices), but when you actually find them, the machine with "free OS" costs more than the identical one with Windows installed.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 26/9/07 9:32AM
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Having just scanned through the article, I'm somewhat appalled by the lack of thought that's gone into it.

Apparently, according to the logic of the authors, the Mac is a niche product that isn't aimed at the mass market.

To quote directly from the article "We consider the Mac to be a premium, niche product ... which is difficult to justify in the business world outside of the publishing sector. We therefore do not think that the Mac, despite claims of its superiority, provides a meaningful competitive threat to Microsoft."

I'm sure Apple would disagree. Their "Get a Mac" campaign seems to be driven at demonstrating that a Mac can do everything a (Windows) PC can. More and more people are buying them as desktop computers.

However, according to Alex Singleton's quotes above, the IYONIX is an entirely different matter. Clearly that's a mass market computer whose mere existence causes the boys at Redmond sleepless nights at it continues to threaten their dominance.

Drafting this article and failing to include all desktop PCs was a bad idea, makes the thing look very much like another "We hate Microsoft and love Apple" rant and will almost certainly turn out to be a waste of time.

Incidentally, if I could buy a Mac mini without the cost of OS X, I'd be tempted. I'd stick linux on it anyway.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 26/9/07 10:11AM
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Surely it is a backward step for users to have to install the operating system however easy that is made? You wouldn't expect to have to do that for other devices that have operating systems would you?

There are many users who just use the machine as it comes out of the box and never install a program. Part of the boom in home computing and thus the force for driving down prices has been the capabilities of the computer out of the box.

Yes there are standard interfaces for devices but they are targeted at windows - as you say yourself things would be different if you didn't have windows. You have to remember that you have many manufacturers of the same computer, ie a windows box, and it is in their interest to collaborate to keep their costs down and it is this collaboration where the 'standard' interfaces come from.

They are effectively not standard interfaces but windows box interfaces that computers like the mac and iyonix use to keep their costs down. No-one is making a device with a new interface for an Iyonix. If 90% of computers were BBC computers the Tube would now be a standard interface.

 is a RISC OS Usercoling on 26/9/07 10:21AM
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Jymbob: If you could buy a Mac mini without OS X to just run Linux on, why don't you buy one of the myriad of similar devices that are already cheaper? Or, to paraphrase Charlie Brooker from his hysterical article ( [link],,2006031,00.html - read the first comment, too), are you just after a rubbish aspirational ornament? :)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 26/9/07 10:59AM
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coling: users have to do a lot of the OS install on Windows (and even a little on the mac). They don't come ready to use. Booting up from an install DVD isn't going to be any more challenging.

If the manufacturers have any sense they'll supply machines ready partitioned, with any required drivers on the second partition.

It would also mean not having to buy a new OS if you replace your computer and wipe the old one.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 26/9/07 11:34AM
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coling: "Surely it is a backward step for users to have to install the operating system however easy that is made?"

Are you telling me that at no point is any buyer of new hardware asked to insert some CD or other to get access to the manual (which isn't the generous paper affair that Acorn used to provide) or to install some extra thing or other?

"Yes there are standard interfaces for devices but they are targeted at windows"

Just because RISC OS support for standard interfaces has been on and off over the years doesn't mean that USB, Firewire, PCI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on are all Microsoft-driven innovations. I think you have to give Intel the credit for most of that. Compare and contrast these standards with dirty stuff like Winmodems and the like which is what happens when a bunch of chipset manufacturers get together with Microsoft and cook up the kind of thing you think is going on with all the other stuff.

"They are effectively not standard interfaces but windows box interfaces that computers like the mac and iyonix use to keep their costs down."

You have heard of Intel, right?

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 26/9/07 11:43AM
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jymbob: "Apparently, according to the logic of the authors, the Mac is a niche product that isn't aimed at the mass market."

That it's a niche product, yes, they even compare it to a Bang & Olufsen television. However, they've never stated that it's not aimed at the mass market. Personally, I find the comparison with B&O pretty sound. The only Mac that can arguably be described as aimed at the mass-market is the Mac mini.

Your quote from the article "We consider the Mac to be a premium, niche product ... which is difficult to justify in the business world outside of the publishing sector. We therefore do not think that the Mac, despite claims of its superiority, provides a meaningful competitive threat to Microsoft."

"I'm sure Apple would disagree. Their 'Get a Mac' campaign seems to be driven at demonstrating that a Mac can do everything a (Windows) PC can. More and more people are buying them as desktop computers."

No, I don't think Apple would necessarily disagree. Apple doesn't even want to compete with Microsoft. Remember that both companies have been doing business together in the desktop market for ages. Apple competes with high-end PC manufacturers. If Apple really wanted to compete with Microsoft head-on, they'd start selling Mac OS X for IBM-PC compatibles. However, I do agree with your statement about their 'Get a Mac' campaign.

The report mentions the 'business world', not the home market. Indeed, outside of the publishing and music sector and a very small portion of certain scientific fields, I really don't see many business areas where Macs are commonly used. Of course there are some smaller businesses where they can get away with it, but Microsoft really still does reign in the majority of the business world.

"However, according to Alex Singleton's quotes above, the IYONIX is an entirely different matter. Clearly that's a mass market computer whose mere existence causes the boys at Redmond sleepless nights at it continues to threaten their dominance."

Well, Alex simply said the Iyonix is being sold as a "general purpose computer". Still, I see your point and agree: Bill Gates definitely has a few Iyonixes running in the secret Redmond bunker and is sweating profusely about its superiority. Seriously though, if the Iyonix would have to be sold without RISC OS, the Mac would sure as hell have to be sold without Mac OS X. It seems Alex's logic is a bit dodgy.

"Drafting this article and failing to include all desktop PCs was a bad idea, makes the thing look very much like another "We hate Microsoft and love Apple" rant and will almost certainly turn out to be a waste of time."

I'm afraid you have a point there, but for another reason: They should have made the distinction clear between IBM-PC compatibles and other personal computers, like Macs, Amiga's or indeed the Iyonix, which are specifically built to integrate with their particular OS. Most IBM-PC compatibles (sorry about the archaic term) are not hardwired to solely run Windows; they can just as neatly boot into and run various Linux distro's or BSD flavours and an assortment of other OS's, provided the appropriate drivers are available.

"Incidentally, if I could buy a Mac mini without the cost of OS X, I'd be tempted. I'd stick linux on it anyway."

In that case I would suggest to check out other computers of similar form factor; the Mac mini certainly is a lovely little box, but it's Apple proprietary and particularly suited for Mac OS X. Other Mac mini 'clones', if you will, are probably an open design and therefore better suited to run a certain Linux distribution.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 26/09/07 1:25PM
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in reply to guestx:

Yes I've heard of intel but they are just another player on the hardware side of the equation. If for the moment you take Linux out of the mix you have a box designed to run windows, a box that runs OS X and a box that runs riscos. Until the mac changed only the windows box uses the intels 86 processor so most of intels profits are in making processors to run windows. So intel's main concern is not to break compatability with windows.

It is not something clever that microsoft have done to have all the hardware manufacturers first thought be about microsoft they haven't even engineered it that way it's a consequence of their overwhelming domination. and the fact that it's great news for hardware manufacturers in that they only need concern themselves with one OS that's why new companies jump on the bandwagon to make hardware for windows boxes - huge market small target.

The article boils down to there should be more competition for the use of the windows hardware box and this means linux as no other OS developer is bothered about it. Apple could have put OS X on a windows box, they have enough clout to buy windows boxes without windows at the lowest of prices so why don't they? Because they know you can't make money selling a windows box with a different OS to windows at the same or cheaper price and make money from it and neither can linux if you could there would be warehouses selling linux boxes. I would price a box with windows removed as dearer than the same box with windows. It's all about making money and no-one is going to be sacked for planning a future based around microsoft.

I'm going to try and leave it there I'm repeating myself now :-) It's all only my opinion anyway

 is a RISC OS Usercoling on 26/09/07 3:24PM
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Now this is more like it, a French man buys €599 laptop, but doesn't want the bundled Microsoft crap, and only offered a €30. He isn't happy about this, so sues then and gets €311 back!

[link]

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 26/09/07 4:36PM
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druck: "Now this is more like it"

Yes, it's a bit like asking UK banks about their penalty charges: no bank wants to say how much it costs to process a cheque because if they did, they'd be stripped bare by angry punters. Likewise, no-one wants to say how much Windows and the usual useless disk-fillers actually cost: the vendors and Microsoft pick arbitrary figures, but a bit of transparency (or some French bloke picking a big refund figure which then sets a precedent) would rain on a few parades, I imagine.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 27/09/07 00:04AM
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I think this is a bit out of date. You do *not* have to buy a copy of Windows with a PC. This used to be the case but it certainly isn't any more unless you're buying from some of the 'brand name' suppliers who are just as likely to insist on including a 'free' printer or something.

At the beginning of this year I was intending to buy a new PC. This was just at the time when Vista was being introduced and all the main suppliers had dropped XP which is what I wanted. I had no difficulty finding companies that would supply with no OS and I could easily buy a copy of XP. As it happened, by the time I got around to buying the new machine most suppliers had reverted to offering XP as an alternative so I did buy a computer with OS.

I think the fact that Vista has proven unpopular and a lot of people still prefer XP has lead to suppliers offering a choice of OS, and that choice now often includes *no* OS. To name just one popular supplier, Novatech. All their own brand PCs show the OS as a separate item and they will supply with no OS.

True, people like PC World are probably never going to offer machines with no OS because they mainly sell to inexperienced users and the support would be too complicated.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 27/09/07 07:19AM
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apdl: "You do not have to buy a copy of Windows with a PC."

Yes, this is true: I've bought a PC without Windows, or rather all the different bits and pieces without Windows, and there are places selling complete, "naked" PCs, PCs with Linux, and so on. I can only guess that I wasn't subsidising Microsoft in some way, but in my case this isn't likely: component vendors don't sell stuff with Windows, generally.

One antitrust ruling which did actually seem to have an effect was this one - [link] - which prohibited collusion between Microsoft, Intel and vendors, although I guess the agreement ran out and Microsoft reverted to type. However, most punters don't buy stuff from Novatech (and I know people who wouldn't buy from them again, either), and the mainstream retailers don't let you buy that HP, Acer (or whatever) laptop without the OS: the bundle is a done deal which you can't opt out of. Consequently, Microsoft gets their products shipped to potentially unwilling punters in volume (and as you note, it isn't Microsoft vs. others, sometimes you don't want Microsoft's premium product of the era) and then the intellectually lazy (who can't manage to join the dots) start arguing that no-one wants to choose anything else.

From a completely liberal, free-market perspective, the problem is merely one which can be solved by having a risk-taker stimulating competition for the alternatives and potentially making big sales from the unsatisfied demand for those alternatives, which is what the fuss with Dell was about. However, the "Microsoft is a standard" argument has significant implications: suddenly your government departments, the BBC, public services are insisting that you have Microsoft Windows and Office and can't understand that there's anything else. That's when this moves into the political and regulatory domain.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 27/09/07 09:50AM
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apdl:

I well remember on of our guys at work ordering what he thaught was an amazingly cheap laptop from novatech, only to find when it was delivered, that it didn't have an OS!

Was truly funny to see the look on his face when he realised he had to pay another £90 (or something) to get windows...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 27/09/07 1:24PM
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hEgelia and rjek:

re: getting a Mac mini for linux.

You're absolutely right. For some reason I had 300GBP rather than 400 in my head as a baseline. I was mainly implying that:

1) If I could have 80 quid knocked off the price (cost of OS X) I might consider it vaguely reasonable.

2) It'd be amusing for all my mac-loving friends to go "Wow! you've got a ... oh." when I power it up.

As it is I'll probably keep using more 'normal' x86 hardware for a while (alongside the Iyx, of course)

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 28/09/07 10:08AM
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jymbob: "If I could have 80 quid knocked off the price (cost of OS X) I might consider it vaguely reasonable."

Apple will never sell a Mac without OS X, unless the EU intervenes. I've heard people say that Apple is a hardware company, but that's not the case (anymore). It may seem that way, but they actually are a software company. Everything they make and sell is really just software in a nice package. An early pioneer on object-oriented programming and GUI design once said - "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware." Apple stands firmly by that philosophy, as occasionally mentioned by Steve Jobs. It's obvious why; just look at the level of integration the Mac offers, or the iPod / iPhone - iTunes.

So, essentially a Mac is not just a nice looking piece of hardware - it's Mac OS X in an optimal package. When you work on a computer, you're really working with software, never mind what powers it. Amusingly, the Microsoft PC dominance has left people preoccupied about hardware specs, while they still end up using Windows ;)

"It'd be amusing for all my mac-loving friends to go 'Wow! you've got a ... oh.' when I power it up."

Exactly. :)

"As it is I'll probably keep using more 'normal' x86 hardware for a while (alongside the Iyx, of course)"

Which certainly is a better idea if you want to run Linux, for example. When you really want to run Mac OS X, the Mac is (realistically) the only way to go.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 28/09/07 2:24PM
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adamr wrote>"I think you're reading too much into some off-hand comments unrelated to the main issue! Also - the Iyonix doesn't have an open source OS."

Yes the comments about Iyonix (and for that matter A9) were "off hand" comments - but guess what if you take them out *what relevance has the whole article to RISC OS* - none !

As to Iyonix having an "open source" OS, true it's shared source - but then again A9's is completely closed (users have *no* access to source).

Regarding the topic at hand (should PC's be distributed without Windows) this is probably too late to make a difference anyway (the world is >90% Windows at this point). All supplying PC's *without* windows will do is save some tech savvy users some money (as they were'nt going to install Windows anyway). For Joe/Josephine Public it would - in effect - make no difference at all.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/09/07 09:18AM
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Except if they have windows for their old PC, they will expect to be able to use it for their new one. (Assuming they wipe the old one).

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 30/09/07 10:28AM
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Jess>That's not true if they didn't have a "retail" version of windows, i.e., if their old machine had an OEM version.

This is covered in an article on [link]

The part related to OEM (the most common version of Windows pre-installed on purchased kit) reads:

"the OEM license that comes with Vista is indeed similar to the Windows XP OEM license in that it forbids any kind of transfer."

The situation is as you described it only for "boxed/Retail" Windows XP/Vista but there may be conditions attached (you may only transfer it once...)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/09/07 8:53PM
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I said "expect", and that is a very reasonable expectation, even if not permitted.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 30/09/07 11:12PM
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