Dell has responded to overwhelming feedback from its IdeaStorm customer feedback site this week by announcing that it will soon begin offering the open source operating system Linux on select Dell desktop and notebook PCs. The announcement comes about a month and a half after IdeaStorm was first brought online. The availability of Linux was, overwhelmingly, the number one customer request.
"We have heard you and appreciate the direct feedback," Dell wrote to customers in a posting to its corporate blog. "We will expand our Linux support beyond our existing servers and Precision workstation line. Our first step in this effort is offering Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems. We will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes detailed information on which systems we will offer, our testing and certification efforts, and the Linux distribution(s) that will be available. The countdown begins today."
Dell's sudden fixation on customer feedback comes in the wake of a disappointing year in which it fell from its perch atop the PC industry, ousted its CEO, and saw founder Michael Dell retake the reins of the company. Mr. Dell feels that better connecting with its customers--and delivering exactly what they want--is the key to future growth.
That said, it's unclear how offering a free OS--one that Dell will need to support--will dramatically improve the bottom line. In the battle for the desktop, Windows remains the overwhelming champion, with over 95 percent of the market. Of the remainder, Apple's Mac OS X accounts for about 2.5 percent of the worldwide OS market.