John C. Dvorak shoots for controversial but pulls a Michael Moore and gets his facts wrong:
I've been playing with one of many new systems that are hitting the market which allow the user to quickly boot the machine and go directly to a small version of Linux rather than wait to load Windows.
HyperSpace is a compact Linux that loads almost instantly and gives the user a browser, word processor and a few other useful goodies that can easily be accessed in a pinch.
I cannot wait forever for a computer to boot just to go on the Web to look up the number. The instant-on feature of these new systems lets me get on and get off the computer in less than a minute. I'm on my way.
This is just pure convenience, and Microsoft has got to be taking notice, since this entire subsystem is a Trojan Horse (like the original one, not the computer virus type). What it is doing is introducing people to Linux and its desktop capabilities.
If people are using Linux like this routinely, how long will it be before they can be convinced that Linux is just as good as Windows?
And it's free.
With the advent of the small, inexpensive computer and the Netbooks that sell for around $299, the appeal of Linux becomes greater and greater because it costs nothing.
Right now, for example, I can get a complete Intel motherboard with an Atom processor, ready to install in a box, for about $100. All I need is a $30 memory module, an inexpensive hard disk ($50) and a case/power supply ($75). For $255, I can have a pretty nice cheap machine. Now I have to add the most basic version of Windows for $199? And Office for another $399 (standard no-frills edition)?
Let's add this up: Hot little computer: $255. Basic low-end Microsoft software: $598.
What's wrong with this picture?
Your math, for starters.
The most popular version of Office, by far, is the Home and Student edition. You can get this version of Office for $125 usually (it's on sale at Amazon right now for $87.50)--not $399--and unlike the so-called "standard no-frills edition" you mention, it can be installed on THREE computers. This is a tremendous bargain. And let's not forget that Office is actually decent software, unlike, say, OpenOffice.org or Google Docs.
Second, "the most basic version of Windows" does not cost $199. Windows Vista Home Basic costs $90 for the Upgrade version, or $160 for the Full version, assuming you're one of the few people on earth that doesn't qualify for an upgrade. Or you could simply get Windows XP for next to nothing with a lost-cost netbook. (This will change to Windows 7 later this year; same pricing.) Which, by the way, is what 90 percent of netbook owners already do, according to Microsoft.
The actual cost of this software could be as low as $150. It's certainly nowhere near the $600 that Dvorak claims.
OK, that's that. But here's the thing.
Ultimately, his message is right. Sort of. But I'd put it this way, because John is also conveniently ignoring the fact that Microsoft is evolving its software lineup to include electronic distribution models and cloud computing initiatives: Microsoft's traditional software business model is ending. Someday. Maybe someday soon. But not today.
Looked at in that light, well, duh. That's pretty obvious. And it's certainly not as controversial as presented. So you're saying is that we can get free software that replaces what Microsoft sells?
Hey, John. 1995 is calling. They'd like your commentary back.