Not only has Vista not fueled a boom in PC sales, but as computer prices have come down, there's been a lot of talk about the "Windows tax", the growing share of a computer's cost that just goes to Microsoft. As the Windows tax has grown, there's been a rise in crapware (to help offset the tax) and interest in Windows alternatives, like desktop Linux. This week Dell announced details of its desktop Linux plan, including the price at which it would sell computers with a preinstalled version of Ubuntu Linux. As it turns out, computers loaded with Ubuntu will be about $50 cheaper than a Windows computer with the same hardware configuration, which is probably in the ballpark of what Dell pays Microsoft for a copy of Windows. As for whether a $50 Windows tax will push consumers to seek alternatives, it probably depends on other factors. On higher-end machines, it's unlikely that this would affect which operating system a consumer wants. But at the low end, it could be enough to get people interested in other options.
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