Microsoft Tries To Limit Machines That Can Use Low Cost OS

from the can't-let-anyone-use-a-cheap-product dept

Kevin Stapp writes in to alert us to the fact that in Microsoft’s attempt to compete against Linux on various low-end PCs, it’s offering a cheap version of its operating system — but rather than simply offering it up for different computer makers to use, it’s got specific rules limiting the type of computers it can be used on — basically guaranteeing that their operating systems remain off of many low end machines that don’t qualify under the extremely limited specs (no touch screens, no hard drives over 80 gigs, etc.). This is pointless for a variety of reasons, but the simplest one is this: any time you try to limit the use of your software to platforms that are less useful and less powerful than what’s available, you’re basically telling everyone who wants quality to go with a different provider. It’s hard to see why Microsoft would want to make that kind of argument — unless they don’t realize that they’re actually competing in this space. Given how little competition Microsoft has had to deal with in the OS market for years, perhaps it’s natural that they don’t know how to compete when it’s finally necessary.

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft Tries To Limit Machines That Can Use Low Cost OS”

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Shaun says:


Umm… Windows XP Home…
I’d already heard this story and besides the linked article mentions it.

On another note, this could be a very good thing for Linux. Buy the Windows edition with a plain screen or get the Linux version with a touchscreen for example. The $22 – $32 saved from the windows license probably won’t cover the cost of the touchscreen functionality – but having the edition with Linux on it being both better (in terms of hardware) and more expensive that the windows one could help to create the impression of Linux as the premium option.

Currently with high powered laptops mostly running windows and Linux only on lower cost, low powered models it creates the false impression that Linux is somehow sub-par.

bob says:

I really think they don’t understand and don’t know how to compete. A well configured Linux distro is more than enough for one of these boxes. M$ is so used to being able to dictate terms that they don’t know what to do when they actually have to fight. Making their product less useful isn’t going to do anything but drive people in to their competitor’s waiting arms.

Wolferz (profile) says:

Profit margins...

My guess is they looked at this new os as possible competition for Vista and… considering likely lower profit margins for this low-cost os… decided to try to limit it to machines Vista would be a mistake for.

Whether this is a good idea or not is a question beyond my knowledge… but I can see why it might be a bad idea to offer a low-cost version of Windows with the current popularity (or lack there of) of their flagship product. Even worse if it claims to have less overhead than their current flagship (considering this is a common complaint regarding Vista).

zcat says:

It's called "XP"

As near as I can tell, Microsoft is offering “Windows XP” cheap for use on low-end machines like the eee and XO, at the same time that they’re ending support and sales of XP on regular computers.

Which is sort of like admitting that XP is still a perfectly useful OS with a comparatively small footprint, and there’s really no good reason for moving to Vista other than because Microsoft is forcing that move.

I wonder how this is going to work out for them.

Wesley Parish says:


There’s a word used to describe a company that rather than attempting to compete on value, drops its product’s price below cost and attempts to drive its competitor out that way – “cutting off the air supply” is Microsoft’s preferred phrase, “dumping” is the legal term.

It looks like Microsoft has elected to come to the anti-trust people’s attention again, because MS Windows XP is not cheaper than Linux on any of the usual markets. Their funeral.

Adam says:

Microsoft Aren’t competing with this on low end PCs to compete you need to offer more for the money not less.

Why buy the heavily limit Microsoft OS, when you can get a full fat unlimited Linux OS.

As a side note i use XP and will continue to use it, Vista is too big and power hungry for me to make use of it, not to mention many compatibility issues with some of the software i run on XP.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Once businesses get hold of it...

Another point is that Microsoft is only offering XP Home on these budget ultralights, not XP Pro.

So what happens when the popularity of these machines spreads to business users? I think HP is already expecting that to happen with its 2133 MiniNote. What further capitulation will Microsoft be forced into then?

Kevin says:

May not be as dumb as it sounds

While I agree that it’s stupid to put artificial restrictions on PC makers about what kind of hardware can use the super low-cost version of XP Home Edition, it’s worth pointing out that we are talking about a very small part of the market here. Right now it’s only the Asus eeePC, the XO, and similar very small, very inexpensive systems that typically ship with a Linux distro to keep costs down. It’s interesting to note that NONE of the PCs/laptops in this class come anywhere near to exceeding the Microsoft specs, and are unlikely to do so for several years.

Eric Fredericksen says:

Falling giant

linux will never be mainstream desktop OS until mainstream desktop apps support it. Like adobe cs and 3d studio max and solidworks and that list is almost endless. I can’t see that happening anytime soon so as far as linux giving m$ a run for it’s money….Not in my lifetime perhaps? As much as i hate microsoft for pulling crap just like this i am locked in because i have to have software like the ones listed above. An as far as that goed so are about a billion other people. PERIOD!!!

John Wilson (profile) says:

Re: Falling giant

For graphics software I have to admit I was under the impression that 3DSMax did have a Linux edition. Certainly Maya does. And there are ways under WINE or CrossOver to run Adobe CS under Linux.

For 3D modelling and animation there’s Blender. For graphics there’s The GIMP, Krita and Inkscape.

All of which will run on the little boxes that MS is trying to restrict.

Eric Fredericksen says:

Re: Re: Falling giant

You can’t seriously be comparing blender to solidworks or gimp to adobe cs3. There is no linux 3dmax. and WINE and CrossOver are far from reliable. Don’t get me wrong. I have used blender and gimp as well as inkscape and they are all great open source projects, but comparing them to the major players in graphic design leaves them lacking every time.

C Sense says:

Or microsoft really isn’t trying to compete with their own products. They are offering the OS to a small sector and they don’t want this OS to compete with their more profitable full versions. Thats called market cannibalism, and its smart to avoid it. I find it hilarious that people think MS doesn’t know how to compete simply because they are trying to reduce the loss of full OS sales.

wasnt me (user link) says:

M$ still thinks it has no competition.

granted some1 who has been using nothing by there OS since they discovered computers (which probably covers over 80% of the world population) will have difficulty switching systems but between there “great” vista and there other not so smart decisions, that should start changing in the future.

I for one will probably change once i can no longer get XP through legal means.

Ed says:



For Win fans:
– You don’t need to be afraid about M$ supremacy, on the next years. Just remains buying all the fantastic new X2, X4, X100 processors, lots of 4Gb, 8Gb 200GB of memory(BTW, your vista only manage 2GB), Peta bytes of disk… Win/Intel, Kingston, Seagate/Maxtor appreciate that!!!
And, your world will be safe and running.

For the Linux/BeOs, etc fans – let’s continue to use that crap machines with so weak processors, memory, etc…
well, and we’ll keep doing the same…
sorry about that Intel and gang! :))


Rick Sarvas says:


I agree with “C Sense”. My first thought when I read this was that this rule would most likely be put into place to protect the WinCE (or tablet) market. Really, from a customer perspective, why would you want a hand held PC with some oddball OS (requiring all new software) when you might be able to get another hand held that could run a full desktop OS (Win2k, XP, etc.) with all your favorite apps?

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