Can You Save Money By Choosing Linux Over Windows? Technically, No.

We’ve written about the pros and cons of businesses purchasing Linux nowindowseeepc.jpgtebooks, but what about individual users? You won’t get saddled with crapware, for one, but you will get a more secure platform. But although Linux operating systems are open source, you’re not necessarily saving money by configuring your notebook with Linux instead of Windows. The example that got us thinking is the Eee PC, which costs $399 regardless of whether you choose Linux or XP. We asked Charlton Ho, ASUS’s oft-quoted spokesperson. As it turns out, the company isn’t marking up the Linux OS; they’re just crafting bargains for Windows customers. “We want to give people the choice and not base their decision on price,” he said. “Generally, the Eee PC’s margins are very small. We’re not getting a lot of money because the price is so low already. As for the XP Eee PC, you could say we’re getting a bit less [than we would if we raised the price].” As it turns out, more mainstream vendors aren’t offering you a bargain for ditching Windows, either. I went to Dell’s site and configured identical notebooks, with the OS being the ondell-inspiron-1525.JPGly difference (Let it be known that Dell isn’t offering XP on the Inspiron 1525). In the end, our Vista version and Ubuntu 7.1 version also cost the same: $694. Let’s back up a minute: the list price for the Linux version was $717; $858 for Windows (confirming what we already know: that the Windows platform costs more than an open source one). But after instant savings, sales that Dell frequently applies at checkout, the two systems cost the same. Provided Dell offers sales regularly, which they do, most consumers won’t care if the list prices are different so long as the bottom line is the same. But here’s what’s interesting: On that day last week, the discount for thedell-inspiron-1525n.JPG Windows machine was $164; for Linux, it was only $25. Like ASUS, Dell seems willing to take a hit financially for the sake of making Windows a more attractive option. The good news for Linux geeks is that companies aren’t charging more for open source platforms than they’re worth. The bad news is, they’re not passing along much in the way of savings, either. Anyway, if you’re interested, these are the two Dell systems I configured: Dell Inspiron 1525/1525N ($649 each, after Instant Savings) Color: Black CPU: 1.83-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 OS: Windows Vista Home Premium/Ubuntu 7.1 with DVD Playback Display: 15.4 inches/1280 x 800 GPU: Intel GMA X3100 RAM: 2GB Hard drive: 120GB/5,400 rpm Optical Drive: DVD +/- RW Wireless: Intel 802.11a/g/Dell 802.11g Bluetooth: Yes Webcam: 2.0 megapixels Battery: 4-cell Audio: High Definition Audio 2.0 Warranty: 1-year (no accidental care protection)

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