TheRegister’s first line on Linux vs Windows return rate on Netbook is a spot on:
“Dell has delivered a dose of reality for both Microsoft and the Linux community on the subject of netbooks.”
According to the report, it is true that there are Linux-based netbooks that are being return because the purchaser was attracted by the lower pricing but has expected Windows. As an Window environment is where the user had came from one do expect this type of problems to occur.
The most important take home message is there are enough satisfied customers on Linux as far as Dell is concerned to continue the Linux netbook product line. What I will be interested to know is whether those were surprised that they did not get Windows but did not return it do so because they accept that lower price means no Windows, meaning price is their main consideration, or find that the Linux-based netbook is good enough for the job.
While people jump on the fact that Dell refuted Microsoft by saying the return rate for both OS is the same, this is less important to me. I always see any vendor’s effort to bad mouth the competition with suspicion. I cannot see Dell, HP or other big sellers of Netbook disclosing to Microsoft about the return rate for Linux-based netbook as I am sure they regard that as important company competitive secret. Microsoft, just like any vendors, is prone to taking artistics license when it comes to blowing the trumpet for their product.
Finally, to tell the truth, I do not think Microsoft’s claim that Linux return rate is higher is actually aim at the retailer, may it WalMart, Dell, HP or someone else. Those people know their market well and is unlikely to be sway by Microsoft’s claim. They have the actual market data (or rather, data about what their customers want and do not want) and as long as the Linux netbook line is worth keeping, they will sell Linux-based netbook, whatever Microsoft may choose to say.
I think that Microsoft marketing claim is aim at you and me, i.e., joe consumers. We can be sway by these type of claims. The purpose is to plant the seed of doubt into our mind. The next time you see a non-Windows netbook and cannot decide whether the price difference is worth trying non-Windows netbook, this piece of information planted into you head by Microsoft, whether it is true or pure lie, will bias you if not sway you away from them. That, as far as Microsoft (or indeed any other vendors) is concern, is a win.