Some time ago, I blogged about the so-called Microsoft Tax - the hidden added extra cost that we all have to pay when we buy a new PC, if we happen to want to use a non-Microsoft operating system. At the time, none of the major PC vendors bundled anything other than Microsoft products with their hardware.
Since then, things have changed - a little.
Dell, for instance, now offers Ubuntu Linux on its PCs - albeit on a completely separate part of its web-site. You can't, for example, select a machine, choose the memory and processor, specify a hard drive configuration and then choose which of the available operating systems (Windows Vista, Windows XP, Ubuntu Linux, etc.) you want. Why? Well, Dell complains that Linux doesn't have good drivers for all of its hardware, so it has had to create a separate line of machines specifically badged to support it.
If I was more cynical, it might have occurred to me that this was merely a convenient excuse for:
So, it was with some interest that I read about the Globalisation Institute's submission to the European Commission that all new PC's should be sold without an operating system pre-installed. I'm not sure that I'd agree with the Globalisation Institute on too many things, but this absolutely hits the nail on the head for me. (I'm not sure that I'd agree with their views about the Apple Mac - that system should be opened up too, so that operating system competition is possible.)
Microsoft established its monopoly solely because it was able to have its operating systems pre-installed on new machines. It has fought aggressively to see off any and all competition (CP/M, DR-DOS, GEM, OS/2, BeOS, Novell NetWare, etc.) in both the PC desktop and server pre-installation markets. It then (ab)used its operating system dominance to leverage adoption of its Microsoft Office suite ("Sorry, PC vendor, but if you plan to bundle Lotus Smartsuite with that PC, then I'm very much afraid that you'll lose your discount on DOS and Windows") and (ab)used its office suite dominance to see off competition in the operating system market ("Hmmm. Running DR-DOS are we? Then I'm afraid that Windows is going to issue error messages. What? You're using OS/2? Then Word is going to give spurious errors! Linux? Then you can't use Microsoft Office can you?")
Personally, I'm sick and tired of Microsoft. Their products are shoddy, insecure, not compliant with established standards, and are too expensive. It's high time this company had to compete on merit and I fully endorse the Globalisation Institute's submission.