But you dont see it happening. Sure, a few vendors have dabbled with Linux, and Wal-Mart had Linux-based systems for sale in their stores until the company pulled the plug on the experiment because the systems werent what its customers were looking for.
Why are Linux distros a commercial flop?
My take on the situation is that vendors just arent ready to stick their necks on the line and offer support for Linux. PC prices have plummeted over the past decade, making the profit margin per PC razor thin.
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This doesnt leave much money in the pot for support. Support costs money, and while Windows users need to turn to tech support on occasion, OEMs fear unleashing Linux in a wide scale way because that would open the floodgates to more and broader support questions than previously encountered:
Why doesnt my printer work? Where can I get drivers for my modem? Why wont MSN Messenger install? Why wont my generic, no-name piece of junk hardware work on my new system? What is this Linux thing?
I think that the problem with Linux is that if it was offered next to Windows, it might actually sell, and sell well. After all, take two physically identical PCs, one with Linux and the other with Windows installed and a higher price tag, the Linux PC would appeal to those looking for a deal.
Problem is, a price difference of even $50 at the lower end of the price spectrum could mean that consumers would be leaping onto the Linux wagon based on how much cash they have in their pockets instead of making a rational choice. Customers would be happy when they left the store but soon feel unhappy when problems bogged down their use of the new PC.
While Linux could be all the OS that users needed, it only takes one snag (a snag that wouldnt have existed if the OS was Windows) to trigger a tech support call. Those are the kind of problems that most OEMs try to avoid.
Windows might be big and monolithic in nature, but that is what offers the broadest support for hardware and software possible. OEMs like that, and while it might generate good press to dabble with Linux (as OEMs such as Dell have done), unleashing Linux on the masses isnt something that OEMs are ready to take a gamble on.