foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


EEE PC with XP is cheaper than with GNU/Linux

, posted: 9-May-2008 06:50

Apparently, as the new Asus EEE PC 900 (the model with the bigger screen) enters the market in Australia, the Windows XP version of it will be cheaper than the GNU/Linux version. A$ 599 for the XP version vs. A$ 649 for the GNU/Linux version. In addition, only the XP version will be offered to the broader market in mass retailers, while the GNU/Linux version will only be sold in more specialised computer stores. This has led some people to believe that Microsoft and Asus are somehow in bed with each other, aiming to undermine the further proliferation of GNU/Linux.

Well, I don't know about that.

I don't doubt for a second that Microsoft offers XP licenses to Asus at a steep discount or close to free, because Microsoft surely doesn't want to loose a larger share of this particular market. The success of the GNU/Linux-based EEE PC 701 must have been a rather scary wakeup-call for them. So, yes, Microsoft will be very happy with the way the 900 model will be marketed. As I wrote before, the EEE PC was a wonderfully simple, easy and painless way to introduce a lot of folks to the world of FOSS. This cannot be in Microsoft's interest, of course.

But on the other hand, Asus wants to maximise their profit in a hassle-free way: In my previous article on the EEE PC, I wrote that the completely different form factor of the machine makes people accept a different user interface and different set of applications. They don't see it so much as a standard PC. But with the larger screen of the 900 model, buyers will see it more as a PC and compare it to their normal PC experience. Thus, the non-technical users will be more surprised to find that their standard applications they are used to are not running on it and that the user interface is different. This could result in more support issues for Asus, which they want to avoid of course. This shouldn't surprise us.

The really interesting bit about the story is that the GNU/Linux version will actually have significantly more storage. 20 GB flash vs. only 12 GB for the XP version. For just $50 more. This makes the GNU/Linux version clearly the better value. Especially when considering the very large amount of free applications that come with it.

So, those in the know will simply go to a specialised computer store and get the GNU/Linux version. Some will then even go and install XP on that machine with larger storage. And some GNU/Linux users who are looking for the cheapest possible version will simply buy the 'consumer' version at the mass retailers and then install GNU/Linux on it.

It's sad to see that the the new EEE PC will not be sold to broader markets with GNU/Linux on it. I thought it was wonderful to see this happening with the 701 model. But as far as the price for the machines is concerned, the difference is understandable due to the larger storage. And the strategy to sell the XP version to the mass market makes sense for Asus now that the 900 model more closely resembles a standard laptop.

Supporters of free software may not like it, but a conspiracy it is not...


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Comment by wisher, on 9-May-2008 08:00

Linux for Asus isn't free. They have to perform some operation such as testing and costumization that cost a lot. If we consider this and remembering that Asus usually sells Windows pc, not Linux ones it isn't really a surprise. It sounds strange, but when you think about it's clear.


Comment by Bwooce, on 9-May-2008 08:25

Except in New Zealand. Where they're the same price ($749 on DSE.co.nz)...

ASUS Eee PC 900 Linux (Black)
http://www.dse.co.nz/cgi-bin/dse.storefront/en/product/XC5838

ASUS Eee PC 900 XP (Black)
http://www.dse.co.nz/cgi-bin/dse.storefront/en/product/XC5836

(not yet available of course, but they're not far away).


Author's note by foobar, on 9-May-2008 12:24

@Bwooce: This is really interesting! If these prices really will stay that way then the Linux version is the much better deal in New Zealand. 20 GB vs. 12 GB for the same price?

What do 8 GB of this kind of flash memory cost anyway these days?


Author's note by foobar, on 9-May-2008 12:36

@wisher: Yes, but Asus had to pay for the work to get Linux going on its hardware only once. Part of the cost of developing their product. Once that was done, putting Linux on the box was free for them. But in the case of Windows, a license fee is due with every single machine sold. And of course there was also some initial setup cost for Windows as well, no matter how familiar Asus with Windows is.


Comment by hellonearthisman, on 9-May-2008 17:56

Geekzone have a thread on this.
http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?ForumId=37&TopicId=21184

Maybe the selling is buying XP versions without XP and then installing there own XP which they have a big licence for.

I thought I used a smalled FlashDrive to pay for the XP and keep the price the same.

Quote DSE website:
ASUS Eee PC 900 Linux (White)
Intel Celeron Processor, 1GB RAM, 20GB Flash Drive, 8.9" Display, FingerGlide Touchpad, Wifi, 1.3MP Webcamera, Wireless Networking, Card reader, Linux and a 1 year Local Warranty

ASUS Eee PC 900 XP version
Intel Celeron Processor, 1GB RAM, 12GB Flash Drive, 8.9" Display, FingerGlide Touchpad, Wifi, 1.3MP Webcamera, Wireless Networking, Card reader, Windows XP and a 1 year Local Warranty

Quote DSE website:
ASUS site says the HD are:
12GB (4GB built-in + 8GB flash) SSD (Microsoft Windows OS Version)
20GB (4GB built-in +16GB flash) SSD (Linux OS Version)


Comment by Ronnie, on 9-May-2008 23:48

@wisher

Micorsoft wasn't interested in the EEE PC and didn't wont to change XP to run on it, Linux did. And now it starts to become a succes with 1 milion linux PC's sold Asus stabs Linux in the back by making the windows version cheaper.

I'll never buy something from Asus again.


Comment by Eeek!, on 12-May-2008 08:55

It is surprising the Windows and Linux versions are the same price in the UK, see here: http://www.eee-900.co.uk/, but amazing that the Windows version is cheaper in Aus. Microsoft have obviously had a big fright by the success of the 7" Linux Eee.


Comment by John, on 12-May-2008 19:55

Let's not forget that Windows XP comes with a number of programs that developers pay to have preloaded into the systems. Norton's, Corel Small business tools, Diskeeper and a few others were installed in my laptop before I uninstalled most. These subsidise the cost of a laptop.

Let's also not forget that on occasion you can buy a Vista Home Basic laptop (almost certainly an Acer) from Dick Smith's for $650. That's less than the Eee PC in some configs.


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New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.




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