foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

Dell Inspiron Mini 9: Windows is worth ... nothing?

, posted: 5-Sep-2008 13:09

So, the widely anticipated new Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is finally available, as was reported everywhere today, even here on Geekzone.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9
When you take a look at Dell's web-site where you can buy and configure your machine, you can see that a model running Ubuntu 8.04 with 512 MB RAM and a 4 GB SSD is offered for US$ 349. If you want Windows XP, you need to pay more (US$ 399), because you need a larger SSD (8 GB). You can upgrade memory and SSD to 1 GB and 16 GB respectively, and then pay $449 for the WinXP version.

Fortunately, the upgrades for RAM and SSD are also available for the Ubuntu version. If you want the 512 MB RAM / 8 GB SSD version with Ubuntu, you pay US$ 384 ($15 less than with WinXP). If you want 1 GB RAM and the 16 GB SSD with your Ubuntu box, you also pay US$ 449, the same as with WinXP.

So, does this mean that the actual value of Windows XP ranges between $0 and $15? Smile Actually, it's less than that. Negative, maybe? Because if you look closely, with the WinXP version they also throw in the web-cam, while for Ubuntu that costs extra. But interestingly, the lack of a web-cam is somewhat made up for if you order the Ubuntu version, since you also get 2 GB of online storage at thrown in. Apparently, you don't get that with the WinXP version.

Or does Dell simply subsidise the WinXP license with pre-installed crapware? Or does Microsoft feel the need to subsidise the WinXP license to ensure that GNU/Linux doesn't run away with the ultra portable market segment?

Here is a screenshot of the configuration table (click for full sized version):
Dell Inspiron Mini 9 prices and configs

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Comment by lotech, on 5-Sep-2008 13:45

I think its a matter of Microsoft trying to stop the big surge in Linux usage on low cost machines - I've found myself using Ubuntu more and more recently - it's simple, most hardware I've tried works well enough and the Live CD option means even broken PCs can be up and working in minutes.

It's funny how they re-awoke the monster that is XP to try and stave off Linux - notice though that it's just Home edition of XP - why don't they just ship it with Pro and only support that version - forcing at least some sort of upgrade toward Vista by not supporting Home.

Comment by kahikatea, on 5-Sep-2008 14:25

I notice on the webpage there is currently only the option of Windows XP. Will NZ get the option of Linux, do you think?

Author's note by foobar, on 5-Sep-2008 14:36

@ kahikatea: Not sure about that. The NZ page is very sketchy, you can only pre-order by phone, and no prices are listed. I sure hope they will add the Linux option and make this a more complete online-ordering experience soon.

Comment by sbiddle, on 5-Sep-2008 14:40

I suspect the reason the Linux version isn't listed in NZ is because it isn't yet available - only the XP model has been released with the Linux version due for release apparently before the end of the month.

Author's note by foobar, on 5-Sep-2008 14:53

@sbiddle: According to Dell's US site, the Linux version will be available in 15 days.

Comment by Zoltuger, on 5-Sep-2008 16:34

It's up on, but pre-order by phone only. Starts from NZ$799 apparently.

Comment by ins, on 6-Sep-2008 09:00

I think Dell is charging for ubuntu, and that is illegal. Except online storage, that should be cheaper than a xp license, I don't see any other reason why the Ubuntu version is more expensive than the xp version, unless xp is for free.

Author's note by foobar, on 6-Sep-2008 09:51

@ins: Actually, it is not illegal at all to charge for Ubuntu, or any other free and open source software. In fact, that's perfectly ok. You can take any open source software you want, burn it on a CD, or pre-install it on a computer and charge people for it. You may find customers, or you may not.

There are plenty of prefectly legitimate businesses for whom this is their source of income.

Comment by Zoltuger, on 8-Sep-2008 23:59

You can now buy the Mini 9 online - the top spec model is NZ$799.

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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.
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