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Friday, 14 August 2009 11:00

Linux, Windows netbook returns similar, says Dell

The return rate for Linux-based netbooks is about the same as that of similar hardware running Windows, according to a Dell executive.

While Microsoft officials and spokespeople for some other vendors have asserted that a significantly greater proportion of Linux netbooks are returned than of those shipped with Windows, a senior product marketing manager at Dell says the return rate is similar for both.

Furthermore, the absolute level of returns is a "non-issue", Dell's Todd Finch was quoted as saying by Gavin Clarke in The Register.

The really interesting point is that Finch also said returns are typically the result of the buyer expecting Windows but getting something else.

That is at least a partial vindication of the idea that (some) people actively want Windows rather than Linux - just as there are those who actively want Linux.

So if most Linux returns are by people who expected Windows, and the return rates are similar for Linux and Windows, why are people returning Windows netbooks to Dell?

Judging by the Register report, Finch didn't say. But the fact that he said that "technical reasons" weren't the reason for Linux returns, maybe they were for Windows.

After all, if you're used to a certain level of Windows performance on a recent notebook or desktop system, you might be less than impressed with what you get from the limited hardware inside a netbook. If that's the case, you might well be tempted to return the netbook and buy a 'real' notebook instead.

That said, most people are clearly happy with the netbooks they're getting from Dell, whichever operating system they select.

As I've said before, the so-called netbook market is really two separate markets: one for cheap(ish) and light(ish) Windows notebooks, and one for 'true' netbooks that are in many ways more like a large smartphone without the phone but with a conventional keyboard. In the latter category, the specific operating system is less material.

According to IDC, around 5% of recent netbooks have shipped with Linux.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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