Linux may be the better desktop, but the public doesn’t want to learn it.

The folks over at LaptopMag.com have an interview with MSI’s Director of U.S. Sales Andy Tung about the new MSI Wind Netbook that’s been selling like crazy. One of the topics touched on is the high return rate of the MSI Wind and what the cause happens to be:

You mention the return rates being high. Has that been the case with the Wind as well?
We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven’t really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don’t know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it’s not what they are used to. They don’t want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.

Currently MSI is using SUSE for the MSI Wind and they’re looking at trying a couple of other distros including a tailored version of Ubuntu styled to look like Mac OS X to see if they’ll go over any better, but I found it interesting that a lot of the reason for the returns wasn’t that SUSE wasn’t working just that people didn’t want to learn it.

As an interesting side-note, the instructor for my college networking essentials class doesn’t like Ubuntu at all. He calls it “Dumbuntu” because he thinks it’s been dumbed down too much. As I recall he’s a big fan of SUSE.

8 comments

  1. Around 1998 my work dumped a Silicon Graphics workstation on our department. I started to learn Unix and got bitten by the bug. Came to think on Unix as cool, kind of like how Latin is cool.

    Eventually I set up my first Redhat box and got hacked within weeks. It was a combination of being a newbie and Redhat’s default install leaving a few doors wide open. It was a good learning experience though.

    I tried other flavors of Linux and came to like the elegance of Slackware.

    When OS X was announced for the Mac I decided to try out FreeBSD since the core OS was based on BSD Unix. The portupgrade system in FreeBSD alone kicked the hell of that cute, little Penguin. But I’ve always found FreeBSD easier to manage than my experiences with various flavors of Linux, plus the base of users seemed more friendly and helpful than the Linux folks.

    Always found it curious that Open/Net/Free BSD’s didn’t become more popular, but Torvald’s media persona and that Penguin went a long way towards selling Linux.

    I’m a believer that you should get whatever platform your closest tech, guru buddy who you are going to call at midnight is also running.

  2. Always found it curious that Open/Net/Free BSD’s didn’t become more popular, but Torvald’s media persona and that Penguin went a long way towards selling Linux.

    A major reason is Linux took advantage of the window opened by the USL v. BSDi lawsuit and by the then-restrictive licensing terms of the only other unencumbered rival, Minix.

    Linux was simply at the right place at the right time. The *BSDs were technically far superior to the nascent Linux, but until the dust of the BSDi lawsuit settled, BSD was locked up. The Unix Wars didn’t help, either. Minix predated Linux as an unencumbered Unix clone, but the publishers prevented Tanenbaum from allowing Minix to be freely copied. Linux was largely born because Unix was expensive and Minix wasn’t free.

    In the end, there was a demand for a royalty-free, open-source version of Unix and Linux gained critical momentum when the competitors were locked up.

  3. I think this article hits the nail on the head. You have to have patience for Linux. I found I could devote a lot of my time to learning Linux a few years ago because I was in College and had the free time to give since I didn’t party much.

    As a Tech I’ve noticed that as the more time goes on, the more I just want things to work. So I sympathize with those that have Linux headaches.

  4. As a Tech I’ve noticed that as the more time goes on, the more I just want things to work.

    Depends.

    Personally, I’m not interested in tinkering with desktops, therefore I just want them to work. Other things are both interesting and I want them just so and I never tire tinkering with them. Sadly, there are only so many hours in the day.

  5. I switched to Gentoo Linux in 2004 and haven’t looked back. It’s not one of the easier distros to setup and learn but it’s never BORING.
    :D
    Linux superteh 2.6.25-gentoo-r7 #11 SMP Tue Sep 23 11:20:47 CDT 2008 x86_64 AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 6400+ AuthenticAMD GNU/Linux

  6. Linux people seem to want to have it both ways.
    They want a system that replaces Windows, but leaves the functionality of Linux.

      You can’t ‘replace’ Windows in the hearts and minds of the public unless it looks and acts like Windows, only better.  Unfortunately, that means that you can’t have Linux as the OS that does it.  It isn’t designed that way, even Ubunto (although Ubunto comes closest) The two operating systems simply aren’t designed for the same types of people.  It sucks because Linux will probably never replace Windows unless Microsoft self-destructs and the Windows option is no longer an option, but it is also a good thing, because it means that Windows can’t defeat Linux either.

    You’ll always have people who used to swear by Windows who are now Linux users because from their point of view, they had no choice, but I’ve seen people who used to swear by Linux who are now Windows users for the same reasons.

    Linux developers seem no more capable of duplicating Windows functionality any more than Microsoft is able to duplicate the power and security of Linux.  The only way Microsoft can take out Linux is if they make their system so different that regular Microsoft users don’t like it anymore, and the only way Linux can take out Windows is by dumbing down their system so much that it loses everything that makes Linux cool.

    Long before that happens, everyone will have switched to Macs. smile

    Linux certainly isn’t going to gain a substantial market share until their fanatical followers realize that there are people out there who know a lot about Linux, understand the differences between Linux and Windows, yet still prefer Windows.  Windows fanboys also have to realize that security and stability will ALWAYS be the weak points of Windows.  The operating system was designed for the lowest common denominator and much of the time, ease of use and functionality work against security and stability.

    One of these days… maybe…. either a Linux distro will create an OS that has the best of both worlds, or MS will do it, but when most people don’t seem to be able to realize these simple, basic truths about their systems, we’re a LONG way from that day.

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