Thursday, 14 May 2009

Supply and Demand

It took me a while, but I’ve decided to succumb to the tempting offers around me and put my hands on an Asus Eee Box B202 Linux desktop.
What is this Eee Box, I hear you ask, and what is it good for, I hear you add? Well, the Eee Box is essentially an Eee PC netbook motherboard shipped in desktop dressings. It is small and lightweight, looking more like a book than a PC; it is quiet, with a noise level lower than background noise; and at 25 watts, it doesn’t consume much power (that’s a twentieth of what my regular desktop’s power supply consumes). On the downside, the Eee Box is driven by a mere Intel Atom CPU, which means it is no powerhouse computer to say the least; it will, however, deal with server duties and most of my computing needs quite well. For example, if I need to download something overnight or write a document for work, the Eee Box would do a good job at it.
Sale prices ranged from $250 to $330, which in my book is very good money for a brand new second desktop that could easily replace the first one when called upon. Only that I missed the post: by the time I made up my mind into buying the Eee Box existing stocks ran out, clearing the way to the new model Eee Box B206.

Or did they run out?
Well, not if you’re after the Windows version of the B202. If that is the case then you’re in luck: There are plenty of those around!
Thing is, unlike Linux, Windows comes at a cost. I, personally, would not want to pay Microsoft a surcharge for a product I don’t really want, so barring some similar aggressive pricing I won’t be buying the Windows version.
The question I’m asking is, why did Asus stop selling Linux boxes? There is obviously demand for them, given that they ran out, yet at the moment you can buy a Windows B202 but not a Linux one. Oh, and if you’re after the new B206, you’d be happy to know these come in only one shape or size: Windows.
Asus is not the only one at fault; at least it used to sell a Linux version. Other manufacturers never went that far! Check Dell out as an example: while in the USA they pride themselves of selling equipment using Ubuntu Linux, including netbooks, Dell Australia has never sold any non Windows PC and actively says it has no intention of doing so.
The question, again, is why? And again, I will reinstate there is demand out there for Linux PCs. Check, for example, the Kogan Agora line of Australian brand netbooks: these are sold with Linux only (the gOS distribution, which is Ubuntu based), and regular examinations of their website clearly indicate Kogan is selling their netbooks faster than they can bring them in.
People in Australia, it seems, are clearly unwilling to pay the Microsoft tax on their PCs. And while that may be the case, the manufacturers still insist on force feeding Windows down our throats.

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