Nader: OEMs should offer pre-installed Linux and other OS Alternatives

Nader: OEMs should offer pre-installed Linux and other OS Alternatives

Post by James Lov » Wed, 11 Mar 1998 04:00:00



http://www.essential.org/antitrust/ms/ipnmarch91998.html

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Info-Policy-Notes | News from Consumer Project on Technology
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March 9, 1998

-    Ralph Nader and CPT ask six PC makers (Dell, Gateway
     Micron, Compaq, HP and Packard Bell-NEC) to offer
     consumers the opportunity to buy computers with
     non-Microsoft operating systems pre installed.

-    PC OEM's are told "Continue to offer customers the
     opportunity to buy a PC with MS Windows pre installed,
     but don't make this mandatory.  Don't make this the
     only way that a customer can buy a personal computer."

-    Nader and CPT tell the OEMs to consider such OS
     alternatives as Linux, BeOS, Caldera's Open Dos/Spider,
     Apple's Rhapsody, or other OS options, for "customers
     who are willing to try and who want to try alternatives."

-    The Nader/CPT letters says the failure of OEMs to offer
     choices for an OS is a large entry barrier for Microsoft
     competitors.  "There are many benefits to the consumer
     when the OEM ships a computer with an OS already installed.
     Among other things, the consumer expects that the hardware
     will be a feasible configuration for the OS.  The ease of
     initial setup is also an important consideration for many
     customers."

-    Nader and CPT wrote the OEMs after learning that Dell
     and other OEMs were reluctant to offer a Linux client
     PC on the grounds that it would harm the OEM's relationship
     with Microsoft.  CPT believes other OS alternatives,
     including those in development, such as BeOS or Rhapsody,
     are now more appealing to consumers, because the growth
     of open Internet standards for publishing and transporting
     information, and the development of cross platform
     programing platforms like Java, make data [and users}
     "less a prisoner to a legacy OS."

-    Letters were sent to: Steven R. Appleton, Chairman, Chief
     Executive Officer and President Micron Technology, Inc.,
     Michael Dell, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
     of Dell Computer Corporation. Eckhard Pfeiffer, President
     and Chief Executive Officer, Compaq Computer Corporation,
     Beny Alagem, President and Chief Executive Officer,
     Packard Bell NEC, Theodore W. Waitt, Chairman and CEO,
     Gateway 2000, Lewis E. Platt, Chairman of the Board, President
     and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett-Packard Company.  

-    HTML versions of the letters are available from CPT's Microsoft
     Antitrust page, at:
     http://www.essential.org/antitrust/microsoft/microsoft.html

The attached is a copy of the letter sent to Michael Dell.


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                          Ralph Nader
             P.O. Box 19312, Washington, DC 20036

                           James Love
                Consumer Project on Technology
              P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036

March 9, 1998

Michael Dell
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Dell Computer Corporation
One Dell Way
Round Rock, TX  78682
Fax 512 728 8366
Dear Mr. Dell:

We are writing to make a simple request --  offer your customers
choices.  Give them the option of buying a PC computer without Microsoft
Windows.   Continue to offer customers the opportunity to buy a PC with
MS Windows pre-installed, but dont make this mandatory.  Dont make
this the only way that a customer can buy a personal computer.

Today there exist several alternative operating systems, and there are
customers who are willing to try and who want to try alternatives.

As you know, there are many benefits to the consumer when the OEM ships
a computer with an OS already installed.  Among other things, the
consumer expects that the hardware will be a feasible configuration for
the OS.  The ease of initial setup is also an important consideration
for many customers.

We ask that you offer the option of at least some alternative to the
Windows OS. Alternatives do exist which should be available to
consumers.   For example, there is clearly a growing interest in the
Linux platform.  It is our understanding that major OEMs have rejected
requests to offer PCs pre-loaded with Linux, even by mail order.  This
is a very large barrier for this increasingly popular alternative.
There are other alternatives as well.  Soon the highly reviewed BeOS
will debut for the Intel platform.  Other OS alternatives are or will be
available for this hardware platform, including Calderas Open Dos/
Spider technology or Apples Rhapsody.

Yet another alternative to consider are dual boot machines, that would
run Window plus another OS.  This is becoming far more appealing as
computers ship with large disk drives.  With a dual boot option, which
works with off the shelf software, consumers could experiment, and have
the best of both worlds.

There is much talk about consumers having chosen Microsofts OS, but if
consumers can only buy computers with Windows pre-installed, competition
clearly suffers.

We believe consumers would benefit from more OS competition.  Many of
the alternatives to Windows are far more open systems, are far more
fault tolerant, and require less hardware resources.  The rise of the
Internet has created an environment whereby consumers can easily
exchange information using standard Internet protocols and standards,
such as ftp, Internet email or HTML.   The increasing use of Java makes
cross platform program development easier.  These developments in
technology make alternative OSs more attractive to consumers, since data
is less a prisoner to a legacy OS.   While Microsoft has been accused of
trying to destroy the Internets system of open standards, and Javas
cross platform nature, this hasnt occurred yet.  With more competition
in the PC OS market, the entire Internet system, which is based upon
interoperability, is more likely to grow and prosper.

Please let us know your firms plans to offer consumers a choice for an
OS.

Sincerely,

/s/
Ralph Nader

 /s/

James Love

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