Sunday, October 18, 2009

Microsoft attacks Linux at the retail level

I meant to post this a month ago when it first came out, but when the site was slashdotted I put it on hold and forgot to come back to it.

Overclock has a series of screencaps from someone who works at Best Buy. This person was going through the Microsoft ExpertZone training, and was presented with a section on "Windows 7 vs Linux". I immediately spotted many "untruths" in Microsoft's "Linux Compare" slides.

The Microsoft anti-Linux slides mention several things that were blatantly untrue. Allow me to chime in:

I haven't used Windows at home since 1998, and even then I only used it for games. When I bought my first iPod several years ago, I didn't have a problem using GTKpod to connect my iPod, and transfer my MP3 collection to it. I managed all my songs and playlists using GTKpod, and it was easy! (Since then, I bought a Mac and reformatted the iPod to work with that - call me a sellout, but iTunes has a ton of audiobooks I like.)

I have never had problems connecting my digital camera to my Linux PC. Everything just works for me. But if I did have a problem, I'd probably just solve it by taking out the memory card, and using a USB adapter. Then it's just USB storage.

Whether at work or at home, my printing experience under Linux has been "plug and go". Especially in recent years, just plug in the USB printer (I've used Epson, Canon, HP, ...) and Linux identifies it, configures the print driver, and you're done. When I used to run Linux at work, and got a new desktop printer, I didn't even think about it - just plugged it in, and got back to work. Printing to network printers requires knowing the IP address for the printer, but the Linux print configuration tool does the rest.

WindowsLive Essentials
The "Essentials" includes a bunch of stuff that is already included in most Linux distributions by default: email, chat, blogging, photo gallery, etc.

It's all about vendor support. I work at a large organization, and my teams support over 1,100 servers (over half run Unix, most of which is Linux.) We don't go for "community support" here, although I know some smaller organizations that do. Instead, we purchase and run Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This provides access to an online support center (basically, a knowledge base) and call-in phone support. That's the only way I'd run our servers at work.

Support may be different on the desktop, of course. There's Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, and you can certainly run that. I run Fedora on my laptop. For Fedora, there's no one to call if things break, and I would have to rely on "community support" for any problems. If this scares you, ask yourself: how many times have you called Microsoft for help on your Windows PC? No one really calls Microsoft for home desktops; there's a reason people like Geek Squad are in business. (BTW, I just called Geek Squad to confirm, and they do support Linux on the desktop.)


  1. I did a blog post about this a month ago as well.
    I think you just about got the essential points down. Also, given your position, the "familiarity" aspect is total BS and totally reversed for you.
    Also, I didn't know that Geek Squad actually supported Linux. To the best of my knowledge, Geek Squad employees used Linux personally but could not speak of it professionally (possibly due to contractual obligations from Microsoft).

  2. Yup, I called the general support number, and claimed I was looking for help with a PC running "Fedora Linux". She asked if this was my PC at home, or a work system. I said it was a home PC, just to see what she'd say about it.

    I was immediately rung through to a support guy who said he could help me.

    Yeah, I was surprised too, because I'd heard the same thing you did. Maybe the Geek Squad changed things? Either way, it's great!

  3. PV, I went through your blog post from a month ago, and thought it was great. Thanks for sharing.


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