It is very difficult to buy a computer without Windows (that is, to buy it with either Linux, FreeDOS or no OS) in the European market.
Why would you want to buy a laptop without pre-installed Windows?
- Because you are simply not going to use Windows (for example, you plan to use a Linux distribution)
- Because your school has an Developer Academic Alliance (formerly MSDN AA) with Microsoft and they provide the Windows software for you
- Because your organisation has a company-wide agreement for Microsoft software, and you do not wish to pay twice for Windows.
- Because you somehow have a Windows license or Windows package installation box already.
Sadly, when talking to the sales personnel of a manufacturer, it might look an easier strategy to just mention points 2 or 3. There is already some prior knowledge with the sales personnel that large organisations do not need the pre-installed Windows software.
Dell used to sell the N Series laptops with Ubuntu Linux, however they do not sell them anymore, at least in Europe. I contacted a Dell customer care manager on this issue and I was told that N Series laptops are available when you call Dell Sales by phone. I did just that, however the telephone salesperson explained that they do not have N Series laptops anymore. He verified with his own manager.
What would be desirable is to provide the option, when you customize the Latitude 2100, to be able to select the operating system under the Operating System options. In this way, the customer is in a position to make a better decision between the differences of the two options.
In a regional Dell website, it is possible to select the operating system while you are customizing the computer. In this case, when you select Ubuntu Linux, you can easily see that you are saving €30 compared to the initial price.
It is not clear why Dell UK and Dell Germany do not provide the facility that we see with Dell Greece. Normally the localised editions of a website take any changes later than the main languages (English, German).
Updated (soon after posted): It is possible to get the Dell UK page for the Latitude 2100 so that both pre-installed Windows and Ubuntu appear in the same section. It might be an update that has been rolled out just recently. When you visit the Customise page, you can now see that by selecting pre-installed Ubuntu Linux, you save £24 compared to pre-installed XP.
What would be ideal is for the consumer to have the option to avoid the pre-installed Windows, in a way shown above at the Dell Greece website for the Latitude 2100. Having options for Ubuntu Linux or FreeDOS (for those who already have a Windows license) would be the best value for the customers. This would make Dell the best company around.
So, what’s going on with the other laptop manufacturers?
Acer, Asus, Compaq and HP do not appear to sell computers without pre-installed Windows to the European market. I have not been able to locate retailers that would sell a laptop with FreeDOS, let alone a Linux distribution.
Is this the case with Acer, Asus, Compaq and HP in other markets?
This is an example of laptop models from the SE Asian market. The laptops come with FreeDOS and if you want pre-installed Windows, you pay extra (€53 or $74). The quoted price for the laptop is not subjected to local tax for the specific SE Asian country. Here is the price equivalent for each laptop,
Acer: €325 or $460
Asus: €525 or $745
Compaq: €365 or $515
Manufacturers such as Lenovo and Toshiba appear as black sheep to me, regarding the European market. Lenovo is supposed to sell laptops with SuSE Linux, however I could not find an example. Toshiba is completely out of the radar. They might not be a big laptop manufacturer.
What would be great for the European customer is to have the option to buy a product without pre-installed Windows. And this option of buying a computer without pre-installed Windows should be a visible and accessible option.