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About a month ago, research firm IDC released a report summarizing personal computer (PC) sales and their projected growth over the next few years. Included in the report are Desktop computers, Server computers, and Laptops. The boost in sales and projected growth are due to the upsurge in consumers purchasing low cost portable computers (Netbooks) like the Asus Eee PC and others. You'd think that increased sales of these low-cost, ultra-portable computers would lead to greater adoption of Linux but the opposite is actually true. In fact, the return rate of Linux Netbooks is about 4 times that of those equipped with Windows XP according to a Laptop Magazine interview with MSI’s Director of U.S. Sales Andy Tung.

What? 4 times the return rate of Windows XP Netbooks?

This actually doesn't surprise me. People buy a low-cost Netbook thinking it has something they're familiar with and when they get it home--it doesn't. So instead of learning to use this new fangled thingy (Linux)--they opt to return the unit for one with Windows on it. It isn't that they are too dumb to use Linux. It isn't that Linux doesn't work for them.

The answer is familiarity.

People use what they have become familiar with and that with which they are comfortable. The majority of people just want things to work and look like they always have. It may surprise those of you who like Linux to know that there are people who aren't curious, who don't want to tinker about with something, and who don't want to learn something new.

If Linux had been the first operating system they used, a Windows computer would be just as foreign and labeled as unusable--and would be returned. Personally, when I buy myself a Netbook, I'll buy one with Linux on it but I would never buy one for my wife, my in-laws, or my kids (although I spend countless hours at my in-laws' house troubleshooting various Vista problems for them).

So how will Linux ever gain significant ground in the Desktop space? It won't until it's more available, more familiar, and is a true choice for consumers. Right now it just isn't. The Linux community needs a marketing effort to bring Linux to the average user. Until that happens, Linux remains a geek thing--not that there's anything wrong with that.

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Last Post by khess
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I hate to admit it, but you are right. People will use what they are familiar with. I have been using Linux ever since my son was 18 months old so he has seen it and knows how to use it just as well as windows. Sometimes, he prefers it to using windows. So familiarity means a lot. I am not a marketing person so I have no idea how Linux could be marketed as a viable desktop alternative. Considering the size of the market and the dominance of windows, it would be a very daunting task but not impossible. If anyone out there has any ideas, feel free to express them so the community will get some idea how to go about this.

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quote: when I buy myself a Netbook, I'll buy one with Linux on it but I would never buy one for my wife, my in-laws, or my kids (although I spend countless hours at my in-laws' house troubleshooting various Vista problems for them).

That sounds like exactly the reason to buy them a Linux based computer. You will end up saving yourself a lot of the grief you currently put yourself through, in my experience.

I have converted quite a few people, mostlly women aged between late 50s and early 70s, in my little town to Linux (Mandriva Linux, with KDE desktops), from Windows. I had assumed that since they are unfamiliar with Linux, in any form, and Free Open Source Software, in general, that I would have many opportunities to make money from training. This proved not to be the case, as most of them simply made the change, and carried on pretty much as if nothing had changed. Only one person has required any ongoing training in anything, and he (yes it's a bloke, the women don't seem to have any problems adapting) seems to have problems understanding even quite basic concepts, like following hyperlinks, and attaching images to emails etc, which leads me to believe he would have exactly the same problems on Windows.

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Perhaps you're right Tracy Anne. I should give them a PC with Linux on it to see how they fare. At least virus and spyware calls would be down to zero with them. ;-)

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