October 12, 2007 9:49 AM PDT

Dell: Microsoft warnings haven't hurt Linux uptake

Claims made by Microsoft that Linux violates its software patent have not affected sales of Linux-based hardware, according to Michael Dell.

Speaking to CNET News.com sister site ZDNet UK at a conference Thursday, Dell's chief executive said his company has seen Linux uptake for servers increase faster than Windows server products, despite Microsoft's claims.

Michael Dell Michael Dell

"On the server side Linux continues to grow nicely, a bit faster than Windows," said Dell in an interview during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. "We're seeing a move to Linux in critical applications, and Linux migration has not slowed down."

However, for those customers who might be concerned about whether Microsoft's claims of patent violation could result in legal action, Dell added that there were "certainly mechanisms if customers are concerned about patents."

In May, Microsoft claimed that free and open-source software violated more than 230 of its patents, but hasn't provided more detailed information following the statement.

Dell's chief marketing officer, Mark Jarvis, claimed that though the two vendors have had a close relationship in the past, Microsoft had not given Dell any more information about the issue of patent infringement, despite Dell supporting Linux on its server range and more recently on its desktops and notebooks.

"When we announced the Linux notebook, we didn't get a call from Microsoft--whatever rumblings have been heard, they haven't been heard in Austin, Texas (near where Dell is based)," Jarvis said.

On May 24, Dell launched its first PCs based on Linux in the U.S.: a basic model, Inspiron E1505n, a more powerful Dimension E520n and a top-of-the-range XPS 410n.

Jarvis added that Dell did not expect its Linux PCs to sell in large numbers, reiterating that Linux growth was with servers.

"Are they (Linux PCs) going to sell a lot? Absolutely not. But on the server side we've seen continued growth," said Jarvis.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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Interesting percentages
The servers with linux are selling much better than the desktops. On the microsoft side, there are many more desktops sold than servers.

This is not intended as a knock on either operating system, but I have to ask... why is is reversed in server/desktop percentages between the two?

Maybe it's cost? Microsoft server is not cheap and neither are the licenses for it. The microsoft desktop is cheap (especially when sold OEM). Linux desktop and server are the same price (free).
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reason why:
[i]"why is is reversed in server/desktop percentages between the two?"[/i]

Because you weren't able to buy a Linux desktop from the likes of Dell until just this year; even then you only have a few choices.

Meanwhile, you could have bought RHEL pre-installed on nearly any Dell server for quite a few years now.

Give it time.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Because the desktop's value is in the programs it runs and Windows has the lion share of programs.

But servers do not need these programs. So Linux wins in this market because it is more stable and cheaper.

What will dent Microsoft's desktop dominance however, is the shift to web apps and services.
When there are enough good apps that run through a browser or are served up from the Web, then people will be more likely use Linux as their desktops because the access to programs problem is gone.

In fact in this scenario Linux will be more competitive than Windows, because both Windows and Linux will run the same apps, but Linux is of course more stable and cheaper.

It could also be argued that it would be more compatible because most of the Web runs on Linux and having software as a service delivered from Linux to Linux seems more seamless than delivering to the Windows platform.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
If you buy a server preconfigured you know what you want. If you are serious it won't be a GUI based server. I have had both and I have to say that the uptime on a Unix or linux based system is huge compared to the windows based alternative.

I think we are seeing a shift because of price as you said but I don't think it is because of businesses cheeping out. I think it is because of students (in a classroom or a home nerd) that have little money to build the knowledge. They will use what they have learned. Since linux and BSD is free its pretty obvious that it will be used more.

I know about the trial software but is 120days really enough to learn something?

My -$0.02

Posted by Astinsan (132 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Also, another factor in learning.
With Linux and *BSD, you actually have to know what works and what does not; most training courses (online or off) are geared towards teaching you how to make a *nix box do its job in the most efficient way possible. What few Linux-based certs there are, focus on a practical "here's a machine: get it working and secured" test, in addition to written tests.

As a result, a typical *nix grad will come out of the chute with at least a clue as to *** he's doing.

On the Windows side of officially-sanctioned training (Microsoft Press), you get [b]The Gospel According To Bill[/b], and nothing else. This often defies logic, efficiency, and refuses to admit that there is a such thing as interoperability. Unless you suspend disbelief and say that only MSFT products and protocols can fulfill the need, you literally will not pass the cert tests. They're all written exams.

As a result, the Windows MCSE only knows enough to buy, buy, buy MSFT products and click, click, click his way into lashing something together with it. If he learns anything beyond that, it'll only be incidental at best.


Long ago I could have told you that this would be part of MSFT's downfall. Now it appears to be coming true.
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Vista isn't that cheap
If you can figure out what vista you want.... it will cost you plenty.

A upgrade from WinXP (doesn't matter what version)
99$ This kills the WindowsXP license so you can't go back.

Then you have to worry about drivers not working and software not working etc. The one thing that killed the whole thing for me (and I was inrolled in the vista beta by mail so I did have hopes) was the drm and signed drivers. Everyone who has windows XP know that most of the drivers for most of the equipment out there is unsigned. So there is no way I will buy a new OS hoping that all my hardware will work.

If they wanted to go the signed route they should of enforced it with XP. That way the hardware developers would be already used to doing it.
Posted by Astinsan (132 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wait til' they starting eating Microsoft's lunch
That's when the empire will strike back! Guaranteed!!
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft's OS business will slowly shrink.
Too much excellent competition from too many fronts, too many great alternatives are emerging to Windows too fast for Microsoft to win here. I enjoy XP but I can clearly see the writing on the OS wall. Over time FREE is how it will be.

Microsoft knows this also.
Posted by onlyauser (220 comments )
Link Flag
It's already happening.
...and the best MSFT can do is send a couple of its former executives to a patent troll company to spew out a Laches-violating lawsuit against RedHat. Even C|NET has so far not even thought enough of it to put in a report on it, and so far only Slashdot and Groklaw have bothered at all.

MSFT failed w/ the SCO gambit, they'll fail from other tortious angles, and Linux will continue to stomp MSFT flat in the server room.

Next stop - the Desktop! ;)


Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Go Linux!
Glad to see an increase of Linux on server machines. It is hopeless to think that Linux can take down Microsoft in the desktop realm. Linux taking over the desktop market is like Sony competing with the ipod with a Walkman tape player. Won't happen. It's great to have diversity between systems to keep data safe though.
Posted by amack0001 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give me a break...
All things change. Thus is the nature of life.

Even Microsoft's OS dominance will change and for MS change means either a entirely new and different OS approach or face a prepetually shrinking OS market share.

Don't kid yourself. Anything can happen over time. Where was Microsoft 40 years ago?
Posted by onlyauser (220 comments )
Link Flag
Why would they?
Consumers don't care much anymore about this corp legal or whatever.

We just want stuff that works for less money.

Of course MS can't won't slow Linux. That's just a silly assumtion on all levels.

To man people and organizations that have alteady went to Linux and those people will never again be willing to pay the corporate premiums MS demands.

Linux is only going to grow. PERIOD!
Posted by onlyauser (220 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well well well...
...isn't that interesting? Linux outselling Windows in per-unit sales for one of the top three OEM's (and top two in server sales, IIRC).

I wonder what convolutions and mistruths the fanboys will be cooking up now?

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS WILL sue when Linux market share increases...
We're not there, yet.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They can't
Since they are not revealing what infringments there are, the open source community can't be knowingly infringing the patents--as there are far too many to sort through and too broad of meanings, so Microsoft is giving up their alleged 'right' (I say alleged, as they have not proven the claim--thus it may very well be a lie) to sue.

But does merely claiming that you violate someone's unknown and undisclosed patents mean you should stop everything? Does it mean you are guilty if you don't find out what they are? NO, because then you would be guilty until proven innocent, and business could claim mythical patents to stop any compettitor.

Microsoft lies. But then again, Microsoft has claimed they won't sue over these patents, so it doens't matter anyway. Besides, it isn't Microsoft's claims we need to worry about.
Posted by hawkeyeaz1 (569 comments )
Link Flag
MS will steal ideas from anyone
even really stupid ones from SCO.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All reviews of Dell linuxs machines are not good
Every review I read about Dell selling preinstalled Ubuntu laptops
have been bad. Its better to get a thinkpad instead. They work
perfect with most linux distros including Ubuntu.
Posted by ferretboy88 (676 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All reviews of Dell linuxs machines are not good - REALLY?
I did search on google "dell ubuntu review" and the top three reviews seems to be good. Here they are:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=2764621" target="_newWindow">http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=2764621</a>

"I think Dell has done a good thing with this system..."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://gauss.cs.ucsb.edu/~vik/2007/DELL-sparrow/" target="_newWindow">http://gauss.cs.ucsb.edu/~vik/2007/DELL-sparrow/</a>

"This is finally a Linux laptop that I can buy blindfolded..."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://linux.about.com/b/a/257705.htm" target="_newWindow">http://linux.about.com/b/a/257705.htm</a>

"In summary, I have been pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of this machine and the ease of set-up, enabling me to use it in a productive fashion right away."
Posted by balacs (1 comment )
Link Flag
Well, let me be the first. I have a 1505n laptop and I love it. I also have a desktop running Vista, a laptop running XP and a desktop running Simply Mepis Linux. I have a Palm TX and an HP Pocket PC so I think I know what I'm talking about when I say I prefer the Linux machines to MS. And, my 1505n is an outstanding machine for me to do what the normal user does which is check E-Mail, surf the net and talk on IM, Yahoo or various others and research other ideas. Frankly, you have to know a little bit about the machine you're running to do anything with it. Take time to learn like I had to do (and still do!).
Posted by wgilbert5 (19 comments )
Link Flag
Linux Laptop Review
The Dell 1420n is a great laptop, it works out of the box and is a nice looker to boot.
Turn it on and enjoy the safety, security, and stability of Ubuntu Linux.

The Cons
Dell is a terrible company to work with if you ever have any issues what-so-ever on any desktop computer, regardless of OS. Thats a CS problem though, not a HW problem.
Posted by starcannon (54 comments )
Link Flag
At the rate that MS is heading, they...
Ms is sending more people to Linux. Currently, Vista is bloated, too demanding on hardware, and MS has split Vista 4-ways. The cheapest one can't hardly do anything, and the most expensive one is just that, expensive! If you look at some forums, there are many who are going back and installing WinXP, and dumping Vista, due to a lot of problems.

At least they were not so greedy with WindowsXP. They only split it in only two ways. The HOME version, and the PRO version.

People are now realizing that Linux can do the same things that Windows can do. It can do it cheaper, require less hardware requirements, and we don't have to call "home" for the permission to install and run Linux. There are enough Linux versions to satisfy anyone's needs. And the price is right, FREE!
Posted by ONEderer (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hot Gossip
This I just learned not to long ago and from a pretty good source. But then again you tell me...

VISTA was largly developed in INDIA!

The programmers are largely LINUX oriented people.

The person who I learned this from is from India and has a lot friends there who did the VISTA coding. All are LINUX users.

If this is true could anyone add to this? Facts would be nice.

If it is not true, could you prove it?
Posted by Ted Miller (305 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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