September 29, 2004 4:40 PM PDT

Desktop Linux a vehicle for pirating Windows

PCs running Linux are growing in popularity in part because they can be loaded with a pirated copy of Windows, according to a study from analyst Gartner.

The consulting firm issued a report on Wednesday stating that about 40 percent of Linux PCs will be modified to run an illegal copy of Windows, a bait-and-switch maneuver that lowers the cost of obtaining a Windows PC.

In emerging markets, where desktop Linux enjoys wider popularity, the trend is even starker. Around 80 percent of the time, Linux will be removed for a pirated copy of Windows. Pirated copies sell for around $1 in the streets of Shanghai and other cities in Asia and Eastern Europe, but can also be bought in stores selling brand name PCs.

As a result, the number of desktop Linux PCs that ship will exceed the actual percentage of Linux machines that get installed in the real world. Desktop Linux will account for about 5 percent of desktops shipped in 2004, according to Gartner, with 10.5 percent of the desktops in Asia shipping with Linux this year. However, the installed base of Linux will come to only 1.3 percent.

In 2008, Linux will account for 7.5 percent of PCs shipped, but only 2.6 percent of the installed base, about the same that Apple's installed base will be then.

A comparable lack of drivers, training costs and migration headaches will also retard desktop Linux growth.

"Linux on the desktop may be generating a lot of publicity, but there are very few large-scale dedicated Linux deployments," the firm stated. "Governments in several European countries have announced plans to migrate to Linux, but most of these projects are in the evaluation phase."

Price, of course, is a huge motivator in piracy. All of the components inside PCs have dropped in price in the past several years, except Windows. Windows accounted for around 5 percent to 6 percent of the cost of building a "professional"-level PC in 1996. Now, the operating system accounts for 12 percent to 15 percent of the cost.

Still, the growing acceptance of Linux has prompted Microsoft to hatch plans for releasing an inexpensive version of Windows, called Windows XP Starter Edition in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and India.

"It is likely that Microsoft would prefer the initial OS on a new PC to be a Windows variant rather than Linux, even if piracy were to continue," the report stated. "This would reduce the amount of interest that Linux is generating because of its increasing presence on new PCs."

Gartner is a tough audience these days. In August, Gartner wrote a report criticizing Windows XP Starter Edition, claiming that it lacked some features and would "likely increase software piracy."


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Seems like a lot of trouble
I don't think I would buy a PC with Linux on it, if only to remove the OS and install another. No. A much easier way would be buy a PC with no OS installed. Yes, Yes. That would be much easier, but then they could not make up some bogus study in order to sling some FUD.

#rm -rf microsoft*
Posted by cd_andrews (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
nice spin
so, if I get the drift, it took Linux desktops for people to figure out that you can use pirated windows. Let's see how that would work ... Some crook knows how to get a pirated OS and install it, but he/she has no idea that you can get PC's with NO OS installed !! Am I missing something here?

Now, it is not unconceivable that PC's which would otherwise be sold without OS would be sold with Linux, because why not? it's free and may even boost sales - people prefer something readily usable. Not having a free OS as an option would however not prevent, or even make it harder for theCrook to get his machine without OS.

I think the data from Gartner is realistic, even though it is safer to have dozens of studies pointing in the same direction before upgrading from realistic to real. You know, lies, damn lies and statistics. As for Mike's spin, well, it's a free country, anybody can say what they want
Posted by (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What I'd like to know is...
How many PCs were bought with a Windows, only to be replaced
with a Linux (or something else). I can imagine that the installed
base for Linux is much higher than what's perceived by the tech
media and the garbage numbers they get from so called tech

It's pretty obvious that the Windows market-share is slightly
inflated due to the fact that you can't easily buy a PC without
some sort of Windows operating system already installed. How
many of those PCs have been bought that were reconfigured to
run something else and not Windows?
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Accurate !!!!!!
who-ever wrote this is sooo Pro Micro$oft that it reeks of blatant misinformation Many large american corporations use Linux everyday to run the most important parts of their business and many consumers only use a Linux computer for their e-mails and Internet and nothing else and are none the wiser about a MS product.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Re:Not Accurate !!!!!!
Hi Mitchell,

There is nothing blatant about this article. It talks about what's happening in India & our neighbours & I can assure you this is a very accurate article in this regard.

So, your take on American corps using Linux is quite irrelevant here.

Please open your eyes to the rest of the planet.

Cheers - Vikram
Posted by Hiresavi (4 comments )
Link Flag
What a stupid story!
How much do they pay these writers to say such garbage (!!!)? It's extremely difficult to get a PC without Windows preinstalled (duh) -- go in any store anywhere in the world and try to find the Linux computer tucked behind the shelves and shelves of Windows computers. The only thing harder to find than a PC without Windows is a vendor who will sell a computer with Linux preinstalled.

Who, after going to all the work of getting a computer with Linux already installed, would then take Linux off to install Windows? How mentally retarded do you have to be to even suggest that?

I am seeing more and more of these inane stories coming out. I assume that Microsoft is terrified of Linux and that Linux is taking away a huge chunk of their business. Now, they're back to the "Linux is the choice of the lawless" tactic in order to scare people away.

Actually, the only thing taking away Microsoft's business is Microsoft itself. Every time someone turns on their Windows computer, they are reminded of why they want something else (anything else). No one would even be looking at other software but for the fact that Windows and MS Office behave like junk.
Posted by dhk (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: What a stupid story!
Hi Diana,

It's obvious that you are living in an ivory tower.

This news is about what's happening outside the US.

Speaking for India, I can assure all of you that this article is 100% true. All the biggies like IBM & Dell ship their PCs with Linux here, which most Indians don't like for SOHO use.

This is simply 'cuz these guys are unable to compete with local PC makers in all of Asia.

Wake up, folks!

Cheers - Vikram
Posted by Hiresavi (4 comments )
Link Flag
silver lining?
i'm thinking 1.3% of desktop pc's running linux is quite an improvement, right? i'm sure those stats are low, and even being low, i'm very encouraged by the growth! bet in 2008 we'll be a bit higher than 2.6 percent.
Posted by (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Im glad
Im glad the numbers are being mangled to make Linux look like a toy operating system. All that means is that when Linux's enemies finally realize how widely used it has become it will be too late.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe in other area's, not USA
I changed to Linux on my personal PC out of curiosity. I have seen it mature quite a bit in the past year. I have used codeweavers to run my Office XP9($500.00 in 2002), I'm not intrested in pirating. There are few features of Windows that I miss, however I don't miss the crashes that were caused by a virus on three different occasions, even though I religiously updated, both my virus programs, and Windows updatew. Nor do I miss having to re-register after every crash. I am in a minority among my co-workers, however with Open Office and Linux, my downtime and lost data are history.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Maybe in other area's, not USA

Yup - the article's about things happening outside of the USA, and in that respect, it's very true.

On virii on MS, I believe it's got to do with 2 things - (a) more people target Microsoft since that's, by far, the most popular desktop OS & that's the most profitable segment to attack for fraud or fun. Servers are typically too well-protected to be affected. (b) Microsoft has been developing (good) stuff at a very fast clip, and making some very complicated products. It's natural that something that's done slower (like any open source project) will be more thorough in nature & hence have lesser loopholes.

Cheers - Vikram
Posted by Hiresavi (4 comments )
Link Flag
The new gateway--gateway.
This article is reminiscent of right wing propaganda circa 10-20 years ago. Anyone remember that pot is the gateway drug to heroin? Now Linux is the gateway gateway to illegal Windows. Never mind that most people who Linux use it because it's better (faster, more stable) than Windows? Most people I know who use Linux also are against piracy and use it because it's legal. Anyway, Windows shouldn't be included on PCs by default, it's only because of Microsoft's monopoly that is in the first place.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
They can just get a NO OS system for slightly cheaper, or build their own, and install Windows on that.
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And how many Windows Installs are converted to Linux
This is a very dubious article. The Windows OEM contract make getting make desired systems to be purchased without Windows, Have any percentages been worked out where those systems have been converted to GNU/Linux? It is a lot of systems, especially laptops.

So what this tells me is that Gartenr is clueless about the number of computers actually running anything. SInce they depend on industry reports of initial sales, they have no idea what the GNU/Linux install base even is, let alone the complete red herring of piracy. People who pirate will just Pirate. People who want working and secure desktops will just use Free Software.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by (1 comment )
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deleted windows copies
Most Linux users have no choice but to buy a PC with Windows preinstalled, and delete it. As a laptop user, there is not much choice. HP have now started shipping a laptop with SuSE Linux, but that is the only one I know of.

So, just to put the record straight, I am not a Windows user. My laptop has NO windows version on it (if I dual boot, it is to a different distribution of Linux). But I guess Redland "counts" me as a Windows user.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Good point
I belong to a relatively small users group (just over 100),most of whom have wiped the Win OS and installed Linux, or at least set up a dual boot (at first anyway). :) The group is most certainly not all geeks either if I'm in it. :) I'm a real novice.

If there could be a poll of those who wipe their windows os in favor of any of the *nix's, I think the market share would show a much higher statistic. With the release of RHWP I have a feeling we'll see a great many more of the forgotten niche (SMB, home user) going for it. The package is a superior stable distribution at enterprise level quality and ease of installation and use.

I think this is just the beginning of a serious growth year for linux. From what I understand from reading over the past year, IBM and RH are getting together to promote this, so we should see some real advertising soon.
Posted by (6 comments )
Link Flag
It has nothing to do with Linux
It's about getting a computer cheaper and install a pirated copy. It would be the same if the PC has no OS installed. "Desktop Linux a vehicle for pirating Windows" is just an unreliable headline in this context, Mr Kanellos.
Posted by Not Bugged (195 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CNET is degrading itself with such headlines
This is very poor journalism and extremely poor reasoning. Just because it makes a catchy headline, doesn't mean CNET and Mr. Kanellos have to "go for it". I have CNET as my top bookmark, but this makes me think twice ...

Why not have a title saying "Bill Gates promotes addiction in poor countries" with a follow up article about how some free software evangelist was quoting an article in Forbes from June 1998 during one of many free/open source conferences so popular nowadays? It would certainly draw a lot of attention and would be "more true" than "Linux is a vehicle for piracy".

While I am at it, Linux, or more correctly GNU/Linux, is distributed under the GNU GPL copyright and license. I can't see the connection with piracy.

Finally, don't CNET and Mr. Kanellos realize that Gartner, Jupiter, Forrester and the like, have completely discredited themselves during and after the Internet bubble with their (now) laughable data? Why should anyone believe them and, on top, add to their mindless musings?

Modi Buzzgrowl
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a bullcrap story
How much did microsoft pay for this story to be printed? Next we will hear that buying Linux is "emboldening the enemy". The real story is that Microsoft is a monopoly and has hidden ways of checking up on you constituting to unreasonable search and seizure and in the same breath touted their OS as secure when it is an insecure WMD.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A pirate copy of windows xp can be installed on a pc without the help of Linux. This article sounds as if its just bad mouthing Linux and nothing more. I agree sounds as if a pro Microsoft/anti opensource person wrote this !

Come on Linux users dont use windows&& thats the whole point!
Posted by digitalgnome (228 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i do,however, see where this story is coming from
I do,however, see where this story is coming from.
But next they will be saying people buying a pc without an os installed is bad news.

If i brought a pc with linux i would keep it unless it was a rubbish distro :-P
Posted by digitalgnome (228 comments )
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