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The true cost of Windows - 410

About The true cost of Windows

Previous Entry The true cost of Windows Jan. 22nd, 2009 @ 12:50 pm Next Entry

The ubiquitous Dell have started selling their M1330 XPS laptops pre-installed with Ubuntu. I was curious about the price difference between Windows and Ubuntu, so I configured two laptops to the same specs as the base-level Windows laptop except that one had Ubuntu and one had Windows Vista I-need-to-actually-do-real-work-on-this-one edition.

On the Dell site, the Windows laptops only have the choice between Vista noddy[1] and the aforementioned ‘real’ version. Despite this, the Vista laptop still doesn’t come with an office suite or any of the other things bundled into the standard install of Ubuntu.

The difference speaks for itself:

Windows Ubuntu
819.01GBP 714.99GBP

And the Windows machine is on sale!

But wait, there is more! I had to configure the Ubuntu machine up to this spec. The Ubuntu machine by default comes with a smaller hard drive, less memory and Intel graphics (as opposed to nVidia). The Windows machine also comes with a non-optional fingerprint reader.

Removing just the fingerprint reader from the Ubuntu machine reduces it to £684.99 and going with Intel graphics plus the smaller battery this allows gives a final price of £599.00

So, depending on how you count it, the Windows tax on a Dell is somewhere between £104.02 and £220.01, not including the sale discount on the Windows laptop which would push the difference up by £20.00.

Is it really worth it?

[1] If you want to hobble your laptop, you can opt for Vista Home Premium which narrows the gap to £14.00 with fingerprint reader or £44.00 if you decide the fingerprint reader is useless.

Update: I forgot this other pearl of wisdom too. Look at what the Dell website uses as the icon for ‘an operating system’:

The Windows logo

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[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 22nd, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
That's about what I'd expect to pay for a copy of Windows off-the-shelf. Yes, it's quite expensive, but it's not a secret that you have to do sums with Dell prices to find out.

I thought the post was going to say the opposite: "Look, a Windows laptop is only £20 more than a Linux one! So its 'true' cost is £20 - how can they get away with selling it for £200 off-the-shelf?"
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 22nd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
The off-the-shelf cost of Windows is indeed public but the volume OEM licensing charge is not. What Dell actually pay for each copy of Windows is a closely guarded secret.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 22nd, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Do you reckon the figure you calculated is the volume OEM licensing charge, or do you reckon Dell additionally mark up Windows laptops over Linux ones because of demand?
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 22nd, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
I reckon nothing. I was just curious at what the price difference was. I imagine the difference is price(ubuntu) - price(windows) + f(delta_demand) + noise.
(Deleted comment)
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Date:January 22nd, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
My colleague David and I recently replaced our old dying workstations with Dell Optiplex 760 machines. The Vista Business licence added £25 to the price of a machine with FreeDOS.
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