One more reason Linux must fear Windows 7

In my last two blogs I've explained why I believe Windows 7 will kill Linux sales on netbooks. Here's yet one more reason: The return rate for Linux netbooks is at least four times as high for Linux machines as it is for XP ones for at least one netbook maker.

I've said in a previous blog that Windows 7 will kill Linux on netbooks because Windows 7 is lightweight enough to run on them. And as more evidence, I pointed to ASUS CEO Jerry Shen saying he plans to release Windows 7 netbooks in mid-2009.

Now here's even more evidence: MSI’s Director of U.S. Sales Andy Tung told Laptop Magazine that the return rate for Linux netbooks is at least four times as high as XP netbooks. MSI makes the well-received MSI Wind.

The reason? People find Linux too hard to use. Here's what he said:

Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don't know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it's not what they are used to. They don't want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.

Windows 7 features a much slicker interface than Windows XP, is easier to use, and Microsoft will spend many millions of dollars to push its use on netbooks. So when it's released, expect Linux use on netbooks to drop.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 35 books.

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