Two leading hardware vendors, Dell and Lenovo, are quietly selling laptops without preloaded MicrosoftWindows to Linux customers who know where to look, says Lincoln Durey, CEO of EmperorLinux, an Atlanta reseller that customises, installs and supports Linux on the major-brand laptops it sells.
Durey says that "basically all of the Latitudes" are now available without an OS. EmperorLinux sells Dell's D420, D520, D620, D820, D620ATG, and M90 with Linux. Of those models, only the ruggedised D620ATG and the M90, which is part of the Precision series, require the customer to buy preloaded Microsoft Windows, he says.
Dell has been smoothing out the ordering process for the Windows-free laptops since introducing the option about around three weeks ago, Durey says. "There were some ordering hiccups. They would call back and say we can't do that, and you would say, you can do it," he says. EmperorLinux's two most popular Dell laptops are the D820, available without a Microsoft license, and the M90, which is not.
Customers aren't saving money by passing up the OS licence, though. "The Dell price is identical. Windows or nothing, it is exactly the same to the penny," Durey says. "I've actually seen one-time discounts on the Windows side that are not reflected on the Linux side for a week, so you could end up getting the Windows ones cheaper," he adds.
Lenovo, however, passes on a savings of about US$40 to customers who order ThinkPads without the Microsoft license, Durey says. Currently EmperorLinux sells some T Series ThinkPad models without the Microsoft license, but Durey says he has not yet been able to order an X series ThinkPad except with the license.
"The nice thing about not having the OS license is that it will lower the total cost of the solution," says Randy Hickel, Lenovo's Americas' sector leader.
ThinkPads without a preinstalled OS are not available through Lenovo's web site, Hickel says. Customers who want a ThinkPad without the OS license have to order from EmperorLinux or one of Lenovo's distributors. "We've got a number of distributors who have the ability to ship our laptops without an operating system ," Hickel says.