Microsoft admitted what we have been saying all along, Vista, aka Windows Me Two (Me II), is a joke that no one wants.
It did two unprecedented things this week that frankly stunned us.
Dell announced that it would be offering XP again on home PCs. The second that Vista came out, Microsoft makes it very hard for you to sell anything other than Me II. It can't do this on the business side because it would be laughed out the door, but for the walking sheep class, well, you take what you are shovelled.
This is classic abusive monopoly behaviour, Microsoft wrote the modern book on it. It pulled all the major OEMs in by twisting their arms with the usual methods, and they again all fell into line. Never before has anyone backpedalled on this, to do so would earn you the wrath of Microsoft.
But Dell just did. This means that Me II sales are at least as bad as we think, the software and driver situation is just as miserable, and Dell had no choice but to buck the trend. If anyone thinks this is an act of atonement for foisting such a steaming pile on us, think again, it doesn't care about the consumer.
What happened is, the OEMs revolted in the background and forced Microsoft's hand. This is a big neon sign above Me II saying 'FAILURE'. Blink blink blink. OK, Me II won't fail, Microsoft has OEMs whipped and threatened into a corner, it will sell, but you can almost hear the defectors marching toward Linux. This is a watershed.
The other equally monumental Me II failure? Gates in China launching a $3 version of bundled XP. Why is this not altruism? Well, it goes back to piracy and how it helped enforce the MS monopoly. If you can easily pirate Windows, Linux has no price advantage, they both cost zero.
With Me II, Microsoft made it very hard to pirate. It is do-able, you can use the BIOS hack and probably a host of others, but the point is, it raised the bar enough so lots of people have to buy it. Want to bet that in a country with $100 average monthly salary, people aren't going to shell out $299 for Me II Broken Edition?
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