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Michael's Minute: Is Intel's "Centrino"
Techno-Latin for "No Linux?"
|The Canadian launch of LindowsOS computers in retail stores went off
without a hitch! We even got some great news coverage. I personally visited The Brick
in Calgary and quizzed the salesman about the demo unit on the showroom
floor for about 10 minutes before I let on who I was. He did a great job.
It's great seeing Linux-based computers sandwiched between IBM and Compaq
computers on store shelves in North America. Lets hope the US catches up
to their Northernly sister sooner rather than later!
Now onto a different topic.
Many inside Intel want to fully back consumer Linux products. Intel
engineers are active contributors to Linux software development and do
an excellent job of ensuring that the latest chips and motherboards have
solid Linux support. They've sent many products to our certification
labs as part of that process and we're grateful for their support. However, when
it comes to packaging those components into complete computers and
announcing their availability, strong resistance emerges. It's a classic
"engineering vs. marketing" business struggle. The technology-minded
folks see a growing trend that is imperative for them to support in order to stay fully
relevent in all areas of the PC business. While the marketing-minded
individuals are more worried about the risk of upsetting Microsoft.
It's no mystery that Microsoft is doing everything in their power to
thwart desktop Linux, because it's a direct hit on their revenues and
profitability. They know that affordable Linux-based software will cause
them to adjust their pricing to compete and they're doing everything in
their power to delay the inevitable. But the other half of the "Wintel"
dynasty (Intel) is a going through a major internal struggle about how
strongly to back desktop Linux. Fully embracing it risks upsetting
Microsoft and potentially losing their support for Intel's 64bit chip and
other key projects. However, if Intel ignores it, they open the door for
the other two chip companies (VIA and AMD) to fill the void and ride the
desktop Linux wave to greater marketshare at Intel's expense.
Let me illustrate the internal struggle happening within Intel with some
actual examples. Intel does a traveling roadshow where they, along with
about a dozen other companies, visit US cities and talk to computer manufacturers
about their product line. When our salespeople have attended similar Intel
events wearing Lindows.com shirts, they are consistently beseiged
with Intel customers asking us why we are not at the event exhibiting. For
sure, there is solid interest in Linux desktop products from Intel customers
and we would like to be exhibiting. We asked to participate in an upcoming
roadshow. The initial reaction to our request to be a participant was, "Great.
We'd love to have you participate because we're getting increasing interest
in Linux desktop machines." But once the request is vetted through the marketing
side of Intel we are told we cannot participate even though we are willing
to pay the required fees and they have told us there is room. Perhaps it
is because Microsoft is also a major sponsor of this event. The exact reason
is unclear at this time, but Intel computer builders won't get a chance
to hear about desktop Linux products.
A similar incident happened with the Desktop Linux Summit held a month
ago. Engineers within Intel were excited about attending and were even
slated to participate as speakers. At the last moment though, Intel
marketing people stepped in and blocked their participation citing
"branding restrictions." I'm still not sure what that means exactly, but
it was their justification for their change of heart. More than 550 attendees
missed an opportunity to hear about how well Intel and desktop Linux
work together today and consequently are looking increasingly to
alternative chip choices for their PC needs, such as VIA was in attendance.
Most worrisome is Intel's lack of Linux support for their new Centrino chipset which
they've called their "most important announcement since the Pentium." Intel says that 300
million dollars will go into advertising this new product for mobile
computing, but Intel isn't making the small investment to provide Linux
drivers. When you see that "Centrino" sticker on the computer, you can
substitute "Microsoft Windows XP." As a cost saver perhaps we can expect
to see "XPino" stickers in the future further solidifying the Wintel
partnership. Lets hope this isn't a signal that future Intel products
will be void of Linux support as well.
It's clear that those beholden to Microsoft within Intel are winning the
battle against supporting desktop Linux. Consequently, Intel has no
strategy for the biggest development in the PC business in 15 years.
That's bad for customers looking for Intel powered Linux desktops and
laptops running Linux. At the same time, it's an opening for chipmakers
like VIA and AMD to make sure that those looking for desktop Linux products
have a nice selection to choose from.
Please visit support.lindows.com
to answers questions you may have about
LindowsOS or Lindows.com.
Choice to Your Computer!
Lindows.com is a consumer company that brings choice to computer users.
Lindows.com, Inc. was started by Michael Robertson, founder and former
CEO of MP3.com. LindowsOS is a modern, affordable and easy-to-use operating
system that allows users access to hundreds of applications via the Click-N-Run
(TM) Warehouse. All applications in the Click-N-Run Warehouse (www.lindows.com/warehouse) are
licensed on a lifetime, per-person or family basis and can be downloaded,
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including a $799 laptop (www.lindows.com/799)
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