Why are people still installing Windows on the EEE PC?

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Sat, Dec 29 - 1:09 am EDT | 6 years ago by
Comments: 41
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If it’s easy to learn and easy to use, how come people are still installing Windows on the EEE PC?

I was chatting with a friend who just installed Windows on the EEE PC. His family would prefer to use Windows over the customized Linux installed on it by default.

Ah well.

But it still doesn’t mean that Linux sucks, right? It’s more like Linux still hasn’t really gotten enough mindshare yet so people don’t know that they could use it without much trouble if they only give it time. Then again, people would want to be able to use something immediately so if they’d want to be more productive with it, they’d want something more familiar. It’s human nature, I suppose? Maybe the “Windows XP-ness” (some people say that its color scheme and style of the icons look so Windows XP-like) of Linux on the EEE PC aren’t enough to get people to really use it.

It probably now boils down to how desktop environments will improve, maybe.

GNOME and KDE have gone a long way already and yet they don’t seem to meet the wants and needs of the crowd. What will probably make Linux more acceptable as an OS is the availability of a desktop environment or window manager that would sweep the crowd off their feet. Just like how some people have been swept off their feet because of the sleek look and feel of Mac OSX. Some people say that maybe Linux desktop environments are trying too hard to imitate Mac and Windows. I don’t know. It’s not really that, I think. Somehow I think that there’s still that perception that Linux is for geeks. For me, it depends on what Linux distro you’re talking about. Some of them might be quite like that but not all. PCLinuxOS, Xandros, Suse and Ubuntu seem to be some of the newbie faves.

What about you? What do you think?

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  • http://www.afeedisborn.com Juned

    It is probably because more people are used to Windows. And there are programs that are based in Windows that we are familiar with. Me I think its a familiarity issue.

  • http://chris-karath.com/blog/bloghome.html Chris

    I think it has more to do with the name Linux.

    Apple, Microsoft and Linux are seen as three different brands: Hip, Functional or Geek. Even if that isn’t exactly true anymore, there is alot of marketing still out there reinforcing that.

    That kindof of branding takes a long time to change.

    Most people care more about what something says about them than what something does for them. That makes the branding more important than the use.

    Just my opinion.

  • joe

    im running the eee on linux mint, by far a good newbie distro (Rebuilt unbuntu) with some powerfull multimedia capabilities ‘out of the box’ so to speak had xp running but it munched resources badly for me (running a 2 gig surf)

  • Art Ilano

    For the people who have installed XP on their eee’s (which includes me), the fact is that it won’t matter how good or how friendly or how powerful Linux becomes. It’s about familiarity and other comfort zones. I have programs and routines that I have been using for ages now under Windows, and it simply is such a bother trying to re-learn how to do certain things and figuring out which programs are the Linux equivalents of my old favorites.

    Or take for instance the matter of downloading software. I’m used to just googling and clicking the download link to install programs under Windows, whereas if I was stuck with Xandros, I’ll still have to learn to ‘sudo bash’ my way into getting stuff.

    My Linux-loving friends would argue “What? That’s so easy! Here’s how to do it…” But you know what? I say why bother learning how to do this in the first place when I can get all my staple-food software mindlessly using an interface that I’ve become really familiar with?

    At this point, I’m simply too old and too tired to learn too many new things in one go. :)

  • Clair

    @ Chris: Maybe it’s really a matter of branding. Wah~! That is a toughie. Word of mouth still isn’t enough for people to really use Linux :( But I do think that there are more and more people using Linux even if the odds seem to be against Linux.
    @joe: Yeah, I was wondering about the resources. My friend told me that they slapped in an 8gig sd card so that there’s going to be more memory. I’ve heard about good things about Mint. Thanks for sharing! :)
    @Art Ilano: A lot of people share that sentiment, sadly :( But that is probably why KDE has a UI that is a bit similar to Windows (and you could actually make it so). Then again the EEE has a customized desktop environment too so that’s another matter altogether. It’s a happy day for the manufacturer but not so for open source devs and advocates, perhaps. After all, you guys got the EEE. Then again, I won’t have much qualms if people actually installed a legal copy of Windows — it’s people making that strong choice of where the investment goes anyhow.

  • Matt

    Maybe some people just have an affection for an antiquated operating system that’s over six years old

  • Roc

    I actively try every distro I can. I’m typing this on PCLinuxOS. I wouldn’t try to remove linux on an EEE PC. It isn’;t designed as a desktop or main pc replacement. It’s for easy portability and light work. Personally though, until an easy an intuitive image /photo editing program comes along I’ll never be able to drop windows. For me GIMP is not easy and Picasa isn’t good enough. Other than that I’ve been able to do most anything on Linux.

  • Ruel Smith

    Both KDE and Gnome try to hard to be like Windows. It’s a shame. On top of that, too many new users want Linux to be more like Windows.

    The EeePC, IMO, uses too much of a dumbed down desktop. When I used it, I just wanted a more familiar KDE desktop on it. I didn’t want something so limited.

    Lack of unity is both Linux’s strength and weakness. However, because of it, we really don’t have anyone shouting out to the world during the Super Bowl telling us we need to look at Linux for the home desktop. All efforts to put Linux on the home desktop have gone virtually unnoticed and uncelebrated by their manufacturers. The only reference anyone hears of Linux in the mainstream is during those IBM Linux commercials, and they think Linux is something not for home use. Until we get Super Bowl and primetime commercial touting Linux, the public will care less about it and want something more familiar, like Windows…

  • David

    It think it all boils down to killer apps. I started using Linux a lot when I realized that K3b was essentially a free Nero. So using Linux (even just dual boot) was saving me $80.
    However, other than that I can’t switch to Linux because most of the apps I use, require Windows or Mac OS: Photoshop, AE, etc. Apple has gotten a lot of traction on their OS because with the exception of some games almost all major Win programs work on OS X and it has a couple of killer apps: FCP2, iMovie (&iSuite), Keynote, Motion, etc. The Linux advantages (cheap, works on lots of hardware, costumizable, secure, solid) appeal to a more geek set.
    I know many people that have one computer were all they do is email but wont switch because they use Outlook or have a Blackberry.
    Right now Linux is a trade-off.

  • Walter

    I’ll say it as I see it and I will not apologize if anybody gets offended.

    As a general purpose desktop OS, Linux is a mere compromise to WinXP issues. Despite of how many Linux fanboiz try to mislead, misinform and straight out lie, Linux is not an alternative. PERIOD.

    I can see how my my work place could save a bundle of $$$ by running Linux on about 70% of corporate desktops. But only because the end user would use only a very limited set of (hopefully well tested) applications and have no ability to install/remove or alter system otherwise.

    At home. It is a different story. Over last 2.5 years (not months), I tried several dozens of noob friendly distributions (and different versions of the same distribution). And the only thing that did not get erased was my XP partition. Dozens of distributions were coming and going from the other partition. Why? Because not a single one “just works”. Some of them come as “close enough” at the most.

    With my XP box I can throw at it any gadget I buy in “Best Buy” and it works or a proper driver is supplied with it. Not so with Linux. It is hysterically funny to me, that Linux fanvoiz in their Linux “reviews” are actually getting excited that USB thumb drives or CDs work and auto-mount themselves. This is something I had for years in XP!!!

    It is also laughable that many Linux fanboiz consider Vista fiasco as one of the greatest things of 2007 that happen Linux.

    Can I say that Linux sucks? No. No, it does not. But at the same time, I am not surprised that some or many will buy bottom-line prised cheap Linux PCs to wipe the Linux out and install WinXP on it.

  • Joe

    I would be very interested in knowing how many of these people who are replacing Linux with Windows are actually installing a legitimate copy. Windows XP still costs anything between 150-200 USD which compares to the eeePC costing 350-400 USD. Adding an Office suite to that is more dollars down the drain replacing something that works so nice out of the box.

  • Gary

    As a Linux user that used Windows for many years, I can tell you that my conversion from windows was accompanied by the withdrawal symptoms of an addict. It was difficult to leave that comfort zone.

    Unfortunately, the skills often required for employment are the strongest argument to continue the use of windows.

  • Linux n00b

    I can see a lot of non-techies will want things “just the way things were” – so the dutiful family Geek is stuck installing (slow on it) XP on an Eee PC.

    I would be interested in finding out if it was a real or illegal copy of XP, but with a upset family $200+ is a small price to pay!

    People “want what they want” – though if familiarity is the only reason they would go for it, then Microsoft is a dead man walking since demographic change and alienation as they make GUI changes to their new program updates (Office 2007, Vista) leaving those unwilling to learn a new interface behind.

  • Ruel Smith

    Walter, Linux can be a good replacement for most home users. Let’s face it, most home users will upload their camera images, surf the web, send some email, write a letter now and then, and maybe some IM via Windows Messenger. How many of them utilize their system more than that? Firefox and Thunderbird are more than up to the job, camera’s mount easily via DigiKam, there are plenty of photo archiving software such as Picasa, and Kopete will not only keep them in touch with others via MS’s Messenger service, but AIM, ICQ, and many others, all in one interface. OpenOffice.org is more office suite than anyone at home will ever need. What else does the majority of home users ever do with their computers?

    Now, if your needs go beyond that, such as something specific that MS Office provides that you need to take work home, or you work in Photoshop or Illustrator or something, that might change things. I say might, because I’ve messed with Photoshop for a long time as a hobbyist, and have migrated to The Gimp and have found some of its tools more powerful than Photoshop, but admit the majority of it still lags. But I’m not a professional designer or anything, either.

    I’ve migrated over to Linux slowly for the past 10 years. Linux has come a long way in that time. I’ve now pretty much completely replaced Windows with Linux for my needs. I do use Windows for occasional gaming, but that’s pretty much it.

  • The problem is probably that people think of the eee PC as just another laptop that happens to be a little bit smaller than usual. As we all know, “normal” computers have Windows installed on them. As long as people’s perceptions of UMPCs is that they are just small laptops, people will want to install the OS they use on their desktops. The best way to get people to keep Linux is to change their perceptions of the OS or the devices on which the OS is used.

    What are uses of the eee for which Windows or normal laptops are unsuitable?

  • http://andrecotte.com/blog/ André Cotte

    As long as everybody will use illegal software (free) Linux will not attract lots of people. But when you’re an honest software user, Linux distro with all their free (in the real sense of the word) software are a bonanza and you stick with it.

  • joseph Blake

    tbh the reason i love the eee and linux for that matter is A) its frikin powefull B) with 3 apps (Air snort, Nmap, aircrack-ng) + (portability of the eee) it makes my office admin job sooo easy its a wonder they employ me. AND IF U CAN BE BOTHERD TO INSTALL XP ON THE EEE THEN UR CLEVER ENOUGH TO REALISE THAT KDE/XANDROS CAN BE REPLACED WITH WHATEVER YOU WANT AT NO COST!!!
    “GNU LIVE FREE OR DIE TRYING”
    all i ask is that people accept diferences and value them

  • http://www.openguru.com Raghu Nayak

    I don’t see any compelling reason to run EeePC with Windows XP..

    People seems to install windows due to their mindset about softwares…

  • Leo

    I don’t know. I do have an eeepc that I love, it’s running the default xandros, and it does all i need and more. I wonder what’s the percentage of people really switching. Of course this also happens the other way, people buying desktops/laptops with windows preinstalled and installing linux …

  • Dave

    I have a eee pc and I love it! It is excellent for travel and all the portability and the linux on it is super easy except for installing some programs. I also use a 17″ laptop for my desktop which houses both XP and PCLINOS and i have a wonderful time with that laptop also! So it takes some common sense to just use computers and notebooks with both kinds of operating systems if you just use your head a little! Right?

  • Clair

    I can’t reply to all the comments so here are some of my thoughts:

    @Gary I can see your point. I still see job postings for people with skills using specific apps like the MS Office Suite. However, there are still employers who value the attitude of learning over skill in one particular app. :)

    @Joe Exactly. It’s something to consider, right? But if they could afford the software, they probably could afford hardware too… So I wonder why they should even bother buying an Asus EEE. Maybe it’s the form factor that got them, not the entire package.

    @David I do believe that there are a lot of apps that are bundled with Linux which could be considered as killer apps. I like using Beagle. Then there’s k3b as well. And Emacs! And wget. And SSH is supported out of the box. I guess there are still some things that open source devs have to see from the users’ perspective so that more people will use Linux.

    @Andre Cotte Well said.

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  • http://alex.amiran.it Alex

    @Walter (sorry for my not-quite-good english)
    I don’t get offended by your opinion, but I must say it is a bit old.
    The problem is simple: Linux is not desktop-mainstream, so hardware makers don’t bother writing and distributing drivers for it with their gadgets, so people don’t use Linux because such gadgets don’t work “out-of-the-box”.
    We italians call this “self-tail-eating-cat” (imagine a cat running in circle trying to eat its tail).

    Even worse, producers don’t publish hardware specs (registers, settings, voltages, etc.), so OS developers can’t write drivers.

    All we can do is hope they used some well-known standard (usb storage, for example). Many times this doesn’t happen, and some hardware vendors simply break standards, so the kernel drivers are full of exceptions, becoming bloated just to support this insanity.

    I think hardware like the Eee, the Nokia N8x0, the gPC and other “limited” machines could be the breach in the market. The user should not upgrade (to much) his hardware, and can use the standard OS version and applications, never bothering to search drivers.

    You are maybe a “power user”, but 90% of users will keep their PCs as they bought it for at least 1 year. This user base could be happy with the Eee, needing nothing else. They have Internet via wifi and ethernet, webcam, base software. Maybe they will need Bluetooth, but luckily most of BT dongles are well supported. USB keys and storage are fully supported. The “gray area” is the digital cameras one, as new cameras are coming out every day, but you can use a card-reader.

    As for the applications, they know the computer comes with completely different ones from their desktop. The base interface is completely different. It’s like using a cel phone: you don’t expect to use Word or Excel or Photoshop on it, so you use what is provided: OpenOffice and Gimp.

    Linux Power Users will undoubtedly reinstall their preferred distro on it, but this is a “plus” of the x86 architecture, unknown to the casual user.

    Bye.

  • http://www.arnoarts.blogspot.com Arnold L. Johnson

    It’s a funny thing that hardware and software folks refuse to resolve. Seeing how we all have our loyalties and preferences and seeing how we users are a marketing force, how come we still grant squatters rights to what ever OS that is on the disk drive? If we can not except the OS that comes with the machine we should be able to easily change it. Put the OS on a bootable jump drive or some plug in card. But I think it is nice to see a “PC” not designed with Microsoft software in mind. And I think it is lame for Microsoft to suggest it is unfair to design, market and sale a PC that they can’t easily inhabit.

  • http://joesacher.com Joe

    I’ve been running Linux (Ubuntu) on my primary desktop for over a year now. If programs were as easy to install on the eee PC as they are on Ubuntu, I don’t think people would have to switch.

    There are things with the default Xandros install that work well and are optimized for the screen size of the eee PC. However, I’m fairly comfortable with Linux and haven’t been able to successfully install even half the programs I want on this thing. I tried eeeXubuntu, but it missed some things I liked about Xandros. I have no plans of going to WinXP, but can understand why people want to. Asus made the distribution too simple. They took away the good things of Debian and tried to “Windows” them. I think in the next couple versions of eeeXubuntu, I’ll be using that.

  • http://n/a Peter Davies

    I have a 4G on order, expect it this week, and I would install XP to work Microsoft “Streets & Roads” GPS Is anyone aware of a Linux version of that program?I have an XP disc now, but would rather not install it, if I don’t have to.

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  • stuart

    one simple 3LA explains .. CLI (or command line interface) – I am fine with Linux up till that point.

    Talk about DOS window’ing. Once I can do all those CLI things via a GUI then I will switch.

    edlin rules no more.

  • Brock

    The main reason why i installed Windows xp on my eee, is bescause on the default the MSN or windows live messenger does not support webcam since i travel alot i’d prefer windows xp so i can web call my family.

  • peertwo

    I wanted to give linux an go, I really did. But after a few weeks of failing to install anything easily (all that sudo bash, and looking up libraries) I went back to XP. I know how to use it, to find, download, and install stuff.
    I’ve been using it for 15 odd years, this dog is-sadly-too old for new tricks.

  • winman

    Windows works, Linux might work. I go with what I know. And I code windows. As a programmer I like to make money, if I didnt need money I would code for linux.

  • Pierre

    I really tried sticking with the default OS but making the programs work that i download is a pain in the ass.
    This is my only reason for installing xp.

  • Chris Peck

    I’ve got three reasons to put Windows XP on my eee pc, I need to use my verizon phone for internet access, i want access to my slingplayer, and, I want to download Tivo recorded shows to it.
    Granted that I could hack away & get my cell phone to work under linux, I could install Virtualbox to run the other two under a VM of Windows, but, why bother.
    This coming from someone who has been a unix sysadmin since the mid-eighties (pre-linux).
    BTW-I DO feel a little dirty though :)

  • Clair

    @Chris Peck, @winman, @pierre Well, it really depends on people. I guess you liked the form factor of the Asus EEE a lot. But if you really have to use the applications you need for whatever purposes, I guess then that is a problem that could only be solved by installing Windows. But I think that everyone should still give the pre-installed OS a try before judging it :)

  • http://blog.razumny.no razumny

    I’m about to reinstall my Eee. I installed it with Ubuntu, just because I couldn’t stand the default, and now I’ve hit a snag. I’ve got problems with WLAN, and don’t even know where to begin with fixing them. Instead, I’ll install Windows, which I know inside and out.

    No, Linux is not bad, but my skillset is missing significant tools for me to use it as my primary or even secondary OS.

  • Michael

    Pretty late to this thread… I bought a 7″ Eee back in the Spring in order to browse the web and check mail on holidays without needing to take my bulkier Thinkpad.

    It’s been fine, I have had very few problems with Xandros, it seems that unless you have decent unix skills, there are some things which are beyond the average layman… In my case

    (i) Slingbox access under Linux sounds beyond me
    (ii) VPN connection so I can access the BBC iPlayer sounds similarly challenging
    (iii) because there is no linux version of Nokia’s PC Suite the use of 3G broadband via USB connection to my Nokia phone is also out

    All of which took minutes to set up on various home and work Windows based PCs (including an Eee Box running XP!). I’m not a computer enthusiast, I just want it to work.

    I’m now convinced that there are sufficient limitations of Xandros that are preventing me getting the most out of my little Eee that I’m going to make the switch to XP.

    I lasted 8 months. Please don’t hate me!

  • http://www.burkilimo.com Burki Limousine

    For me it was the issue of screen resolution. Linux does not support 1024 x 768 resolution on a 8.9″ screen. It only supports 1024 x 600. Windows XP does.
    For usb VOIP equipment like magic jack, xp is required.

  • http://alex.amiran.it Alex

    @Burki Limousine
    The panel does NOT support 1024×768, so you think Windows sets ti to that resolution, but you don’t see 168 horizontal lines, randomly scattered through the display. You see only 600 of them, so it is useless to set a higher resolution.

    You must use the declared resolution (1024×600 for the 9″ Eee) for every LCD screen, as they don’t support different resolutions well.

  • siiix

    i cant tell why i do it, because i simply dislike the functionality of any linux version i saw so far… i would go so far that from all the OS right now on the table windows XP is the closed to perfection as functionality is concerned… i’m less concerned about speed and stability, in the case of the eee not even concerned about software compatibility , its just XP is convenient and things makes sense, why would i drag my self and get used to this weird geeky linux…. and its not like i pay for xp , so what do i care

  • Bitty

    I decided to keep XP when i saw the difference in battery life. I can squeeze about 7½ hrs from eee 901 with XP, while under any given Linux dist i get on most 5¼ hrs. Plus, unfortunately there is broader support for hardware for XP, than for Linux (and in most cases vendors don’t even try to make drivers for Linux).

  • http://www.burkilimo.com Burki Limousine & Sedan Service

    alex, having 1024 X 768 resolution is IMPORTANT. When using remote desktop some of our programs cannot be viewed 1024 X 600. That is when the 1024 X 768 resolution is needed. It works on the asus 9″ under XP. If you notice the question is why people use xp. Well this is a BIG reason for us. If Linux supports it we’ll switch.