When you are considering a switch to a computer with Linux pre-installed, you may be surprised to discover that the hardware is about the same price as a comparable Windows machine. You may have heard of something called the "Microsoft Tax" which refers to the extra price you pay for the cost of Windows on a computer that you buy with the intention of installing Linux on it. As a result, you may think that you should pay less for an equivalent computer with Linux pre-installed. After all, Linux is free and Windows sells for hundreds of dollars. But you don't. That's because the so-called Microsoft Tax doesn't really exist. It's a myth.
There are two main reasons that computers, whether pre-installed with Linux, Windows, or no operating system at all, are about the same price to the consumer.
So, the Microsoft Tax is a myth. You don't avoid paying more because putting Windows on a computer is expensive. It's not. You pay about the same for a Linux PC as a comparable Windows PC because they cost about the same to make and sell them.
You can install Linux on almost any computer hardware -- Mac or Windows PC, so why would you even consider purchasing a computer with Linux pre-installed when it's so easy to install yourself? You can be sure you'll have the "just works" experience purchasers expect from computers pre-installed with Windows or OSX. And you know it will continue to "just work" with whatever upgrade or new version of Linux you choose to install in the future. And... since Linux is safer than other operating systems, you can be sure that you are as secure as possible on-line and off.
When you buy a computer with Linux pre-installed you can be sure that the hardware works beautifully with your chosen operating system. The computer vendor has chosen that hardware specifically because it DOES work well with Linux -- any Linux! When needed, companies like System76 also provide specialized hardware drivers, and keep them up to date through the automated update delivery system included with major Linux distributions. No fiddling with wifi cards, web cams, fingerprint readers. suspend and resume, or power management.
With the recent release of Windows 10 has come some concern about security and privacy issues. Mike Elgan, technology blogger, journalist and podcaster, on The New Screensavers podcast TNSS17 from Aug 30, 2015 echoed that on Windows 10, you have privacy & security concerns. He said that Windows has unusual security concerns because it is, "the operating system for the world, for… legacy applications." He also described that there are inherent privacy issues, and that you have to take extra precautions and employ all the best practices when using Windows on the Internet. He said, "If you are on [this] dangerous end of the spectrum, you have to work at it a bit harder."
In addition to worrying about whether Windows 10 is "phoning home" with your personal information, and whether that "feature" will be back-ported into Windows 7 & 8, you also have to deal with these costly annoyances:
How much is that Windows computer ACTUALLY costing you? Maybe the "Microsoft Tax" is real after all. Maybe it's not the price you pay to have Windows pre-installed. Maybe it's really the extra money you pay after you start USING Windows. Money for software upgrades from trial versions to full versions, upgrades to get new or additional features, and annual rental fees for online versions of software that is never really yours.
Theme music for the Going Linux podcast is generously provided by Mark Blasco. https://www.podcastthemes.com
Going Linux Podcast by Larry Bushey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.