Microsoft lashing out at "naked PCs"

— 5:19 PM on April 5, 2006

Microsoft is urging PC vendors in the UK to stop shipping machines without operating systems. The company says the percentage of "naked PCs" is growing, and that it is expected to hit 5% of total British PC sales this year. In an article published in Microsoft's Partner Update magazine, which the company distributes to PC vendors, Microsoft Head of Anti-Piracy Michala Alexander attempted to make a case for vendors to continue bundling Windows with their systems. The top reasons users buy naked PCs, she wrote, are to install their own software, transfer software from an old machine, install Linux, or take advantage of a volume licensing agreement. She claimed this was a "costly, missed opportunity."

It is a missed opportunity not only to sell-in software revenue through the latest version of Windows, but also to sell support, plus a wide range of spin-off solutions and services.

We want to urge all system builders – indeed, all Partners – not to supply naked PCs. It is a risk to your customers and a risk to your business – with specifically 5 percent fewer opportunities to market software and services.

Alexander added that investigators taking part in Microsoft's anti-piracy controls would also "provide assistance during customer visits, and help [vendors] get the value proposition for pre-installed software and related services." When quizzed by ZDNet, she retracted that statement, saying it was an "error in the copy" and that investigators were not in fact participating in customer visits. A British PC vendor that sells some machines without operating systems was also interviewed by ZDNet, and claimed it had not received pressure from Microsoft "yet."
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