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The Taxes of the Tech World - Linux, Microsoft, and More

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Recently Dell began denying purchasers of their Linux desktop machines the ability to get a refund on their "Windows Tax", the carefully hidden cost of Windows included in the price of the machine they just purchased. So why are they doing this? Well, they claim that Windows doesn't cost them anything. In some ways that's actually true, but not in the same way Linux is free.

If your set two machines side by side at Dell, you'll notice in some cases that both machines, although equal in hardware specs and feature, are different in price, with the Linux machine actually being more expensive than the equivalent Windows machine. So what gives? Why does a machine with Windows cost less than one with Linux on it? One simple word: Malware.

You likely haven't heard of that word, save when it comes to viruses. This is because big OEM's like Dell, HP and others don't call it that. Their term is "trialware" or "bonus applications" or whatever weird spin term their marketing department thought up one fun afternoon during a game of "spin the product". So why is this malware, or whatever they want to call it, important in the price of the final system? Because the companies who write these garbageware/malware programs pay for the privilege to have their apps installed as "standard features" on all machines shipped by a given OEM.

Yep, companies actually pay OEM's to get their software placed on all new machines going out of the factory.

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