Dell users face heavy premium for Vista

Dell’s customers are paying a heavy premium for personal computers running Microsoft’s Vista, according to data compiled by ComputerWorld UK's sister site Techworld.

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Dell’s customers are paying a heavy premium for personal computers running Microsoft’s Vista, according to data compiled by ComputerWorld UK's sister site Techworld.

Last week’s LinuxWorld event saw a number of open source desktop announcements, including Dell announcing it was selling its first Linux-based PCs outside the US, with the Ubuntu-based Inspiron 530n desktop, and the Inspiron 6400n notebook now available in the UK, France and Germany.

This step has enabled a comparison of the typical cost of a machine running Vista, compared with the same machine running an open source operating system such as Ubuntu.

The Dell Inspiron 530(n) desktop comes with an Intel Dual Core E2140 (1.6GHz) processor, plus 512Mb of RAM, a 160Gb hard drive, and a 19 inch panel. When the Inspiron 530 desktop is used as the benchmark machine, Dell customers were found to be paying on average an 18% premium in the UK for a machine running Vista, compared to the same spec’ed machine running Ubuntu. In the United States, Dell users are paying a 20% premium to use Vista on the same specified machine.

For example, in the UK the Ubuntu Inspiron 530(n) costs £398.99. However, the Inspiron 530 machine running Vista costs £486.49, almost a £100 (or 18%) more expensive than the Ubuntu version. That said, the Vista machine does out of necessity contain more RAM (1Gb instead of 512Mb) and a bigger hard disk (250Gb compared to 160Gb).

In the US, meanwhile, the same specified US machine running Vista Home Basic costs $749, which translates to £370.75 based on current exchange rates.

In France, the Vista Inspiron 530 costs £406, or 11.8% more, than a comparable French Ubuntu Inspiron 530. But in Germany, the Vista Inspiron 530 costs only £304, or 22.3% less than the Ubuntu machine. However this price difference is down to the fact that it doesn’t include a monitor, unlike US, France and the UK.

This means that Dell is actually selling Linux PCs at a discount compared to machines with the Vista operating system. And if Vista users want to run Microsoft Office, they have to pay an additional £104.57, whereas Ubuntu includes office productivity software, such as word processor, spreadsheets and presentation applications, as well as email, calendar, chat, web browsing and photo capabilities.

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