… or so it would seem…. UPDATE: Or, this could be a fake. See comments.

The Asus PC Eee PC was designed specifically to run LInux. The idea is in part to make a very inexpensive globally (more or less) accessable open source system so all the poor children around the world who happen to have a hundred bucks could have a PC just like you do.

Now, Microsoft and Asus have teamed up to produce an ad campaing providing what amounts to a series of lies about the hardware/software combo, claiming that “Windows is Better” on this PC (better than Linux, that is).

Is it Ethical? No doubt. What passes for ethics in our society is often absurd. Is it Really Ethical, like if there were a god would you go to hell for this? No, of course it is not Really Ethical. You would definitely go to hell.

You can go here to read about it, and there you will find the dumb-ass movie they made, and links to the original butt-ugly site they produced.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan J
    May 29, 2009

    And to think that I put Asus motherboards in my last two Linux Machines. Certainly not next time. Microsoft continues to believe that if they throw enough money around, Linux will utterly fail as a consumer OS alternative.

    As recent events surrounding alcohol breath analysis devices shows, closed-source software is often not proprietary to protect intellectual property rights, but to hide poor programming. I don’t know of a way to contact a specific developer at Microsoft to ask about a certain program feature, bug, or line of code, but I do have that option with OSS. Transparency is a good thing. Microsoft is anything but transparent when it comes to their code, but we’re able to see right through their misinformation.

  2. #2 MRW
    May 29, 2009

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that the EEE PC is for the poor children of the world. Asus obviously encouraged favorable comparisons to the OLPC XO, but I’ve never gotten the impression that they viewed that as their purpose. They’ve always seemed in it to make money by targeting people who want a very portable laptop that doesn’t cost a whole lot.

    As for the rest of it, my EEE PC 900 runs great with Linux. I replaced the version that Asus came up with, though. It was pretty limited. Eeebuntu, on the other hand, is a great OS with only a couple bugs.

  3. #3 foolfodder
    May 29, 2009

    Darn, my Mum just bought an Asus laptop on my recommendation.

  4. #4 Epicanis
    May 29, 2009

    At the same time, just today I see announcements that Asus is going to be selling a Linux-based NAS as part of the EeePC Line (Last couple of paragraphs in that link, below the stuff about the QNAP device). If “It’s better with Windows”, why aren’t they using Wince or something for their NAS instead?…

  5. #5 itzac
    May 29, 2009

    I love that they’re essentially advertising WinXP with this ad. All while trying to convince people to move to Vista.

  6. #6 Lassi Hippeläinen
    May 29, 2009

    #2: “I’m not sure where you get the idea that the EEE PC is for the poor children of the world. Asus obviously encouraged favorable comparisons to the OLPC XO, but I’ve never gotten the impression that they viewed that as their purpose.”

    AFAIK the EEE hardware came from the Classmate project, which was the MS & Intel reaction to the OLPC. But they couldn’t get it to work with Windows, so Microsoft pulled out. Asus installed Linux and started selling like mad.

  7. #7 Dan J
    May 29, 2009

    Do they even have a version of Vista that will run on netbooks or machines with similar specs? I noticed that they do plan to have Windows 7 running on netbooks. I think that particularly with Vista, Microsoft demonstrated their lack of caring about the user experience. Operating systems can benefit a great deal from the adage “work smarter, not harder”.

  8. #8 Kelson
    May 29, 2009

    This is a fake. If you run the Whois on the sites listed in the article none of them are owned by ASUS. The official ASUS uk site is uk.asus.com not asus.co.uk. Asus.co.uk is owned by a private individual who provides no contact info on the Whois. In comparison the Asus site gives the main administrative contact and uses their own DNS servers.

    A very very clever hoax, but a hoax nonetheless.

  9. #9 kevin
    May 29, 2009

    I own an Asus PC Eee PC and it is a great little machine. Yes, I have other computers that I use more than my Asus, but I didn’t buy it to replace my desktop or my business laptop. It is fast boot, zero maintenance computer that is amazingly fun and functional for such a small size.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    May 29, 2009

    Kelson: Well, now that you mention it, it totally looks like a fake.

  11. #11 Kelson
    May 29, 2009

    I have to admit it was a very very clever hoax. There are only little inconsistencies in the ASUS ad compared to ones on official ASUS sites. Like at one point they say “Its incredibly slim design is just 1″ at its thickest point, and the sculpted case tapers to a near-knife edge” which I found absolutely hilarious because its just so obviously out of the realm of what is said in the ASUS ads. (the only reason I noticed this stuff is because ive been doing a lot of research at getting a eee) So, when I saw the funny quotes and the “92% scale ergonomic keyboard” (only ever says ergonomic in the ASUS ads, and Ive used them, they are not 92% full scale, more like 80%) I whois’d the whole site and the “Microsoft” site. The “Microsoft” site is hosted on GoDaddy.com

  12. #12 MRW
    May 29, 2009

    I’m not so sure that it is a hoax. It might be, but at least one source claims to have verified it with Asus.

    http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2243158/asus-microsoft-join-forces

  13. #13 Kelson
    May 29, 2009

    That is an incredibly sketchy quote that doesn’t actually say anything. I’m going to hold my skepticism for now. No reason they should be hosting this on GoDaddy if it is actually backed by these two companies.

  14. #14 Kelson
    May 29, 2009

    Also, more importantly there are no legal disclaimers or anything at all on the sites. That is a big tip off for hoaxes. Furthermore the site was registered in early 2008. The comments for the story on slashdot have gone into it pretty heavily on why this is probably a hoax.

  15. #15 MRW
    May 29, 2009

    Kelson, don’t get me wrong, I think you’re right to be skeptical. There are quite a few reasons to suspect a hoax, such as the ones you’ve listed.

    About the 92% keyboard – there are several different models of Eee PCs, and they don’t all have the same size keyboard. The specific one on that page does, in fact, have a 92% of normal size keyboard.
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2347685,00.asp

  16. #16 Rossi
    May 29, 2009

    There’s also this: Who is this Laden character to be calling a business agreement between two companies immoral? What sort of religious crap is that? You some kind of preacher, Greg?

    And I’m still waiting, on many message boards, for someone to explain how laptops for poor kids around the world will somehow solve *any* problems. Maybe get them potable water and sanitation first, ya think? Some vaccinations? Food?

    No, of course it is not Really Ethical.

    Choice of an operating system you don’t like is not ethical? For pity’s sake, man, you should start a religious cult with that sense of self importance. Not that any sane person would join.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    May 29, 2009

    Rossi, you should look at what is happening in Germany right now in the car company negotiation. The Europeans are aghast and amazed at the utterly unethical and almost bizarrely selfish and contrived approach the US based companies are taking in their negotiations. That is yet another example of the utter bankruptcy of the American system.

    Wake up and smell the roses.

    It is interesting that this deeply offensive reorientation of this company is either a real, and likely, move or an absurd parody.

    The Poe Effect may be in full force here, folks.

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    May 29, 2009

    Considering that the fake UK site now forwards to the real UK site, I’m saying hoax. And I’m saying Asus was not amused.

  19. #19 Jason Thibeault
    May 29, 2009

    Uh, guys… maybe that UK Seashell site is a fake, I don’t know. And maybe there’s no explicit declaration that they’re in bed together.

    But this page showing the description of the Seashell on the US side of their site, strongly suggests otherwise: http://eeepc.asus.com/global/product1008ha.html

    First, it bears no mention of Linux at all. Only “Genuine Windows XP Home”. If you go to the specifications page, it says for OS:

    Genuine Windows® XP Home
    (*Pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 60-day Trial and vary by country)

    GNU Linux

    Doesn’t tell you that’s a choice — and if you DO understand it’s a choice, it sure does look like you’re getting a better deal with the GENUINE DEAL OS, as opposed to the obviously inferior, or otherwise not genuinely Windows, Linux. This is mirrored on the list of comparisons between this model and other Eee PC’s.

    Also, the “It’s Better With Windows” verbiage is mirrored there:

    It’s better with Windows®

    The Eee PC™ 1008HA comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows XP Home and Microsoft Works. With Windows® XP, you can be sure that your Eee PC™ will be compatible with your existing Windows applications and devices. Windows® XP is also easy to use and delivers a dependable experience that Microsoft and a worldwide community of partners stand behind. Visit http://www.ItsBetterwithWindows.com » to find out more.

    So, whether the UK site is a fake or not, eeepc.asus.com certainly isn’t. Its Whois:

    Registrant:
    Asus Computer International
    800 Corporate Way
    Fremont, CA 94539
    US

    Domain Name: ASUS.COM

    ————————————————————————
    Promote your business to millions of viewers for only $1 a month
    Learn how you can get an Enhanced Business Listing here for your domain name.
    Learn more at http://www.NetworkSolutions.com/
    ————————————————————————

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
    Yao, Charles charles_yao@asus.com
    Asus Computer International
    800 Corporate Way
    Fremont, CA 94539
    US
    (510) 608-4527 fax: 999 999 9999

    Record expires on 24-Oct-2011.
    Record created on 25-Oct-1995.
    Database last updated on 29-May-2009 22:49:30 EDT.

  20. #20 Jason Thibeault
    May 29, 2009

    Greg: big comment, lots of links, might prove this is legit, waiting for moderation. Thanks! :)

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    May 29, 2009

    And the site says “Asus recommends Windows for every day computing” Which is kind of specific and clear if you ask me.

    If that original site is a fake, it is a fake designed to float the idea in a deniable way.

    Asus is asses, they is.

    (That is how it is pronounced, right? Asses? )

  22. #22 Jason Thibeault
    May 29, 2009

    Um, about that post in moderation. First, it seems I only included one of the links I wanted to — which is a good thing, because it seems the other posts in my tabs presently don’t present a very good case for this being real, just more hearsay.

    Also, I can’t believe I did this, but I mixed up my tabs copying and pasting the “it’s better with windows” bit, so the part about saying the text is mirrored — well, that’s an utter lie. My screw up.

    The other part — about the real site having given “Genuine XP Home” such a fluff-job — stands. In fact, there’s an “Asus recommends XP for everyday computing” logo at the top, which if I recall correctly is required contractually if you partake in Microsoft’s heavy OEM discounts for pre-installing software. From everything I’m reading, it would appear that the Linux and XP versions cost the same; indicating to me that despite it being marketed as free to choose, people are obviously going to go for the more familiar of the two. This whole thing reeks of Microsoft realizing this could be Linux’ foot in the everyman’s door, and freaking out. Better to “give away” Windows than allow normal users to both get their hands on Linux, and realize it’s actually pretty good, and lose marketshare as a result.

    I’m going to have to install a Firefox extension or something that makes me look over my damned submissions before I hit post. Because I’ve been doing that a lot lately — posting something, then immediately either posting again to fix a problem with the post, or saying “oops, my bad”. I get fired up about something and post without double-checking my facts. Not a good habit for someone trying to be a good blogger/commenter worth reading. Mea culpa.

  23. #23 XD
    May 30, 2009

    Maybe it’s a genuine campaign, but it’s supposed to have plausible deniability built in. It’s not impossible that MS is behind it, but if anyone started complaining and talking about “uncompetitive practices”, MS could just disown it. We all know that MS uses such practices, and if their options are:

    1. be unethical and get sued (yet again)
    2. be unethical but avoid being sued
    3. be ethical

    they will go for the second.

    It would also provide them with the opportunity of calling OSS advocates “conspiracy theorists”.

    Of course, it could have nothing official to do with MS; it could just be the work of a MS fanboy. We’ll probably never know.

    Also, it’s not just Asus that does back-room deals with MS. Every other company does too. MS discounts their licenses for manufacturers. If a manufacturer wanted to give their customers a Linux option (which could technically be cheaper than the MS option), MS could just remove or reduce the discounts to the extent that the manufacturers machines would compare unfavourably to their competitors machines. And no manufacturer is going to drop Windows, because that’s what most customers want.

    Some manufacturers list Linux alternatives for a handful of their machines, but they are not cheaper than the Windows alternatives, and I believe that they are nothing more than a fig leaf to cover the dodgy deals done with MS.

    ————
    “Teaching children to use Windows is like teaching them to smoke tobacco—in a world where only one company sells tobacco.” – Richard Stallman

  24. #24 James
    May 30, 2009

    Steph,

    The fake Asus.co.uk page actually has a 0-second redirect to the real ASUS web site. It’s not that ASUS has stepped in and taken care of things. Rather, the fake page is trying to hide itself.

    More at http://linuxinexile.blogspot.com/2009/05/better-with-windows.html

  25. #25 Rossi
    May 30, 2009

    Rossi, you should look at what is happening in Germany right now in the car company negotiation.

    Why? What does that have to do EEE PCs?

    That is yet another example of the utter bankruptcy of the American system.

    No, it’s a one particular case of an industry (autos) that has become decrepit and broken.

    The Poe Effect may be in full force here, folks.

    I’m sorry, but what is a Poe effect? Is that some cult jargon?

  26. #26 MRW
    May 30, 2009

    Rossi –

    Poe’s law was originally stated as “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.”

  27. #27 Innercr
    July 3, 2009

    Who needs Linux on the desktop?? Its plain ugly in font rendering and there are no high quality programs, only substandard half-baked ones. Video cards, wireless cards, audio – all don’t work like they do in Windoze. Games? – no go! Adobe software? – No go! Printers? maybe some Brother models, all other don’t work. Linux is good for servers but such a BS for desktops.

  28. #28 dizi izle
    January 2, 2010

    Dizzi … you seem to have gotten in trouble with Blogger. Your comment was inane and boring. So it is gone. I think you might be one of those Turkish Spammers.