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Why are people so willing to pay for OSX or Windows, yet no one purchases Linux versions?

This question has two parts, really. Why do people purchase Windows or OSX, and why don’t people purchase Linux. I’ll take them in order.

People purchase Windows and OSX because those operating systems are usually pre-installed on the hardware they purchase. One might just as easily ask why so many people purchase iOS or Android.

Most people will never actually install an operating system, and they don’t tend to think about the operating system as a separate purchase from their computer.

They simply buy a computer and it comes with an operating system.

Even a cursory bit of research will show you that these OEM installs account for the vast majority of Microsoft Windows installations. OEM installs account for all but a tiny, tiny fraction of OSX installations. OEM installs account for a very small (but slowly growing) number of Linux installations. Here are Few Pointers!

Here are the reasons:

Great 3rd party applications. OK. There are really great apps being made for Linux too and you can get Windows programs like Office running on Linux using Wine, but chances of getting it to work is rather 50/50…

Ease of use. OK.. this is really not a big deal anymore. Gnome, KDE and the rest are truly making strides in the user department. They have some features that you wish were implemented in Windows or Mac OS sometimes. But for the most part, whenever you mention Linux to someone who is not a techie, they usually are either uneasy or prefer the familiarity of Windows or Mac.

Software updates do not really break their devices or installs. I have been on the receiving end where a simple “Apt-get upgrade” command just ruined my install of Debian Linux; forcing me to do a complete reinstall of the OS.

This brings me to my other point.

Basic users who are not tech savvy can easily find support for their Windows or Mac based system easily.

A Linux user needs to log on to the forums of their basic distribution or browse a variety of YouTube videos to find out how to fix an issue (if it can be fixed) or how to do something that is usually simple on Windows or Mac.

Hardware compatibility.

This is where Windows shines. Drivers are so easily available -even more so than Linux. So even if you install Linux on your machine, sometimes the machine’s true performance is really hampered. This is especially true with new laptops that have dual graphics cards that need to switch based on the load.

Ubuntu is the only distribution where this work very well. But that is about it. All the others struggle.

You further posit that nobody purchases Linux. I would counter that Red Hat has a current share price (6/23/17) of $99.48. It has a market capitalization of 17.74 billion USD.

I think you may have overlooked a significant market segment when you stated that no one purchases Linux versions.

You’re probably correct that sales of Linux for use as a desktop OS are pretty small. Most people who want Linux on the desktop (and I would be one such person) are sufficiently comfortable with the OS that we just download it and install it.

Yay free software! People running servers, however, frequently find that paying for a licensed version of Linux with support makes sense.

Hence, Red Hat’s profitability and market cap. They sell a lot of Red Hat support licenses (since that’s what you’re selling when you’re selling free software—because that’s where the value proposition is in software).

So, to sum up: people buy Windows and OSX for the most part because in most cases they don’t have a choice about doing so. People buy Linux if and when they feel they need support for it.


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