Why Cheap Windows is Wrong for the U.S.

Opinion: The Redmond crew may be offering cut-rate versions of Windows XP in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, but such prices here in the States wouldn't necessarily be best for customers.

Microsoft is pushing ahead with its plan to sell a cut-rate version of Windows XP, but whos going to get it and what its going to cost are not necessarily for Bill Gates and crew to decide.

My eWEEK.com colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols asks in a recent column, Why cant we get a slimmer Windows XP here in the United States? He grumbles that in order to combat Linux, Microsoft is offering a dumbed-down, less-expensive version of Windows XP overseas that isnt available here.

He says: "I dont know about you, but this kind of high-handedness from Microsoft ticks me off. Its not just that Microsoft is lowballing Linux; its that the Redmond crew is delivering a cheaper Windows product that many enterprises would be happy to use right here in the States.

"To me, this shows that Microsofts first concern isnt the good of its customers, nor knocking off Linux; its all about preserving its bottom line. Linux just happens to be the latest threat. Microsoft loyalists should keep that in mind as theyre shelling out money for their next Windows update."

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read the full column by Vaughan-Nichols.

Now, I am not really a supporter of selling a dumbed-down Windows XP. I think Microsoft should sell the same Windows XP at whatever price the global markets will bear. Not a dumbed-down version, but the very same Windows the overseas markets are pirating already.

My own feeling is that Microsoft should charge for the operating system as a percentage of the final selling price of the machine, a sort of progressive taxation for those who want to buy performance and can afford it.

But thats neither here nor there. I dont get to decide those things, and heck, Bill Gates doesnt really get to decide them. Its the marketplace that decides—the same marketplace that is establishing a lower selling price for Windows in some markets than in the United States.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about Microsoft readying its latest "XP Starter Edition" releases to be sold in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

As an American, I will happily pay an extra $150 for Windows if it means I dont have to move to Thailand. Not that there is anything wrong with Thailand, but my standard of living is much better here, and I like the weather more.

Vaughan-Nichols reaction is natural enough, of course. Nobody likes paying more than they absolutely have to. But as long as were being ticked off, what ticks me off is the notion that there is something wrong with Microsofts first concern being its own survival and protecting its bottom line.

Isnt that everyones first concern? I ask people to pay me as much as I possibly can get from them and dont feel badly about it. People buy or they dont, and the marketplace decides the price I can charge.

Next Page: Higher prices mean investment for improvements.