Why Does Dell's Ubuntu XPS 13 Cost More Than The Windows Version?

Dell's Ubuntu-powered XPS 13, codenamed Project Sputnik, started life as an internal R&D project. Now it has grown up and is available to buy online in North America -- but why does it cost more than a Windows equivalent?

The computer now takes the name XPS 13 Developer Edition, and comes with a Precise Pangolin Ubuntu build pre-installed along with a special raft of drivers to make sure it works with as many peripherals as possible. The hardware is similar to other XPS 13 models: either an Intel i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SATA III SSD, so it should run super-quick with that Ubuntu install.

But then there's the issue of price. All this comes in at $US1550 -- $US50 more than the Windows equivalent. In other words, Dell is asking you to pay more for an open-source computer than for one running a proprietary OS. And that doesn't make much sense.

Dell says its currently working on bringing this laptop to other parts of the world, so keep an ear to the ground about Australian availability in coming weeks. [Dell via Ars Techinca]



    Yeah Dell, bring 'em here, any one with half a brain who actually wanted that particular hardware will buy the cheaper windows one and install Ubuntu themselves. Another dinosaur company, doomed to disappear, maybe not tomorrow, but it will.

    It makes sense if you keep in mind costs associated with selling a device go beyond the cost of the components themselves. Having a small Ubunto install base is probably a bit of a pain as far as support goes when 98% of the other customers are on Windows. Since Dell sells a lot more Windows systems, the cost of support can be distributed over a number of product families (not to mention higher volumes of sales most likely), so that could possibly factor in heavily.

    It doesn't seem like a big deal to me anyway. Anyone wanting this can likely buy the Windows version and put Ubuntu on that easily enough anyway. The fact this exists means drivers probably won't be an issue either.

    The question posed in the title implies there would be some offer of an answer in the article but there is nothing here.

      Do you always expect that when people ask questions they will supply the answers themselves?

    WTF wrong with these companies.....

    Makes perfect sense. Believe it or not it costs money to get an operating system working on a computer. When working with something new as well there'll need to be a lot of new processes set up that will cost money. Deploying a pre-configured operating system installation requires a process, that process will likely differ when you change operating systems. That costs money to develop.

    You will also likely find very little "crapware" on this computer. Those companies that get their trial editions and game portals etc. pre-installed pay for the privilege. They are essentially subsidising your computer, with ads. You've now lost those subsidies, so the price will go up because of it.

      It's also likely that they believe they are competing directly with the most popular non-windows dev laptop, the 13 inch MacBook Pro. Price for spec, it's competitive with that. (I'm not saying that most devs use it, just that it would be the most popular single machine out of all that are used)

    Didn't this happen last time Dell sold Ubuntu netbooks? I'll tell you why it costs more, there is far less demand for this device, therefore the development and support needs to be soaked up by those who do want it. All the linux users in the world can cry "but everyone would use linux if it was cheaper" at the same time, and it still wont make a difference because nobody wants linux.

    I think the new Windows BIOS setups also make it harder to install dual-booting linux on windows PCs - so it'd be more effort to buy Windows and dual-boot it with Ubuntu. May have something to do with why they expect to get away with it.

    Dell dropped the price to $1449 within hours of the launch. It's now cheaper than the Windows version!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now