According to Dell, it's an issue of keeping costs down and building a stable, well-tested platform. "We are trying to stay on a 12-month cadence to keep costs down, and build a stable platform," a Dell spokesperson told BetaNews, "A mainstream user does not care if it's [Ubuntu Linux] 8.04 or 8.10 or 9.04 (he/she does not know what those are) -- she just wants it to work right and be stable/safe... Most of the Linux enthusiasts would not like to be so far behind (i.e., 8.04 vs. 9.04), but they are not our primary target audience for the [operating system] image."
Still, Dell won't be sitting still, either. They plan to add several features to their Ubuntu 8.04 installations over time, like they have already done by bringing the wireless connectivity in their 8.04 image up to par with that of more recent Ubuntu releases. Dell also plans to continue its strategy of providing its own update repositories, to make sure updates are stable and well-tested.
The Dell spokesperson further added: "Our goal is to provide choice and while we may not have been able to launch Windows and Ubuntu simultaneously on all of our mini platforms, we have offered [it] when it was ready. It's very important for us to make the Linux experience as simple and seamless as possible for mainstream users vs. 'Linux enthusiasts.'"