Todd Finch, Dell senior product marketing manager, spoke at OpenSource World, and in his talk he made it quite clear that Dell's Ubuntu netbooks see no higher return rates than the Windows variants, calling it a 'non-issue'. "They are making something of nothing," he said of Microsoft's claims.
When consumers did return Linux-based machines, it wasn't because of technical issues. He says that the problem was that people expected Windows, and then were bummed out to see they had something else. However, when compared to Windows netbooks, Linux netbooks see no higher return rates.
"We are not seeing any technical reasons for why they are returning Linux machines," Finch explains, "We don't see a significant difference between the return rate for Windows versus the rate for Linux. We've been quite pleased with the stability and technical soundness of the Linux machines."
There are still issues of course, for instance that of marketing. Finch even admitted that promoting Dell's Linux machines is sometimes hindered by Dell itself. He says he's fighting a "battle" inside the company with those running Dell's website, trying to get the Linux machines promoted better.
I have another suggestion for Finch: please, for the love of the gods, make the Ubuntu netbooks available in more countries. I'm slowly but surely getting ready to replace my Aspire One (it's still working just fine, but I just want something... Else), but I want to buy a Linux model - with Ubuntu-proper, and for that, I'm more or less stuck with Dell. In and of itself that's not a bad thing - I like the looks of the Dell Mini line - but the fact that the Ubuntu machines are not available in The Netherlands kind of is a bad thing.