It's Official: Dell Offering Linux on Select Notebooks PCs 

Dell has responded to overwhelming feedback from its IdeaStorm customer feedback site this week by announcing that it will soon begin offering the open source OS Linux on select Dell desktop and notebook PCs. The announcement comes about a month and a half after IdeaStorm was first brought online. The availability of Linux was overwhelmingly the number one customer request.

"We have heard you and appreciate the direct feedback," Dell wrote to customers in a posting to its corporate blog. "We will expand our Linux support beyond our existing servers and Precision workstation line. Our first step in this effort is offering Linux pre installed on select desktop and notebook systems. We will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes detailed information on which systems we will offer our testing and certification efforts and the Linux distribution's that will be available." The countdown begins today.

Dell's sudden fixation on customer feedback comes in the wake of a disappointing year in which it fell from its perch atop the PC industry, ousted its CEO, and saw founder Michael Dell retake the reins of the company. Mr Dell feels that better connecting with its customers and delivering exactly what they want is the key to future growth.

That said, it's unclear how offering a free OS, one that Dell will need to support, will dramatically improve the bottom line. In the battle for the desktop Windows remains the overwhelming champion with more than 95 percent of the market. Apple's Mac OS X accounts for about 2.5 percent of the worldwide OS market. 

Microsoft Updates Zune Cites Ongoing Successes 

Yesterday, Microsoft delivered its long delayed Zune 1.3 software which includes updates for both the Zune portable media player and its PC based software. Aside from releasing this software, Microsoft also noted that the Zune continues to be the second best selling hard disk based portable media player in the market following the dominant iPod.

A minor update, Zune 1.3 is aimed at improving sync functionality, FM tuner integration and music playback, according to Microsoft. Specifically, the update adds performance improvements and prevents the FM tuner feature from draining the battery while the Zune is in sleep mode. Zune users will automatically receive the updates when they launch the Zune software or sync with their device.

Microsoft also noted this week that Zune is maintaining its number two position in the hard disk based MP3 player market. This data, which comes from market researchers at NPD, shows that Zune accounted for 8.7 percent of the market in February. It's unclear if this number represents retail sales only or whether it's worldwide or US only. 

"We're pleased that Zune has been able to have such a significant impact on the market in such a relatively short time and look forward to the interest that our next wave of advertising is sure to drive in the coming month," says Zune Marketing Director Jason Reindorp. Of course Zune is fighting an uphill battle against Apple which commands most of the remaining 90 plus percent of the market in which Zune now competes. Microsoft is expected to release new Zune models in various form factors as well as more software updates over the next year.

Apple Offers Album Discounts 

After arguing for years that the success of its iTunes Store rests on low standardized pricing, Apple this week unveiled a new feature of the online service called Complete My Album that it developed with the music industry. Users who purchase individual songs on iTunes can now buy the rest of the album via the service for a discounted price.

"Music fans can now round out their music collections by upgrading their singles into complete albums with just one click and get full credit for those songs they have previously purchased from iTunes," says Apple vice president of iTunes Eddy Cue. "Complete My Album is a wonderful new way that iTunes helps customers grow and enjoy their music collections."

Until now iTunes customers who purchased individual tracks from an album weren't credited for those purchases if they later went back and purchased the entire album, meaning they were effectively charged for those songs twice. Now, customers will receive a 99 cent credit for each song they purchased from an album when they later go back and purchase the full album.

As you might expect, there are restrictions. To qualify for the discount customers have 180 days after purchasing any individual track in which to purchase the full album. And it's not clear whether track purchases made before the Complete My Album system went online qualify for the discount.