Like a bad cold that just won't go away, consumer advocate Ralph Nader reared his head again this week, sending letters to the top six PC makers, asking them to offer non-Microsoft operating systems with their hardware. Compaq, Dell, Gateway 2000, Micron, Hewlett-Packard, and Packard Bell/NEC all received the letter, which can be viewed on Nader's Microsoft Antitrust Page at: http://www.essential.org/antitrust/microsoft/microsoft.html

Nader is asking the companies to consider bundling OSes such as Linux, BeOS, OpenDOS (a freeware DOS clone), or Apple's Rhapsody for "customers who are willing to try and who want to try alternatives." . Two of the OSes, BeOS and Rhapsody, aren't even available yet.

Nader says that the "failure of OEMs to offer choices for an OS is a large entry barrier for Microsoft competitors" and that he wrote the letters when he discovered that "Dell and other OEMs were reluctant to offer a Linux client PC on the grounds that it would harm the OEM's relationship with Microsoft.