While seemingly small, this is a huge step away from Microsoft. Microsoft is so paranoid about retail machines not having Windows that they have an entire section of their Web site devoted to persuading consumers not to buy them (“Naked PCs,” they call them).
Why? Because they’re naked for one of two reasons: the purchasers is going to install (1) Linux, or (2) a pirated copy of Windows. Even if you plan to move your current Windows install to a new machine, that leaves your old machine without a current license, and this has Microsoft totally freaked out. All computers must have a Windows license, even that one sitting in pieces on your workbench.
So, the largest computer retailer in the country is selling machines without Windows, and the largest general retailer in the country is selling machines with Lindows and SuSE. Exciting times for Bill and company.