The high price of Windows may be driving vendors in countries like China and Russia to ship Linux on as many as 40 percent of their PCs, but many of these systems will not ultimately run the free operating system, Gartner says. In fact, this high percentage of Linux sales is being driven by the availability of cheap pirated copies of Windows rather than a desire to run Linux. "The widespread availability of pirated versions of Windows at a fraction of the cost of a legal copy stimulates the growth of Linux on PCs in emerging markets, " wrote Gartner Analyst Annette Jump in the report, entitled "Linux Has a Fight on Its Hands in Emerging PC Markets."
With the cost of the Windows operating system remaining "relatively constant," even as PC hardware components costs have dropped over the last 10 years, PC vendors in the emerging markets are increasingly being driven to Linux in order to maintain their profit margins, Jump reported. The cost of Windows in the Asia-Pacific region, for example, has increased from 6 percent of the total price of a professional desktop PC in 1996 to 15 percent in 2004, the report says.