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PC superstore unhinged by Linux

'Like buying a BMW and putting a Ford engine in it'

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For all you car aficionados out there, how's this for an operating system analogy from PC World? Installing Linux onto a laptop sold by the computer retail behemoth is like putting a Ford engine into a BMW, apparently.

Earlier this week a mysterious PC World customer, known only by the name of Tikka, posted a story to Slashdot about the store's refusal to repair a hardware fault on a five-month-old Acer laptop.

The store's IT support "Tech Guys" told Tikka that, because Linux had been installed, the machine's warranty had been voided.

But, here's the rub: the fault in question hinged on a dodgy, er, hinge on the laptop's display. In other words, a pure hardware failure that was completely unrelated to the choice of operating system installed.

Despite that, PC World – which claims in its marketing blurb to be "with you every step of the way" – refused to fix the problem and sent Tikka away with the broken laptop.

El Reg put a call in to the DSGi-owned retail giant to get some clarification on PC World's Linux support policy.

A spokesman told us that there had simply been a misunderstanding at the store and that, in fact, the normal procedure would be for the Tech Guys to provide a fix.

But if you type Linux into the firm's website the nearest matches offer a baffling choice between a Maxtor external hard drive and a copy of Microsoft Office 2007.

Indeed, Linux, which is arguably the preserve of back-room geeks everywhere, is an alien concept to PC World which, according to the spokesman, had more than 60 million customers through its door in the past year.

PC World admitted it had made a mistake and told us it will provide a full repair once the firm has made contact with Tikka.

The spokesman said it had been an isolated incident and added "we'll support what we've sold you". ®

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