"it costs very little for a laptop maker to install winxp"
That is interesting, because there is a least a £50 discount with NOvatach for no OS. The prices for installing OS is >> £20 for the buyer.
Seems like an issue that PCA may wish to highlight - the profit margin for OEM software installation may be the oil which is greasing the consumer computer market. I along with many others have grown up with PCs. It is patronising for us to have the OEM software pre-installed because it is limiting consumer choice (and cost-effective software solutions) Most do not need all the software included in the package!
I think Microsoft basically stops many of the larger manufacturers from selling systems with no MS OS. I believe MS threatens to remove favourable deals for those who try to do it.
I think Wallmart was selling laptops preinstalled with Lindows. I don't know if any other manufacturers are selling Laptops with Linux preinstalled but that might be something worth looking into. You might not want Linux but you wouldn't be paying for Windows and you could reformat and reinstall with your own licence.