brent I thought this was happening now (system 76 etc)? Unless the emphasis is on 'major'? I think it is.
Right. I'm thinking about OEM's like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, companies with (1) sufficient technological expertise and embedded support systems needed to build, maintain and support Linux computers with chipsets, drivers and other hardware/software components (open, proprietary or mixed) as fine-tuned to Linux as the computers are fine-tuned to Windows, and (2) sufficient reputation and financial resources to aggressively market Linux computers.
Dell, for example, currently offers Ubuntu as an OS on about 35 XPS, Latitude, Optiplex and Precision laptops and desktops designed for the "developer and engineering" market.
I don't own one; although I use the Latitude and Optiplex lines exclusively, my computers were shipped with Windows and I installed Linux myself. But a friend does, and his computer is as fully supported (in terms of chipsets, drivers and so on) under Ubuntu as mine are under Windows. Keeping his computer up-to-date with the latest supported drivers is a semi-automated, no-brainer process, just as it is for me on my Windows Latitudes and Optiplex computers.
Dell has not yet taken the step of modifying the kernel and/or Ubuntu to fully fine-tune the computers by adding, say, modifications to the kernel and/or Ubuntu that would bring Linux battery life on par with Windows battery life. Dell might do that, in whole or in part, at some point in the future, or it might not.
Nor has Dell yet taken the step of offering Ubuntu as a supported option on laptops and desktops (e.g. Inspiron) designed for the consumer market. I suspect that this is, in whole or in part, a cost/benefit decision. Linux support on the level currently offered in the business lines isn't cheap, is likely to be more expensive per unit if support is expanded to the consumer market where IT support is not the norm, and there is little or no demand for Linux computers in the consumer market. It won't be cheap, either, to market Ubuntu laptops and desktops in the consumer market. Doing so would require a multi-year, multi-millions commitment from Dell in order to gain a foothold in the consumer market. Taking those two considerations into account, it is not hard to understand why Dell limits Ubuntu offerings to the "developer and engineering" market.
I don't expect Dell (or any other major OEM, for that matter) to move Linux into the consumer market in the sense that I am talking about, and (in part, as a result) I don't expect that Linux will move outside Linux's current niche market any time soon, if at all. Linux isn't ready for that to happen. As Torvalds noted a decade ago, Linux is not likely to succeed in the desktop market unless and until the community develops the self-discipline necessary to focus on a handful of OS/DE combinations and mainstream applications that actually work, all the time, every time.