back to article Remember Netbooks? Windows 10 makes them good again!

Among the many bizarre and stupid mistakes Microsoft made with Windows 8.x was the decision to require screens to have resolution of at least 1024 x 768. That decision meant that hordes of Netbooks, the very small laptops popular in the late noughties, had no obvious upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 8.x. Back in …


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Madness

        " I've read several in depth analyses of Windows 10 that compressively debunk that myth"

        Link welcome, especially trustworthy non-MS-dependent one.

      2. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Madness


        sure! Read through this (and the links)

        Check out all the ads in the software. Notice how they become more "bespoke" over time? Wonder how they do that. Remember this is your operating system, not a browser (that you can run in sandbox/private/in-private browsing mode permanently if so required). sure you can begin the process of opting out of everything but this is enabled FROM THE START so all your data is being sifted/anonymised/shaped (whatever jargon you care to use) from the very beginning.

        You shouldn't NEED to opt out, it should be OPT IN (remember this is your OS not a single program).

  1. J J Carter Silver badge

    The facts!

    I'm not exaggerating, but Linuix Mint would have been a billion times better.

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: The facts!

      Sometimes you can be right, even if you don't want to be.

    2. Bob H

      Re: The facts!

      My Samsung NC10 didn't perform particularly well with Ubuntu but I think Unity was to blame, I really need to find that machine and rebuild it with Mint.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: The facts!

        NC10 + Mint Mate works fine.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The facts!

      "I'm not exaggerating, but Linuix Mint would have been a billion times better."

      You *are* exaggerating.

      Linux Mint is only 473 million times better.

  2. localzuk

    Netbooks had one good use

    Education. They were ideal for kids. You could buy a few class sets for less than the price of an ICT suite refurb.

    Its no wonder that Google's Chromebooks sell so well in education really - they're the only real option for a similar device.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Netbooks had one good use

      I bought a cheap 10" netbook* in 2008, used it mostly while traveling. Good enough for e-mail, writing up a few notes, Skype, do a bit of browsing (timetables & weather). Also, fitted nicely in every hotel room safe that came my way.

      It now sits in a corner of the living room as a digital VCR (DVB-T USB stick plus recording software), still running nicely on XP, now air gapped of course. The display is still good, so when DVB-T in it's current form is discontinued I might swap the HD for a SSD and put some flavour of Linux on it. Would need a new battery though, but battery is removable, so no biggie.

      *akoya W1210, from ALDI

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Netbooks had one good use

        I found them handy for plugging temperature probes into, logging and displaying temperature against time (when developing a cooking product).

        - All the essential ports, inc. serial

        - small size

        - WinXP - ran the software that came with the temperature probe.

        For reading websites, it was horrible though - like peering through a letter box.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Netbooks had one good use

          - All the essential ports, inc. serial

          Hmm. Never seen a netbook that had a built-in serial port. Even the Thinkpad X series (not a netbook, but nicely portable) of which I've had a few didn't have one, only when slapping the Ultrabase on.

          1. Schultz

            USB - - > Serial

            Was there ever any other way?

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: USB - - > Serial

              6551, 8250, 16450, 16550 and more, young grasshopper.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: USB - - > Serial : 6551, 8250, 16450, 16550

                Er, wot no Intersil 6402? And (for the collectors of obscurities) TMS9902?



            2. Pedigree-Pete

              Re: USB - - > Serial

              9-pin d-sub, 25 pin RS-232, DIN take your pick young padwan.

              1. P. Lee Silver badge

                Re: USB - - > Serial

                >take your pick young padwan.

                And all so much more reliable than usb-->serial, despite the name.

                1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                  Re: USB - - > Serial

                  yep. I still remember reading int33,3 to get the serial mouse position and button status. Ahh Borland C, those were the days.

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Netbooks had one good use

      They are still good for education. I picked up a later model Aspire One* with Win7 starter, 2GB ram, 250GB HD, from Craigslist for homeschooling my 12/yr old daughter for $40. Gave it a new battery, reconnected the wireless antenna lead (guy thought he had a sucker, he didn't), and it runs great. Perfect for doing her homework, hates it because it's not powerful enough to play her games when she decides to fuck off instead of doing work.

      Evil, mean, DAAAaaaad! +1

      *replaced cheap $199 Staples Gateway Win8 laptop that she stepped on somehow, some way.

    3. Oneman2Many

      Re: Netbooks had one good use

      Speaking of education, the school I support had 50 odd Asus EeePC not doing much. When the school converted to Google Apps for education I had a look at what we could do with the netbooks. Thought about putting linux on there but too much support hassle, so ended up installing ChromeOS on there. The only issue with the conversion was the wifi cards were not compatible but managed to source 50 cards on alibaba for less that hundred quid delivered. My 10 year spent the summer swapping the cards out and reloading the netbooks which was a nice little earner for him. been a year and a half and aside from 2 of the netbook suffering HDD failures the rest are doing fine without any support calls.

  3. petur

    For once I have to agree

    My HP netbook came with Win7 originally but has been dual-booted into Debian since day one.

    I did the Windows 10 upgrade just because I could, and the machine indeed runs Windows better than before, so kudos Microsoft. I could even use for some occasional work-related stuff that needs Win10.

    And then came a 'minor' update for Win10 that wiped grub - no problem, can handle that - and the last updates won't install because some extra system partition Windows needs is too small (after googling the stupid error number for half a day)

    Some incompetence seems to linger on at Microsoft... *sigh*

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It needs to be free

    If you must have a working Windows 10 machine in your home or office but won't work on it all day and don't want a new PC, I think an upgraded Netbook will do a better the job.

    I imagine most of the earlier Netbooks are running Linux or Windows XP, so aren't upgradeable for free as it stands.Paying for a license wouldn't be sensible in these cases.

    So, a prediction : Microsoft will eventually decide to sweep all those existing netbooks into the fold, by offering a free full installation.

    I might take them up on that (on a separate drive), if only in the principle of "Know Your Enemy".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Microsoft knacked the netbook market with artificial limitations so windows was free to OEMs, it's the same old shit now with crappy celerons, hamstrung RAM (2GB) and a totally useless 32GB slow drive.

    We have fuck all to thank microsoft for other that shitting on a market and forcing OEMs to offer a substandard product.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Bernardo Sviso

      Re: Bollocks

      > Microsoft knacked the netbook market with artificial limitations so windows was free to OEMs, it's the same old shit now with crappy celerons, hamstrung RAM (2GB) and a totally useless 32GB slow drive.

      > We have fuck all to thank microsoft for other that shitting on a market and forcing OEMs to offer a substandard product.

      Plus, Intel imposed it's own, virtually identical and equally arbitrary restrictions, to discourage the use of cheaper, less powerful (but still perfectly adequate for many uses) mobile CPUs. (God forbid, that OEMs try to make and sell what the customers are actually looking for!)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks

        maybe but the original eee pc had socketed ram and an upgradeable "ssd" (I use the term SSD lightly)

  6. trog-oz

    Mine came with XP and I upgraded it immediately I got it home

    As soon as unpacked my Asus 1005HA I installed Fedora 16 and it's never missed a beat. I've never changed it and it travels with me when I'm away.

  7. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge


    I picked up a mint condition Toshiba NB 100 for £30, put in a 128 GB SSD for £50 and extra memory was £20 AFAIR. Running Xubuntu it's silent, the fan never seems to have to do any real work. The only downside being the grey lettering on a black keyboard is hard to see in poor light.

    After installing Xubuntu everything worked immediately, it's a handy travel device.

    If I was nefarious I could run macchanger and hang around unsecured wi-fi for dodgy downloads.

    I presume that Win 10 won't allow that or will dob you in to the police if you try.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: NB100

      nah, windows 10 wont dob you in, it will use the opportunity of wifi to anonymise/unidentify/zip your data and send it home to MS so that your windows adverts can be tailored to your individual browsing and purchasing habits. All to enhance your windows experience.

  8. Adam 52 Silver badge

    Microsoft account

    Did the upgrade actually require a MS account, or was that an optional part that went wrong?

    I tried integrating Windows 8.1 with Hotmail... eventually had to ditch the Hotmail account and its associated Windows one to stop the spam from Microsoft so no desire to go there again.

    1. Chika

      Re: Microsoft account

      As I recall, the account was mandatory on Windows 8/8.1 betas. Once it was released, you could set it up to have a local account rather than tie it to a Microsoft Live account but they tended to try to make the option for a local account somewhat less obvious.

      It's a similar state of affairs to Windows 10 in that respect.

  9. Fihart

    no comparison

    Having found both types of device in the rubbish, intrigued by author's comparison. Except there is no comparison.

    Starting with the Elonex netbook, originally given away by Orange to tempt users to eat expensive mobile data via a dongle. This failed to work using the screwed-up Ubuntu installation on board (confirming my then prejudice against Linux) but booted from an external CD drive to install XP. Apart from a horrible keyboard and exhausted battery, has proved a usefully portable tool when visiting friends to fix their systems.

    Next the no-name Android (model name AC1 or something similar) 10 inch tablet which turned up a couple of years later. First clue to its lack of utility was the inclusion of a stylus. Without that the screen is as responsive as a sloth with a hangover and, even with, is inaccurate enough to make text a pain. Add strangely reluctant network socket, weak wireless and battery -- plus the weird phone-based version of Android -- and the thing is rapidly gathering dust.

    So -- netbooks good, but for a nicer experience stick with better known brands. Cheap iPad knockoffs, avoid, even if they are cheaper than cheap (i.e. free)

  10. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Yes, my Acer Aspire One is running Mint nicely...

    ... although I never liked the original installation, Lupus Linux.

    P. S. Anyone know why the nine inch models all disappeared replaced by models with 10.1 inch screens?

    1. Richard Wharram

      Re: Yes, my Acer Aspire One is running Mint nicely...


      My AA1 simply stopped working after a couple of years. Was OK for the time but Acer build quality is, erm, variable.

    2. Bernardo Sviso

      Re: Yes, my Acer Aspire One is running Mint nicely...

      > P. S. Anyone know why the nine inch models all disappeared replaced by models with 10.1 inch screens?

      The public was clamoring for larger screens, but both Microsoft and Intel were diligently trying to quash the netbook market (Microsoft because netbooks were demonstrating how well Linux worked, on cheap and convenient netbooks that struggled under Windows; Intel because they wanted to sell powerful, expensive, power-guzzling CPUs that were being displaced by the cheaper Atoms).

      So Microsoft and Intel enacted a bunch of arbitrary specifications -- arbitrary, from a user's point of view at least :P . Failure to "play ball" and conform to these criteria meant the OEMs would be deprived of prompt, reliable access to CPUs or Windows at reasonable (ie. competitive with one's competitors).

      These system specifications, devised and enforced solely for the well-being of the poor, ignorant consumers of course ;) laid out restrictions on the cpu, RAM, memory, and (the item that most ordinary consumers were most concerned about) screen size.

      Microsoft and Intel both declared screen-size limited to a maximum of 10.1 inches. This undoubtedly saved countless poor consumers from endless trouble -- and possibly saved lives.

  11. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Linux this and Linux that

    It seems that most are either missing the point or deliberatlery misssing it.

    The exercise was to see if W10 fitted on and worked - not just provoke an avalanche of smug gits who just want to whip out thier own preferred O/S.

    As such it seems to have worked in both areas.

    1. tony72

      Re: Linux this and Linux that

      Well said. I dusted my old first gen Acer Aspire One off (upgraded back in the day to its maximum 1.5GB of RAM, with an 80GB ipod HDD) to install Windows 10 on it for similar reasons. Its never going to be a daily use machine regadless of OS, because even if there are jobs it can do ok, I have more recent machines that can do those jobs ten times better. But it was an interesting exercise doing the upgrade and comparing Windows 10 to the other OSes I've run on it, XP, Linux (the original distro the AAOne shipped with), OSX, and Win 7. Windows 10 came out pretty good in that comparison, no driver issues, everything worked out of the box, and performance was as good as you could probably squeeze out of the hardware.

    2. Ilmarinen

      Re: Linux this and Linux that

      Nope, point not missed:

      "Back in November 2013 I therefore tried to figure out how to extend the life of my own Netbook."

      (reports that Win8 didn't work)

      "That Netbook's been gathering dust since that 2013 story, but a few weeks back I found myself in need of a spare computer to serve as a data mule carrying data to the cloud."

      (so put Win10 on it)

      Silly fellow, if he'd extended it's life with a Linux, like us smug gits, he could have been using it all that time ;-)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Linux this and Linux that

        @OP well not really. I can use small flatblade screwdrivers to undo torx screws. That doesn't mean that you SHOULD do this just because you CAN do this. Same here, just because W10 works on an old netbook doesn't mean you should use W10 when Linux does a far better job.

        Sure if you want to run visual studio on your netbook then go ahead, that wont work in Linux. But I doubt you are scratching the bottom of your drawer thinking "hey, I wish I could run VS on my 5 year old 8gb 512Mb RAM netbook" whereas MINT will run openoffice & web browsers quite happily.

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    Love to see netbooks again

    In fairness you can get something approximating a netbook by buying a cheap windows tablet (e.g. a linx 8) and coupling it with a bluetooth keyboard. All in it probably wouldn't cost more than £150.

    But still, it'd be nice to see an honest to goodness actual netbook for that price or thereabouts.

    1. Craig Chambers

      Re: Love to see netbooks again

      Or just buy a Linx 10 with dock keyboard for £150.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Love to see netbooks again

      "something approximating a netbook by buying a cheap windows tablet"

      Approximating is spot on. The original netbooks were Linux only. MS stomped on that market by twisting vendors' arms to run Windows which meant the H/W spec and therefore the price had to go up. Unless those tablets allow loading of another OS they are only approximations to netbooks and certainly not replacements.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Love to see netbooks again

        I have a linx 8 running kodi in W7 - this is so I have access to Netflix and amazon streaming using a breakout windows script otherwise id run Linux. The great thing is, it is silent, can run with the screen off and has HDMI out so it can remain plugged in. Coupled with a small Bluetooth remote it is a great little box.

        Obviously being windows 7 you needed to murder GWX and the rest of the updates to stop W10 downloading onto the small 32gb drive (it has about 8gb free)

  13. GrumpyWorld

    I had 'upgraded' my eeBook (dual Atom) to Win7 and it was never happy, however put Win10 on there and its a handy little device for taking on weekends away. For surfing and Mail or a game of Online Bridge its just fine.

  14. OhDearHimAgain

    Insall Xubuntu

    Once you Linux, you will never go back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Insall Xubuntu

      Sorry, but not everybody has had a great experience with Linux. Every time I've tried to use it for anything besides a headless server, it's been a nightmare on par with Win95. Even my Android cell phones needed to be rebooted at least once a day. I've still got one Linux box running as a seedbox, and for that purpose, it's been doing just fine. But there's no way I'm going to go back to using Linux for a desktop or laptop anytime soon.

  15. Brass knob

    Every time someone says something positive about Microsoft, there's a torrent of 'just install Ubuntu'....

    Don't get me wrong, I love UNIX/Linux (have it running on about 6 devices) but Windows 10 is excellent, and as the article highlights, it can help you bring old devices back to life, partly due to its efficient design, and its solid provision of hardware drivers.

    1. Chika

      Sorry, but you really have to take into account that Microsoft have literally rubbed a lot of regulars here up the wrong way.

      That and the fact that a large proportion of netbooks that still remain in service cannot take advantage of the W10 "free" upgrade package, either because they are running WXP or because they are running Linux.

      Don't get me wrong - I've often tried getting older hardware to run newer systems. Probably the silliest attempt was testing W7 and Windows 2008 Server betas on an old PIII laptop... and yes, they worked! The thing is, however, that many of us that have posted about our netbooks running Linux have no real intention of loading in a replacement OS like this, whatever the outcome of such a trial is.

      And since the netbook is dying out anyway, is there really a point? That PIII I mentioned was never used in that form for anything serious - it was just a curiosity. As soon as it was all over, it was scrapped. Bringing an old system back to life is a worthy cause and I've done it on so many occasions but I doubt that I would do it with W10 in its current state (let me clarify - "excellent" is not a phrase I'd couple with W10 right now), not because I couldn't, but because of all the reasons that have been pounded out here before on so many threads.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Microsoft have literally rubbed a lot of regulars here up the wrong way."

        It's true, that bastard Nedella has been coming round to their houses and rubbing their hairy arms against the grain.

        What a git.

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        re: because of all the reasons that have been pounded out here before on so many threads.

        Doesn't stop any of you pounding them out again though, ad bloody infinitum....

    2. kryptylomese

      You saying that "Windows 10 is excellent" does not clarify anything. Windows 10 runs your software and crashes infrequently (wow excellent) but Linux can do that and whole lot of stuff that Windows anything cannot do and that is why Azure is over 25% Linux the biggest companies in the world use Linux. If you want a career in computing then learn Linux. Linux can run perfectly on resource limited devices WAY smaller than a netbook, and going the other end of the scale, Linux runs on the biggest computers on the planet (pretty much the whole of the top 500 supercomputer list) - We are not impressed by Windows 10 which is basically the Fisher Price of operating systems.


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