back to article Microsoft cries netbook victory against Linux

Microsoft may be on its way to vanquishing Linux in the war to dominate netbook operating systems, but the ground could be shifting against Windows. An NPD Retail Tracking Service report states the Windows installation rate on netbooks has grown from 10 per cent in the first half of 2008 to 96 per cent in February 2009. With …

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  1. DavidAtkinson
    Unhappy

    Linux is hard to get

    I bought an Eee901 last year. I ordered a Linux one, got 'your item is not in stock so here's a substitute'. It was XP.

  2. Goat Jam
    Gates Horns

    Netbooks are dead

    When the first eee pc was released it was small and cheap, a perfect device for accessing the internet while on the move.

    Then MS, who had spent the last 2 years demanding that people give up on XP and move to Vista, woke up and realised a new kid was on the block. The problem was that the new kid was lean and mean and there was no way that their flagship bloatware product could be crammed in.

    What to do?

    All of a sudden XP is no longer something to be shunned and it is quickly resurrected. But there is still a problem. XP wont play nice with SSD flash drives. Also, XP requires more screen real estate to be even minimally usable. More RAM too.

    What to do?

    Of course, let's bribe all our OEMs into upgrading the basic specs of netbooks. make them add spinning disk drives, bigger screens, bigger processors and more RAM. All the stuff that is required for a minimal install of XP SP3 with all the mandatory "security products" installed .

    No matter that netbooks will become bigger, heavier, more expensive and use power faster. At least they won't have that dirty Linux on them

    There, problem fixed!

    RIP Netbooks

    Born 2007

    Died 2008

    Killed by MS greed

  3. AlisonW
    Coat

    Guilty as charged

    Yes, I bought an Acer AspireOne. Yes, it was bundled with their flavour of Linux. Yes, I upgraded the RAM and loaded Win7 beta on it and for the most part it has behaved wonderfully.

    When Win7 (free) beta expires though I'll return to some flavour of Linux as, hopefully by then, there will be the driver I wanted for my 3G dongle available.

    Mines the one with the 8.2" pocket ...

  4. Charles Manning

    Windows fears limit netbooks

    So far all the netbooks (except the One True Psion Netbook) have had x86 because the manufacturers wanted to back both horses.

    Doing an x86 Netbook completely misses the point.

    To really appreciate what a netbook **can** be, needs the manufacturers to drop x86 and go with ARM. Getting rid of the x86 has numerous advantages:

    * Cheaper. ARM parts are cheaper than x86 parts.

    * Smaller. They are smaller too on an individual basis, but also on a system basis.

    * Lighter.

    * Less power consumption. Therefore less heat therefore less heatsinking and a smaller power supply circuit (which feeds back into the smaller/lighter/cheaper) thing again.

    * Longer battery life and/or smaller battery. Smaller, cheaper,lighter again.

    When these netbooks emerge, the Windows ones will die out.

  5. Quirkafleeg
    Happy

    I wiped Linux too

    My EeePC's original XandrASUS OS didn't deliver what was expected, so I wiped it and…

    … installed Debian lenny. Now it works very nicely, very much like its larger brethren.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Perversely, this is good news for Linux

    No-one could have expected Microsoft to roll over. Of course they were going to have to do something. This is stage three in "ignore, laugh, fight, lose"

    But it's a little more difficult to promote computing=microsoft=computing when GNU/Linux with its (name your figure between 0-10)% of the desktop market is causing Microsoft to react to it.

    They must be praying that it all goes away so they can stop discounting their products so heavily.

    If ARM are half as good as they are talked up it's a problem for Intel too.

  7. Dana W
    Jobs Halo

    Yeah right. Notice its SOLD not used.

    At the local Geek Mart "Microcenter" I talked to a lot of people buying netbooks, the overwhelming majority of them buying were planning to run Leopard on them. Enough that the salesman just assumed thats what I wanted it for. The salespeople even had the Leopard hardware compatibility chart available to help the deciders!

    Double the ram, swap out the wireless card, and its easy. All my geek friends are running OS X on "Windows" netbooks that Microsoft chalked up as sales. They could at least put XP PRO on the things if they wanted us to use them for Windows. My WOW addict pals love them. With OSX they are great for the MMORPG addict on the go. I like that I don't need to put my MacBook Pro in danger if I just want to go for coffee or do a tech call where I need to let my machine out of sight.

    Notice on all the second gen netbooks "the new ASUS machines being a good example" the upgrade parts are easily accessible. Modding and Osing them with either OSX or Linux are as common as not. I'd like to know how many "Windows" netbooks aren't Windows after the first couple days. Best of all, Microsoft has LOST money on giving the OS to vendors to get the market share! And they still have to support it! And it does not get much better than that. lets see if this keeps up with Windows 7. I've run Seven. Its NOT a netbook OS. And all the advertising in the world can't change that

    "Posted from a "Windows license" Netbook Running Leopard 10.5.6."

  8. Richard Neill

    And another one

    I bought an Eeepc 701 last week as an emergency desktop replacement (it's surprisingly good with a sensible monitor and external keyboard). Of course, as I needed one there and then, I had to pay the Windows tax, though I deleted XP immediately in favour of Ubuntu.

    Two things surprise me:

    - why is it still so hard to get a refund on the "Microsoft tax"?

    - why can't netbook manufacturers ship a decent version of Linux by default

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ah but...

    Do these figures represent the fact that people like me just take the netbook as is, then install linux anyway either entirely or as a dual boot? I do so love my NC-10 though, shame linux wasn't an option at purchase.

    Anon because I expect Redmonds "competition keeper" squadron due any second.

  10. rob
    Thumb Down

    Linux and windows return rates

    I'm really getting annoyed by the FUD now.. Authors are continually saying how so many more Linux netbooks are being returned than Windows.. It's absolute rubbish!

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/10/22/asus_ceo_shen_speaks_out/

    A quote:

    "I believe the Linux and Windows have similar return rates," he said, adding that the Linux option was particularly popular in Europe.

    How many Netbooks are purchased with XP and then reformatted to Linux?

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    @Quirkafleeg

    Yup, so did I... man, when I tried to use Xandros, I was shocked at the horrible user interface and the fact it was more locked-down than my Windows system at work. I thought "how can someone make UNIX so difficult to use? Is this a SUN product?"

    The lack of useful manual didn't help either. That is NOT the way to increase Linux sales. On the good side, a 4G was only US$300 at the local store.

  12. Eric Hood

    Pocket sized netbook

    If you have an iPod touch or iPhone you already have a pocket sized device to check email, web browse and with the newer models you can do voice dictation too.

    Typing large amounts of text on an iPod/ iPhone is not something I would want to do, I would use a laptop for that anyway.

    With all the applications available on the Itunes store you can customise to get the feature you want. As long as it is not a bluetooth keyboard. :)

  13. Scott

    Netbook? Dead--perish the thought!

    I'm not too sure where that one poster is coming from, my Dell Mini 9 has XP on it, with a 16GB SSD drive, and about the only thing smaller is one of the early Asus 700-whatevers. I love the little thing to death, performance isn't fantastic but it'll play Hulu videos and run Quake III pretty well, although the little screen and keyboard makes playing a bit awkward.

    That said I'm agnostic about my OS, it's the apps I care about, eventually XP will be dead one way or another. Which means eventually my Mini will have Ubuntu on it. However, I'm curious what Microsoft will do to try and keep the Netbook market when Windows 7 ships. I see three scenarios:

    1. They try to "evolve" the Netbooks into something the poster above mentions so they will run 7.

    2. There's a secret uber-slim Windows 7 install just for Netbooks, which is unlikely.

    3. Microsoft slaps a new face on XP, changes a few things around, and markets it as a "new" minimal OS.

  14. jay019
    Gates Horns

    Linux netbooks, where???

    Here in Australia there is a choice of an ASUS with a tiny screen running Linux or windows netbooks. Obviously we bought a windows netbook and wiped the crap off the drive and installed UNR on it. Sucks that its classed as a windows sale when we had no choice but to buy it with windows installed. I also see they have changed the EULA so we couldnt even get a refund for the crud we didnt want.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    windows for ARM ?

    Is MS going to recompile windows for ARM processors ? I doubt it, windows is much too crufty for an architecture port. So how is it going to run on the next crop of netbooks ? Android will. Bye-Bye.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Statistics

    What I learn from the article and comments is that MicroSoft's OEM arrangement lets them get credit for most x86 laptops sold. So their numbers are not reliable and the article's comments actually contain more useful information than the article itself.

    One very interesting comment about loading OS X on netbooks.

    One interesting comment highlighting the incredibly poor choice of Linux distribution chosen by netbook sellers.

    Linux needs a highly publicized list of good Linux distros for netbooks and they need to bombard netbook sellers with it. WIndows users I know that have thought about using linux are unaware that there is more than one Linux.

    Amazingly, one of IBM's old objections to Unix was what they termed the "balkanization" of the Unix distribution --- more than one Unix. This proved to be groundless in the central server arena. However, it seems to me to be a factor with regard to desktops currently.

  17. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Well Windows simply fits the definition of Netbook better

    I mean a Netbook is supposed to be a locked down limited functionality device which is not supposed to be able to do serious data processing. That's just what Windows gets you. Your stock installation of Windows doesn't even include network support. You cannot even log into other computers via ssh! You cannot even connect an USB-Ethernet adapter to it and expect it to work. (such adapters are defined in the USB standard)

  18. Shadow Systems Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    There's a VERY good reason WHY, too...

    Check the specs for a Windows versus Linux model.

    The Linux model may be slightly less expensive (if you're lucky), but you're getting a lower-spec machine.

    When the price difference is that close, then no one wants the lower-spec machine, and thus they skip Linux.

    Give me the *exact same hardware* no matter which OS I choose to have installed, and make the Linux machine less expensive, THEN you might have a valid argument for people choosing Windows over Linux.

    But at this point, you're comparing two *different* machines, two different speed CPU's, different amounts of RAM, different size HD's (or offering SSD's on only ONE version), with a price difference that doesn't reflect the difference in software, but the difference in *hardware*.

    Of COURSE people are "choosing Windows over Linux", they're opting for the machine with the better specs that you ONLY offer with Windows.

    That's like saying people prefer Lamborghini's versus Tricycles when you're only charging less-than-the-MSRP for the Lambo & 3000% more than the MSRP on the tricycle.

  19. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Sales people to blame

    It's not the fault of the OS on the netbooks if the sales people were flogging off as cheap full laptops. The specs were so low the OS didn't really matter.... It wasn't going to run MS Office anyway.

    If you want a device that does more than browse the net, etc, then buy a notebook. For netbooks the OS doesn't really matter that much.

  20. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    MS PR Flaks need to manufacture good news

    Windows installation rate on netbooks has grown from 10% [...] to 96%" does not imply "customers really DO want netbook PCs to work like their larger brethren". It means the OEM's get a discount on all Microsoft licenses if they do not ship Linux. The cost of XP is effectively negative - subsidised by Microsoft's other products. If Microsoft want to prove that the value of Windows is not negative, then why don't they let people buy blank computers and the OS of their choice separately?

    "those that try Linux are often returning it" has been debunked before. Why are Microsoft's PR flaks repeating such an obvious lie?

    http://ostatic.com/blog/asus-ceo-says-linux-netbook-returns-on-par-with-windows

    I think the "sheer number of applications" claim for XP needs a little thought too. Sheer number of commercial applications on sale beside computers is believable. That is a hefty incentive for retailers to bad mouth Linux. For XP, you have to buy an extra license for each piece of software you want to use on a desktop and on a portable PC. With Linux, everything most people want is already installed and the sheer number of free/open source programs available for download for free shows XP/Vista are not the best supported operating systems.

    http://blogs.koolwal.net/2008/12/19/counting-number-of-packages-under-debian-linux/

  21. foo_bar_baz
    Linux

    I also wiped Xandros from my Eepc

    Xandros has the right idea, shielding the user from the internals and providing an appliance-like feel to it. All the right apps were installed. I was impressed. However, a number of annoyances like the ancient software versions and problems getting the HSDPA USB modem to work reliably (would not work after standby) made me replace it after a few weeks.

    The Easy Peasy respin of Ubuntu just works. 3G and wireless work flawlessly. I almost fell off my seat when it told me the battery on my wireless mouse was running out of juice. And all the Linux goodness is there along with a fantastic netbook-friendly UI. Love it to bits.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Trygve Henriksen

    Microsoft should be worried...

    84% running Windows means that there's 16% that have found that Linux is OK...

    What's the usage numbers on portables and desktop machines?

    Anyone want to bet that some of those 16% are Windows users who tried Linux on their netBook and found that 'it wasn't as bad as the FUD made it sound' and may actually consider jumping ship the next time they get a new PC or reinstall the old one?

    Or that some of them actually bought it to TRY OUT Linux?

    (Cheap machine with Linux preinstalled... )

    I know of several windows users who have never looked at other OSes before but are happy with how Linux works on their Eee.

  24. Jason Rivers
    Coat

    I think you missed the point...

    People aren't replacing the default Linux on these devices because XP is better, it's because the default linux us... CRAP! I am writing this from my Eee 901, with SSD and Mint Linux. these companies making these things have to realise that you can't just stick any linux on and be done, that linux has to work, stop adding a stupid front end to it, and put a real linux on it, then we might find these results change a little.... actually, it's too late now, thay had a great opportunity to show the world what linux can do, and they blew it

  25. Mark Aggleton

    @Goat Jam

    Don't entirely agree, I've got a EeePC running Linux but at work we are trialling A Dell Mini 9 and a Dell Vostro A90 both with XP on SSD and they are nearly as quick as mine. And unlike mine they can access our portal which is rather important....

    As far as XP's death is concerned when Win7 comes out, wasn't there a leak that there will also be a 7 to XP downgrade option till 30/4/10?

  26. Bill Cumming
    Gates Horns

    I Agree with Charles Manning

    Once the ARM based notebooks start to go on sale (hopefully by the end of the year!) You'll see Microsoft scrambling to either release a trimmed down XP (or Win 7) to try and compete, (Hope they don't port Windows Mobile up to ARM Netbook!).....

  27. John C
    Coat

    Owning >90% of desktops is not enough

    In Australia I could not buy a Linux based Eee 901 in the retail stores. I had to order it online and wait weeks for delivery.

    Why?

    Because OEMS have a business relationship to maintain with Microsoft - which means keeping Linux out the major retailer's stores.

    and

    Because owning >90% of desktops is not enough for Microsoft. Witness the latest MS Apple-bashing ads in the US. Apple have 8% of desktops at most. Wow - what a threat! Linux has perhaps 2% although its hard to tell. Wow - what a threat!

  28. raving angry loony

    Microsoft vs Bush?

    Microsoft crowing victory in the netbook arena reminds me of Bush Jr. claiming victory in Iraq. The parallels are striking, especially the lack of ethics and cherry-picking of data.

  29. Roger Greenwood

    XP won't die

    MS can't kill XP for a long time yet. Number 7 may be magic, but it will take a while to establish. I just got 2 new desktop machines at work - both XP, dual-core, 2GB RAM, off the shelf units, <£250 each, perfect for standard office use in a small business i.e. no learning curve required. I fully expect to be able to buy the same next year.

  30. Corrine

    Up 400%

    Linux gained 400% of its previous marketshare... And MS had to cut profits, reducing their warchest in the future. This is victory, just not a big one.

  31. Jon Cutting

    Linux?

    Was this really a comparison of Windows and Linux? I use Ubuntu and if asked to choose between some mangled version of Xandros (or some other incomplete and difficult_to_customise Linux distribution) and Ubuntu I'd stick with the latter. Looking around the net seems even Linux lovers were looking to load up their fave distro on their netbooks.

    So it isn't really much of a surprise that buyers, when asked to choose between a full version of one familiar operating system and a heavily customised and unfamiliar 'lite' version of another bought the way they did.

    Microsoft may be crowing, but let's face it, netbook users running XP have Linux to thank for the knockdown price that their Windows licence cost them.

  32. Kevin Pollock
    Alien

    Linux can't succeed without a Powerpoint alternative

    Bought my daughter an EEE PC 701, Linux OS. She loves it because it's small. light and responsive (fast on, fast off etc.). I like it because I don't need to worry too much about malware (her desktop PC became infected with the AV360 and it was a "nuke and pave" to fix it).

    But as a credible road warrior platform, the netbook with Linux has to run somethng that can compete with Powerpoint. While I applaud the efforts of the OOO Impress team to get something that opens Powerpoint files, when it comes to displaying those presentations I'm afraid Impress is simply unusable.

    To Dana W - OSX and KeyNote - now THAT'S a presentation platform!!!

    Incidentally I put my points on the OOO message board about the poor animation support in Impress and a person who appears to be a lead developer of Impress commented "I never use animation, so you shouldn't either". I'm sure he's a nice chap, but he's a developer. No concept of "know your market". Shame.

    Alien icon - because OOO developers are on another planet :-) But let's be thankful they exist, because it goes some way to making Microsoft try harder.

    Kev.

  33. Anton Ivanov
    Gates Horns

    Re: Linux is hard to get

    Agree, I just bought a Lenovo S10e and had to buy it with Winhoze. I went to install Debian on it straight away, but as far as the stats Balmer uses it still runs XP.

    I will look at this however from a different perspective.

    Linux or not the netbooks are a victory for the consumer. The real story is the loss for Vista. The consumer refused to be force-fed a sucky product with reqs sucked out of a finger which had nothing to do with what they wanted. As a result they took their money elsewhere. There is a lesson here somewhere for all those management people who think they know better and think that they can throw out customer requirements because "they know better".

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Licences

    How many of these netbooks counted are 'sold with licence' and how many actually use the windows license?

    Some people get the netbook - and 'hey my xxx.exe will no longer work' look. Unfortunately they need the Windoze experience... how many linux engineers see the heavily discounted hardware with the Windoze License tax... and say - excellent machine to reinstall.

    What would be much more informative is how many netbooks are actually running windoze? How many a flavour of linux, and how many a flavour of OSX. Of course, Microsoft will only ever report the numbers they like.

  35. Eric Van Haesendonck
    Alert

    The meaning of retail sales?

    I would like to know what exactly is the meaning of "retail sales" following NPD?

    Here in Belgium and France the Linux version of most netbooks is sold almost exclusively online instead of "Brick and mortar" shops, so if NPD doesn't count online sales (and I think they don't) this means that much more than 4% of the netbooks ship with Linux.

    I think that part of the problem with "brick and mortar" is that a lot of consumer didn't know about Linux and thought they bought a windows machine, leading to disapointment as they did actually expect a mini "windows notebook" and not a linux netbook. Consumer who shop online are better informed about Linux and there is actually quite a lot of demand for Linux netbooks online.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    "limited functionality device"

    XP isn't dead, or even dying, for a little while yet. Look up "Windows XP Embedded".

    The "limited functionality device" description used earlier only needs minor tweaking before MS can magically redefine a netbook as an appliance and thus make it eligible to legitimately run XPe.

    The real challenge soon is going to be ARM vs Atom. And just like Linux vs Windows, ARM vs Atom is going to be as much about monopolist business practices ("we ship an ARM netbook and we may find that our access to early Intel design info or to unrelated Intel CPU chips at times of shortage is not what it used to be") as it is about the technically superior product.

    Bring back the HP Jornada 720 (but with today's technology and no Microsoft).

    Where's the dinosaur icon? Oh well, this one will do.

  37. Egons Proton Pack
    Paris Hilton

    Re:Guilty as charged

    I have not read all the comments so apologies if this has been replied to already.

    I have the aspire one running Linpus (modded though to get a desktop rather than the 4 windows thing)

    They have some software now called mobile partner that handles 3g dongles,you can get it by doing the live update.

    I have a '3' 3g usb dongle and it seems to work ok.

    The only real annoying thing for me at the moment is that Linpus does not remember my WPA key unless my SSID is broadcasting.

    I have also tried other distro's (I was running ubuntu for a long while but decided to return to the original linpus install)

    Paris : Because my dongle seems to work ok when I look at her videos.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netbooks are dead

    Seconded. The current 10" crop are too big to throw in my bag. The battery life sucks, hard disks too delicate and the price is way up. 350 euros, 399 euros... these are laptop prices.

    Pity.

  39. vincent himpe

    linux missed the boat

    of course it did. It's developers are still arguing what kind of boat it should be, whagt color they are going to paint it. how to control the helm from a command line and wheteher it will run kde or gnome or if it will come preloaded with vi or emacs.

    As usual it has become a twit race. As long as the linux communicty can not pull together and make 1 system that supports all possible hardware the ship will never sail.

  40. Paul Barnfather
    Alert

    How much...

    ...is Microsoft charging for an OEM XP license on a netbook these days? Is it by any chance less than the usual £50?

    Methinks that this sudden switch to XP didn't come about because "customers want it". I'm sure there was panic in Redmond when they realised that 90% of these things were shipping with Linux...

    A solution? Why not use your OS monopoly to cross subsidise the XP license down to a couple of dollars? Easy!

    Though of course that would be illegal so Microsoft wouldn't do that.

  41. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Define "netbook", define "running"

    What's the proportion of sub-£300 machines with Windows installed three months after purchase?

    As long as "Windows" means "XP" and Microsoft are charging a negative amount of money for the vendor to pre-install the latter, and "netbook" is allowed to mean some massive brick costing nearly £400 quid, I don't see any reason to trust these figures. In fact, in the context of MS's historic monopoly, the fact that they only have 84% of the lower end of the desktop market is surely something they should be shit scared about.

  42. Cameron Colley

    Another Easy Peasy user here.

    I agree with previous comments about the crapness of the Xandross install -- it makes the Eee seem a lot less versatile. On the other hand, most people who see Easy Peasy or Linux Mint installs are impressed.

    Please wake up Asus et al and use a decent distro!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so..

    "People aren't replacing the default Linux on these devices because XP is better, it's because the default linux us... CRAP!"

    So XP is better then by your own definition, good to see you understand what you typed!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Reg get your facts right

    That's 96% "CLAIMED" in the US not the whole world. Go to China/Asia and I bet the numbers are very different.

    Ask yourself this folks, who paid for the study ?

    It's just more corporate FUD and manure going to show just how scared they are of competition and will use their monopoly and billions of dollars to unfairly beat the opposition out of the market.

    Take the Red Pill and free yourself from MatrixSoft.

  45. Peter Day
    Unhappy

    Linux is for Geeks

    I bought a EEE 900 specifically with Linux. I loved the big icons, and it did almost everything I wanted .... except I could not connect to my laser printer (Epson C900) because there is no Linux printer driver without jumping through several complex hoops and also my mapped network drives would be deleted after start up because the wireless had not configured. These were annoyances that XP does not have so I changed.

    Now a Linux geek will reply and say that you can do this and that and alter this config file - but that is exactly the problem; I want it to work (near enough) out of the box without having to go locating stuff via web forums, configuring text files etc. This is the 21st Century and parts of LInux have not got out of the 1970's.

    Don't get me wrong but I so wanted to have Linux but it just didn't work for me

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    @Dana W

    Quite right - I bought my netbook with Windows installed, because that was the only way to get the configuration I wanted. Then, the day after it arrived, I installed Leopard on it and have been using that ever since.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Typical users are drones

    Fact is that most users just want what's familiar to them. Punters have been brainwashed over the years that PC = Intel = Windows by clever FUD marketing. "Linux" is alien to them and they don't want to take the risk.

    Only techies know how rotten-to-the-core Windows is. Microsoft have managed to brainwash people into thinking that the way their software works is "normal" - "to be expected". I have managed to convert a few friends of mine to try ubuntu, and they are generally astounded by what a modest PC can do.

    "What do you mean you don't need a virus checker?"

    "Wow, starting up takes less than a week!".

    "Oh look, my hard disk light isn't constantly flashing!"

    It's a strange state of affairs that the success of the "commodity" PC has been coupled with a "monopoly" OS.

    Perhaps Google will have enough brand clout to make their Android based thingy a success. ARMs are everywhere already - there's probably one in your ADSL router. There's a reason routers don't have intel processors ... they work better and, unlike a PC, nobody cares whether there's and intel in there!

  48. Ru
    Thumb Down

    XP vs Windows 7

    Isn't the netbook edition of Windows 7 (called limited or basic or started edition, or something equally ominous) basically a crippled version of the full OS so it will run on low-spec hardware?

    I wonder how that will go over in the long term, compared to a fully functional and entirely adequate OS like XP.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Pre-install a proper distro.

    I'm writing this on an eee 901 which I installed Ubuntu onto. (Rhyme intended.) The bundled Xandros is dreadful, even using fake C: style windows drive assignments. UI-wise it was terrible too. People want a real desktop experience which Windows XP will give them out of the box. Netbooks are just small laptops - what's the need for a simplified UI? There would be no difference if a full Linux was on there pre-installed, desktop and all.

    Getting Ubuntu on here was a bit of a chore, but it works beautifully now. I'm probably the only person on here who uses OS X primarily too, and I love using both. I simply can't face battling with that plasticy Windows rubbish.

    Netbook makers would do well to bite the bullet, not retard the Linux experience and pre-install a full distro. That would get the Linux share up and prove more economic in manufacture too.

  50. jeffrey

    Off with the buggy linux, on with a stable XP

    It goes the other way as well. I bought a linux Aspire one, got it home and put XP straight on. It's all a matter of personal preference really. Mind you the sales person said if I wanted to run linux on it with the wireless I needed to hack around with the wireless drivers a bit or buy myself a usb wireless stick as the built in wireless has a knack for turning itself off after an hour and refusing to come back. People can b*tch about how linux is better all they like, but if the netbook companies can't supply a decent working distro installed out of the box with a stable driver base for the hardware and common external hardware then quite frankly the linux is more useless than vista. At least XP just works as it has had so long to mature, personally I would like to see them drop the win 7 extra basic version, drop vista , and have win 7 for laptops, desktops etc and a £30 version of XP Pro available for people who want that instead.

  51. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge

    powerful netbooks

    Netbooks need to be more powerful. Upgrade the screen to 17" and the keyboard to one with numeric keypad. RAM should be 8GB, 600GB HD, quad core 6GHz liquid cooled CPU, top end games graphics. A decent battery. Blue Ray player. Surround sound 5 speaker system, gaming chair, games sticks and steering wheel. A wheeled trolly to carry it round in and full Windows Vista.

    People are not so much after the Windows Quality as the familiarity. They need to realise that a Netbook is not a notebook or desktop. Obviously many people are attracted by the smaller price, however the number of MASSIVE laptops I see people enjoying means that actually they just want a proper computer that is not stuck to a desk.

    The netbook needs to downgrade further. It needs to be even smaller. The battery to last longer. But the screen should be super super sharp and bright. If it becomes challenging to get an operating system to run fast on it then that will be linux.

  52. Nigel Wright

    Linix vs. Windows on netbooks

    The problem with this is:

    1. People expect Linux to work like Windows. It doesn't matter if Linux is a better or worse user experience, it's what they have become used to.

    2. Getting hold of a Linux loaded netbook these days is not so easy. Why? If you have to wait for a Linux netbook, but can immediately buy a Windows one then it doesn't take much imagination to understand what will be bought first.

    3. Windows loaded netbooks often come with a better hardware spec' than Linux equivalents at little extra cost (more RAM, more hdd capacity). Never mind the fact that the Windows equivalent probably needs the extra hardware to run acceptably, but when a buyer looks at the spec' they will see more computer for not much more money and will naturally gravitate towards it.

    4. Nebook OEMs don't help the cause by loading crappy distros or highly limited distros on them. If they loaded something like Ubuntu 8.10 it would be an entirely different user experience. Ubuntu just works out of the box on my Dell Mini 9 and has all the functionality of a desktop install. By comparison the flavours of Linux on earlier EE's or Acer's just looked and worked awfully.

    5. People enlightened enough to buy netbooks with Linux are pretty much on their own unless they are of a geeky persuasion. Manuals are often poor or non-existent. People who have become used to Windows need less help if WIndows is installed, but if they are to make the jump to Linux then they need some sort of assistance.

    A perfect example of this is a friend who recently bought a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu on it. She phoned me to complain that she couldn't find Windows to do her Excel spreadsheets on! Never mind that Windows is an o/s and Excel is an application (she and many other do not understand the difference). She is a typical user and she's also a very clever woman (a police detective with a distinguished career), but she is not a geek and she is not interested in computers (they're a tool to her). The fact that Mini 9 had Open Office on it with a perfectly capable spreadsheet app' that could read Excel files never occurred to her because documentation was poor.

    Once I had shown her how to open, read and convert file formats she was very happy. Now she wants to install Photoshop and does not understand that Windows apps can't be installed under Linux (let's not get into the discussion about Wine)..... This is the kind of problem that prevents a wider acceptance of Linux in the marketplace.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    OSX again!

    Like someone else up here I bought a Dell Mini 9 with only one idea: to get OSX on it. I ran into some trouble installing it at first, but now it works like a dream. With some rough edges, but still quite dreamy. Now I have a small light portable and affordable Mac (in addition to my iMac at home) for on the go. If you look at the MyDellMini forums you can see a LOT of people installing OSX on it, so if 16% of the people buy a Linux netbook, then I would posit that at least another 20% go to OSX netbooks. As soon as Apple comes out with an ARM based OSX laptop, complete with app store, they will demolish any marketshare that Windows now might enjoy.

  54. This post has been deleted by its author

  55. N Silver badge

    I dont believe it...

    I dont believe half of the statistics that are published any more,

    I mean 10% to 96% in how many months?

  56. Jon
    Gates Horns

    Lockin

    I would have loved a quick booting, long battery life, cheap linux eeePC, however one of the main considerations was to run my memorymap 3d mapping and walk planning software on it while sat in a tent. Unfortunatly this software only runs on windows. So I had to get a windows one.

    That is why MS worries so much about obtaining an over 90% market share. They need to ensure developers never see market sense in developing drivers/software for linux. As soon as a windows competitor gets say a 10% market share it may be econmically viable for a software house to build two versions. Then it is a slippery slope as a wave of people itching to leave the horrible buggy world of windoze but are locked in by apps or drivers finally can.

  57. Nigel Wright

    @Nick Davies

    I don't think people are missing the point. These locked down Linux flavours are not a nice experience. I've seen people look at the UI and say "Ugh!". And if you need to delve a bit deeper then it's not always that easy.

  58. Chris

    Samsung NC10

    The NC10 is the pick of the current crop of netbooks, but I could only buy one with a Windows license. However, several hours after I bought it the machine was running Ubuntu Linux. Anyone know how I can return an unwanted Windows license for a refund, as I don't recall agreeing to the EULA (there wasn't one in the box, and I never booted Windows so I didn't agree to one if it's presented first time you boot the machine)?

  59. The BigYin
    Gates Horns

    @jay019

    "I also see they have changed the EULA so we couldnt even get a refund for the crud we didnt want."

    Huh, what? You can't claim a refund from the retailer for an unused MS license?

    Reg! We need this investigated!

  60. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Pirate

    RE: Pocket sized netbook

    It's called a BlackBerry. It's already fully compatible by design with M$ Office, it is secure and employs the best encrypted push email solution available, and is a decent phone too. For years I have used a BlackBerry with a number of external keyboards (via mini-USB) to complete real MS documents out on the road. I've tried BB-compatible mini keyboards, a folding keyboard, a roll-up keyboard, even tried an inflatible keyboard (not a success!). The iBone is just playing catch-up.

    If I have the space or desire to carry a netbook then it is only slightly more effort to carry around a proper laptop, which offers a better screen (nice for DVDs) and much better performance, with much larger drives allowing dual- or even triple-boot options. With a BlackBerry available for when the laptop has been left at home, I still see no reason to buy a netbook.

  61. Callum
    Linux

    tmobile eee 904hd

    I got my Asus EEEPC 904HD "free" for signing up for another 18 months with tmobile. It only came with Windows XP; but I just installed fedora 10 and it works out the box with the tmobile dongley things.

    +1 sale for MS, +1 user for Linux, +1 for monopolistic behaviour

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Linux is great - but not the ones on Natbooks

    I bought an Acer Aspire One, with Linpus Linux. It was awful. I did not get the administrator password, when I created one (using Terminal) I could not download Firefox 3, searched for hours how I could upgrade to Openoffice 3, and used the Terminal for everything. In the end, I wiped it, put Xubuntu on - still had to change one driver for the wireless - and it worked.

    Why do Netbook producers believe that buyers cannot be trusted with a normal version of Linux? I do not need big buttons that compartmentalise my life into "Work" and "Play" - and if they want to do that, market research would show that a specialised "Porn" button would be just as much appreciated.

    Dell is right selling their Netbook with Ubuntu. That system is much, much better. If Dell wasn't so expensive.

  63. Mark Wolstenholme
    Linux

    Refunds for unused Windoze? You're having a laugh.

    The hardware seller will say "The description said it included windows, if you didn't want windows you should have asked for a non-windows machine."

    M$ will say "talk to your hardware seller."

    Count me in with the "bought windows machine, wiped it, installed Linux" crowd.

  64. Doug Glass
    Go

    The Power

    Oh the power of effective marketing. It's not a matter of which is better, Windows or Linux, it's a matter of which is "marketed" properly to the target population. And MS is very, very good at this.

    On the "home turf" of corporate marketing, Linux is at best a distant second and always will be until all the fanboys and hacks get truly organized and learn how to properly "sell" their product.

  65. The BigYin

    @ Mark Wolstenholme

    The MS EULA states (or, at least, used to state) that you can claim the cost of the unused license back from the retailer. People have done this and there have been cases where it has gone to court.

    Is the MS EULA ha changed, then this is a very serious matter.

    If retailers are not fulfilling their part of the EULA then this is also a serious mater.

    Er Reg - how about buying an XP netbook, slapping some *nux distro on it and seeing if you can claim the MS license fee back?

  66. Mike Richards

    Switched my Aspire One to Windows

    And why?

    Because the supplied version of Linux sucked. The update procedure was horrible and many applications had not been updated by Acer in months - even though they contained known security issues. Patching some of them by hand using standard Linux procedures caused other things to break.

    Windows XP is a horrible OS, but at least I can keep my machine relatively secure and I'm not spending all my time in the console sudoing away.

  67. Cameron Colley

    @Nick Davies

    If there is any truth in the "people return more Linux netbooks" and "people buy Linux to install XP" statements then it would appear that you are wrong.

    As someone has stated above -- the default OS installs on netbooks makes people say "ugh". Put it this way: If you saw a netbook with a horrid six-huge-icon display and one next to it with XP, which would you think was the best?

  68. Mike Kamermans

    pictures of ballmer

    Please, stop using pictures of Ballmer. The man's face makes my coffee taste several levels of wrong.

  69. Chika
    Coat

    I think that's all the cliches aired now...

    Linux is for geeks?

    Well, yes and no. What many folk who say this sort of thing tend to forget is that, in order to run a computer properly, they need to know what they are doing. Windows is no different in this respect to Linux. I spend most of my days sorting out problems for Windows users and, believe me, the sort of questions being raised there are no different from those folks I see griping about the mysteries of Linux. Certainly, Linux was once a pretty unfriendly beast if you didn't have a solid lump of shell and admin training behind you at the very least, but there are now various distros out there that can be used by any oik. Ubuntu has already been mentioned, and I'd add a few to that, including Puppy, for example.

    Linux machines being returned?

    Well, I think El Reg already debunked that myth. The Microsoft pundits really need to do their homework.

    Windows 7 for netbooks?

    Maybe. However, I have a few niggles about that. I've been giving this "new" OS a going over and find that, although it seems to work, it is still more power/memory hungry than XP. Enough to make it unusable on a netbook? Not too sure about that. If it will run on my PIII test kit, then it may well do it, but it will be a matter of how much it can do.

    Netbook is dead?

    This is the clincher, though I'm not convinced that it will be the OS that kills it. One of the ideas behind the netbook originally was that it was supposed to be cheap, yet I notice that the price of so many new machines coming onto the market are such that you could go and buy a low spec laptop for close to the same money. This is what could, IMHO, kill the market.

    Oh, and for the folks that are touting the ARM as a possible contender, may I just remind you of a little machine called the Acorn A4? I still have mine. It doesn't get any use these days since the PSU needs replacing. Yes, it's possible to put an ARM based machine together, but is there a will to do it?

    What has he gots in his pockets, then, precious?

  70. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Flame

    @Peter Day

    Try using your Epson printer on Windows *WITHOUT* using the supplied CD or downloaded driver from Epson. I think you would probably have more problems than on any mainstream Linux.

    Badger the printer providers to give you either an install CD for Linux, or instructions to configure the excellent built-in Linux printer subsystem (like CUPS) to work with a new printer.

    Don't use different rules to compare Linux with Windows.

    Mind you, I do agree on other peoples comments about Xandros. My (very early) Eeepc 701 is running Ubuntu Hardy (I've standardised on an LTS release), because I got tired of re-installing Xandros each time the UnionFS filled up. Don't think it's a generic UnionFS problem, more a problem with the way it was configured.

  71. Peter Kay

    @ 'Windows is too crufty for an architecture port'

    You should realise that Windows is already on x86, x86-64 and itanium - both client and server. Whilst you could argue that x86 32 and 64 bit aren't /that/ different, Itanium certainly is!

    Porting to a different architecture is not an issue - the lack of applications is the problem.

    Just as Linux suffers badly (assuming you get past the technical recovery tools and sometimes limited set of drivers) from not being able to run the apps many people expect right away, Windows ARM would suffer from precisely the same problem. I can't see Microsoft wanting to port to and support an OS and many of its popular apps on an entirely different platform.

    ARM is a false dream - learn from the history of transmeta. Low power, slow, and hot. The reality was that no-one cared about the low power usage as the processor is only one of the power sucking components : chipset, memory, graphics, video, i/o etc.. You'd better hope it's fast enough, too, as slow does not sell. See Atom vs VIA or Celeron, for instance.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    distro

    i'm not alone in buying XP version and dual booting - the linux implementation was very poor with ubuntu eee being much better.

    Bring on the touch screens and we'll see how the cheap edition of XP does.

  73. Alexander

    missing the vital point "support"

    The problem with the netbooks was the rush to push them out with linux clients on them, now I am not getting into the fanboy windows v's linux garbage.

    what the issue was was support most people who bought the netbooks early on really got their first glimpse and trail of linux, now as it is "different to windows " and has "different issues" users where unfamiliar with the product ,now the problem being most high street retailers selling the netbooks had little or no exprience in linux sales or after sales support.

    This gave paople a very uneasy and confusing introduction to linux and probably did more damage linux than good , thought i do have to agree with many posters that netbook now are just cheap laptops and as such are to pricey.

    it is the push the button and it works syndrome that is what the market wants ,linux needs to make up ground in the backend support for the "General public" to get to that point

  74. This post has been deleted by its author

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @By Mike Kamermans

    It's Steve Jobs, not Ballmer's face, that was removed as it made children cry, caused calves to be still born, bread to go mouldy and your wallet suddenly get pilfered by some bit fat bloke from Redmond with a bald head.

  76. Mark Wolstenholme
    Linux

    @The BigYin

    I know what the EULA _says_.

    I also know that _some_ people have managed to claw back refunds through the courts.

    But frankly, although my refund claim is currently "being processed" I'm not holding my breath.

  77. Mark York Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    AA1 & Linpus - OK With My Kids

    "I bought an Acer Aspire One, with Linpus Linux. It was awful. I did not get the administrator password, when I created one (using Terminal) I could not download Firefox 3, searched for hours how I could upgrade to Openoffice 3, and used the Terminal for everything. In the end, I wiped it, put Xubuntu on - still had to change one driver for the wireless - and it worked."

    I bought the AA1, followed the tweaks given here last December, referenced sites like Macles to install other apps & left the 4 original windows.

    Then bought a second AA1 & cloned it from the above.

    Result:

    2 AA1's configured for kids both with learning difficulties to use without problems.

    No waste of printer paper\toner with them constantly printing every 5 minutes, forced them to e-mail it to me before I would print it.

    Able to connect & access schools server for homework.

    Skype for their friends.

    Media playback.

    Minimal requests for tech support from dad (see below) initially - None since January.

    No pratting about with updates for AV, M$, firewalls or complaints about speed\lockups.

    Administrator password is set up at initial setup & IIRC easily changed with sudo.

    I do wonder how many Linux machines were reformatted with ahem illegal copies of XP.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amateur

    Well, out of 7 domestic computers, only 2 run MS.(I'm mean!) The Dell Linux netbook which we ordered on the 5th March 09 was finally delivered on the 2nd April after 3 delivery promise revisions. Some customers are still waiting. Dell appear not to be able to keep up with Linux demand. Dell claim that 33% of shipments are Linux! I do note that many buyers are installing OSX instead of / as well as, Linux. Some are also parallel installing old copies of XP on a usb drive, which is a loss of sales for MS. My impression of Ubuntu Linux on the Dell is very favourable. It was childs play to add Sea Monkey to the desktop---easier than trying to do so with XP! Adding it into the network was also easier than with XP.

    I wouldn't buy MS shares!!

  79. This post has been deleted by its author

  80. J
    Linux

    Another

    Here' s another user who was "forced" to buy XP, only to install Ubuntu (Easy Peasy 1.0, more specifically) soon after. Very pleasantly surprised by it, actually. The UI is quite nice, and I can always use the Desktop Switcher to use it as a regular desktop. But I found out there's little reason to have all that empty screen on such a small device. On the other hand, some apps (GIMP) behave a bit weirdly out of the traditional desktop mode.

    Interesting, I had no clue people were installing OSX on these little beasts! That's cool.

    When I got the mini-laptop, I did let it boot XP. First, I wanted to make sure the hardware had no problem, which it didn't, before I tried installing Linux (also used Asus utility for updating the BIOS). So, if the Linux install borked at some level, I would know it was not a hardware problem. Then, a quick download of Easy Peasy 1.0, install it to a USB stick and install the the Eee 1000HE. Worked perfectly, wireless, camera, everything (so it seemed at first). Later I discovered the sound was very low, but that was documented on the website for the distro, and it was easily (for me) fixed. Just in case, I let it be a dual boot option, with 10 GB for XP and the rest for Linux. You know, just in case. I'm getting about 6 hours use out of it, with WiFi on all the time. Maybe Ubuntu is not as efficient, or maybe I must lower the screen brightness to ridiculous levels, but I can't see this machine doing the 9.5 hours advertised. That said, for me 6 h is more than good enough.

    Yes, as I ranted in another thread a while ago, I believe netbooks don't exist anymore. What I am typing on right now from Chicago airport is a mini-laptop. The 701 was a netbook; this is not. I'm sure both MS and the manufacturers want the netbook to disappear and the good ole days of selling fat-margin, overspecced (for most people) machines to be back. This because, as I've noticed, as many must have, a mini-laptop is enough for almost all the computer time.

  81. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Ummm...

    Am I the only person here intrigued by all those saying "I bought a Linux netbook but it was crap so I put XP on it.". Presumably, having declined the OEM licence for XP at the time of purchase, these good people have paid full whack for their XP and thereby almost doubled the price of their netbook, and yet they *still* think it is worth the money.

    Would any one of you care to confirm that presumption, or provide an alternative explanation?

    Mine's the one with the FAST ID badge in the inside pocket.

  82. MarkJ
    Heart

    Numbers Game

    I still have my original Eee 701 4G around somewhere, sadly it sees nowhere near as much use as my N800. Aside from issues it has with certain websites (BBC, I'm looking at you) a version of the N800/N810 with twice the battery capacity and an 8.4" screen would be ideal. Funnily enough, that's Linux on ARM with proper industrial design and it basically 'just works'.

  83. Damien Thorn

    oh no :(

    It began as a promising look, due to the tech stuffed into those netbooks, but tech has allowed windows to gain a foothold.

    Linux will now never win, because with all that is microsoft - no one can argue they have the worlds most aggressive sales system, its the one thing microsoft has working 100% if its a computer then microsoft will target it, adapt and resistance is futile you are installation number 95893

    And it hasnt stopped now borg gates has left. I guess he told them how to do it before he went. Bill gates has that legacy - he was a sales genius.

  84. Jon Lawrence
    Linux

    If only Linux had a marketing department

    Most people say they want windows because they have no idea what Linux involves. Everyone I've showed the GUI on my eee pc 901 has had no problems using it at all.

  85. Dana W
    Jobs Halo

    @ J

    The OS X on EEE PC guide. Vanilla kernel from a stock install disk, everything supported, no issues at all.

    http://eeemac.blogspot.com/2009/03/install-os-x-on-eee-pc-900a-901-1000.html

  86. A J Stiles
    Alert

    BSD

    Actually, I think if anything is going to take over from XP on netbooks, it will be some sort of BSD-derived OS.

    NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD all have the "BSD loophole" in their licencing agreements (which pre-date the GPL): anyone is free to take the software, modify it just enough to make it thoroughly incompatible with the original and treat it as closed-source. (Back in the days, that wouldn't have been such a problem as it is today, because almost no two computers could run code compiled for each others -- so you pretty much needed the Source Code.)

    Once a company is building cheap clones of first-generation ARM processors (now patent-free; and since memory has become cheap, thanks to Windows, it doesn't matter anymore about a simple MOV instruction taking 4 bytes) they can simply compile a customised BSD variant with a few applications, burn it into a non-replaceable one-time PROM and not have to worry about their competitors ripping them off. Even better, from their point of view, they can ensure *in hardware* that future versions are incompatible -- past versions of your own products are always a greatest threat than other people's products.

  87. FreeTard
    Thumb Up

    Just upgraded my kids eeepc701...

    ...to ubuntu "easypeasy" (intrepid), and it's deadly. Well done to the creators, everything works flawlessly. I never used the xandros installed distro coz it was crap.

    Now I'm mosning when she asks for it bck -- stupid small keyboard...

    Conor

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