Feeds

Microsoft cries netbook victory against Linux

Bring in the telcos

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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 netbooks touted by analysts and open-source enthusiasts as the way for Linux to beat Windows, Microsoft’s Windows flacks have seized on the study.

Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc has crowed that far from the netbook being an opportunity for Linux, the exact opposite is true. “A number of analysts and researchers following the space see ample evidence indicating customers really DO want netbook PCs to work like their larger brethren – and that the way the vast majority of consumers make that happen is by buying a netbook PC with Windows."

Rubbing in the salt, LeBlanc added: "Not only are people overwhelmingly buying Windows, but those that try Linux are often returning it," he said.

Why, you might ask? LeBlanc: "Because users simply expect the Windows experience. When they realize their Linux-based netbook PC doesn’t deliver that same quality of experience, they get frustrated and take it back."

Ouch.

If the NPD numbers are correct - even if we allow for a fairly hefty margin of error - it appears that Linux lovers have missed the netbook boat.

However, there are a few caveats.

The NPD data reproduced by LeBlanc does not state which version of Windows is getting installed netbooks. According to Microsoft’s financial results, its Windows XP not Windows Vista because Windows Vista is too big and too slow for most netbooks.

The problem there is Window XP will be end-of-lifed by Microsoft when Windows Vista’s successor Windows 7 ships, meaning no more Windows XP for netbooks.

That will re-set the competition of Windows versus Linux on the netbook market, meaning there's everything to play for once again.

And that means those who will swing this market will be those who make or sell netbooks, and whether they choose to ship machines running Windows or Linux. Which brings us on to who exactly is doing the shipping.

Another boat is boarding as we speak: telcos offering netbooks with service plans. AT&T announced just such a pilot program last week, Verizon is reported to be investigating a similar effort, and T-Mobile is reportedly looking into bundling an Android-based tablet computer with its service later this year.

Google's Android OS, as you'll recall, is Linux-based.

In fact, no less a Linux-lover than Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, is promoting the netbook-cum-service business model for Linux.

"The typical operating system game is: create operating system, go to vendor, ask them to pay X amount per device, have them ship with device," Zemlin recently told The Reg. "That's not the only game in town."

Zemlin's called for those offering netbooks to go beyond the old model of making a PC, installing an operating system, and selling it to the user. He’s called for a kick ass, industrial design with customized software experience subsidized services, movies or entertainment.

In other words, provide the whole delicious enchilada yourself: hardware, software, operating system, and wired/wireless internet service. And with that operating system being either open-source Linux or Google's free Android, a subsidized netbook could be a truly affordable snack.

With both HP and Asustek reportedly mulling Android-based netbooks, perhaps Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile should have one eye on those companies' efforts and the other on AT&T's pilot program.

After all, netbooks are bundled with wireless service in Europe - why not add wired service as well, and why not include the US?.

Microsoft and Windows might have already locked down the netbook-as-PC market according to LeBlanc and NPD. And to be sure, Windows should do well on netbooks, largely thanks to the people’s familiarity with Windows and the sheer number of applications.

Netbooks are a new market, though, and the certainties that helped Microsoft in the past - OEM lock in, a predictable channel, closed code, zero competition – are breaking down. Much will depend on how Windows 7 does on netbooks and whether the new providers decide Linux gives them more freedom than Windows before the netbook war can be considered over.®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.