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Linux to eclipse Microsoft's 'all-in' tablet enthusiasm

Poll finds for Android, Chrome OS, MeeGo

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Microsoft might be "all in" on tablets (here and here), but it's Linux that will dominate this new category of device, according to latest research.

ABI Research reckons Linux-powered non-smartphone mobile devices will comprise 62 per cent of operating systems by 2015.

Google's Android and Chrome OS will lead the way, followed by the joint Intel and Nokia MeeGo effort and the now-Hewlett-Packard-owned Palm webOS.

Driving Linux on mobile will be the fact each Linux distro uses the Linux kernel with a unified based of upstream components that developers, ISVs, and hardware providers can tap.

ABI senior analyst Victoria Fodale said in a statement. "The number of Linux-oriented initiatives recently seen in the mobile industry indicates that Linux will be a key technology in the next generation of netbooks, media tablets, and other mobile devices."

If ABI's right, it will translate into an interesting inversion of the current state of play in computing, which favors Windows on the PC and server.

Microsoft executives bullishly predicted a repeat of a success for Windows on tablets for partners during its annual partners conference this week.

Executives crowed how Windows went from laggard on netbooks to displace Linux as the dominant operating system. The takeaway message was that Microsoft can prevail again on tablets even when it steadfastly refuses to see new opportunities.

Certainly, Microsoft has a natural "in" with PC makers given their decades' of cooperation that could swing things Windows' way.

The poll comes as HP dithers on what OS it should use for its planned Hurricane tablet. First Windows, then Android, and now it looks as if HP's going Palm.

Given HP spent a head-scratching, all-in $1.2bn deal simply to own the Linux OS in the first place, this would seem a logical choice. But then, it's predictability of sales in mass markets that drive manufacturing decisions of Silicon Valley's PC manufactures, not logic.

HP – the world's largest PC maker – could still flip back to Windows, especially given that close relationship it's got with Microsoft. ®

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