back to article Windows 7 to push up netbook prices

Anyone putting off purchasing a netbook until the next-generation Atom processor, the N450, arrives in October, should expect to pay a premium thanks to the extra cost of Windows 7. Netbook makers are currently lobbying Microsoft to reduce the price of its upcoming operating system revision, which, DigiTimes reports, is …

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  1. LoudScotsBloke
    Linux

    Linux

    Ubuntu. Free is cheaper.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    RIP SCC Notebooks.

    Killed off by corporate greed.

  3. Cameron Colley

    Serves them right.

    It serves the idiots right for pushing Windows so hard. I bet they thought if they played along with MS they would get Win7 cheaper too.

  4. Joe Montana
    Flame

    Defeating the point...

    All this will just defeat the point of a netbook...

    For £400 you can buy a lowend regular laptop from several vendors, or a higher end one that's a couple of years old and will still be more powerful than a netbook...

    Netbooks took off because they were small and cheap, so making them more expensive will just start the cycle over again when the cheap arm-based linux ones come out...

  5. Emo

    Sell the OS separately

    easy.

    Let the consumer decide.

  6. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    Why?

    Why do people want a dull desktop OS on a netbook? What is the point?

    The screen is too small and all the CPU processing just sucks down the battery life.

    ARM chip, SDD drive and the Linux netbook remix of your choice. Job done.

  7. aldude

    @Joe Montana

    Surely the updated netbooks with dual-core processors and upgraded chipsets plus the new version of Windows will be as powerful as those laptops that you speak of? So really, a powerful netbook shouldn't be called a netbook at all.

  8. kissingthecarpet
    Linux

    I anticipate

    the forthcoming ARM-based machines with relish - what *are* MS going to do then? Ha Ha Ha

    I'm pleased the Reg seems to be taking a more rational approach to GNU/Linux than hitherto. Does anyone (apart from the MS astroturfers) believe any of the FUD about command lines(as if nearly every MS sysadmin howto doesn't advise the use of the command line) & all the rest of the bilge?

  9. Nostromo

    Good luck with that.

    By then everybody in the world who wants a 'netbook' will have one. Good luck selling ANY at that price.

    This is a HUGE oppertunity for ARM/GNU Linux. Lets hope they get it right this time.

  10. Gareth.
    Linux

    So so true...

    "Linux, il y a moins bien mais c'est plus chèr"

  11. Hetz Ben Hamo
    Stop

    Here's an idea

    Last year, I ordered a machine for myself and I specifically asked that the machine should be without any OS since I'm going to install Fedora on it.

    Apparently, someone didn't listen to my request and I got the machine with Vista Ultimate trial for 30 days. I removed it and installed Fedora.

    And thats my idea: vendors could install Windows 7 trial on the machine without adding the OS cost to the machine. If the user wants to use Windows 7, then he'll go to a specific web site, pay the price the vendor set, and he/she will get an activation number which upon activation, the OS will be unlimited, depends on which version he bought (Home, Premium, Ultimate, whatever).

    That way, if I want to install my Fedora, or my friend wants to install Ubuntu or anything else, the user won't pay MS "TAX".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Netbooks

    Wasn't the idea of netbooks that they really needed little or no boot time, had no moving parts and were "light" from the technology point of view. Designed to allow access to the internet and have basic functionality but not be a business work horse?

    Why the hell would I want to spend £400 on a netbook when the Centrino 2 dual core, widescreen laptop with 3GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive and HDMI video and optical audio output was hardly any more than that?

    It looks like the manufacturers, taken in by Microsoft's tactics, have now basically been bent over the table and shafted.

  13. A B 3
    Linux

    ahem

    Pass the poisson sil vous plait.

  14. IGnatius T Foobar
    Linux

    ARM and Linux will make Vista 7 a non-starter

    When the next generation of netbooks is unveiled ... with ARM processors, nine hours of battery life, and hardware that costs £150 or less ... Microsoft will have a hard time convincing the industry that it's a good idea to pay £400 for a netbook just so it can run Vista 7.

    That's not a netbook, it's a small laptop. And perhaps that category will continue to exist, because there will be a few people desperately clinging to 20th century technology ... but for people who are buying netbooks to actually use them as netbooks were intended, Microsoft is out of the game. Vista 7 is a non-starter.

  15. jim 45
    Thumb Down

    opportunity lost

    The opportunity for Linux is so big, you could drive a truck through it. As someone who suffered with Xandros for 3 months on my EEE before going back to XP, I now know that Linux will never sieze that opportunity.

    What I don't get, though, is why these netbook manufacturers can't get it together and offer a stripped-down version of XP, with reasonable boot time, and optimized for better battery life.

  16. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    And how much for one with no OS?

    Or with Debian/Ubuntu pre-installed?

    i don't even care if all the drivers work, I can fix those myself. A hardware only option on these would be wonderful.

    Of course MS would decry that as encouraging piracy.

  17. Mark Broadhurst
    Alert

    More money for a new version?

    I'm sorry a new version of anything cost more its the way it works. I'm surprised its as little as $20.

  18. Rob Beard
    Linux

    Re: Defeating the point...

    Yep exactly. When I was in the market for a new notebook I was mulling over getting a netbook. I searched around had a look at various models of notebook and netbook and came to the conclusion that netbooks were starting to get seriously overpriced (some of them were nearly £400!). In the end I got a nice little Acer Aspire 2920 with a 12" screen, 2GB Ram, 2GHz CPU and 250GB hard disk for about £370.

    If Microsoft do raise the price then maybe it might make people think. If they're going to spend £350 on a netbook they could pay the extra and get a much higher spec laptop for about another £50.

    I also wonder how long it'll take Microsoft to cut the prices when the manufacturers start releasing Arm based netbooks running Android, Ubuntu etc.

    Rob

  19. northern monkey
    Thumb Down

    It's this the EU need to get onto...

    ...not bashing MS after they actually go someway to meeting a request!

    I quite fancied an NC10 but I didn't want to pay the windows tax (on principle and on money).

    Unfortunately I need to stick with x86 chips as I'm do quite a bit of low level tuning of code I need the SSE instruction set, otherwise I might go running to a next-gen ARM netbook.

    And @jim45, I'm assuming you're meaning putting xandros on the eee was an opportunity wasted rather than assuming all linux distros are as bad as xandros??

  20. Cameron Colley

    ARM, and who will make them?

    While I would like to think that ARM+Linux will take off, I can't see it myself -- who is going to make and sell these machines? Microsoft won't allow anyone who sells Windows machines to ship them or will just cludge a VM together to allow windows CE on ARM or some other crap "solution" and force that onto the market.

    @jim 45:

    There's the small issue of Microsoft not allowing it. That's the beauty of Microsoft Software.

  21. pete 30
    Linux

    @jim 45

    Xandros is particularly horrible. Easy Peasy left me with a very usable Asus EEE machine, for minimal hassle.

  22. mrmond

    netbook os.

    Jim 45

    There isn't a missed opportunity with linux.

    xandros/linpus etc. give you the tools to do what you want with a netbook as said.

    I suspect that a lot of people want a netbook to do more and the current versions of netbook linux distros do all of that.

    Jaunty netbook remix is optimised for the hardware, has a fast boot time and do much more than the supplied linuxes do..

    As for XP. I'm dual booting with full XP pro and it runs fine on the aspire one with 1gb ram and 120 gig hard disk. I use it as a replacement for my 4 year old desktop.

    Office 2007 runs fine as does Colin mcrae rally 2, star wars rogue squadron, Fifa 2001, Superbike 2001.

    Older games admittedly but great to play.

    My desktop wouldn't run the latest games so I haven't lost out by geting rid of it.

    It's interesting that I can use ubuntu intrepid or xp pro to do everything I normally do on my 6 month old vista laptop. Which runs like a dog BTW.

  23. BARe FOOt
    Linux

    Definitely Linux

    I much prefer to use Linux - Fedora 11, but Ubuntu will do. If netbook manufacturers insist on Windows, then I'll just wait for the Smartbooks with a dual core Snapdragon ARM CPU. Manufacturers have lost sight of the reason netbooks came into existence. Price, price, price. If Microsoft wants to add $50, they can keep it. It's the least functional, least attractive, least usable OS option anyway.

  24. Simon 12
    Flame

    Cry more

    People will be paying a premium for a new CPU...

    AND A NEW FRIGGIN OS!!!

    Windows 7 is a thousand times better than windows XP, and you're paying a little bit more for it? Well did you want a modern computer or not?

    The fact linux isn't a choice is a testament to how much fail it is... it's never gonna be a mainstream operating system, it's just for hobbyists and the immediate family they have succeeded in convincing to use it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ARM/Gnu End of the Wintels?

    I remember Ballmer saying:

    Win7 will not be ported to ARM

    repeat:

    I remember Ballmer saying:

    Win7 will not be ported to ARM

    -- Heheh, don't they know nothing? --

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's why Microsoft tried

    desperately to make sure Linux does not get on display in any major retailer store nor directly from OEMs. It is not about the superiority of Windows on netbooks, it is not about people being familiar with Windows and so on. It is about the money Microsoft prepares to get/extract from Windows7 users. Oh, in case you haven't noticed they are busily enlarging their coffers to make room to stash your hard earned cash. Sorry for you Windows fans, you've just helped Microsoft with this!

  27. wub
    Alert

    Do Value-Added Support

    Once the Linux-based netbooks began to be truly popular, the netbook makers ran screaming back to Windows, because too many purchasers couldn't make the transition to a new desktop, let alone a new OS, even Ubuntu. The support costs ultimately made their decision for them.

    Here's a radical thought: do the Canonical/Red Hat/...and the list goes on... thing, and install the free OS/free software, then charge for support.

  28. Tom 7 Silver badge

    @ jim 45 opportunity lost

    For it to be an opportunity you would have actually to be able to buy netbooks without paying the window tax.

    MS will stop that happening one way or another. Mainly by making the netbook dealers install windows on everything as part of their license agreements.

    When ARM machines become available then the dealers will be forced to re-think - until then MS calls the tune.

    The customer is always right - but not as right as a 'mutually beneficial license agreement'.

  29. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    Hmm...

    ...given the MS and Intell bully-boy tactics ("Sell only our stuff or we will hike our prices to the sky"), will these ARM netbooks ever see the light of day?

    MS managed to get Dell to hide/knobble their Ubuntu offering. I expect more of the same.

    Which is a shame. MS and Intel stifling innovation and ruining consumer choice. Again.

  30. pparks1
    Black Helicopters

    Nothing new to say, but posting anyway.

    I'm in complete agreement with those who thought that the concept of the netbook was extremely low frills, super fast booting, long battery life, internet accessible computing device. People have just started to gobble these devices up and now own 1) desktop 2) laptop 3) netbook. No wonder the vendors love to sell these things...they make more and more money.

    Based on my experiences with Windows 7 RC1 on my desktop...I can honestly say that I would be willing to spend an extra $20 to have this versus Windows XP on just about anything that I bought. Except for a netbook of course, where having a full blown computer OS kinda defeats the purpose.

  31. Big Bear

    The manufacturers are in on it too

    Remember that they make better money from the more expensive machines they sell, so I find it hard to believe that they don't have the same goal as MS in pushing the price up so they get a bigger profit per machine, or people just go "Fsck it" and spend the extra 200 on getting a proper laptop with a proper processor and proper screen and proper outputs.

    The difference is MS is already the big bad wolf stealing money due to their superior market position, so the manufacturers out there can point fingers and get away with it. I find it humourous that people are whinging about MS's role in inflating prices when it is the manufacturers who are building bigger and bigger machines costing more and more, whereas the fscking MS tax remains a constant rather than a variable markup addition to the price.

    That's capitalism that is...

  32. Thomas 3 Silver badge

    Kudos to Microsoft...

    ... for successfully killing an innovative development in the market that threatened their bottom line. Again. Though they looked slightly pudgy on this one. I would very much like ARM netbooks with well-integrated, tightly written software stacks doing the main things that people want to do to dominate the market like some sort of modern Amstrad PCW, but I'm just no longer idealistic enough to believe it could actually happen.

  33. Matt 53

    netbooks

    Er.... there is still a point for netbooks if they are as expensive as normal laptops. The size.

    As a mobile PC technician I appreciate having a Windows laptop with a keyboad weighing 1kg. And a 6 hour battery life. I really wanted one 5 years ago to slip in my toolbag but they didnt exist!

    Yes, netbooks are popular because of the price, but considering that underpowered UMPCs were like £1000++ a couple of years ago it's not surprising that netbooks only recently become popular.

    Once the prices of netbook vs notebook level out, it will be more of a choice based on peoples needs, not just their budgets. I think many people will go for a normal size laptop, but not everyone. Let people weigh up the pros and cons and decide if they want a small laptop or not.

  34. David Kelly 1

    $100 machine

    Ballmer wants a $100 computer but he's not prepared to drop the price of installing Windows on it. Why should hardware manufacturers slim their already razor thin margins? Seems Linux is the way forward for cheap machines.

  35. Jimbo 7
    Linux

    not sure ....

    The point of these devices (let's call them netbooks) is to play movie, play music, chat (voice, video, text) and manly use web browser (in online or offline mode), that all stored on so nicely in the system that user cannot screw it.

    so far I have not seen (except few online demos) any OS which does this. Yes I can load Linux, but that's full OS. What I want is simple interface with 5 big buttons. So simple that even my mom can use (sorry mom). I have not seen any linux distro like this yet.

  36. DrJaymansLoveCookie
    Flame

    @ Simon 12

    Dude, if you're going to to troll, you have to do better than that.

  37. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I suggest Ubuntu as well.

    "Of course, competition may force them to swallow the cost and price Windows 7-equipped N450 machines at current netbook price"

    No forcing at all, just (as the end of the article suggests) sell them with Ubuntu. Don't know if it's literally free as LoudScotsBloke says, I assume Dell etc. put in a few bucks since Canonical handles the tech support for them.

    Agree with Joe Montana -- if vendors let Microsoft screw these up, they (or other vendors..) will just build Arm netbooks, and Microsoft has no chance there.

  38. Brian Whittle

    Linux not for everyone

    If you are a geek or a friend of a geek Linux will be mighty fine. For everyone else I am afraid its windows or if you are rich OSX

    DO you Linux nuts spend all you time waiting for windows to be mentioned so you can come back with your nonsense, get a life (you may have to shower first)

  39. jim 45
    Unhappy

    not quite

    mrmond: "xandros/linpus etc. give you the tools to do what you want with a netbook"

    But I wanted to do exotic things like - download and install new apps, upgrade to Firefox 3, maybe put an icon on my desktop.

    I was led into a forest of unsupported, incompatible distributions, libraries, drivers, toolikits, applications, obscure configuration files. Not going back anytime soon.

    XP lets me do the usual things - minus the 3 days of fiddling and begging for help on forums - but boots really slow off the flash drive, and hammers it constantly.

  40. Jimbo 7

    to @Simon 12

    come on, I'm 97% windows user, but what you said is just wrong

    I was in Edward Tufte's Class (yes I am that lucky) and he came with very good point that back in the old days nobody cared about OS, everybody cared about the few apps they used. I really hope we will get back in the near future and computers will not be about NTFS vs FAT32 vs AERO ... you won't care about your hard drive, you won't care about anything related to OS.

    Linux has a chance to step up in Netbook space or better say in cheap-internet-devices space because it's very modular and can be easily customized

    I really wish there would be super easy few buttons only linux distro (even easier than Easy Pleasy). That would be device for my parents... actually for me as well when I am outside of work.

  41. marc 9
    Thumb Up

    Is Windows 7 better than XP? Yes... so that's why it costs more

    Windows 7 is far superior to XP and Linux (as a consumer OS). You get what you pay for. End of.

  42. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Linux

    Command Line in windows

    It exists

    To admin my windows box it is required

    But in Unix and Linux the command line is much more useful than Windows. Windows is pathetic in that respect, as in many others

  43. Nigel Wright

    Linux and netbooks

    @Simon 12...

    Never a mainstream o/s? That'll be why it powers most of the world's servers then, eh?

    The whole netbook thing has lost its way. Too expensive and too big with bloated operating systems...XP and Vista (wtf?). My Dell Mini9 is the ideal netbook. Small, cheap and robust running reliable and lean Ubuntu. £200 is the right price. £250 is getting close to proper laptops and £300 is just plain ridiculous. Adding Window 7 and its price premium is just stupid....it will kill off netbooks.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ARM

    Who has ARM netbooks available/planned? Any ideas on when, if not already out?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OS less systems

    I am fed up of paying MS tax for an OS I am not going to use.

    I am not going to use a preinstalled Linux distro either thank you very much, it is not hard to get a distro of choice onto a machine. This is the main grumble, this is why MS is hated, because we get forced to pay for some piece of useless bunkum.

    I am sure MS got done for this, and they had to give refunds in some states.

    OS installation should be done by the user as it was in the old days, if you cannot install an OS you cannot use a computer that seems fair.

    People can buy the OS at the POS and decide what they want, the manufacturer just has to test the device on a few OSs they don't have to preinstall.

    The preinstall is the number one reason for the MS monopoly, let the people decide what they want, and charge the numpties more if the retailer has to install for them, then everyone is happy, sure MS will lose a bit of market share, but probably not much and it will stop the tiresome flames because they stem from the MS tax.

  46. Jimbo 7

    Command Line in windows

    "But in Unix and Linux the command line is much more useful than Windows. Windows is pathetic in that respect, as in many others"

    Did you hear about PowerShell?

  47. Michael 28
    Happy

    "won't someone PLEASE think of the children"

    OLPC vs netbook .

    Am thinking there might be another angle to this agenda. If kids start out with , say, windows7 early in life, they'll stick with it ..same with xp,same maybe with any of the linux distros....(there are differences...)

    Part of the impetus of netbooks was the idea that kids could integrate computing into their educational life.My guess is this has stalled at the university entry level, and wont be dropping below that any time soon.

    M$ are really doing education a disservice by maintaining a high entry cost , just to preserve their bottom line.

    Anyone disagrees with me? here's a challenge... given a choice between no computer and the cheapest available, what exactly is the cheapest portable computer available on the market at the moment...bear in mind it may be abused highly from day one.

    No replies? ....then can we have the term "script kiddies" purged permanantly from the net?

  48. J 3
    Gates Horns

    Congrats...

    You did it, wintards -- yeah, you who kept saying "but we want to run Photoshop/CAD/[insert ludicrous thing] on our tiny NETbooks". You got it. I hope you're rich.

    Anyway, a lecture, a classical performance by Microsoft on the only thing they are universally acknowledged to being good at: use dirty, borderline legal (or are they plain illegal?) practices to get a market they don't have, give away their stuff (XP) for nearly free, eliminate any possibility of competition, dominate that market, and then increase prices at will and force people to use (or at least pay for) what MS wants, screw what the people might actually want -- it's plain obvious to anyone that they will kill XP soon. It is of no importance that Windows 7 is "better", if someone does not want it for whatever reasons. As I've said months ago, the manufacturers are not exactly saddened by these turns of events, I suspect.

  49. elderlybloke
    Linux

    I sympathise with Jim45

    I tried Xandros a couple of years ago.

    I try to forget it but sometimes the memory makes me get a nervous twitch.

    Now on Ubuntu, a far , far better thing I have on today.

  50. Nanki Poo

    @Simon 12 and others

    "But it's a newer version...!" they scream... so DOUBLE THE PRICE!?!?

    I bet you guy's local car dealerships love you:

    "Hi, I brought your Ungombuta Yazz car three years ago and quite liked it, I want to buy a new one"

    "Oh, hello Simon. Yes a mere £12,000 to you!"

    "But it only cost six thousand last time"

    "Ah, it's a new model Simon, look it's got a new spoiler..>"

    "Excellent! ooo, shiny... I'll just get my first-born!"

    Some people just can't be hit by the capitalism stick enough....

  51. Outcast
    Linux

    Of course

    They are bumping up the price of netbooks. Microsoft wants netbooks to be as close to the price of a laptop as they can get for the EXACT reason being that Joe/ann public will say " For that price I might as well get a laptop".

    And so the next (more profitable) version of Windows gains acceptance.

    Microsoft wanted XP retired. Netbooks gave it a fresh lease of life for a pittance. In fact I dare say Netbooks probably COST Microsoft money.

    Asus wasn't stupid, they knew exactly what to do to gain leverage with MS.

    Roll on the release of ARM netbooks.

    I just wish AmigaOS 4 > would work on them !!

    Until then...

    UNR RoXx0r

  52. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Linux

    Xandros

    I, too, dumped Xandros on my EeePC 701, but this was because I wanted a full Linux, and although you could enable kickstart and a KDE desktop, it was sufficiently different (did anybody else try to work out how it started with you logged in).

    I suspect that people who actually used the 701 as it was intended (the easy desktop) would be happy, but this was not me. Unfortunately, it was mostly people like me who saw the benefit.

  53. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Linux

    @Brian Whittle

    What do you think is difficult with Ubuntu? If you just want mail, word processing, spreadsheet and browsing, Ubuntu is no more difficult than Windows. You do not need the command line, the update manager just works (click on Update, and off it goes) and you do not need a degree in Computer Science to use it. Evolution, Open Office and Firefox provide the basics that home users need, and they are installed by default during a standard install.

    Of course, if you want Outlook, Word, Excel and Internet Explorer, then I'm afraid that Linux is probably not for you, and you have been suckered in to the Microsoft way.

    I've just put Jaunty on the IBM Thinkpad T20 (700Mhz Pentium 3, 256MB memory, 20MB hard disk) that I am typing on (it was mine some time back and I am re-cycling it for one of my kids), and everything, and I mean everything, just worked from the install disk including the Belkin wireless card, identified and installed during the normal graphical install process. This is a dual boot system, and even knowing the Lenovo/IBM website, I have been unable to identify all of the correct screen and graphic drivers for Windows. And there are no applications installed. Sure seems to me like Ubuntu is easier. And for such an underpowered system (even by netbook standards), it is surprisingly usable. I can imagine that Jaunty (or an easy peasy derrivitive) is very suitable for netbooks.

    I did not have to resort to the command line, or edit a configuration file once. I would have no hesitation in giving such a system to my father, who is 80. I'm sure that he would keep it up to date better than the Windows box he currently uses.

    So stop spreading FUD. Ubuntu is a viable alternative already. The only thing that may stop it is a lack of technical support in the suppliers and maintainers, and this is only because there is not enough market penetration to make it viable for them to skill up. It's really a chicken-and-egg situation, which is being made more complex by the anti-competitive practices that Microsoft engage in.

  54. Steve 95
    Gates Halo

    @Nigel Wright

    Got any proof to back that up? Or are you only going by public webservers rather than servers as a whole?

    Every company I've every worked for has had 90% or more of their servers running some form of Windows. The only Linux boxes I've ever seen in a bog standard SME in the UK are webservers. In fact even at large companies like Thomas Cook it was a few Solaris boxes for the main travel application, but again everything else was Windows. (Fileserver, directory services, DNS, proxy servers, mail filters etc.)

    And everyone - get a grip. It's $40 from a big company! Taking inflation into account it's hardly a lot when you think XP is half that yet was developed nearly 10 years ago!!!

  55. jim 45
    Go

    worked for a while

    Peter Gathercole - the Xandros 'easy desktop' was never going to fly because no one really wants a frozen, nonupdateable snapshot of a system.

    I'd only had the machine a few weeks when Firefox 3 came along. The experience I had with that - trying to install it, get it to work, uninstall 2.x and reclaim the (much needed) disc space afterwards, get a desktop icon connected to it - convinced me that Linux is a great system for fiddling with Linux, and if you're not in to that, forget about it.

    Look I hate MS as much as anyone. So I'm begging the Linux community - get it together and produce a Linux for people who absolutely don't care about Linux. One GUI to rule them all.

  56. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Linux

    @jim 45

    I'm not arguing any different about Xandros, but if vendors shipped with Ubuntu, you would have had a different experience.

    The space issue, which is a feature of the way UnionFS was used, is one of the primary problems for the EeePC. It's good for a device that will rarely change, but not for a dynamic OS. This is one reason that Asus's implementation of Xandros was just no good for those who know, but very good for those who use the device as an appliance.

    I think that your comment about 'no one really wants a frozen, nonupdatable snapshot of a system' is not actually true. In know a large number of people who once a system is as they want it, will never touch the configuration again. It's just that they are not in the technical community. Many people want to use a computer as a tool, not just as a means to itself. My father is still using IE 5.5 on Windows 95 OSR2, and he has no desire to update it. It does what he wants, and I'm sure that he is not atypical of a large part of the potential netbook market. (Please note I am not suggesting Win95 on todays netbooks, just illustrating a point!)

    If you doubt this, just look at the stats. on the number of un-patched Windows systems out there, and patches are easy to apply.

    But this market is not even getting the opportunity to buy into netbooks, because Microsoft's behavior, and negative comments are frightening people away from Linux.

    I just wish that a netbook supplier would ship a good, major Linux distribution. Then we would see whether MS have really managed to capture this market. This has to be done before the Windows 7 tax appears, as afterwards will be too late.

  57. Geoff Mackenzie

    Why are Windows users so angry?

    It's strange. Windows users seem to angry that the nasty, buggy crap they are expected to pay for again every couple of years is losing out to something quite competent that they could use for free, if only they weren't so scared of the very gentle learning curve.

    Ah well. I suppose some people will go to great lengths not to have to learn something.

  58. P. Lee
    Linux

    OSX is the way forward!

    Ok, not really, but the idea is there.

    Make your netbook linux distro look quite different from windows, but reduce the options to make it easy.

    Of course, if the netbook manufacturer has to do their own ARM linux distro work, they may find that the windows license isn't that much more expensive and a whole lot less trouble.

  59. jim 45
    Heart

    scared?

    Geoff Mackenzie: Actually, I'm a software developer so maybe "scared" isn't quite the word.

    Regarding the desire to update our systems - I admit I wasn't thinking of your Dad. What I should have said was - people buying new computers don't want frozen, non-updateable software.

    "Gentle learning cuve" - LOL LOL LOL. I started out being really pumped about the idea of cutting the cord to MS. I spent many, many hours fiddling with Xandros, reading forum posts, Linux "primers", etc. I used VI (or maybe it was one of the 5 or 6 other weird Linux text editors). I found components and open source applications. I upacked .tar files. I edited config files I installed a remote desktop server so I could work with all this junk on a full size screen.

    In the end, I don't thnk I ever got Firefox 3 to work. Or maybe I just passed out from exhaustion.

    You've made my point for me, nail on head - people promoting Linux tend to be unrealistic about what it takes for a new user to get up to speed. Even a technically knowledgeable user like myself.

  60. Michael 28
    Happy

    Did my own searching since no-one else looked.

    Re: cheapest netbook for kids

    How much is $99 in pounds again?

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/the_top_four_linux_netbook_trends

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/156309/freescale_chases_199_netbook_with_new_processor.html

    http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/03/02/touch-book-tablet-netbook-with-arm-cpu-10-hour-battery-detachable-screen/

    http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2009/04/22/skytone-alpha-680-android-netbook-with-a-twist/

  61. Homard
    Coat

    @cameron folley

    Wake up !

    The world has changed. The days of m$ won't allow it are nearing an end.

    OK now you will argue patent laws, and that m$ own IP rights to various GNU/Linux concepts and code, and other stuff. I ask you just how it will be enforced when you consider that pretty much everyone has access to the GNU/Linux experience, and also to contribute ? How can you destroy Open Source when it is totally open, and worldwide ?

    I think as others have said, buy the machine and put what you want on it. That way you pay for what you get, and you have a choice. I am sick of some m$tard dictating what I get, and bullying OEMs to that end. GNU/Linux does not aim to oust m$. The guys that write code for this get a buzz knowing that someone else likes it, or benefits from it. To use it is a choice, but at least you have one ! I have to use m$ at work, but my choice is GNU/Linux, and my home machines reflect this. For some stuff though, m$ is the only platform. For most people, Open Ofiice/Firefox/Opera does the job and runs on anything.

    Please pull your head out of your a$$ and look at something different. Maybe you'll like it !?!???

    Enough said !

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Geoff Mackenzie

    No Geoff - they're angry at all the abuse from the Linux gimps and it tends to make people resist what you're saying. Look at your own patronising sentence at the end of your comment. After all this time i think people associate using Linux with being an arrogant arsehole. Let's face it, most people get into Linux because they hate MS and want people to think they're clever. Oh, and another reason that I remember one person admitting. "I make a good living supporting Linux". Hmm - tell people how gentle the learning curve is, so when they install it and get stuck the chances are they'll turn to you for help rather than - well, just about anyone, eh? Good for the ego and wallet. Very noble of you. I'm sure they'll be mentioning you alongside Mother Theresa in future. Perhaps even instead of her.

  63. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Linux

    @jim 45

    Please don't take Asus's implementation of Xandros as a typical Linux. It's not, and I have already said so. Try Ubuntu Jaunty Jacalope. I think you will see that it is a world apart from Xandros, and I believe, easier to install (and use, IMHO) than Windows.

    Your comment about a 'new user' has two possible meanings. A new to Linux but previous Windows user will see anything that is not Windows as different and possibly difficult. A new to computing user is unlikely to see any real difference in ease of use between recent Windows or Linux.

    You just have preconceptions as a Windows user. I am a long term Unix user (since before Windows, and in fact PC-Dos), and I find Windows infuriating. But I am not so blinded that I cannot see the merit in what Microsoft and their numerous partners have achieved in usability. But just because Windows is dominant in the non-server market does not make it automatically best.

    Many of the core 'features' of Windows (such as drag-and-drop) were actually developed by others, and some appeared on Unix and other OS's before Windows (look at Looking Glass on Unix) You might be surprised at what the Torch Triple-X could do back in 1985, and of course Sun, and Apollo in the workstation market.

    I appreciate you making the effort with Xandros. Unfortunately, it was almost certainly the wrong Linux distribution for what you wanted (as would any of the niche distributions, or in fact, the Linux in a Tivo or any embedded system). You might draw an analog between EeePC Xandros and Windows Mobile Edition. I don't think you would enjoy getting that to run Firefox 3 either.

  64. martin burns
    Stop

    Xandros != Linux

    @Jim45

    You're right - Xandros is particularly poor if you want/need to update your system. However, that experience is far from representative of all desktop Linux, and is most definitely different from Ubuntu, which is beautifully updatable.

    I replaced the custom Xandros install on our eeePC901 with Ubuntu Jaunty (took about an hour, but mostly it was doing its thing without needing intervention, so might have been half that as I wasn't watching it at all times), and now we have an up to date, updating Firefox. No text editors, no .tar files, no config files, no command line required.

    Even the WiFi connection that was a bit flaky under Xandros is solid and reconnects perfectly and automatically after sleep on Ubuntu. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that the eeePC's video hardware is too weedy to run the nice Compiz effects.

    (Note: Ubuntu *Hardy* is a different kettle of fish - nothing like as polished or robust. The problems I had with our Toshiba NB100 which had Hardy pre-installed, and was laughingly marked as Ubuntu Certified drove me up the wall. All fixed with Jaunty. If your netbook comes with Hardy, do yourself a favour and replace with Jaunty)

  65. Homard
    Coat

    @scared ? by jim 45

    Just how knowledgeable are you ? You claim to be proficient, and yet you haven't got a clue about the difference between vi & other editors ! Clue : vi has a **VERY** different interface to everything else. :-)

    Persevere with non-m$. You will be rewarded, but it may take some time. But when you get there you will be 10x more technically competent and vastly more knowledgeable & computer literate ! The automotive equivalent is that you go from saying 'would you like fries with that ?' to being able to fix most problems at the roadside.

  66. pawatan

    @jim 45

    I'm not sure why you're referring to Xandros when everyone else is referring to Ubuntu.

    Xandros on eee isn't designed to be modified as many have said. So, it's going to be difficult to modify it.

    Most Linux-on-netbook users will use Ubuntu or a variant, which is shockingly easy, and gives you the "gentle learning curve". Comparing ease of tinkering with Xandros to Ubuntu is like comparing ease of configuration with Windows 3.11 and XP.

    A friend bought a Lenovo netbook recently. I suggested she try Easy Peasy. She's not a Linux person at all and doesn't like to tinker. We installed Easy Peasy on a flash drive as a demo and she loved it, so much that she blew off the XP she paid for. It can be very, very easy!

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Do not make excuse, bundle them with Linux

    I don't really care how much the OS cost as long as the product price doesn't increase much, I will still purchase it. If they feel like the OS affects the final product pricing, then they should start to think to bundle their product with Linux and make Microsoft OS as optional. I don't like to see those companies makes an excuse to increase their product price by blaming Microsoft.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @ Muppets

    " if you cannot install an OS you cannot use a computer that seems fair."

    Tw@... how about if you can't rebuild an engine you can't drive a car, err no you would probably PAY (freetard) someone else to do it. That's what people do.

    Oh and the reason netbooks will still be popular.... SIZE YOU CHIMPS IT'S OBVIOUSE that's why people don't buy a low end notebook with a thirsty processor and short battery life.

    I'm currently dual booting between 7 and UNR and windows 7 is way better than XP i'm genuinely impressed for the first time since 2000 Pro, I can't see why it would not be worth £40 if you wan't it it's really not allot of money BUT I don't want to be forced to pay it that is my only problem.

    Also on the subject of windows command line look up Powershell, every version of windows post XP (so since 2001 that's 8 years) can be fully managed from the command line, every feature of Vista and 2008 server can be managed from the command line. Get your facts right before evangelising.

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