Microsoft already won the Netbook OS wars

Microsoft already won the Netbook OS wars

GigaOm’s recent entry talks about the “Fight for the Netbook Operating System” and I say what fight? I think Microsoft already won that battle months ago.

I wrote something similar back in October 2008 (Is Linux Failing the Netbooks?). Some might say it’s too early to say yet all the signs are pointing to Microsoft XP taking the role of the quarterback.
eee pc


  • Asus was a pioneer with the netbook and they did it with a free Linux-flavored OS, Xandros. It was supposed to be the big chance for Linux to go mainstream but the idea that netbooks are underpowered and can only run light OSes like Xandros or Ubuntu did not fly. Windows XP became the #1 alternative. If my Pentium 3 450MHz with 256RAM can run XP very well, why not a Celeron 900MHz or an Atom 1.6GHz?
  • Acer and Asus fought fiercely at the top of the list for market share and moved on to develop newer models. None of the newer models have the Linux option. Everything runs in Windows. Acer and Asus would not say why they scrapped Linux altogether but I think we all know why. Even the switchers from Vista didn’t really moved away and went Penguin; they just downgraded to XP.
  • After sales support could have been costly. It’s cheaper to get tech support for Windows than for Linux. Besides, most sales engineers on the retailers side are just familiar with one OS, Windows. Retailers would not spend more money for a new hire just to be able to expertly support Linux.
  • Windows 7 is just around the corner. Even if XP is permanently laid to rest, Windows 7 will eagerly wait to replace it (skipping the dreaded Vista altogether). The timing is just right.

Well, there could be other potential contenders like the Android OS but it’s just that — potential. In a new but growing market like netbooks, everybody wants in and competition is so fierce that one wrong move could spell your defeat or success. HP learned that the hard way with the Mini 2133.

The time to experiment on an OS+CPU netbook combo is over and I think no one else is willing to bet on alternatives.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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24 Responses

  1. linuxguy says:

    linux is not for everybody. the end!

  2. stonedchewy says:

    I agree…so hello Windows 7!!!

  3. miko says:

    i rushed to get the eee701 when it came out. i stuck to the Xandros “expert mode” and really loved the relatively instant-on & shut down.

    i was still in school though, and i really needed MS Office to keep up with powerpoint and excel files. the open office alternatives just weren’t cutting it for me, so i had to switch to XP. nLited and blackbox-shelled, though.

    XP wins just for compatibility and convenience.

    early reports also suggest that Windows 7 will also work for netbooks, yes?

  4. supermamon says:

    Windows 7 RC just came out. Maybe you can try it out on your experiments as well.

  5. Domotics says:

    nobody can beat microsoft

  6. bintoytech says:

    According to Liliputing, Microsoft makes only $15 dollars for every netbook sold with WinXP, compared to the usual $50 retail price of WinXP.

  7. BrianB says:

    you know where to get a linux netbook. Basta 8 inches o mas malaki. It has to have open office preloaded na.

  8. BrianB says:

    “According to Liliputing, Microsoft makes only $15 dollars for every netbook sold with WinXP, compared to the usual $50 retail price of WinXP.”

    Might as well not bother. They seem to be more afraid of linux than Mac Os, and why do retail companies sell XP netbooks at such extravagant premiums?

  9. on the other hand, there has been a flurry that microsoft will cease mainstream support of vista come 2012.

    while i always like mac as an OS, to have mac on a netbook is just darn too expensive.

  10. Jhay says:

    Perhaps Android OS was not meant for the netbook, rather for the mobile phone. And this would be very a very interesting fight.

  11. Darren says:


  12. Ani says:

    Portable Ubuntu, you can have the benefits of both. Runs as a Windows task and the Ubuntu synaptics package manager works just fine :)

  13. Unknown Soldier says:

    let’s face it guys…

    you can’t live without windows.

    linux is best for servers but not on desktop users.

  14. Unknown Soldier says:

    let’s face it guys…

    you can’t live without windows.

    linux will stay as a server os no matter how media hype they do…

  15. loadex says:

    $15 per notebook sold with WinXP?… better than having none at all if a pirated version will be used.

    Linux made it almost on the mainsteam.. but reality bites.. familiarity with XP beats them.

  16. Kenneth Yamat says:

    have yuga made a write up about the window 7 beta or the just released RC? any suggestion if we should try the beta or release candidate and pay full later?

  17. Jazon says:

    “let’s face it guys…

    you can’t live without windows.

    linux will stay as a server os no matter how media hype they do…”

    No, I think not. I’ve been using Linux in my desktop PC for more than a year. No Windows. And I am glad for that.

    Windows 7 for netbooks is the crippled edition. I think it will create backlash against MS when buyers find out they have to shell out more cash for a more functional Windows 7.

    For me, it’s wiser to use an OS that is more secure and more economical to maintain.

    MS may have won the OS war on netbooks, but it’s a 900 pound gorilla vs a 90 pound penguin. It’s not even a fair fight. But since data shows that Linux is still growing in use and eating away at MS’s market, I think Linux will enjoy market recognition, not dominance, in the near future.

  18. Ani says:

    Windows 7 also requires the Intel CPU to have IVT (Intel Virtualization technology) in order for it’s WinXP emulation mode to run. No problem with the more recent netbooks since the Atom alread has IVT built in. Both those running the older Via chips are out of luck – Win7 is still Vista underneath so XP application compatiblity is still an issue.

  19. Joel says:

    yup MS easily ruled the netbooks, it doesn’t take long for consumers to get confused with linux operating system.

  20. iMadrid says:

    They fail to recognize that there are advanced users who hack their netbooks to run MacOSX Leopard. Popular hackintosh netbooks are MSI Wind, Dell Mini 9 and the Asus EEE PC. The reason is Apple doesn’t make netbooks yet. Its a workable compromise but it really doesn’t really feel like a Mac that came from Apple Inc.

  21. Eric says:

    ASUS’ eee PC used Linux to bring the cost down because it was orignally planned to be THE $100 PC. Now that netbooks have caught people’s fancies and cost no longer became an issue, they felt it okay to integrate Windows again.

    I think the real reason why people choose Windows over Linux is the price difference. Free unfamiliar Linux vs. FREE (as in pirated) familiar Windows.

  22. Pepe Maglutac says:

    It really makes me sad that netbooks are starting to use Windows…

    I myself am a big fan of the open-source idealism as a whole, and am a big supporter of linux.

    But, sad as I may be, I have to agree with the article. Everyone who’s ever used a computer has used XP, and most people are familiar with it. So, naturally, to follow the demands of the multitude, companies would have to cater to the consumers…

    As it stands, I believe only dell still offers linux versions of their netbooks regularly and dell is, well, not too big in the Philippines.

    I have to say though, when I first installed Linuz on my desktop, I struggled A LOT with it. But when I installed it on my Aspire One, it worked PERFECTLY. Just goes to show how the older netbooks are really maximized for linux performance ;)

  23. halo888 says:

    I will install windows 7 release candidate 1 to netbooks/laptops with no os (or dual boot) for a fee. check out my multiply site for details…

  24. I am trying to login into the Terminal Services Remote Desktop. … but the Terminal Services ActiveX Client control is not listed as option to …

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