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Microsoft Boasts 96% Netbook Penetration 774

An anonymous reader writes "Citing figures from market research firm NPD, Microsoft says Windows' share of the US netbook market has ballooned from less than 10% in the first half of 2008 to 96% as of February. 'The growth of Windows on netbook PCs over the last year has been phenomenal,' wrote Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger, in a post Friday. Information Week author Paul McDougall notes Microsoft's 8% decline in Windows sales is due to netbooks sporting Linux. How does Redmond make an 80% gain in netbook market share without the sales numbers reflecting that gain?"
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Microsoft Boasts 96% Netbook Penetration

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  • by leeosenton ( 764295 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:53PM (#27483849)

    This goes against the prevailing wisdom here, but Linux is not necessarily the best OS for netbooks.

    The newest netbooks have about as much CPU power and memory as a notebook computer made 3 years ago. That's enough to run windows XP and older Microsoft applications such as office 2003.

    And, Windows has the overwhelming advantage it always did : it has an enormous existing software library that still dwarfs that of Linux. An operating system is an enormously powerful natural monopoly. It's time to admit that the only way Linux or MacOS could ever pull ahead and have the diversity of software Windows has is if Microsoft royally screws up over a period of years. Windows ME didn't even scratch Microsoft's monopoly, because everyone kept using Win98, and it appears that Vista is the same way.

    Finally, I've heard many complain that the netbook manufacturers don't properly choose a good Linux distro and configure it with all the software a user is likely to ever need. If the manufacturers did that, pre-installing open office and VLC media player and firefox and the rest, and tuned the distro behind the scenes to run blazing fast on a flash disk, then Linux might have stayed a viable option.

    I would assume Microsoft has also adapated to this market : they must be offering a substantial discount on the software license for a netbook. Wouldn't surprise me if they were selling "XP for netbook use" for $20 a license. It could very well be that it is cheaper to pay Microsoft than it is to pay the technical support costs for Linux.

    The MS license that accompanies Dell Mini 9s is $50 (the linux Mini 9 is $50 cheaper). I started with Windows and ended up with Ubuntu Linux. I disagree with the idea that Windows XP may be more suitable for a netbook than Linux. Try installing XP, setting up your hardware, load a few applications, and then load office. It will take a fair amount of your day. Then do the same with Ubuntu (a common choice for netbooks). I spent an hour and everything worked: hibernate, wireless, compiz for fancy window effects, and even printing to a wireless printer. If you haven't tried Linux in a while, then you should revisit soon. You will find installation, maintenance, security, and usability are all better than XP.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:3, Informative)

    by Blackhalo ( 572408 ) <jmattj&ix,netcom,com> on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:04PM (#27483943)
    "The article also mentions that: "Not only are people overwhelmingly buying Windows, but those that try Linux are often returning it," wrote Leblanc, noting that the United Kingdom's Car phone Warehouse dropped Linux-based netbooks after seeing return rates as high as 20%.""

    That does not make sense. The primary purpose of a netbook should be to launch a browser, the new API. If "netbooks" are being returned because they do not have windows, they were likely, not netbooks. ASUS pretty much created the netbook market by selling 200$ netbooks with Linux in Europe. []
  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <`gro.uaeb' `ta' `sirromj'> on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:12PM (#27484007)

    > After the debacle most of the vendors had in Linux support on their netbooks..

    Yes, many though they could simply wave the magic Pengin around and make the whole software side disappear from the balance sheet. Idiocy like shipping a SuSE on a machine with a webcam but no driver support. I'd have returned turds like that too.

    On the other hand Asus and some of the more clueful OEMs got it right. They report return rates in line with other computer products.

    > ..most will be happy to use M$ if the licensing fees are low enough to offset the support cost savings.

    But that is the upcoming problem. To keep Microsoft going in the style they are accustomed they have to reap serious coin per user. That was easy when computers almost always cost >$1000. It showed strains as prices fell to $500. By accepting lower prices and bringing XP back from the dead they survived the $400 netbook and have managed to suck it up as lowball prices fell to $350, then $300. But even Dell doesn't pitch XP when they do the Mini 9 on promo at $199. And if the ARM invasion succeeds $199 will soon be an expensive SKU. There just aren't enough dollars there to feed Microsoft's need for revenue.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:18PM (#27484069) Homepage Journal

    Car Phone Warehouse sold an early version of the MS Wind which came with Linux but which didn't have drivers for the wifi or webcam. Wouldn't you return that? Unless you were a Linux geek or installing Windows, I'm sure that you would.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:5, Informative)

    by nxtw ( 866177 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:31PM (#27484143)

    And where were the retailers you talked to?

    There are no longer any Linux netbooks for sale at physical retail stores where I live (USA). No, it's not that they're out of stock frequently (as some Windows models are); they are no longer kept in stock.

    Target is the only retailer that even lists Linux models on their website; they used to sell the 7" Eee PC in stores. Now they sell Windows models in-store & advertise them, as do all the other retail stores that sell computers.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:5, Informative)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:38PM (#27484185)

    it wasn't Moore's Law, it was Microsoft financing and marketing kickback programs. Did you notice how Asus, after negotiating putting Windows XP on the EeePC they then changed the hardware such that the Linux versions were more expensive? We all know Linux distros easily run on anything Windows runs on but not the other way around. So Asus beefed up the hardware for the Linux models, beefed up the price, and then would only make 50% Windows based and 50% Linux based and some countries were no longer getting Linux versions at all.

    It was monopoly money that changed the netbook market share numbers instead of market demand defining those numbers.


  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <> on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:46PM (#27484229) Homepage

    and in all original incarnations

    5) Linux based
    While the EEE 700 (which I consider the original netbook, I don't really consider the OLPC a netbook thuogh it does have similarities with them) did initially ship with linux ASUS included instructions for installing XP and later added 700 series models with XP as standard.

    With the EEE 900 which afaict was the first series to be widely cloned windows XP was an option from the start.

    P.S. even the high end netbooks don't have specs equivilent to a normal entry level laptop, the clock speed is slower (1.6GHz for the netbook vs 2.13GHz for the bottom end dell vostro 15 inch laptop and I belive the atom has poor performance per clock compared to the chips used in regular laptops) and the screen resolution is much lower (1024x600 for most high end netbooks vs 1366x768 for the bottom end vostro I mentioned)

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @11:11PM (#27484409) Homepage Journal
    What's with the ARM CPUs? I recommended the XO laptop use an ARM CPU but then was told (and understood the problem) that the graphics card would not be integrated in one, which adds a new power drain; they are now rebasing it on ARM, as the Geode is being discontinued. I posted on Dell IdeaStorm a couple years back to make low-power ARM machines running Linux, consuming a few watts peak power and lasting days on battery; there was a huge battle over how stupid/awesome this would be and how much Debian fucked up ARM and it's impossible, and now there's buzz about ARM laptops coming out?
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @11:28PM (#27484541)

    You are totally uninformed. The Dell Mini ships with Ubuntu 8.04 (LTS) with a weird Dell interface, which can be disabled in 1 click.

  • TFA title leaves something out, 96% of the netbooks in the US run Windows. Worldwide Linux runs 25% [] of the netbooks.


  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:5, Informative)

    by iplayfast ( 166447 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:13AM (#27484945)

    You're right. I'm in Canada and you simply cannot purchase a netbook with Linux on it from the local retail.

    Even the "refurbished" ones have XP which makes me think that MS is helping the refurbish.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:5, Informative)

    by itsme1234 ( 199680 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:06AM (#27485515)

    Not only linux versions are hard or impossible to find but because of the licensing agreements with M$ (for XP) the hardware specs are crippled to 1GB RAM and 160GB hdd. So if you want a larger hdd and 2GB RAM (many people do, take a look at you need to buy them yourself and then decide if ebay is worth the trouble for the parts you took out (which might be a bad idea in case you need to send the device back for warranty). So not only you pay extra for windows with no way out (even if you want to use linux on the machine or if you already have a transferable license for XP or why not even Vista) but you also pay for a 1GB RAM stick and a small(ish) hard drive. These add up to quite a lot, easily 20-30% of the tag price.

  • Re:Freebie? (Score:3, Informative)

    by pmarini ( 989354 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:51AM (#27485777) Journal
    Let's say there have been 10 millions netbooks sold before the "claim" period:
    - Linux: 3 millions (30%)
    - Windows: 7 millions (70%)

    Let's say that reaching the "claim" period" there have been another 20 millions netbook sold and that they were all (?) Windows-based:
    Totals: - Linux: 3 millions (10%)
    - Windows: 27 millions (90%)
    Let's even consider the 20% return rate for the Linux-based ones:
    - Linux: 2.4 millions (8.1%)
    - Windows: 27 millions (91.9%)

    Even if the maths is correct, their claim is higher than what can possibly be explained by a full 100% penetration like slashdot user 624575 says, so I'd converge my thoughts towards their usual FUD...
  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) <.slashdot3. .at.> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:55AM (#27485815) Homepage

    Just imagine, it could be cheaper to buy a netbook with Windows, and then use the Windows license on your full-powered PC

    Except, of course, that Windows OEM licenses are not transferrable between machines, so you can't legally run the copy of Windows that came with your netbook on anything other than the netbook it came with.

  • by CrossChris ( 806549 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @03:02AM (#27485869)
    As usual, from MS, it's complete BS. Sales of netbooks at Amazon (for example) is 90% Linux. Whether the owner then pirates a copy of Windows onto their netbook (thereby crippling its performance) is neither here nor there.
  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:2, Informative)

    by legirons ( 809082 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @03:39AM (#27486101)

    In the UK, PC World stopped selling any linux-based netbooks - we went there to buy an eee but they told us it was policy to only sell the ones with Windows. The posters and shelf-labelling for the netbook section of shop was all from Microsoft, advertising Windows.

    I guess their advice to customers ("we don't sell linux machines because they're not as good") will have an effect on OS choice.

    We had to buy the machine via internet, which of course was cheaper, easier, and had much better software. But anyone who buys at a retail store won't even see the linux options.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:3, Informative)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @03:54AM (#27486141) Homepage

    ARM CPUs have been around for a while. They powered the last decade of handheld computers and PDAs (as well as some of the early "netbook" type devices, which didn't catch on due to their $1500-2000 "business user" price tags). There is probably one in your TV, alarm clock, digital camera, media player, stereo, and God knows what else.

    ARM CPU are not "new to the market"; they're everywhere, and have been used in similar devices (as well as the big, expensive drool-over type servers and high-end workstations, back in the day). They just didn't advance in terms of core abilities as quickly as Intel (or should I say, Intel/Microsoft) did - due to a number of reasons.

    That has changed, however. ARM processors are now at 800MHz on the low end, and mostly have specialized components built into the SoC for things like audio, video, etc. decoding and encoding - so it takes less actual power (in terms of watts and CPU MHz) to accomplish the same thing. On the high end, I believe we've got 4-core 1.5GHz ARM SoCs.

    And if you want an older (arguably, a proof-of-concept, using fairly old ARM tech) netbook, check out the Alpha 400.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:2, Informative)

    by tapanitarvainen ( 1155821 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @04:36AM (#27486345)

    You're right. I'm in Canada and you simply cannot purchase a netbook with Linux on it from the local retail.

    I'm in Finland and it's similar here. Almost all Linux models have disappeared from stores, even from Finnish mail order shops. A few models can still be found in small quantities, like original 7" EEE's, but that's it. I was told Acer's can be had with Linux but it requires an order of 10 or more, and nobody's advertising them.

  • by viralMeme ( 1461143 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @04:57AM (#27486423)
    "Citing figures from market research firm NPD, Microsoft says Windows' share of the US netbook market has ballooned from less than 10% in the first half of 2008 to 96% as of February"

    'Windows Is Not on 96% of Netbooks .. Brandon stated a number that may be true for U.S. retail for one month of sales [] '
  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:3, Informative)

    by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:55PM (#27505487)

    Try buying a PC from Microsoft ... you can't they don't sell them

    Try buying MacOSX for non Apple hardware, or running another operating system on a Mac.. I wouldn't bother it will be very difficult if you can get it to work at all ...

    Try buying a PC from Linux ... well since there is no Linux company you can't

    Apple sell hardware to run their software on, and Software to run on their hardware, and certify the hardware will run the software, and the software will run the hardware ... it's a package, you can upgrade either but you have to buy both from Apple, this is why they have always said "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware" and that is what they have always done

    Microsoft do not sell PC hardware (excepting a few odd items like keyboards, mice) you might buy a PC pre-installed with Windows but the PC has nothing to do with Microsoft

    Linux is pure software there is no company to buy hardware from ....

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford