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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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  • Freebie? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:25PM (#27483643) Journal

    How does Redmond make an 80% gain in netbook market share without the sales numbers reflecting that gain?

    By giving it away? B-)

  • by tpgp ( 48001 ) * on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:26PM (#27483661) Homepage

    Assuming that these figures are correct & MS has managed to grow their share of the netbook market....let's not forget:

    1) They had to keep XP around to do so.
    2) Linux has proved itself good enough that manufacturers will consider it.
    3) Pulling the same stunt on the rash of $150 arm-based netbooks that will be hitting the shelves later this year will be much harder.

  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:29PM (#27483681)

    This isn't shocking at all. The netbook market isn't what it used to be, mostly I suspect because Microsoft AND the hardware makers recoiled in horror from what was happening. Look at the original netbook:

    Old cheap Celeron CPU
    7-9" Display
    2-8GB Flash storage
    512MB-1GB RAM
    Weight 1KG
    Price centered around $350 +/- $50

    Now look at what passes for a netbook:

    1.6Ghz Atom
    10" Display
    160GB HDD
    1-2GB RAM
    Weight 1-2KG
    Price $300 to $500

    The original specs couldn't run XP very well, and it wasn't an option. Vista was right out. So Microsoft brought back XP and everyone amped up the specs until it ran nicely. After all the new above average netbook was a kick ass desktop when XP was introduced.

    Add in the fact all of the major netbook makers also make notebooks and desktops and thus need Microsoft's good will and it is easy enough to see how most netbooks now ship with Windows. Anyway, at the current prices and specs they are more like small laptops anyway and pretty much 100% of those have always shipped with Windows.

    Wait for the ARM invasion. If hardware CAN run Windows vendors are always going to get pressured to load it. The ARM machines simply can't do it. Give a choice between a full Linux desktop, Android and WinCE and Microsoft's offering is going to come up a little short.

    Sooner or later we will see netbooks under $200 and that is where things will get fun. If they give out Windows licenses cheap enough to put it on sub $200 units it will either force an across the board cut in all OEM licensing or really tick a lot of people off.

  • 25$ Win XP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blackhalo ( 572408 ) <jmattj.ix@netcom@com> on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:31PM (#27483693)
    It should be interesting to see how MSFT will deal with a preference for a less expensive netbook compatible Win7 on non-netbooks. []
  • by calorifer ( 913009 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:36PM (#27483729)
    well, here's another piece of anecdotal evidence for you: most of my friends that got netbooks with linux installed windows on them (pirated or licensed) mostly because either the linux version was cheaper or the same price but bigger hdd.
  • by wicka ( 985217 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:38PM (#27483739)
    How many netbooks actually come with a full version of Linux? Admittedly I don't follow the latest netbook developments much, but most of the Linux models I've seen have some rainbows and unicorns OS that is only suitable for people under 10 years old.
  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greekBruin ( 998483 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:43PM (#27483785)
    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%."
  • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:44PM (#27483793) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure Ballmer would be able to put a chair 100% through a netbook.
    At least, as long as he hasn't gotten himself winded by running around like a lunatic [].

    On the other hand....

    How does Redmond make an 80% gain in netbook market share without the sales numbers reflecting that gain?

    I wouldn't be surprised at all if they're using pirated Windows statistics to up their market share. So they haven't actually sold anything, but Windows is on the system, therefore it belongs to them.

  • Re:Freebie? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AgBullet ( 624575 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:44PM (#27483799) Journal
    Imagine a company sold 4 copies of some software last year, with 3 copies for desktops and 1 copy for netbooks. This year, they managed 1 desktop copy and 2 netbook copies. Overall sales are down 25%, but netbook penetration is up 100%. I think this kinda answers the question. Right? Or did I miss something? Dammit. Need coffee. Brane daid.
  • by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:45PM (#27483801) Homepage Journal

    That's funny, the exact reason I bought a Wind was because I don't play fancy ass games much and that's why I prefer Ubuntu...

    Since it's such a bitch to refund the copy of XP that came on my Wind, I just ripped off the key sticker and sold it to my friend for $25.

  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:46PM (#27483807)

    Your euphemism is clever. When your PHB uses it to describe why your job has been eliminated, let us know if it still sounds clever.

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

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @09:59PM (#27483907)

    As Torvald's once said I have not set out to destroy MSFT it is a completely unintentional side effect.

  • by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:10PM (#27483981)

    NT4 came for 4 different architectures.

    They could do it again.

  • Windows on ARM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:29PM (#27484125) Homepage Journal

    I don't think that MS came up with Windows for Itanium just to "let Intel know they support them." They did it because they thought Itanium would be the Next Big Thing. As did a lot of other software vendors — all the major Unixes had Itanium versions, though they were mostly cancelled once the schedule started slipping.

    Of course, Itanium is now seen as a white elephant, and all the effort people put into developing for it was wasted. But that's hindsight.

    Just because MS got burned with Itanium doesn't mean they'll automatically stay away from ARM. If they see the whole netbook market taking off and face real competition from ARM netbooks, they might just do it.

    The big stumbling block might be simple technology. ARM is, by design, a very simple, unsophisticated chip. I have to wonder if it can keep up with all the overhead of running Windows.

  • by rinoid ( 451982 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:50PM (#27484257)


    I hold a little bit of MSFT stock and this depresses me.

    Do they really believe a race to selling your product for nothing is the way out or ahead?

    So basically MSFT has bragged that their OS somehow ships on 97% of all sub-300 dollar devices? Even if it were true I don't believe they are making any money at all from this.

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

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @10:52PM (#27484283)

    yup, it's when Microsoft throws in all those extra marketing dollars and other kickbacks which usually define what an OEM ships preloaded. I had heard of an HP product based on Linux and Java getting canned because the HP marketing department said they'd lose money on the entire product line if the new Linux product shipped because Microsoft would cut off the payments for putting Windows on the systems.

    Not every OEM is going to stand up against MS and not take the kickbacks when it means increased profits as long as the product sells. The problem for the OEM is when the user experience is diminished because Windows bloat and anti-virus requirements eats into sales. Microsoft would not care because they'd protect their market if the netbook market failed to get established as a regular device sector/market. They know they'll be losing money on this segment so its failure is good for them. Kinda how they blocked alot of uptake of the OLPC, got them to start playing with Windows, delay, delay, delay and now OLPC is floundering and still now Windows on OLPC.

    ARM is a twist in this Microsoft is going to have a tough time with since there are too many advantages of that system for this market. The price goes down and Windows really has tougher time on the platform while Linux still does great and is easier for the OEM to customize for the product. I believe ARM is what is going to keep netbook growth going and prevent Microsoft from causing the market to shrink and this will eventually show up on their financials. IMO.


  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @11:15PM (#27484433)

    We had an internship for a group of college students over winter break. For completing their task, they each got an Acer Aspire One. Most of the students had 2 - 5 year old laptops and the freaking netbooks had the same speed processors with more ram, larger HDD (120GB), and even more Video Ram (32MB vs 8MB shared).

    Biggest complaints were lack of media drive and screen size. But after classes started again, they loved 'em. Perfect for taking notes and running most of their programs and they fit inside their backpacks without having to lug around an extra laptop bag.

    But again, they all wanted XP. (and were glad it wasn't vista)

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

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Monday April 06, 2009 @11:15PM (#27484435)

    And Apple is just as boned.

    Three things come to mind:

    1. Apple has always focused on the higher-end market. This market will always be there, even when $150 netbooks are a reality.
    2. Apple makes the OS, and can afford to make essentially zero on it if needed on a netbook.
    3. Apple has done very well in consumer electronics this century.

    1 and 3 really don't matter much to MS in this regard. Number 2, though, will be the tough one. They could possibly sell a $5 version of Windows for netbooks, although it won't be easy.

    Just imagine, it could be cheaper to buy a netbook with Windows, and then use the Windows license on your full-powered PC (leaving you with a perfectly Linux-ready netbook), than it is to buy Windows retail (or even OEM).

    Really, I think MS is much more vulnerable here. If you think about it, MS doesn't sell you anything tangible, just bits. At least Apple sells hardware. Once people stop seeing value in the bits (*if* that ever happens), MS has nothing to sell, and Apple does.

  • hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06, 2009 @11:30PM (#27484569)

    Bought an EEE PC with Linux - ok but not great even for basic use, though bash was welcome and system overall interesting. Installed and old XP license on it, what do you know, now it runs faster than before. Even my wife uses it now when her mbp battery runs out. I prefer Linux on servers... I know, hammer away...

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

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:06AM (#27484889) Homepage Journal

    Can you explain why I, as a consumer, should care about having an open-source BIOS?

    Because you think it's spiffy going from cold metal to a login prompt in under two seconds, and because no single vendor is capable of delivering that on more than a small handful of hardware configurations.

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

    by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:40AM (#27485113) Homepage

    ARM is going to create many problems for Microsoft. There are to many Chinese manufacturers who are or will be making cheap Linux netbooks for sale in China. They will be hitting the shores of other countries as well.

    These companies have never gotten a penny from Microsoft. There is nothing Microsoft has to offer them. There is plenty of money for them to make selling ARM based Linux netbooks.

    If someone was smart they would make a commercial giving someone $200.00 to by a computer that can do YouTube, Facebook, cam and edit documents....with 10 hour battery life. Nope $500 PC can't do it. $1000 PC can't do it. But the $179.00 netbook does.

    Microsoft can't stop it. Every time Moores law pushes down the price of x86 hardware, AMR hardware prices drop as well. Kids will love getting a $150.00 computer. Microsoft can't compete. There is no way they can create a copy of Seven or XP that will be ARM based in the next few years. They have to give up this market.

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

    by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:41AM (#27485123) Homepage

    Then Moore's law ticked over and Microsoft was able to enter that market - same price for the machine but with the specs that XP needs.

    Ah, but it isn't the same price. The original Eee PC was at a $200-$300 price point. These new "netbooks" are sometimes up to $1000 for a small-form-factor notebook, but they're completely different from the real "netbook", ie. a cheap-as-possible subnotebook that exists purely for internet browsing and possibly media playback. If it's got more grunt than is required to render a webpage or play back a DivX movie, then it's too expensive to be a netbook.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:11AM (#27485281) Journal

    Because they might not be getting Windows but they SURE as hell ain't getting Linux either. I got one and I removed that piece of crap and installed a real OS as soon as I could put an image on a USB stick.

    Linux of course, arch linux if you must know, but something I control, not Acer.

    Linpus is horribly locked down and doesn't even have Firefox 3 by default. Updates are way to complicated. Sorry, but it seems like little more then those DOS machines Dell sells you because they have to supply an OS to keep MS happy.

    Frankly, I think Ubuntu's remix is worth taking a look at as well. One thing that a netbook has is mobility but that comes with some serious drawbacks. For me, trying to use that bloody trackpad while in public transport. KEYBOARD people. The first distro to come with an interface that can be efficiently controlled in a moving train on a relatively small screen (hint, dialog boxes need to be SMALLER then the screen) could have a real winner. Or maybe just wait for Apple to do it right.

  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:30AM (#27485361)
    I think I see the reason. In Taiwan it's probably easy to get illegal installs of XP + all software when buying in small local shops- I know it happens in Russia. So the market for really free software is probably quite low. In Germany however, it is different. It is more difficult to sell computers with illegal stuff on it, and there is a substantially large group of pricky nerds that are in favor of linux for ideological reasons (and nationalist pride, suse started here). So at least in the small shops you can get linux netbooks, or notebooks with no OS preinstalled. And then there is Dell, where I bought my linux netbook via the german website.
  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:00AM (#27485487) Journal

    People want something that actually functions, not a complete piece of crap. Windows CE has to be the least functional OS I've ever seen, even beyond the windows 7 idea where you can only run 3 programs at once.

      So once again, they have no competition for ARM.

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

    by sketerpot ( 454020 ) <> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:16AM (#27485569)
    This is where Android comes in. It wasn't designed just for cell phones; it was also intended to run on netbooks, and Google seems to be going that way. [] Think about it: an open-source, Linux-based operating system built for small-screen devices, with major corporate support behind it. Microsoft should be shaking in its MS Boots.
  • Re:Honeymoon is over (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:19AM (#27485585) Homepage Journal

    They exist already. For example, the RazorBook []. They run Wince... I mean Win CE.

    40 hours seems quite plausible. If you figure an iPhone battery has a capacity of about 5.18 Watt hours (1400 mAh * 3.7V) according to [] and it handles computation at blast for several hours on a charge, ignoring the extra power for a larger screen for the moment, if it had a battery the size of a MacBook (62.4 Watt hours according to System Profiler's battery stats on mine), it would last on the order of 60 hours on a charge even running at full tilt. Doing lighter work, I could easily see that extended by as much as a factor of three. So when you factor in the bigger display, yeah, I could see 40 hours being possible, assuming good power management. And that is definitely a machine I would buy in an instant. I think 20 hours is probably more realistic given the size constraints of a netbook, though.

    That said, the battery life on the RazorBook is reportedly only on the order of 4 hours. Given that the CPU is comparable in its power consumption, this tells me that either the screen backlight is an unholy pig or Win CE power management is absolutely terrible. Neither would be much of a surprise. No idea how the Linux version of the RazorBook does on power.

  • Re:Windows on ARM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @05:37AM (#27486603)

    The big stumbling block might be simple technology. ARM is, by design, a very simple, unsophisticated chip. I have to wonder if it can keep up with all the overhead of running Windows.

    Funny, I thought that was why it does so well in portables.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?