In my last blog I explained why Windows 7 will kill Linux sales on lightweight notebooks called netbooks. Here's more evidence: ASUS CEO Jerry Shen says he plans to release versions of the Eee PC powered by Windows 7 in mid 2009, including touchscreen models. With sales figures showing that Windows netbooks already far outsell their Linux counterparts, this could be the nail in the coffin.
As I pointed out in my last blog, Windows 7 will run well on lightweight netbooks with limited RAM and processing power. It will run so well, in fact, that ASUS CEO Jerry Shen told Laptop magazine that he plans to release Windows 7-powered versions of the Eee in the middle of 2009, including touchscreen models.
Currently Eee PCs are sold with either Windows XP or Linux, not Vista, because Vista is too heavy an operating system. Microsoft has clearly seen the light here: Windows 7 has been designed to be lightweight so that it can run well on netbooks. That spells trouble for Linux.
There's a general perception that Linux outsells Windows on netbooks, but apparently that's not the case, which make things more difficult for Linux acceptance. In a July 2008 article apc notes that Windows appears to be outselling Linux on netbooks. In the piece, apc interviews Hugo Ortega, who is a principal of the distributor Tegatech, which sells the Eee as well as other ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) such as the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC. Not all of these ultra-mobile devices are inexpensive; some cost more than $3000.
Ortega is quoted as saying:
Linux only accounts for probably 20% of Eee PC sales and less than 5% of overall UMPC sales.
Ortega is not alone in saying this. Felipe Rego, associate market analyst with IDC Australia, tells apc:
Its going to be tough in the long term for Linux-based mini-notebooks. Microsoft will play tough in this space, where theres a massive presence of Windows. We dont have expectations yet for Eee sales of XP vs Linux, but Linux definitely needs to create increased awareness. If you go into the mainstream, people just want something easy that they recognise.
You can be sure when Microsoft blitzes the world with a massive advertising campaign for Windows 7, they'll be spending many millions promoting Windows 7 on netbooks. And given that marketing muscle, Linux most likely won't stand a chance, regardless of which operating system is superior.
Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 35 books.