Is Intel trying to squash Linux netbooks?

OK, that title might be a little misleading. Intel has a long history of supporting Linux and makes plenty of money selling hardware that Linux runs on.

But strangely today in my Intel Enterprise Scoop Twitter feed I got the following Twit:

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Why would Intel want to promote the demise of Linux netbooks? The original Intel-powered EeePC ran a version of Xandros that was more than good enough to get the NetBook segment off of the ground.

Those little Eees flew off the shelves running Linux until Microsoft stepped in and sold Windows XP for $15/seat. That price point was good enough to get most netbook vendors to switch OS's to XP. Consumers seem to have agreed. The netbook category remains hot but now it is dominated by XP machines running on Intel Atom processors.

Perhaps the early adopter-types that were willing to try out the new netbook category devices were also the types willing to use Linux. As more mainstream 80%-ers started buying these devices, the Windows Staple probably became more appealing. At $15/seat, the cost of Windows XP isn't making a big mark on the total price of the device either.

But back to the original question: Why is Intel promoting the concept of Linux being dead on the netbook?

ARM.

The biggest (or should I say smallest) competitor that Intel has had since is ramping up for a Netbook rollout in the coming months. We've already seen some smaller ones running Google Android Linux that should hit the streets soon. Pegatron, an ASUS (of Eee fame) spinoff, is producing a very interesting device that promises to cost less than an Eee, somehow be smaller and at the same time use a fraction of the battery. Archos has their new Web devices running Linux on ARM in the pipeline as well.

All of these new products are running on Linux and are a threat to Intel's dominance of the netbook/MID space. All of them will cost much less than comparably equipped Intel products. All of them will also beat Intel on battery life and space requirements.

Will ARM chips perform as well as Atom chips? The verdict is still out. ARM does have some quad core designs for 2010 that seem like they'll be able to run with the best Intel has to offer. ARM's Cortex A8 seems to run browsers at comparable speeds to Intel's upcoming Moorestown Atom processor. And at a fraction of the power requirements.

The one thing that these ARM devices can't do? They don't do Windows. That is one area where you need Intel (or AMD/VIA x86).

Being needed is a good thing for anyone, even Intel.

Update: Not sure what to make of this.  Intel's InsideScoop Twitter is quoting this story.  Is it a bot?

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