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$549 Eee PC 900 to hit U.S. May 12

But not all models are created equal

April 19, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Asustek Computer Inc. on Friday confirmed that it will launch the Eee PC 900 in the U.S. on May 12 and that it will set $549 as the list price for the new ultralight notebook.

The Eee PC 900, which the Taipei-based computer maker unveiled last Tuesday, can be configured with either Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Home or the open-source Linux operating system. The price for both configurations, said an Asustek spokesman, is identical: $549.

But there are differences. Users who purchase an Eee PC 900 with Linux will receive a laptop that boasts 20GB of flash memory-based storage space. However, customers who opt for Windows XP will end up with a machine equipped with only 12GB of solid-state storage.

When asked why the two models pack different quantities of storage space -- and whether the lesser amount was stuck in the XP version because of the licensing fees Asustek must pay to Microsoft -- Asustek spokesman Charlton Ho called it a "strategic decision."

"Cost would be one of the reasons, but not the main one," Ho said in an e-mail. He then proceeded to trumpet the Linux-based system. "Also, [the] Linux version is our main Eee PC model with our unique interface, so the consumer not only can get the great and easy-to-use interface on the Linux version but extra storage space," Ho added.

Both Windows and Linux models pack an 8.9-in. screen, 1GB of system memory, a 1.3-megapixel camera and an Apple MacBook Air-style multi-touch track pad.

This is the second ultralight line from Asustek that offers XP as an option; it currently sells a Eee PC with a 7-in. display in the U.S. for $399.

Window XP, which is to disappear as an option on most new computers after June 30, was granted a reprieve of sorts two weeks ago, when Microsoft said it would allow resellers building what it called ultralow-cost PC (ULCPC) laptops to preinstall XP Home until the end of June 2010.

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