Eee PC 900 debuts with Windows XP

Asustek's ultralight boasts bigger screen, more storage, XP Home or Linux

Asustek Computer Inc. yesterday launched its biggest low-cost Eee laptop yet and, as expected, will offer it with either Linux or Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Home.

The Eee PC 900, which the Taipei-based computer maker unveiled Tuesday, packs an 8.9-in. display running at a native resolution of 1,024 by 600 pixels, a significantly higher resolution than the older, smaller Eee PC 701, which sports a 7-in. display running at 800 by 400 pixels.

Users can select either Windows XP Home or Linux as the 900's operating system. This is the second line of ultralight notebooks from Asustek that offers XP as an option; it currently sells a pair of 7-in. Eee PC models running Microsoft's operating system that it has dubbed the "Surf XP" and "4G XP."

The Eee PC 900 is equipped with 1GB of system memory, a 1.3-megapixel camera, an Apple MacBook Air-esque multi-touch trackpad, and either a 12GB or 20GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. When XP is installed, the 900 comes with the smaller SSD.

"The Microsoft Windows version allows more experienced users to seamlessly use the Eee PC through the familiar Windows interface and incorporates Windows Live features like Windows Live Messenger for instant messaging and Windows Live Mail for consolidated e-mail accounts on the user's desktop," said Asustek in a statement issued yesterday. A copy of Microsoft Works, an entry-level application suite, is also included on the XP version of the 900.

Although official U.S. prices have not been set, the price quoted by the company yesterday at a press conference in Taipei converts to about $513 (U.S.) at current exchange rates.

Asustek's small-format Eee has made news since it was introduced last year, but it and other manufacturers' similar-size notebooks have gotten a public relations boost by Microsoft's recent announcement that it would extend XP Home's lifespan an additional two years for makers of so-called ultralow-cost PC (ULCPC) portables.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft pushed back XP Home's end-of-availability to June 30, 2010, two years after the still-in-force June 30, 2008, deadline for most major computer manufacturers. Microsoft will also strike Windows XP off the retail list at the end of June.

Only resellers building ULCPCs -- which Microsoft has yet to formally define -- will be allowed to preinstall XP Home as of July 1. The extension does not apply across the board to Windows XP, however.

U.S. representatives for Asustek did not reply to questions about official U.S. pricing or when the Eee PC 900 will go on sale globally and in the U.S.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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