And if Linux ain’t your thing, it looks like 3K will be slapping Windows CE on the Razorbook next month. The move shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Budget electronics maker BestLink announced in May that the company would bring a RazorBook clone to market sporting Windows CE. (Clone probably isn’t the best word to use here, since it’s likely that the two companies are getting their systems from the same OEM source).
Windows CE is basically the same operating system that powers Windows Mobile phones and PDAs. Back in the day (the day being the late 90s and early naughts), there were two classes of devices running Windows CE: handhelds and palmtops. The handheld devices had a clamshell layout and looked like tiny computers. The HP Jornada series and the NEC MobilePro Series were among the more popular handheld devices, but eventually handhelds went the way of the dodo and Microsoft focused on palmtops that evolved into today’s cellphones and PDAs.
While you can’t run full-fledged Windows applications on Windows CE, the operating system does have some advantages over Windows and even most Linux distributions. It’s extremely light weight, and can fit on devices with 64MB of storage space or less. It requires very little power, which means you can get a ton of juice out of a relatively low capacity battery. And it’s designed for instant-on, instant-off functionality.
A 3K RazorBook with a 4GB solid state disk, 400MHz processor and 512MB of RAM would be able to run Windows CE beautifully. Most phones running the OS have storage capacities measured in megabytes, not gigs. And the RAM is usually 128MB or less. And a 400MHz CPU should be plenty.
On the other hand, you’re not going to be able to run OpenOffice.org, Pidgin, or Firefox on Windows CE, (at least not until Firefox mobile comes out later this year). And it’s not even clear that you’ll be able to run Opera Mobile and other software designed for Windows Mobile, since most applications are designed for touchscreen devices with smaller displays.
What do you think? Would you rather buy a RazorBook 400 running Windows CE or Linux?