While industry watchers are busy trying to figure out whether netbook makers are going to install Windows 7 Starter Edition, Windows 7 Home Premium or something else on the netbooks of tomorrow, one thing is clear. Windows XP is the most popular choice today.
Sure, Asus, Dell, Acer, HP, and other companies are offering Linux versions of their netbooks at lower prices. But the majority of netbooks sold are running Windows XP, an operating system that was supposed to have been retired by now.
Microsoft Watch has published some figures obtained by NPD showing the market share of different versions of Windows. A year ago, you pretty much couldn’t buy a laptop with Windows XP on it. In December, 13.7% of all laptops sold, and 11.2% of all computers were running Windows XP.
That’s because most netbooks aren’t powerful enough to run Windows Vista. So Microsoft let netbook makers to preload Windows XP even though the company no longer allows Windows XP to be sold directly to retail customers, and computer makers can no longer purchase new licenses to install the operating system on most modern desktop and laptop computers with dual core processors, huge hard drives, or large amounts of RAM.
By this time next year, I suspect Windows XP sales will drop back down to zero again, since Windows 7 runs beautifully on most Intel Atom-powered netbooks (and even some netbooks with older or slower processors).