A year and a half ago you would have been hard pressed to find a netbook (defined as a 10 inch or small mini-laptop for around $400) that came with Windows XP. The original Asus Eee PC 701, Everex Cloudbook, and other early netbooks all ran Linux. Today, 90% of all mini-laptops sold in the US are running Windows. That’s according to a report from NPD Group that looked at netbook sales in November, December, and January.

Now, it’s possible that there are more machines shipping with Linux overseas. But for a product class that started out as 100% Linux territory, a lot has changed in the last 18 months or so. Part of the reason for this is that consumers are more familiar with Windows and more likely to buy machines running the operating system. But an even bigger factor was probably Microsoft’s decision to extend the life of Windows XP and offer deep deep discounts on XP licenses to netbook makers. If you had to pay $100 more for a netbook with Windows than for a Linux model, I’m not sure Windows netbooks would have become so popular. But in many cases you can buy a mini-laptop with Windows XP for just $20 or $30 more than the Linux version, and you often get a larger hard drive in the deal.

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36 replies on “Linux loses more netbook market share”

  1. Here in Australia it is the other way round, Linux comes more in Windows goes out a bit. I was fascinated by the idea that the Indian government phases in Linux for all their computers, running dual for a while before everything must be Linux.

    1. Can you please share the links of the news that Indian government phases in Linux for all their computers…..really urgent….

  2. Just bought a brand new asus eeepc 1000he , NOT because it has windows on it.
    but it has 160 g hd, N networking, 9 hour battery . now it is true that it will come with XP.
    but that’s coming off immediately, will beta test moblin and use a variant of debian on it for real. so I may be skewing the data in favor of windows shipments , but my netbook will only run linux, as do all of my other copmuters including this desktop.
    also my version of the asus was not offered with linux. not the EXACT version of the box.

  3. Hmmm…I bought a Windows version eeepc, and installed eeebuntu on it. I made sure to get a netbook that supported this option easily, otherwise I would have gotten a Linux based system. The Windows users I know who bought, say, the Linpus powered AAOne, have raved about it’s ease of use, but not all have been brave enough to switch to Linux goodness. If M$ gives away XP Licenses, I’ll take one, but this doesn’t mean I’m using Windows as my primary OS.

  4. Not sure exactly what is going on, but there is something rotten, at least in the Asus Eee pc world. First, the eee pc comes with an incredibly limited and poor Linux in its modified Xandros. It just stinks. It doesn’t install the software it is supposed to, software that is supposed to work with it doesn’t, and the software you CAN get is very limited. So why use it?

    Xandros is one of the Linux distros that capitulated to Microsoft and agreed to their little non agression pact like Suse did. But why is it so crippled? Could it be that this is done on purpose so that people would turn back to Microsoft? There is no reason for this. Linux can be a great experience, but if your first experience is in Asus Xandros, you won’t likely use it for long! SOmething is going on. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

  5. >there are more machines shipping with Linux overseas
    Hell yeah. If it’s cheaper I’d buy the netbook with Linux. Of course I’d wipe that crap at the first boot.

  6. the only reason i’m *here* – the only reason i became interested in netbooks – was the development of atom based platforms running windows. that moved them (from my perspective) from “toys” to “computers.” small, portable, fast enough, and runs the software i want to run? yes, please. linux (great as it is) and fringe processors (low power as they might be) don’t cut it for what i want, no matter how small and cheap.

    1. Even the Linux kernel can’t do magic and transform an Atom CPU to become a Core 2 CPU. Just because Linux works better than Windows doesn’t make these devices powerful beyond their hardware limits.

      The issue here is more about having the wrong expectations and maybe not doing the kind of computing that works well with these devices. In my view, after having used one for 6 months, they’re perfect in certain scenarios:
      – excellent remote administration tool (ssh, rdesktop, you name it)
      – a real computer that fits the size of even my elegant portfolio
      – once more about remote use: it’s perfect to manage different media solutions at home

      So it more depends on whether they fill a need you have, not about being a replacement for a stationary or notebook computer. Personally I dislike notebooks, and hence prefer stationary computers with netbooks as a complement. For my use Windows would anyway be clumsy and miss to much of the software I need, so it’s out of the question and have nothing to do with hardware specifications. It’s similar to how I use what would be viewed as lightweight WM:s on my stationary computers, not because I need something lightweight, but because they’re offering a better computing environment (Awesome is my choice for the moment; sometimes PekWM).

  7. When I recently bought a netbook, I felt like I had to work hard to find one that was running Linux at a reasonable price. It was my experience that the XP versions were often less expensive in the real world than the Linux versions. If I hadn’t been philosophically opposed to buying a machine that came with a Windows license, I would have just bought one of those models and wiped the OS.

  8. Why would anyone sane want Windows XP now? It’s an end-of-life product, and any updates (even security ones) will come grudgingly, so it’s a technological dead end that’s simply enabling Microsoft to keep their stronghold for a loss-leading pence per unit with absolutely zero innovation. Sure, Windows 7 is claimed to run OK on comparable hardware, but it’s still largely untried.

    1. This, from Microsoft’s senior VP for Windows, is quite telling:

      Veghte is acutely aware that Microsoft faces a substantial challenge in persuading its vast XP installed base to upgrade. The move to Windows 7 from Vista will be seamless, he says, but that vast pool of users still on XP is faced with a complete re-installation. The appetite for such a labour-intensive task is likely to be negligible. Most migrations from XP to Windows 7 will result from the “purchase of a new machine”, admits Veghte.

      So XP really is a dead end for most customers today, with even MS admitting that even if Windows 7 works, the upgrade path will be fraught.

  9. I think that one of the issues is that a lot of “Netbook” manufactures tend to push mini-laptops instead of real netbooks.
    The original EEEPC 701 with its small screen and 4 GB SSD was not suitable for windows: not enough storage, screen too small etc… But it was cheap and ideal for mobile surfing, at true Netbook.
    Now most manufacturer are producing mini laptops with 10 inch screens and hard disk. The customers expectation for these is to have a full laptop functionality in a smaller package, not Netbook functionality, and a such a Linux OS designed for Netbooks is not successfull. Manufacturers should bundle a full blown Ubuntu with these instead of Xandros or Linpus.
    I think Linuxes (and android) will make a comeback when manufacturers start again to release real Netbooks bases on the ARM architecture: light inexpensive machines designed for surfing.
    Its all a question of semantics: what do you consider a Netbook? If a netbooks is a atom base computer with an SSD and a 7 to 9 inch screen, then I am sure the Linux market share is quite high, but then the overal Netbook market share is smaller.

  10. Yeah, NPD is on top of this….I mean after all when I indicated I owned a netbook the first questions they asked was “Did you return it?”

    Yeah, we might as well trust people who think like that, right?

  11. Linux is clearly the superior operating system. People are just ignorant, and blindly believe that Windows XP (an OS from 2001) is superior when it’s all psychological —– they’re just too used to it, and have not experienced anything else.

    The truth is that a lot of people buy Win XP netbooks just to wipe them out, and install Ubuntu Linux on it. I know, because I am one of them.

    1. I believe that most people buy Windows XP netbooks because they integrate well into there everyday life. They may load Ubuntu as a dual boot option like me. Well I actually load it from a flash drive and I do like it with the exception of not being able to find drivers for all devices.. Which makes my case for Windows

    2. Same here, can’t get the 1000HE Eee PC with linux… so I had to buy it with Windows XP. 🙁

      1. How many of you guys would be interested in a store that sold all it’s netbooks as dual-boot (linux + windows) fully configured (as much as legally possible) on each device shipped?

        Price difference would be less than 12% more than from Amazon.com for example.

        1. That would be a good option. The problem with Linux in my opinion is that there are to many distro’s out there. If it could be standardize maybe the best branded one Unbuntu or something like that so that you don’t have issue finding drivers and other software to run on it(I am talking about mainstream software that is utilized in a business or educational environment) not some hacked software). Windows makes it easy for users to load software with Linux distro it is a crap shoot for THE AVERAGE user NON GEEKS. If this would happen then you would see Linux move up on Windows until then it just not going to happen.

          1. Bologna! I find it much easier to install and manage software with Synaptic in Ubuntu than running to 100 different websites for every software package that installed with Windows.

            Besides, if the seller does a good job the Linux can be tailored to that hardware much the way Macs are. So far Intel’s Moblin OS is a step in that direction after the dumbed-down EeePC interface and HP’s MIE. The AVERAGE user should be able to pick one of these netbooks up and use it. However inertia and ignorance prevent this from happening.

    3. Total agreement. Here in Malaysia, netbooks running Linux are not readily available domestically – we’d have to import it. I am seriously considering getting one that comes with XP and wiping it to install Linux.

    4. Sure, Linux is superior(TM)

      You just keep telling yourself that, if it makes you sleep better.

      1. @ my name: you are too ignorant to accept the truth or just a moron. Windows still trying to solve technical problems that have been solved by Unix systems in mid 80s.

  12. I am so glad someone submitted a post about how Linux is NOT picking up as some people thought. In yesterdays blog about Windows 7 Matt tried to make a case for Linux by providing us with a unnecessary history lesson. Well Matt as I stated before Windows still rules when it comes to OS’s and I think the majority of the World also shares the same thought. Have fun with Linux and may the force be with you.

  13. There are people who want Linux netbooks and have no choice but to buy the Windoze versions because those are the only things available in the local stores. They just buy the machines and wipe the Windoze O/S, replace it with a Linux distro of their choice. Sadly there is no statistics on this yet.

  14. Yet 1/3rd of the Dell netbooks run Linux.

    Ah, well. Here’s to Windows 7 and Microsoft shooting itself in the foot with the 3-app limitation and high fees. 🙂

  15. one sick joke was when dell revealed its netbook…

    iirc, the windows ones came with rebates that would bring them down to linux territory, started out with better spec, and bringing the linux one up there would make it more expensive then the highest windows, pre-rebate…

  16. Well, for 15 years I used to play with windows but since my first eeepc I met linux and not coming back, the virus free system (and antivirus free RAM) is top gun.
    I even droped my 15 inch laptop windows licence and installed Ubuntu on it.

  17. It is true that Microsoft won this round by essentially giving away XP licenses. But the biggest reason was netbooks shot up to around $400 and at those prices the premium for XP was small. Any other computer at $400 would ship with Windows.

    Wait for the next round. How low can Microsoft go? Can they stay in the game at $300? Probably. $250? $200? And ARM is the big wildcard. If ARM really can change the game on battery life such that Atom is pushed up to only being viable in the larger/heavier end of the range a battle between Linux and WinCE will be fought on ground much more favorable to the Penguin.

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