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Linux facing first real desktop testJay Lyman, May 7, 2008 @ 6:27 pm ET
We’ve recently seen the popular EeePc in Windows XP form. There are even concerns that Linux in the EeePC ultra-portable computers — or indeed Linux in the larger subnotebook, mini-notebook or whatever you want to call this emerging category — is now likely to evaporate in the face of Windows versions.
Hold on. Let’s remember that notebooks are now the dominant form factor for PCs, and emerging markets and new form factors, such as the EeePC, Cloudbook and others offer a new playing field for Linux. This means Microsoft’s typical desktop hold on the market is not a handicap. In fact, it’s Microsoft that is coming into the game after Linux has somewhat established itself in the case of subnotebooks.
So is a Windows XP EeePC really cheaper than a Linux one? Well, yes, it is. It’s also slower (see the same link and notice the headline lacks to mention this stuff) than the Linux model and has nearly half the storage capacity (Windows=12GB, Linux=20GB). What’s more remarkable is that despite the dearth of Linux offerings just a couple of years ago, Linux is now the one to beat in a desktop market.
It’s not just the ultraportable notebook and associated chip manufacturers. Major players such as Intel are getting involved with efforts such as the chip giant’s Atom, which plays into Linux cost advantages. And even though Linux may not be offered on Wal-Mart store shelves, Linux continues to be a top seller online for the so-called ‘low-price leader.’
That’s why I beleive we’re seeing Linux face its first true, fair test on the desktop. It will be interesting to see how consumers respond, and how manufacturers and retailers position Linux and Windows now that they are willing and able to offer Linux at all.
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