Windows 7 and Netbooks

Netbooks seem to be the newest hot thing. I saw my first one a week ago, and it was slick. It was an XP box, but the user was running under Wubi (we talked geek for almost an hour).

is promising a stripped down version of 7 adapted to netbooks. In this story News considers whether it will help ’s business model.

Part of Microsoft’s strategy is to encourage purchasers of Windows XP netbooks to “upgrade” (that is, spend money) to Windows 7. (They were not able to squeeze into a ; XP was their fallback choice.)

Analysts (not computer analysts–the Wall Street kind) are skeptical. The news story quotes one as follows:

“Many netbook buyers won’t go for it, because they want the cheapest option possible, said John DiFucci, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst who asked the question that prompted Ballmer’s comment. That means investors shouldn’t expect Microsoft to make much more money on netbook software, the New York-based analyst said in a note to clients. Microsoft hasn’t released specific prices for the different versions of Windows 7.”

Plus, a lot of computer users don’t upgrade simply because an upgrade is available. I was looking at the stats for my website the other day and I’m getting hits from computers running Windows 95 (though it can be argued that the type of person who would buy a netbook is the type of person who would be most likely to upgrade).

I have no experience with Vista and a lot of experience with Windows XP and its predecessors. Having used Microsoft products since Windows 3.1, I will agree that Microsoft can write good applications that do a lot of things and do them well. I am very very good at Microsoft Word and have always figured out how to make it do what I want; and I have wanted it to do some very unusual thing for user guides, training manuals, and the like.

I am, however, skeptical of Microsoft’s ability to write tight code to run well on netbooks, which are typically under-powered in terms of memory, megahertz, and hard drive space. Tight code does not seem to be part of their corporate culture.

I guess that we shall see. If they pull this off, they will prove me wrong. I’ve been wrong before. I don’t plan to stop now.

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I mentioned the other day that I ordered a netbook. Despite the header that said, “[Vendor] recommends Windows XP,” I stuck with Ubuntu Linux.

Here’s why:

(I’m going to cite Slackware Linux because I just happen to have a box that is still in out-of-the-box condition, and typically starts out with far more applications on the hard drive than do most Linux distros).

A full Slackware Linux out-of-the box install takes about 4.5 gigs of space (I just checked). It includes the entire KDE environment: editors, an office suite, browsers, computer managment tools, utilities, a DVD/CD burner, and loads of other software.

There are several media players and graphics viewers, four browsers, two news readers, several email clients, multiple graphics programs, six different graphical interfaces, just a whole lot of stuff ready to go.

I’ve not yet sat down at an out-of-the-box Windows machine that was good-to-go without having additional software installed.

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