Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and the Ubuntu Linux distribution, says he tried and loved the Windows 7 beta. "I've kicked the tires on the [Windows 7] beta for a few hours and it was good," Shuttleworth explained, "They've put concerted attention on the user experience with the shell. I think it's going to be a great product, and every indication is we will see it in the market sooner rather than later."
Don't think that Shuttleworth praises Microsoft just to be nice, though; there's more to it than that. He hopes that Windows 7 will end the "phoney war" between Windows and Linux in the fast-growing netbook market. He explains that right now, OEMs are buying cheap copies of Windows XP, instead of the full version of Vista, which is more expensive. "We are in an awkward situation now because they are giving away XP in the netbook market - they are literally giving it way to OEMs," Shuttleworth claimed, "You can make the argument Linux is more expensive than Windows XP because Microsoft has been very aggressive in licensing."
Shuttleworth makes a good point. Microsoft doesn't really need to make any money any more on XP licenses; the operating system has been a massive, unrivalled success, and has already returned the investment massively. As a consequence, Microsoft can offer dump prices; with Windows 7, which, as many reports indicate, runs fine on netbooks, Microsoft can do nothing but charge the full price, increasing the price difference between Windows and Linux. This should give Linux a more even chance at successfully competing with Windows in the netbook space.