As we all know, the Eee PC, running a modified Xandros, has been a major hit for Asus, and because of that, also a major hit for Linux. The device proved that a computer with a pre-installed Linux distribution can still be s successful machine, and many hoped that this would push Asus and other vendors to produce more computers with Linux pre-installed. This hope could be in vain after all if the new Windows XP-based Eee PC has anything to do with it.
People are asking for the familiar and compatible Windows interface that they’ve used in the past. The goal was to provide a platform that allows users to have access to their favourite applications.
Those are the words from Keith Holtham, the account manager for Asus at Microsoft Australia. And what do they mean? In Australia, the Windows XP version of the new Asus Eee PC 900 will be considerably cheaper than its Linux counterpart. The XP Eee PC does have a smaller hard disk than the Linux version (12GB compared to 20GB). The price difference? USD 599 for the XP version, USD 649 for the Linux version.
The other important tidbit is that the Linux version will be available at “computer resellers”, and the Windows version at “selected retailers”. According to APCMag, this adds to the impression that “Linux is now the poor cousin” when it comes to the Asus Eee PC.
Asus’ product manager in Australia Albert Liang said that “Microsoft has been a longstanding supporter of Asus”. Has Microsoft put pressure on Asus to promote XP over Linux?
I noticed that the XP eee was in this week’s Best Buy ad, but I never remembered seeing a Linux one in there. Sounds like there could be more to that than I thought.
Microsoft is terrified of any linux computer having broad market penetration and is likely subsidising the Windows version and putting pressure on Asus to sell more Windows versions than Xandros versions. When you have a near monopoly you will do almost anything to protect it. Even if it ends up costing Microsoft hundreds of millions, it is worth it to them. Just my $0.02.