Continuing the recently started trend at Microsoft to be a bit more aggressive towards the competition, Brandon LeBlanc wrote on the Windows Experience Weblog about why Windows is such a huge success on netbooks compared to Linux. Also, what is up with that story on AppleInsider about Microsoft offering Windows-7-to-XP downgrade rights? Is that really so special?
The blog entry written by LeBlanc details the success of Windows on netbooks. Back in the first half of 2008, Windows netbooks constituted less than 10% of unit sales, compared to 96% as of February 2009. The figures come from NPD, with netbooks defined as latops with a 10.2″ or smaller screen, priced at 500 USD or less. No matter how look at that, that’s pretty impressive (default statistics warnings apply, of course, such as the figures probably being US-only).
The post also contains some musing on why, exactly, Windows is more popular on netbooks. One of those reasons is that people simply expect Windows, says LeBlanc. Returns rates are much higher for Linux netbooks, so high in fact that UK Carephone Warehouse has taken them off the shelves because of a 1-to-5 return rate. People expect Windows, LeBlanc says, and get furstrated “when they realize their Linux-based netbook PC doesn’t deliver that same quality of experience”.
The rest of his reasons are debatable at best, and nonsense at worst. He claims Windows is easier to set up, run, and maintain. Especially the bit about updates is nonsensical; as if Linux doesn’t do automatic updates. The section about hardware support being better on the Windows platform might hold relevance for some pieces of kit, but overall, Linux has been doing amazingly well in that area as of late.
The failure of Linux to gain a foothold in the market through netbooks should prompt the Linux community to take a look at itself, and see where it went wrong. Linux had every chance to become a decent household name here, but for some reason, they blew it. With Windows 7 on the way, pushing away the bad Vista taste, it’s only going to be harder.
AppleInsider recently ran a story about how Microsoft was going to offer downgrade rights to Windows XP from Windows 7, and how that was somehow special and newsworthy. The story says Microsoft is allowing HP to offer downgrade rights “for another year” until April 30, 2010. This isn’t news at all, as Microsoft always allows corporate (volume licensing) and home users to downgrade. In fact, the Windows Developer Network offers versions going as far back as Windows 3.1.
On a related note, mainstream Windows XP support will end April 14, 2009. This means Windows XP will only receive security updates from now on, unless you paid for Extended Support which will last until August 2014.