While admitting that it was hurt by increased sales of netbooks in terms of revenue for the Windows Client division, Microsoft is also applauding the victory over the open source Linux operating system when it comes down to portable cheap computers also referred to as “mini-notebooks” or “sub-notebooks.” Brad Brooks, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Windows Consumer Product Marketing revealed that customers have been disappointed by Linux on netbooks, and that is precisely the reason they are turning to the Windows operating system on such machines.
“Customers choose Windows because they want the best possible user experience. While many initial small-notebook PCs in the market were Linux-based, they didn’t live up to customers’ expectations. Customers expected a Linux-based PC to look and function like their Windows-based desktop PC and they were disappointed,” Brooks stated.
The Microsoft VP emphasized that according to data offered by partners such as MSI and Canonical the return rates for Linux-based netbooks dwarf those for Windows powered computers. “Partners MSI and Canonical have mentioned to press that return rates on their Linux-based small-notebook PCs are about four times those of Windows-based small-notebook PCs,” Brooks stated. “Windows provides a level of application and device compatibility you simply don’t get with Linux. Windows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office and popular applications like Apple’s iTunes and Microsoft’s Zune, PC games like “World of Warcraft,” and a host of others. It also works with the largest set of printers, digital cameras and other devices. Linux doesn’t come close to doing any of these things.”
In the end however, Microsoft gets less money for each copy of Windows pre-installed on a netbook in comparison to a fully fledged PC. This because such machines are defined not only by their limited hardware capabilities, but also by their cheap price. Still, Microsoft claims that it has witnessed nothing short of “spectacular Windows growth” on notebook PCs, praising the Windows operating system for familiarity, compatibility, and ease of use in comparison to Linux.
“To share some numbers: since February 2008, Windows OS share has gone from 10 percent to over 80 percent on these machines, and our research shows that these are overwhelmingly new PCs and/or PC users. To put it another way, we think most small-notebook PC buyers are either purchasing a secondary machine or buying a PC for the first time. And we think purchasers are drawn to these PCs by their small size and affordability, particularly given the current environment,” Brooks added.
For the time being the majority of netbooks that ship are pre-installed with Windows XP, but Microsoft promises that this aspect will change. The software giant has optimized Windows 7 to play nice with netbook PCs, and indicated that all editions of the next version of the Windows client would work with such machines.