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Asus Eee PC to Get a Little Less Linuxy

Asus Eee PC to Get a Little Less Linuxy

Asus' Eee PC is a super-small computer that until recently was available only with Linux preinstalled. Soon, however, the company will also offer it with Windows XP preloaded -- and the company reportedly predicts the XP model will be the hotter seller. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has taken its low-cost Linux PC off the shelves. Do buyers of budget computers simply have no interest in Linux?

By Chris Maxcer
03/14/08 8:36 AM PT

The miniature-sized Asus Eee PC has been selling around the world with Linux preinstalled, but the Taiwan company's little laptop will soon start selling loaded with Microsoft's Windows XP.

Previously, customers could install XP on their own Eee PC with their own license, but XP would not ship out of the box. Asus reportedly announced the upcoming offering at the European CeBIT trade show last week in Germany, and now, according to a Reuters report, Asus predicts that it will sell 5 million Eee PCs this year -- and two-thirds of them will run XP.

Instead of just being an option, XP-based Eee PCs will take the lead in Asus's ultra-portable laptop sales.

'Greater Enhancements'

"The Eee PC has been a tremendous success since our initial launch in October last year, and feedback gathered from consumers have aided us in providing even greater enhancements with our new range of Eee PCs," noted Jonathan Tsang, vice chairman of Asus.

"With the new Windows-based offerings, a greater amount of work ease is expected through full compatibility with Windows applications, while Windows Live and Microsoft Works features will certainly add to greater online interaction and work efficiency," he added.

In marketing materials, Asus referred to XP as "an easy, convenient and fuss-free platform to seamlessly integrate multiple devices, applications and services. On top of this flexibility, the consistent interface provides a safe and dependable operating environment."

Not Available Yet

There are several older versions of the micro laptops with 7-inch screens, ranging in price from US$299 to $399 in the United States, but the Eee PCs sell internationally at differing price points.

The new XP-based Eee PCs don't seem to be in the sales channel yet, though the older models are still available on Amazon.com and Newegg.com. The Asus announcement wasn't clear on a delivery date, though RM.com in the UK shows a black and a white model with Windows XP installed as being available April 28.

Meanwhile, at Wal-Mart ...

Earlier this week, Wal-Mart acknowledged that it had stopped selling Everex Linux-based PCs on its retail store shelves due to a lack of interest from consumers. Are most consumers -- or perhaps American consumers -- who are in the market for a low-cost PC the wrong target market for preinstalled Linux?

"I think familiarity is a very powerful issue in a brand that's as well known and as established as Microsoft Windows," Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, told LinuxInsider.

"Frankly, Ubuntu has made some really great strides in creating a Linux-based operating environment that's extremely user friendly, probably more so than any other I can think of. But at the end of the day, it's a product that's been around for just a couple of years, and while it's easier to use than most Linux desktops I've seen, it still runs into some problems with driver availability," he added.

On the application side, King said there are some advanced and well-respected applications available that run on Linux. "But familiarity is a tough thing to beat, especially for an entry-level user," he explained.

"That type of user tends to want something they're familiar with -- they've seen the icons, and they know that when it comes out of the box, it's going to look and run a certain way ... and frankly that it has the seal that a large company has established," he added.


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