06.08.09

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Does Microsoft Hijack the Term “Netbook”?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If thought can corrupt language, then language can also corrupt thought.”

George Orwell

Summary: Reasonable suspicion that FUD against ARM (with GNU/Linux only) has already begun

MICROSOFT, WHICH DESCRIBES ITSELF AS A SOFTWARE COMPANY, SEEMS determined to decide what constitutes — in terms of hardware — a netbook. We began a discussion about it a few days ago and now we find the Microsoft press reinforcing the same notion that computers running ARM microchips are not computers and not even netbooks — that they are just smartphones of a new form.

In the mean time, Microsoft imposes spec/cost rules on all sorts of netbooks, the latest example being this one:

Microsoft bans XP on hybrid storage netbooks

Microsoft is barring netbook manufacturers from utilizing hybrid storage solutions. Miniature notebooks housing both SSD and HDDs will not be permitted to use Windows XP, reports bit-tech. Redmond’s latest restriction will join the already enforced rule which limits netbook manufacturers to a maximum of 1GB RAM – that is, if they want to install Windows XP.

Look what Microsoft is doing to sub-notebooks. It’s artificial limitation, just like DRM in Vista or even kill switches (WGA). Maybe that’s why they call it EEE PC. Embrace, extend and extinguish (EEE). It can neither be cheap nor powerful anymore, as Microsoft won’t permit this. Intel allegedly plays a role too.

Microsoft will never be able to stop MIPS netbooks/notebooks. Yes, notebooks. ARM is able to run full-scale computers, but Microsoft would rather badmouth it, making it seem comparable (capacity-wise) to phones where ARM already rules the roost. ARM can hardly ever cope with Vista or Vista 7, but GNU/Linux is not a one-size-fits-all system.

A reader of ours, who is a veteran in this field, contributed some thoughts about MIPS-based netbooks:

This looks like it could be very interesting news. It’s a MIPS-based netbook:

http://www.osnews.com/story/2…
http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2…
http://cinnamonpirate.com/2009/…

Two possible vendors:
http://www.tekmote.n…
https://kd85.com/lemote.html

I’ve been wanting a solid-state, ARM-based netbook since around 2001 but it looks like that’s still over the horizon. I’ve looked into getting a sparc-based notebook, but Tadpole got bought up by GD which seems hell-bent on preventing sales. Not to mention also that the price for the Tadpoles are high, though probably worth it. MIPS is a good archecture.

Wintel has been a problem for years. Before M$ cracked down on Asus and the others, Linux-based netbooks were all over the place.

****ARM and MIPS can run only modern software.***** When they get a foothold in the marketplace, the tipping will be highly visible.

So this is a small tipping point regarding hardware. ARM, because of the recognition by the public and the widespread use in tablets and mobiles, will be the real tipping point.

Let’s wait and watch how Microsoft attempts to fight this disruptive trend. The biggest mistake to make is to assume that Microsoft will not respond. It always does, but only behind the scenes where regulators and consumers can’t watch.

“I’m thinking of hitting the OEMs harder than in the past with anti-Linux. … they should do a delicate dance”

Joachim Kempin, Microsoft OEM Chief

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6 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Gravatar

    And here is an ARM-based netbook running Google’s Android:

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/06/08/0755256/7-inch-Android-Netbook-From-GNB

    However, there are a lot of other distros that work just fine on ARM.

    http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/
    http://www.ubuntu.com/news/arm-linux
    http://www.openbsd.org/armish.html
    http://www.netbsd.org/ports/arm/

    Others are heading that way:
    http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Architectures/ARM

    I look forward to eventually having netbooks that can be used for days on a single charge.

  2. reece said,

    June 8, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Gravatar

    I find it crazy that MS is trying to define what is and is not a netbook. I don’t want a software company restricting what hardware I use (from screen size to memory to lack of touch screen support).

    What’s even more depressing is that the OEM manufacturers will capitulate to Microsoft in order to retain the rights to sell Windows on their machines. This means that not only can I not buy a machine with Linux on it, but that I am forced to buy a more expensive and lower spec computer! Nice to see that customer choice is alive and well!

    What interests me about ARM is the better power consumption and battery life. This would make a good advantage point for an ARM-based device — especially for the people using it for college/university: “no need to connect it to the mains during the day”.

    I laughed when they suggested using WinCE on an ARM netbook. Right! Let’s use a limited and broken OS. I’d also like to see how many applications are supported for it and what their functionality is (read limited, cut down rubbish). And because WinCE is designed for smartphones and PDAs I’d like to see how it works with the better displays and graphics capabilities that a netbook offers (i.e. it won’t use them!).

    Now here’s hoping that ARM-based netbooks appear in the UK with Linux installed on them.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    They won’t capitulate if their market is 0% Windows. MIPS and ARM can be, if they wish, out of reach of that kind of pressure.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There are more signs that Vista 7 is too heavy, so Microsoft fattens machines:

    Microsoft Chutzpah on Full Display in Attempt to Rename Netbook

    Ah, Microsoft, that crazy company from Redmond, WA is at again. This time they want to rename the Netbook unilaterally to the…drum roll please…”low cost small notebook PC.”

    As first reported in the Digitimes last week, Microsoft decided on their own that the name was not appropriate and they were renaming it. I’m fairly sure they didn’t consult with the rest of the industry about this change, but hey they’re Microsoft right? They can do whatever they please. Of course, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to go along.”

    http://www.daniweb.com/blogs/entry4426.html

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Linux Foundation responds (unofficially):

    “Finally you have poor Microsoft’s rejection of both categories in favor of the term, “low-cost small notebook PC.” No surprise since the netbook/smartbook market is terrible for their business. The last time they used the term “netbooks” was in an earnings announcement where they stated, “client revenue declined 8% as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks.”

    “Nick Mediati at PCWorld said it best, “by Microsoft’s logic, “smart phones” should be renamed “pocket-sized handheld computing devices” since smart phones today do so much more than make phone calls and handle your appointment calendars. And “game consoles”? More like “home theater multimedia playback and gameplay consoles.” To arbitrarily change a product category’s catchy, memorable name to something ridiculous and jargony seems to make no sense at all.”

    http://www.linux-foundation.org/weblogs/jzemlin/2009/06/05/call-it-netbook-smartbook-or-%E2%80%9Clow-cost-small-notebook-pc-it-is-great-for-linux/

    pcolon Reply:

    Seems to be a microsoft habit of making something light to ‘bloatness’.

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