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This article was published on June 8, 2009

Microsoft is hell-bent on killing the Netbook

Microsoft is hell-bent on killing the Netbook
Martin SFP Bryant
Story by

Martin SFP Bryant


Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

WindowsXP_NetbookMicrosoft seems to be planning a murder. Its victim? Any kind of innovation in the Netbook market.

Take a look at the netbooks on sale right now. Virtually all have Windows XP, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. The key factor in building a netbook is price, so you’re not going to expect a powerful machine for your money.

Of course,  manufacturers are trying to sqeeze that little bit of extra power into their new models. The problem is that Microsoft is hell-bent on stopping them.

Let’s investigate:

The Evidence:

– MSI has been forced to remove the hybrid storage in its new Wind U115 netbook thanks to a new decree from Microsoft that anyone wanting to install Windows XP on their machine can’t use storage that combines the speed of flash memory with the greater size of a hard disk. This follows an earlier rule that netbooks with XP can’t have more than 1GB of RAM.

– Microsoft hates the name ‘Netbook’. They’d prefer we all use the term “Low cost small notebook PC“. Yes, that’s just as catchy and marketable isn’t it? It’s almost as if they want them to sound less desirable.

– Until there was a public outcry, Microsoft wanted to limit the netbook-friendly version of its upcoming Windows 7 OS to run no more than three applications at once. They eventually grudgingly relented and allowed unlimited apps.

The Motive:

Vista sales are flagging and Windows 7 is still at least four months away from release. Demand for XP is higher than Microsoft would like.

The fact is, people don’t care that the computer they’re buying is cheap and running an old OS; it does what they need it to. That must hurt Microsoft. Killing netbooks by strangling them with licensing restrictions and poor marketing is their desperate attempt to keep Vista sales afloat.

The Verdict:

Customers won’t be fooled. They’ve heard Vista is a poor choice and they’ll continue buying netbooks with XP as they’re cheap and  ‘good enough’. Microsoft’s actions, especially the licensing restrictions that hold manufacturers back from innovating, are at best morally questionable and at worst crying out for an anti-competition case against them.

For now let’s sentence Microsoft to a stern slap on the wrist and a demand that they realise that, as usual, the customer is right.

[Image: Drustar]

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