Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Linux competes with Vista for laptop market

Penguin Power; coming with your next low cost laptop?

Market trends have been moving towards people replacing their desktop computers with laptop computers, especially as prices of laptops continue to get cheaper, and wireless access becomes increasingly common.

Steven Vaughan-Nichols at eWEEK has a look at what this means for Windows Vista, and why there is an opening for Desktop Linux to best Vista in this market:

Cheap Laptops Bad for Vista, Good for Linux
Opinion: As laptops get cheaper, Linux and Windows XP are both making better business sense than Vista.

The good news for everyone is that you can get a good, solid laptop for under a grand these days. The bad news for Vista users is that many of those laptops, even though they're sold with Vista, have nothing like enough resources to run Vista decently.

This year, from everything I've seen, has lived up to the Merrill Lynch prediction that 2007 would be the year that notebooks overtook desktops to become the bigger revenue generator for PC makers. For some companies, like Hewlett-Packard, laptops have become the single most important revenue source.

There are a couple of reasons for this and they're closely tied together. First, a PC vendor can make more profit on an under-$1,000 laptop than it would on a PC at the same price. At the same time, with Wi-Fi being available essentially everywhere and laptop prices falling below the magic $1,000 mark, more and more customers, both consumer and business, are turning to laptops.

There's only one little problem with this if your company name is Microsoft. Those under-$1,000 laptops can't run Vista worth a darn. In addition, Vista has become a bigger and bigger part of a laptop's cost. So, if you're a PC vendor, you could either upgrade your hardware—and there goes your sweet price point; put Vista Home Basic on the system—which even Vista lovers admit is trash; or continue to sell Windows XP and give adventurous customers a Linux option.

What's happened is that people aren't upgrading their basic laptops. Computer price margins are razor-thin. If people want top-of-the-line laptop, vendors are happy to provide them at an appropriate price point. But Dell, HP, Acer, et al. know darn well that they sell more of their cheaper systems than premium ones.

When you see a cheap laptop, you're seeing one that almost certainly has a gigabyte or less RAM and some kind of embedded graphics chip like an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 with 8MB to 64MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory. Vista really requires 2GB before it becomes usable, and there's no point in even trying to run Vista's Aero interface with that low level of graphical horsepower, or perhaps I should say ponypower.[...]

See the rest of the article for more particulars, and embedded links.

There are big changes occurring in the desktop computer market, and a whole slew of low cost laptops and micro computers that will be coming onto the market soon, and Windows Vista is not capable of running on many of them. Linux is, and as a result, we may see it coming into use more widely. Lets hope so.

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