Because Netbooks first introduced at the end of 2007, you’d think the little notebooks would be running the cutting-edge, greatest, latest OS. But guess what? The most favored Netbook operating system is the venerable Windows XP (especially Windows XP Home), which was first came out in October 2001. In the past few years, Microsoft has tried its best to supplant the dated operating system, but has not had much success. Even though the company has ceased mainstream support for Windows XP, it will continue providing free security updates until 2014. Microsoft’s marketing problem is obvious, XP just works. It’s easy to use, predictable, reliable, supports all kinds of hardware programs and devices, and is as convenient as an old sweater. Six months after the release of Windows Vista, sixty-three percent of PCs connected to the web are still running Windows XP – compare that to a meager twenty-four percent for Windows Vista, with the remainder split up evenly between Mac and Linux. Windows 7 has a better chance to replace XP or even Vista, in the next few years. Aside from overall consumer popularity, Windows XP is well suited for underpowered Netbooks. Even a 1st generation Netbook with just 512 Kb of RAM and a 900 MHz CPU can run Windows XP and many Windows applications reasonably well. Netbooks with more RAM and a faster CPU are even better. Surely, aside from a dinkier screen, you should expect Windows XP to run on a Netbook just like it does on a normal desktop or laptop – and that means almost all the Windows programs work with acceptable stability.
At first, the fame of Linux in Netbooks took many by surprise – certainly, including Microsoft. When mini-laptops were first introduced, they exclusively ran lite flavors of Linux OS. Manufacturers provided instructions for putting in Windows XP if the user happened to own a spare copy, but a buyer could not purchase an off-the-shelf mini-laptop with the Microsoft OS installed.
Then all of a sudden, Windows XP Netbooks became available in many stores – for the equal price as Linux Netbooks. This was strange because Linux was free and did not need any manufacturer licensing fees, like Windows did. Some industry experts (and naturally, conspiracy theorists) thought Microsoft recognized a looming threat to its hegemony. The stories go that the Redmond executives started offering computer manufacturers some very attractive incentives and licensing deals if they sold Netbooks with Windows XP Home edition installed. And in just a few months, Windows XP Netbooks were outselling their Linux counterparts by a wide margin of 9 to 1. Some suggested Microsoft was only making about $15 from a Netbook that uses XP – just compare that to around $55 each time a notebook with Windows Vista is sold. Nobody knows what had happened, but even that’s true, it’s unlikely that Linux community will sue Microsoft.