A long post on Operating Systems.

It’s an interesting time for operating systems.

The landscape was Microsoft dominating, Apple with a small, but fanatically loyal share and LINUX pulling up a distant third with a tiny hardcore geek base.

Then Microsoft decided to make its users relive the ME days with Vista, only worse. The timing was horrible, since Apple was gaining new customers with the iPod and iPhone. People who had deep, meaningful relationships with their iPod/iPhone and didn’t like what they were reading and hearing about Vista. So they figured what the Hell, and bought Mac desktops and notebooks.

Now, Vista isn’t as bad as its critics say it is, but it did have its share of problems. Lack of driver support when it was released was a big one. The overall bloat hurt them badly as well. People who upgraded not only found they had problems getting their various components to work properly, but what was a reasonably snappy system running XP became painfully slow running Vista. Then there was the outcry of the geeks against the new layers of “DRM Crap” stuck in the core of Vista. Ok, I was one of them, and it’s one of the reasons I’m still running XP. Then there were the multiple editions of Vista. Home Basic, Home Premium, a couple of business flavors, and for a bunch of money, the full featured version. This alone is all you need to know that Microsoft marketing is operating clueless and without a net. Given that, those who stuck through with Vista are much happier since Service Pack 1 came out. It seems that ugly blind date Microsoft stuck them with, cleaned up pretty good with SP1. Some users speak nicely of the new user interface, but a lot are still looking back at their XP days fondly.

Let us not forget our friend the penguin. LINUX was finally hitting non-nerd hands as the OS of choice for low cost netbooks. Personal computer manufactures work at razor thin margins, and an XP license can run $50. The whole idea of the netbooks was a lean device that did what you needed and not much more. Small screens, tiny keyboards, 4 Gig flash RAM hard drives and 512 Meg memory. Trying to wedge Vista into that wasn’t going to fly from a marketing standpoint, let alone a technical one. (ya, ya…I’ve heard geeks say they have Vista running on scaled down systems. I’m wondering what they had to turn off, and which of half dozen plus versions of Vista they were running).

Still, I’m not seeing much in the way of LINUX market penetration beyond the netbooks. Sorry geeks.

Since Acer got the netbook ball rolling, the larger manufactures have entered the market, specifically Dell and HP. They offer netbooks with LINUX at or near the Acer price point, and more robust (more RAM, bigger RAM flash HDs) models with a more consumer friendly XP loaded.

Even Microsoft figured out that Vista was a non-starter with the netbook market. That is why they extended XP beyond their already announced end of sale date.

Which brings us to Windows 7, which Microsoft has been frantically leaking information about. Call it Vista reengineered if you like. It seems that Microsoft actually learned something from the beating it has taken over Vista, and has its engineers going through the OS code and “cleaning up.” Actually removing unneeded code and rewriting modules to be smaller and faster. A couple of lines here, a few cycles there. When you have all the code teams actively doing it, those small trimmings add up. From what I’ve heard from people who have BETA releases, Microsoft has hit its goal of having Windows 7 run on netbook platform.

Before we get too excited, keep in mind the release date for Windows 7 is Q110. So you have another year of keeping XP running or taking the Vista plunge if you are a Microsoft OS user.

Now let us talk about the new kid on the block. Yup, Google. You have heard the rumors about Google getting into the OS market. Guess what, they already did. It’s Android. The Google OS is already loose in the wilds, running on a mobile platform and trying to pass itself off as a mild mannered phone.

Ok, so you can make calls with it. I can make VoIP calls with my desktop too. The lines are blurry these days. Most people with iPhones will tell you that the fact that they can make calls with it secondary. It’s a mobile internet device. Android is a Creature of the Clouds (You heard that description of a Cloud computing based device here first kids!).

Android is designed to work well with the existing Google net based services like Gmail and Google calendar. It also isn’t locked to a platform and provider the way the iPhone is to Apple/iTunes. Listen, I have a deep and meaningful relationship with my iPhone, but it’s getting dumped once Android gets a bit more mature and supports a few more platforms and providers.

I would not be surprised to see Android, or some flavor of it, running on netbooks by the time Windows 7 hits the street. I wouldn’t bet that Google couldn’t beat Microsoft in getting a netbook running Google OS on the shelves before Windows 7 is commercially available.

Updating right after posting! According to CNET, Microsoft is going to try and get Windows 7 out by Q409, specially for the Christmas buying season.  Good luck guys.  I’m still sticking by my Android on a netbook first prediction.

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6 Responses

  1. You missed another inclusion of Linux among the nontechnophiles – ultracheap desktops. Walmart has a 200 buck desktop with a flavor of Ubuntu installed..

  2. I usually use a laptop or notebook as my primary computer, but since my ASUS EEEPC more or less fills that “mobile computer” niche, my next computer will probably be a desktop.

    I’ve got a Vista notebook computer which, well … it works but it’s also more annoying than any other OS in my history. I’m not at all fond of Vista, but I don’t hate it enough to go back to XP.

    Weirdly enough, my favorite feature of Vista is the DOS command ROBOCOPY, which is almost fearful in its usefulness.

  3. Point on the Walmart systems. Looking back, I didn’t mention them because there just isn’t that much buzz about them? Any sales numbers available on those?

    The LINUX netbooks took a sizable chunk out of overall laptop sales. So much so, the large manufacturers are joining in.

    I saw an HP “netbook” running Vista the other day. I told the saleguy that it really couldn’t be called a netbook because it was over the $500 price point.

  4. Apparently Sears is also now selling a lowbuck Linux desktop. A Digg Article posted in August quoted 4% of the market is Linux..

  5. You know, I could kick myself for forgetting to show you how I can swap documents between the Tungsten and the EEEPC…

    The new iPhone update is looking pretty good so far. The enhanced map application is pretty good — it allows the user to select “Driving”, “Public Transport”, and “Walking.”

  6. […] first Android Netbook Posted on April 26, 2009 by Mark Urbin Back in early November of last year, I predicted that Android would be running on Netbooks before Windows 7. Last month, it came out that Asus had […]

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