Acer, the world's third-largest PC maker, says Linux -- not XP -- is the way to go for ultra low-cost PCs (ULCPCs), reports a story from IDG News Service. Statements made today by Acer executives were clearly subtle digs at Microsoft. This is not surprising given that Microsoft wants to call the shots on what PC makers can/cannot do in this market by refusing to sell its special low-cost version of XP unless devices meet Microsoft's list of hardware limitations. While it is understandable that Microsoft doesn't want Windows ULCPCs to cannibalize the market for Vista, it is the kind of strategy that creates hostilities between Microsoft and its OEM customers. Simply put, the operating system vendor shouldn't be calling the shots for the hardware maker. That is, if a hardware maker can create a higher-powered Windows PC and grab market share by selling it for an ULCPC price, that should be a decision that's left to the hardware maker.
The result is that Acer has more reason than ever to look at and invest in Linux as the operating system of choice for their ULCPCs. For instance, Acer developed One Page, a homepage for its laptop that launches before the OS loads. It allows users to get to their favorite content immediately. The page offers quick access to music, messaging software, games, the Internet, and more, and is clearly a push-back to Microsoft's method of letting Windows take its long, sweet time to boot up. This is but the beginning for Acer, the IDG News Service story reports:
"We really need to continue our journey on Linux," said Jim Wong, senior corporate vice president at Acer, in an interview. "We can develop it more and we will try to develop alliances with more partners. Linux is a lonely word. We need to try to create a community," he added. The call to develop a Linux community around low-cost laptops appears to be a swipe at Microsoft.
That swipe indicates the frustration PC makers have had with Microsoft. Microsoft's creation of resource-hungry Vista, along with Microsoft's insistence that it is time to retire XP is more than problematic for PC makers. This is a time when already low margins on PCs are being decimated even further by the ULCPC makers (Asus, Intel -- even, to some extent, One Laptop Per Child). Being handed a resource-hungry operating system doesn't help PC makers compete on this low end. Unless, of course, they ditch Windows.
Microsoft still holds the advantage for the time being. More of the software consumers and enterprises want is available for Windows, not Linux. However, with virtual machines and applications like Wine (which allows Windows apps to run on Linux), that's not much of an advantage these days. As Acer's example shows, ultimately, Microsoft's missteps in this area could be good for consumers and the enterprise alike. It will push PC makers to throw more resources at Linux, improving performance for the platform as well as software options, while keeping that sweet, low, open source price.
More Microsoft Subnet blog posts:
XP lives on in low-cost desktops, too (see the video)
Blackberry's a Ferrari, iPhone's a DeLorean
"Oslo" -- a unified development platform -- highlighted at TechEd for Developers launch
A Microsoft "Live" search bar on HP PCs
Five great giveaways for June from Microsoft Subnet and Cisco Subnet
20 great Windows open source projects you should get to know
Six free security tools you shouldn't live without
Julie Bort is the editor of Microsoft Subnet and Network World's Online Community Editor. She also writes the Open Source Subnet blog and is the editor responsible for the Cisco Subnet and Open Source Subnet web sites. If you have an idea for a blog, or a news tip on Microsoft, Cisco or Open Source technologies, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-482-6454 or follow Julie on Twitter @Julie188.
The Microsoft Subnet blog is the official blog of the Network World's Microsoft Subnet community. Microsoft Subnet is the independent voice of Microsoft customers and is your gateway to daily Microsoft news, blogs, opinion, books, prize giveaways and more. Visit the Microsoft Subnet index page daily, and while you are there, subscribe to the Microsoft newsletter.
Policy on comments: Respectful discussion is welcomed! However comments that use inappropriate language, consist of name calling or personal attacks, or include accusations of wrongdoing are not appropriate. Those comments will be deleted or edited