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Death of Linux on netbooks greatly exaggerated

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Netbooks and other small form-factor computing devices are growing in popularity. These low-budget products are looking increasingly relevant in the current economy and are attracting consumers who are looking for better value and mobility. This trend offers a unique chance for the open source Linux platform—which is well-suited for netbooks and doesn't add any licensing costs—to gain some much-needed traction.

Vista is too demanding for netbook hardware, so Microsoft has chosen to extend the lifespan of Windows XP in order to stave off broader Linux use on low-end mobile hardware. This provides a window of opportunity for Linux to get a meaningful foothold in the market—an achievement that has perpetually eluded the free operating system—while Microsoft is prepping Windows 7, which is said to be more netbook-friendly than Vista.

The folks at Microsoft, however, contend that they have already won. In a triumphant blog entry posted earlier this month, Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc asserts that Redmond has dominated the netbook space. Citing the latest NPD retail tracking reports, he says that Windows netbook marketshare has grown to 96 percent. He also suggests that high return rates for Linux netbooks are a sign that consumers overwhelmingly prefer Windows.

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