Windows netbook market share continues to grow

April 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm

WindowsNearly exactly a month ago, we reported how the Windows operating system dominated netbooks sold in the US. Approximately 90 percent of netbooks sold during November to January ran Windows XP and the remainder Linux. It appears that Windows extended this dominance in February, with 96 percent of netbooks running Windows during February 2009 according to the latest NPD Retail Tracking Service data.

According to Brandon LeBlanc from the Windows Experience Blog, one of the main reasons for this is the high return rates associated with Linux, as people expect a ‘Windows experience’. Apparently, Carphone Warehouse in the UK, dropped Linux netbooks due to a 1-in-5 return rate and customer confusion. Regarding Windows 7, he talks about the fact that they have been testing Win 7 on netbooks even before the feature list was complete. They are also looking to optimise the OS to be able to run any edition of Windows 7.

I would take the stats with a pinch of salt. What Brandon doesn’t talk about is the number of extensions that Windows XP has seen as well as the significant discounts offered to vendors. Indeed, the latest news we have heard on this is that Microsoft has now extended Windows XP for use on new PCs to April 30 2010. The inability of Windows Vista to run on netbooks forced Microsoft to offer very low cost licenses for Windows XP to kill off the threat of Linux finding a foothold on low cost hardware.

Also, with ARM-based processors pushing onto the scene in the second half of the year, we are likely to see more Linux based operating systems in these devices. Remember, ARM processors cannot use Windows XP/Vista/7, so will be limited to Linux, Android and Windows CE. With forecasts suggesting that ARM will find itself in 55 percent of netbooks by 2010, this Windows dominance may still yet turn on its head.


9 Responses to “Windows netbook market share continues to grow”

  1. Tony Belding said:
    April 5th, 2009 2:31 PM

    Another possible reason why fewer Linux netbooks are being sold: because fewer vendors are offering them. A number of Linux offerings have been discontinued even though they were selling briskly. Others can still be ordered but are no longer stocked by retail stores. Microsoft remains in a position to twist the arms of many netbook makers and distributors, and it would be naive (particularly in light of Microsoft’s past record) to imagine they aren’t doing so.

    ARM-based netbooks with Linux will be introduced and promoted primarily by companies that aren’t already established in the PC business, and therefore don’t hold any loyalty or fear towards Microsoft.

  2. zelrik said:
    April 5th, 2009 2:54 PM

    I completely agree with Tony Belding. Also note is the difference between retail stores and online stores. Dell is an online store and is doing very well.

    Microsoft is not part of Freescale or Qualcomm’s plans.

  3. asdf said:
    April 5th, 2009 3:07 PM

    I heard Dell is shipping 30% of their netbooks with Linux.

    Unfortunatelly we can’t find any Linux netbooks in the stores. I hope this will change with the much cheaper ARM netbooks — they will open the gates (no pun intended) to a Linux flood.

  4. James said:
    April 5th, 2009 3:51 PM

    If Microsoft succeeds in eliminating Linux entirely as an option, look for a 50 percent increase in the cost of net books as Microsoft returns to their historical pricing scheme for Windows. Already they are talking about a “starter edition” of Windows 7 which will be functionally crippled, as a way of keeping the price of Windows based net books artificially low. This is how a company without competition treats its customers.

  5. Eric said:
    April 6th, 2009 3:09 AM

    People’s reluctance to get used to different, software and interface causes them to have to use crippled equipment. Windows anything runs like crap on the current netbooks. Xandros Linux is better, but did not compare to Ubuntu Eee which we put on the Asus 900 Eee I got for my daughter for use at college. She does everything except CAD assignments on it. She carries it everywhere with her in her purse and uses it the same and to accomplish the same tasks as she did using her desktop workstation which she had no more use for and sent home. Why anyone would tolerate the (lack of) functionality of Windows on a Netbook is beyond me. But then, they don’t understand why I would put up with occasional inconveniences I must contend with in order to have the freedom of Free Software.

  6. Reddish said:
    April 6th, 2009 6:47 PM

    I think that Tony Belding said it clearly and we have all seen that linux netbooks are sold out but not restocked. That would certainly explain the numbers and it has indeed a lot to do with some kind of threat or agreement of MS with the vendors. In my country we can only find linux netbooks sold by small stores but no big stores carries them as they only sell MS-loadad stuff.

  7. Jet Sun said:
    April 6th, 2009 8:19 PM

    Some very interesting points made. It certainly is not as clear cut as Microsoft are suggesting. My view is that OSes catered for the netbook form-factor will fare the best over the longer-run.

    This could be Windows 7 failing as we still don’t know for sure whether nebooks will get a specific SKU or not. Those that revamp the UI to cater for the smaller screen and are fast and easy to use will succeed. Many expect that Android will come up trumps here but some of the lower-profile Linux projects could also surprise.

  8. Steve Barker said:
    April 7th, 2009 5:43 AM

    Someone I work with went into one of the UKs largest computer chains to buy two netbooks for his daughters.

    He was intending to buy two Linux Acer Ones, but the salesman asked what his daughters used them for. When the salesman heard messaging, he stated that the Acer would be pointless as Microsoft messenger does not work on Linux!

    The XP netbooks cost about 40% more, and come without the flexible Gaim/Pidgin program

  9. Mika said:
    April 8th, 2009 5:42 AM

    Has anyone tested difference of battery performance/operating time between Windows XP and Windows 7 Beta?