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Contrary to some recent reports, senior managers at Acer and other leading vendors have confirmed that Microsoft Windows XP now dominates the emerging sub-notebook market with more than 90% of new sales. Meanwhile, Linux, which had the netbooks market to itself until April this year, has seen its share of the space eroded to less than 10% in a breath-taking decline.

The netbooks market was effectively born in October 2007 when Asus released its first Eee PC 701 in Taiwan running a customised version of the Xandros Linux distribution. By the end of 2007, an estimated 1 million Eee PC units had been shipped.

A Microsoft XP version of the Eee PC was released in Japan in January 2008 and hit the rest of world around April. Microsoft, which had been caught flatfooted, by the netbook phenomenon, hastily resurrected Windows XP to meet the challenge. Despite coming from behind, Microsoft's strategy appears to have worked, according to executives at several major PC makers.

Acer, which has sprinted past Asus as the world's leading netbook vendor, shipped approximately 2.15 million units of its Aspire One netbook in Q3 2008. The total market for the quarter was approximately 5.6 million units, giving Acer 38.4% market share.

The Acer Aspire One, with an 8.9 inch display, is available with either Windows XP and Linpus Linux versions pre-installed. However, sales of the Windows version are dwarfing sales of the Linux version of the popular netbook.

"Our Windows XP netbooks are outselling Linux machines by more than 9 to 1," Henry Lee senior product manager - retail channel manager, Acer Computer Australia, told iTWire.

"That's pretty much the case both in Australia and worldwide.

"The Linux netbooks sell particularly to hardcore Linux users who want to customise their system.

"What we have seen when we launched the Aspire One around mid-year we found that the Windows numbers increased over time. Six months later, the percentage of Windows sales appears to have peaked and stabilised at a very high level."

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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