The first Asus Eee netbooks only came with Linux. Linux was the first choice for Asus to offer a low-cost mini notebook. Now 2 years later Linux is predicted to only get 10% of the netbook OS market share in 2009. What is going wrong for Linux?
Microsoft got scared early on when the netbook hype was just starting and made Asus a deal to license XP for a much lower licensing fee. This is how Microsoft got into the netbook market - with a stone-old, but good Windows. The more mainstream netbooks got the more customers went for what they know, which in most cases is Windows.Dell still said in February that about 30% of their netbooks sell with Linux. Digitimes reports today that Chinese Economic Daily News published a report of a Taiwanese research firm that sees Linux at a 10% market share on netbooks in 2009. Most netbooks come from Taiwan so these predictions might have substance. I assume they see a huge surge of Windows 7 on netbooks in 2009.
The problem with Linux is that netbook makers always do their own packaging and seldom go only with a Linux distributor like Ubuntu. This means developement and support costs that Microsoft sure argues are much higher than with a Windows OS. Linux is too scattered to compete with Windows 7. Most likely the Microsoft marketing power will plaster Windows 7 on almost all netbooks in this year and in 2010.
I feel sorry for Linux. This was its chance to get on the end user desktop, but it is almost certain it lost the war unless Microsoft makes a mistake with Windows 7. See our Netbook Guide for the best netbooks to buy right now.