Microsoft: "Windows on 96% of netbooks"


Here's a nice stat. According to the Microsoft Windows Team Blog, Windows market share in the blossoming netbook market has reached a whopping 96% as of February this year. "Not only are people overwhelmingly buying Windows, but those that try Linux are often returning it", says the blog, claiming that "customer confusion" has led the Carphone Warehouse, a major UK mobile phone (and now netbook) retailer, to drop Linux.

As you'd expect, the blog waxes lyrical about how great Windows is on netbooks. "There’s a wizard to help with just about anything, so you’ll never need to go to the command line and manually configure things." Many would argue that modern Linux distributions provide a GUI-driven way to do just about anything, and while everyone would concede that the command line is important for some very advanced tasks, how many Windows tips and tricks involve poking around in the Windows registry?

But anyway: we want to know your thoughts. When you're out and about and see people using netbooks, would you also say that 96% are running Windows? Are you seeing fewer Linux-powered netbooks in shops? And what can the Linux community -- and especially the distro makers -- do to make Linux more attractive to netbook buyers?

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Your comments

The numbers are probably

The numbers are probably right. It boils down to 3 things IMO: (1) People are just more familiar with Windows and don't want to change. (2) The dumbed down Linux that came preinstalled on some early netbooks (3) The simple unavailability of Linux netbooks in some markets.

And we believe them, don't we??

Let Microsoft produce the evidence to back up their claims.

Of course, they never do.

About ease of use

Linux newbie speaking here: I'm a long time IT engineer trying to get the hang of the Penguin, but probably didn't find the right distribution thate makes me "do anything with a GUI-driven interface".
I find Linux a great Operating System but there are still too many tasks (or tweaks) that can be accomplished only from the terminal.
This is my feeling: Windows is a GUI Operating System with command-line features, while Linux is a command-line Operating System with a GUI front-end.
As a side note Linux badly needs good video drivers! Almost 10% the posts I read on various forums is about graphics issues (that I experience, too).


It does seem like there's fewer linux netbooks around where I live than it used to be when they first arrived in the shops. Seems like they've stopped selling eee's and aspire one with linux here.

Right to a degree

While the Microsoft guys are probably right about a large quantity of people choosing Windows on their netbook, some are probably returning to the store the moment they see they bought Linux. But 96%? That's way above the amount I'd guestimate it to be.

Truth is, there's a very good reason people want Linux, and it's rather simple.

Think of how great Linux is, now make it better, make it so that everything works, all the graphics, all the issues, everything, out of the box, make it work. Make everything compatible with it while you're at it! Make Linux the perfect little slice of heaven you'd want it to be, done?

I'd guess that about 90% of computer users want Windows instead, and a lot of them will trade back Linux for Windows. Simple reason is that Linux isn't Windows.

The whole "Windows is easier" thing doesn't matter a single bit, either way, if it was completely right, or if it was completely wrong. Truth is that for most people the easiest thing is the one they're used to. It takes a bit of time to learn the things that Linux does differently than Windows, and people who have often spend a hundred percent of their time on Windows aren't going to make that effort.

Hell, customer confusion in this case is probably nothing more then "What the hell, this isn't how computers are supposed to look like", and thye bring it back.

It wouldn't surprise me...

...if the figures are accurate. A lot of people I know are buying a linux netbook and then installing XP on it, and the only reason they bought the linux machine was because it had more storage space.

Either way, Microsoft are on the defensive here. They're effectively bragging that linux only has 4% of the netbook market. 4% sounds OK to me, as Apple gets by fine with it's 8% of the desktop market.

It's also worth mentioning that Microsoft are giving XP away for next to nothing to keep their netbooks priced competitively. That will all change next year when the only option is Windows 7. There's no way Microsoft will give that away for peanuts, and the linux share will increase.

Linux users need to stop getting hung up on market share. It's not the be all and end all.



Market share IS important, very much so.

More market share = more support.

More market share on Linux is going to end up making sure that people will target Linux as a development platform, both for hardware and software. Which if I recall correctly is not a bad thing at all.



Market share IS important, very much so.

More market share = more support.

More market share on Linux is going to end up making sure that people will target Linux as a development platform, both for hardware and software. Which if I recall correctly is not a bad thing at all.

Never said it was a bad thing

Of course the bigger the share the better the situation (in terms of support etc). The fact is that up to now Linux has done fine with a market share way smaller than 4%, and Apple does perfectly fine with a market share not much bigger.

The market share will rise; let's not obsess over it.

Keep in mind that in that

Keep in mind that in that 96% there are some who are probably only buying the windows netbooks only to wipe the hard disk and install another OS. Not very many probably but there are some.



Market share IS important, very much so.

More market share = more support.

More market share on Linux is going to end up making sure that people will target Linux as a development platform, both for hardware and software. Which if I recall correctly is not a bad thing at all.

Let them fry in their own juice.

"When you're out and about and see people using netbooks, would you also say that 96% are running Windows? Are you seeing fewer Linux-powered netbooks in shops?"
Yes, the figures are most likely right. My observation coincides with it.
But the reasons the MS guys seem to suggest are not entirely true. If MS - as they always do - put pressure on the hardware vendors to sell their hardware with Windows only or otherwise they won't get the ridiculous discount on Windows they are getting now (and with a low overall price for the device that becomes even more important) then hardware vendors will of course only offer Windows with their devices and no alternative. Consequentially everybody who buys a device buys it with windows and - oh wonder - MS nears 100% market share. Whether that is because of consumer request id not said by this simple fact.

"And what can the Linux community -- and especially the distro makers -- do to make Linux more attractive to netbook buyers?"
That is probably hard to tell because the whole "Linux economics" work different then the Windows/Microsoft one. However, it is easier to say what they should do. Nothing!! Let the Windows user have it, the whole "Windows experience" - full throttle. Let them cherish a 5+ year-old GUI, unhelpful "help texts", the dreadful "wizards", informationless error messages, costly licences, security problems galore, no support claims despite payed software - the whole package. In fact, the licences are not yet expensive enough and the worms, trojans and spyware is not nearly frequently enough. The ignorant Windows user needs a lot more punishment - much more.
I you haven't guessed by now I'm true fed up with the average Windows user and long past the stage where I voluntarily offer people help for the messed-up Windows boxes. And I'm also past the stage to advertise for Linux, get them interested and try to convince them to switch. Because most who did take a peek seemed to employ 100% of their time to pick on Linux and how this and that doesn't work perfectly or was different from Windows.
So - let them rot with Windows, the longer and more painful, the better. >_<

This comes as no surprise to me

This was to be expected. This was the ONLY way that netbooks can sell here in the US. When I saw two versions of the Asus EEE, one with Xandros, and the other with Windows XP running at the local Best Buy, people in my hometown found the Windows version "more at home" than the Xandros version.

What does that tell you about the consumer market?

It says to me that we have a long way to go to get Linux on desktops in the home environment.

I personally tried the EEE myself, and frankly, I prefer the Xandros version better!

But then, why buy a new Netbook, when you can purchase a regular laptop for $100 USD more and install your favourite distribution on it?

Someone write another blaster worm :-)

The only reason I got one with Windows was that it was a refurb and it was cheap. I then proceeded to install my favorite Linux distro (OpenSUSE) via a network installation. So now I dual-boot and get the best of both worlds. Surf the internet with less worries of virusses and malware , Microsoft office for work and a functioning Laser printer which has no Linux drivers that work :-)

Preference is not the answer. Why can't we live side by side.
Btw, I use Linux and my wife uses Windows.

Boils down to Xandros & co

Boils down to Xandros & co ruining the chances.


I have never seen an "Device" (of what kind this may be) which was driven by Linux in any shop here.

Linux > Windows

LOL, I bought a Dell mini with Windows home edition (because there is not any Linux version here, in Iran!!) and remove Windows and install Ubuntu!

Did they count me? :D

What I think went wrong

No real "Desktop": Ubuntu is the distro with more chances to make Linux mainstream but Netbook makers opt for bad Icon based GUIs. If there was a desktop like Gnome or KDE since the beginning Linux would be selling better.

Linux as a toy to OEMs: OEMs don't really support Linux because they see it as a toy, we have a small market share and a lot of potential so they see Linux as the new toy and they are experimenting on it and failing on it.

No marketing: Without a marketing strategy, who will actually know what Linux is? OEMs are not educating people on what Linux is, that's why they expect an experience similar to Windows. That doesn't happen with OSX, because Apple has educated their customer and potential customers on what Mac is.

Driver Support: This is another area hardware manufacturers have failed. Nvidia and ATI have been developing Linux drivers for years but their drivers are junk compared to Windows and Mac drivers. Why? Because of our small market share. But why don't hardware manufactures really push their drivers on Linux so old and new users have a better Linux experience. This will attract more people to Linux.

My point is Microsoft still has a lot of power over everyone and everything and no one is doing nothing to stop them because these companies only care about $$$$$

Linux not entirely to blame

It was a big mistake in my opinion to put Xandros on the EeePC with the big goofy menus. It made the thing look like a toy.

Why are netbook makers only shipping single distros with a single window manager?

Someone needs to at least put multiple window managers on a netbook, and make so that upon startup the user chooses which "mode" they want to use for that session.

And call them something like Smooth Mode and Buggy Mode and Fast Mode and Minimal Mode instead what we know as Gnome, KDE, XFCE, Fluxbox, etc. That way people will think "Hey, it's the same thing, it just behaves a little differently." Let them figure out the way they like to work.

Bonus points for whomever can develop a way to switch from one window manager to another on the fly.

I would say 80~90%...

I won't doubt the figure that 96% of netbook had Windows installed AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE, but this isn't equivalent 96% of netbook users are using Windows <b>EXCLUSIVELY</b>!

Just like Haris much earlier, and the Iranian Penguin couple posts up, many people are just getting the Windows version because it is the ONLY version they could get! Here in Sydney Australia, many retailers sell only the Windows version once the XP version was released (or after the price for XP was cut)(talk about MONOPOLY!!). Sure, many users really don't care about what the underlying OS is. But the retailers are really stubborn about the myth that only Windows will sell well (which is true to only a certain degree and not as great as you would think), and force the market to adopt only the Windows version.

Having said that, I wouldn't be too optimistic about the market share of Linux based netbook users. After all, netbooks are targeting at people who wants worry-free, and are less enthusiastic to invest time and money in computers. Now they can only get Windows version they wouldn't bother wiping out Windows and install Linux.

I guess the other problem I'm pointing out is that it's just not the users the community need to convince but also the retailers. If they can wake up from the myth and know they can earn money from selling Linux based items they won't be as negative towards Linux as much as now. Only then users who are less familiar with Linux can get exposed to the bright side of the world. (I do know how many alternative methods users can get Linux, but, please, I really don't want to argue about it.)

PS. I know the blog doesn't render tags, but I am sure everyone know the bold tags are just there to give more effects, if psychologically.


Are these netbooks sold with Windows? or netbooks currently running windows?

I have purchased a fleet (25 at least) of the Dell mini nine refurbed with windows, they now all run Ubuntu 8.10. I guess I'm guilty for confusing the stats!

linux not guite ready?

I use ubuntu as much as pos' but have to use a virtualbox xp for printing and boot vista for gaming.

For me its down to hardware compatibility. Get that and windows is of my hd for good. Can't convert anyone to linux because their software won't run.

Don't think 96% is entirely

Don't think 96% is entirely accurate -- seems a little too high.

Can happily say I saw Xandros EEE PCs in PC World a while back, along with the Windows models. At least they offered the choice.

Not entirely true

Apparantly that 96% figure is supposed to refer to US sales for the month of february not worldwide total sales.

I expect that more netbooks are sold with windows than some flavour of linux in the UK by maybe three to one. I guestimate this based on the fact that netbooks seem to appeal to people purchasing from consumer electronics stores and the large chain of computer supermarkets with the red and yellow sign. The staff who "advise" customers in these shops seem to steer people towards windows, probably because they dont know anything about linux and dont want to talk about it (to be fair some of them seem not to know what a power cord is let alone a computer operating system). These stores also seem to stock several netbooks with windows and just the aspire one with linux.

The problem is linux did it wrong

Here's my take:

1-Poor Marketing. You know how people stop by the mac section in a computer store and look at the demos playing on screen showing some osx features? And everyone says, oh it looks so nice? If instead of a fisher-price looking desktop and a graphics card that does nothing they had bet in something that looked good, modern and had compiz running and a demo screensaver, things would be different. Because of...
2-Hardware support. Let's not kid ourselves here. Nothing works on linux. Having to install the kernel headers, compiling a module by hand does not count as working. Only in the geek world of a computer science user forum does that count as working. But to avoid flaming, let me rephrase that and say that only a fraction of things work on linux and they don't work reliabily. And this is a WIDELY known fact by the public. Users buy linux, get home and guess what? Their webcam doesn't work, the usb dongle for 3G internet does nothing, the printer doesn't print, the scanner doesn't scan.

And I'm not even going to mention office, photoshop and the like which is very important.

Only with a fantastic looking desktop and very clever marketing would linux infiltrate the market dispite all the issues with hardware. I have to print documents on my desktop, but hey, at least my netbook takes 5second to boot and this cube thing is pretty darn cool innit?

Instant on, desktop effects, clever marketing and microsoft dropping windows xp are the only chance linux has.


Much of the problem lies in the programs available. Gimp is great; Open Office much less so. DTP is not well served, nor HTML editing. These are the reasons I dual boot.
Oh, and I bought a Dell mini with XP because it came with a larger faster solid state drive which was not an option with Linux.


This is complete rubbish. I'm seeing Linux more and more (and rightly so!) on netbooks of any sort! We just need to have TV ads explaining how easy it is to use.

We also need to have Ubuntu Netbook Remix rather than the Acer operating system, because in Acer it's really difficult to install new software that you'd expect to be available, although a short list is available, it's no good still. There's only a few.

We need stuff to work out the box (which we've got mostly) and new software to be available really quickly (unfortunately lacking in Acer). Especially, if there are windows-only drivers and no linux driver, there should be a mechanism that tries ndiswrapper in a GUI format, and then bugs the manufacturers automatically.

I would not be surprised as

I would not be surprised as well if that figure is correct.

Where I live, I have never seem the linux versions of the any of the netbooks

I read on websites that it's availiable.

It comes back to the fact, people know windows. At the end of the day retailers will sell the windows versions because that sells.

We just have supposings

What really surprises me is this notice that most people are returning netbooks with Linux OS is not new, but until now nobody worry yet about to do a serious research to discover what the real reasons for why this is happen. All we have nowadays are just supposing.

I have my own supposing too: Linux and others opensource softwares suffer of bad famous. If fact, at least for me, Linux just achieve maturity for use in desktops only on last two years. I have using linux almost every day and I don´t see any necessity to open a console to do anything. Although that I still listen people saying 'on linux you have to do anything on console'. This is true in the past, but not anymore!

The same happens with OpenOffice as well, that have been improving very fast lately. I´ve been using this lately and I've to say that I'm not missing M$ Office.

Modest Master of all things programming ... ;)

I just recently had a conversation with my finacee about OpenOffice, which is not Linux per say, but is open source software and she indicated that the mere inconvenience of having to select "doc" as the file type when saving files for Micros*&t office was worth the money to her and most of people she knows at her work. This really makes me angry. I used the analogy of carrying somebody a thousand miles and then asking them to walk 5 feet instead of 4 to reach the finish line only to hear .. "it's just too much hassle for me"

I run a pretty tight ship around the house when it comes to computers and only hers has windows installed on it, but even with a relative expert in the house I still can't get to budge. If I weren't here I think she would either buy or pirate office.

Sometimes I think consumers deserve what they pay for. Some consumers deserve to loose their money to microsoft. You can drag a horse to water but you can't make them drink.


My notebook was at a great price when I bought it but it had vista preinstalled, I never even boooted it up, just stuck my Fedora disk in and that was that. I wonder how many others have done the same?

Not on my Samsung NC10

Wiped that crapware off but where was the option to choose what OS was installed. It may be that 96% of netbooks are sold with no option to choose another OS.

Lets see if I manage to get the refund of the Microsoft Tax. I am not sure I have the patience to see it through, but I am trying. I feel it is my duty to try.

@Anonymous Bloke

@Anonymous Bloke: I'll agree with you that marketing is poor but the hardware thing is pure FUD. If you installed the OS yourself on something that came with Windows, I can see that you might encounter some hardware issues. But what would prevent a manufacturer from ensuring that a pre-installed Linux on a netbook is working completely?


I wet my pants when I read this :)

where to buy an linux netbook.

I wonder where can someone buy an linux netbook.
I don't know about any stores here in sweden where you can buy a Linux netbook.
I did some investegation and got the answers that they make no money on the Linux netbooks and they can't sell Microsoft Office or antivirus to the Linux customer.
So they stopped selling Linux netbooks.
So it's not that it's linux it's about makeing money.
And the windows netbooks are more expensive so they make more money on only the netbook it self.

A few points

> LOL, I bought a Dell mini with Windows home edition (because there is not any Linux version here, in Iran!!) and remove Windows and install Ubuntu!
> Do they count me?
- anonymous penguin (above)
I think they do - if they do then this is a spectacularly inaccurate figure.

Also, MS are playing a lot on the fact that Netbooks are just computers, but don't appear to be at first look. For example, at my local WH Smith, there is a poster next to the Office Home and Student 07 - saying "Now works on netbooks". Many people may be returning there netbooks because it *doesn't* work on Linux.

And, since when does Office not run on computers that run Windows anyway?

(Aah! I was mocked mercilessly by the CAPTCHA!)

Story form Ukraine

Here in Ukraine most netbooks with Linux are low-end (8" and 9", no HDD). On contrast Windows netbooks are top-end (10", HDD). It looks like we got such Linux netbooks which are selling badly on other markets (Europe, US).
So, it's quite naturally that people choose Windows machines.
I've bought Windows netbook also (because of better hardware). And guys from M$ proudly included me in that 96%. The truth is that Windows lived only a few days on my netbook, until I managed to install some Linux distro on it. Guys from M$ probably don't know about this fact :D

sfdrew - tell your fiancee that she doesn't need to select DOC

sfdrew - if I have understood your comment about your fiancee properly, I'd just say that if you go to the OpenOffice options screen, Load And Save tab, you can set OpenOffice to save all files in DOC format automatically - your fiancee will not have to select it.

Hope this helps.

Utter tosh

I live in the Bath area of England and I must say that the majority of people I see run Linux on their netbooks, however the majority just don't seem to know it. From my experience they seem to think that it is an application running in windows or something similar. My friend works in pc world and I get the impression that the majority of the netbooks that he sells are not running window$. I would be interested to know where this figure is from and for what region it applies to as in my opinion Micro$oft have about 40% of the market.

Knowledge (or rather the sales teams) is power!

People want netbooks for surfing the internet, documents etc. In order to do this they need a connection. My wife a die hard Windows user let up and allowed me to get her a Acer Aspire One....which she loves and is more than happy with its Linpus. However when she purchased a 3G 12 month Broadband USB connector she was told by Three that they would not work with Linux. As it happens all it required was an update and some settings (for Three) that were required to be typed in on the Mobile Manager (Actually provided by the company that manufactors the USB connectors!). SO in this case it was the sales people who were advising customers that the Aspire would not run. I did however provide them with the instructions for other users when I informed them it would work.
If its easy to use people will use it. It just needs to be foolproof. Its just that these people can get more help easily from windows users than they can Linux :)



How to do the basic things

We have 3 netbooks(Aspire One A110L models) in our household - my wife and son are very happy with Linux - although on mine I replaced Linpus with Fedora 10 XFCE spin, which with a few tweaks is nearly as fast to start up as Linpus. However, those tweaks require a very technical approach to sorting it out. However, all the hardware worked right after installation.

break the hardware / os grip!

Maybe this was already mentioned but... I feel this percentage is likely accurate in how many netbooks are purchased with Windows. Like the Desktop market, the buyer has no choice. Microsoft still has a heavy grip on the hardware market. Hardware manufacturers just want to sell product they do not care about what is actually running on it but it needs to move. Two companies I can think of have managed to change this by controlling there own hardware, Apple and RIM (Blackberry). What Linux doesn't have, is branding. Linux is not a household name. And as long as there is no heavy advertising campaign people will not think of Linux. I do not mind Linux not having a broad use. People are not ready for it. I would just like to be able to buy any new PC without an OS. I do not feel MS should get my money if I choose not to use it.

Face facts

People choose Windows because it works, and at the moment, Linux doesn't. It doesn't even do wireless Internet connections very well, and that's a huge part of the reason people buy netbooks in the first place.

I run a mixed network of Windows, Mac and Linux systems and Linux causes me more problems that the other two put together. Driver support is bad, some dev tools, especially for the web, are almost non-existent, and the interface on the Asus, for example, just doesn't appeal to the vast majority of people that see it and try and use it.

There are some very good Open Source applications out there, but that doesn't always spell Linux. Too much command-line fiddling needed, and frankly I have better things to do with my time.

For example, I tried setting up Ubuntu on 16 boxes at work and it wouldn't even install properly on five of them. XP went on without error - guess which OS I'm using? I don't like paying license fees particularly, but I like working systems, and XP and OS X provide me with working systems.

XP and OS X are actually very nice OSes (sorry, but it's true), and are extremely easy to use and configure. Linux is not. Until that is addressed, there won't be huge market penetration by Linux in any areas.

The only reason the Mac market is so low compared to Windows is cost - not usability.

Here we go again

Microsoft is all politics. They do whatever they can to tie you into their products to make more money. However, I prefer that Microsoft has the majority of OS shares. If everyone used Linux, then viruses would trash it just like they did to windows. I prefer to have a good system that is free of viruses.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Everyone's eager to make an issue about the fact that a lot of Linux-powered netbooks are getting returned, but no-one mentions how many Windows-powered ones are ... How many netbooks are returned simply because people are finding them too small to be practical for their purposes? How many are returned because of faults? OK, so a lot of people may be returning Linux ones because they can't run particular Windows apps/games on them, or they look at the customised interface and go "ug?", but that's a matter of education - something that's not too prevalent in the majority of the computer media (hey, I did say "majority"). It would be interesting to see some honest figures regarding the numbers of returns, the reasons, and the OS's.

Not Surprised - It's Different

I had a long conversation with a Salesperson at a major retailer here in Australia and it seems that part of the problem is lack of knowledge on the part of the retailers. An example being that the major problem they experienced was with people using USB ADSL modems for mobile computing. The users and the IT Support people at the retailer didn't know how to configure them. He was quite surprised when I plugged one in to my Ubuntu Netbook, went to the settings (in the GUI) and configured it. No command line or anything.

He was a bit surprised because that modem evidently had its own config software that comes up when you plug it in. He thought Linux was faulty because it didn't run the software. He was in fact a bit surprised that Linux didn't natively run any Windows software. "So it's sort of like Mac" he said.

Basically Linux netbooks/PC's will never sell very well from retailers because the "default" PC experience is Windows, viruses, mess and all. The real problem is shelling out the extra $ for a machine with Windows on it that is just an accessory you use to run some cute software - or maybe never. Here that premium is very high, about $200 difference between a Linux Netbook and a Windows one otherwise the same. Me, I'll stick to my Ubuntu Netbook Remix and let the suckers grind along with XP!

Pick Up and Go

Every successful operating system has been so because of its ease of use. Windows fell somewhat because of security issues and Vista's inability to produce power without rendering our computer's hardware useless. From the continued existence of technical support in just about any department we can think of, we can safely assume that the majority of people are not tech savvy. Therefore, Linux has to think of another approach to make the operating system more user friendly when solving issues. Of course as mentioned above, the graphics issue has been the hardest to overcome for myself because every forum talks about coding and command strings to type in but no one talks about click here to download this fix. Linux must work on this to be successful.

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