Android set to take Linux to the mainstream

Android set to take Linux to the mainstream

Summary: Google's Android operating system with its free licence and big-vendor backing is poised to 'kill Microsoft' on several fronts, according to one analyst

TOPICS: Tech Industry

For an operating system to wrestle market share from Microsoft's Windows, it will need two things: the OS-maker's support and low licensing fees.

This rings true even on the netbook front — a relatively new PC segment, even for Microsoft.

Recently, the Android OS backed by Google was unofficially ported to an Asus Eee PC netbook and, according to online reports, the Taiwanese manufacturer has set up a team to develop a netbook running on the Linux-based OS.

Calvin Huang, an analyst at Daiwa Securities, told ZDNet Asia in an interview that Android is poised to "kill Microsoft" on several fronts: a big vendor-backed OS is likely to provide better hardware support, and open-source Android's licence is free.

"Without any strong backup, Linux is just a niche platform. Now with Google's support, Android has a better chance to win users from Microsoft," said Huang.

According to Google's developers, what distinguishes Android from other Linux platforms is its Dalvik virtual machine. It provides a layer for programmers so they do not have to worry about the underlying hardware on which Android is deployed.

While this helps app developers building software for Android's mobile app market, this benefit can extend to the broader developer community, should Android find itself on netbooks commercially.

The current economic downturn is also likely to play a part in pushing manufacturers to Android, Huang added. "The licence fee really matters and manufacturers don't like to be taxed by Microsoft. An Android netbook will definitely cost less than a Windows netbook."

However, there is still the issue of user acceptance.

Several netbooks, including Asus's Eee PC and MSI's Wind devices, first came with Linux operating systems, but manufacturers started looking to Windows after resistance from consumers and stores started seeing returns from customers who did not like the interfaces.

In the Philippines, Asus dropped Linux on all of its Eee PC models in the country because Filipinos were not taking to the Linux OS well, according to an Asus marketing manager.

However, Huang thinks it is a matter of time for Android. Its presence on mobile phones will provide an inroad to penetrating the market, by seeding familiarity.

"Users need to get used to a non-Windows OS. Microsoft should be fine for the next two to three years. [After that] Google will change Microsoft's dominance," said Huang.

Topic: Tech Industry

Victoria Ho

About Victoria Ho

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Killing Microsoft.

    Android poised to "kill Microsoft" is a bit harsh, and out of step with reality. There are too many countries, and local governments locked into MS's monopolies. They are not going to change regardless of the low quality, and insecurities associated with their products. They would rather pay for something bad than change to something better.
  • Can't Kill Microsoft.

    If windows really came under threat from other OSs, then you can bet MS would start dishing out free windows. Oh and another thing, I'm really going to miss vista.....I have it running on my main machine right now and it's a wonderfull experience.
    roger andre
  • Don't have to miss Vista

    You don't have to "miss" Vista. You can do what I have done, take out the disk and lay it on the table next to your computer. Nice and safe, and REMOVED from the computer, where it can't do any harm, it can't cause system crashes, hanging, corrupted disks... it can't try to force me to throw away some perfectly good peripherals and pay for replacements just because there are no Vista drivers for them... it is exactly where it belongs, serving the purpose it is best at (paper weight) and not attempting what it is worst at (computer operating system).
  • Well Behaved Vista

    Very funny :) I run vista on a nice new laptop and everything is stable and fast. It hosts music software such as ableton + all the plugins and runs open office like a dream...All prefetching is switched off and of course it's a clean windows install that I customised with the awsome v-lite application.
    roger andre
  • Slight Epic Fail

    I agree, 3 years ago when it first got relased, this may have been a valid argument.
    however since the major (and many of the minor) bugs have been fixed.
    i have had to buy a new paperweight.
    since my hard drive has become once again useful.

    you posted in the wrong time, Fail
  • not ready be independent

    i personally think the majority of the people out there are just not ready yet to be independent and take things a step further.

    Android is an alternative, GNU/Linux is really a niche if you check the numbers of statistics. But statistics and numbers don't do justice to a technology and community which is based on flexibility, help, support and fun. Things you do NOT get when using Microsoft products unless you pay for it.

    The first eee pcs with xandros looked like toy computers in the shop, obviously everybody brings them back. But that's not a problem of GNU/Linux but one that created Asus.

    I'm not against Windows and Microsoft products, it's just that I do not want to pay a premium price for an OS that needs first of all high performance hardware to run well. Yes, you can chose XP, but why bothering with a nearly 10 year old OS that doesn't find my SATA drive in the first place...

    People are not ready yet to take things into their own hands and make it happen, and Microsoft did a great job in creating this situation. Now we can blame Microsoft or GNU/Linux, or actually move on and start doing something. Android is ok and other projects too, but as long as manufacturers etc are being paid to use MS products, nothing will change.
  • Yes Fun

    Good comment! Although I disagree about the fun part. If your a home user, then there is plenty of fun to be had on windows. And lots of freeware to help you on the way.,1000000567,10009685o-2000578623b,00.htm

    I've also mentioned elsewhere that if any of these other OS start to gain any serious ground on windows then I'd be prepered to bet that MS will stary to dish out some kind of free windows to claw back some ground.

    I wouldn't bet against Apple releasing some kind of PC OS into the mix either. Especially if they see a theat to windows. I have heard talk from The Paul Thurrot camp, of windows 7 being from 50-99 dollars, so who knows?
    roger andre

    You hit on the nail head there, Mr. Watson. That's where my laptop recovery disk resides.