Casio updates Linux-Windows laptop

The electronics maker will launch a new version of its switchable-OS laptop in Japan this month

Casio is to launch a new laptop in Japan with a hardware switch that lets users choose to boot Linux or Windows XP. The laptop, launching 21 November, is based on processors from chip-maker Transmeta.

The new Cassiopeia Fiva MPC-216XL is the successor to the MPC-206E launched in the US this spring. Like the earlier model, a hardware switch set into the machine lets the user choose which OS will boot.

Japan's Casio is not a huge laptop maker, but the earlier model attracted interest because of its novel design. Like the 206E, the new model is lightweight at 990g, and has a compact 223mm by 197mm by 21mm form factor.

The laptop will retail in Japan for 140,000 yen, or about £800.

The machine could be an important foothold for Linux in the laptop market. While Linux workstations are a common sight, and are offered by several manufacturers as an option, a Linux notebook is hard to find.

The system is based on Transmeta's Crusoe TM 5600 processor running at 600MHz. It's a win for the US chip maker, which has increasingly come under fire for its failure to carve out a significant niche in the processor market.

Intel has successfully kept Transmeta's low-power chips from carving out a niche in the high-density server and laptop markets by releasing low-power versions of its own chips. Transmeta has been hit with manufacturing problems, which have partly led to the delay or cancellation of Crusoe laptops from Toshiba and Sony. And the company has changed chief executives twice since its public offering a year ago, with Mark Allen leaving the post in October after just seven months.

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