Microsoft's plan to block Linux on laptops

Summary:Details of Microsoft's recently announced plan to extend the life of Windows XP for ultra low-cost PCs are trickling out. IDG News got its hands on what it says are Microsoft documents outlining the program for PC manufacturers.

Details of Microsoft's recently announced plan to extend the life of Windows XP for ultra low-cost PCs are trickling out. IDG News got its hands on what it says are Microsoft documents outlining the program for PC manufacturers.

Until now, the big question was: What exactly defines an ultra low-cost PC? According to the documents, Windows XP Home will only be available on systems with the following specs:

  • A 1GHz or slower single-core processor (with exceptions for the Via C7 and Intel Atom N270)
  • Up to 1GB of memory
  • Hard drives up to 80GB
  • Displays that are 10.2 inches or smaller
  • No touch-screen

For companies manufacturing PCs that meet these specs, Windows XP will be available for $26 in emerging markets and $32 in developed markets, though a marketing agreement knocks another $10 off the price.

Ultra low-cost PCs pose a dilemma for Microsoft and PC manufacturers. Windows Vista won’t run on most--though not all--of them, and it costs too much anyway. But a freely-available, cheap Windows XP might cannibalize sales of traditional budget PCs with the full-priced version of Windows Vista. The narrowly-defined Windows XP extension seems designed to get around those issues, and to prevent Linux from gaining a toehold on the desktop.

The cut-off date for selling Windows XP on all other desktops and laptops is still June 30, though many manufacturers will continue to sell Vista systems with downgrades to Windows XP. Reading between the lines of Bill Gates' recent speeches, Ars Technica concludes Microsoft learned from mistakes in Vista, and will make Windows 7 all about performance.

Related: The Asus Eee PC 900 is now shipping in both Windows XP and Linux versions. Here are some of the first full reviews:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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