Fight Windows tax with a penguin stick

Make your netbook a real PC for no money down. Avoid the Windows Tax and upgrade your performance.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Two of the big trends at the recent CompuTex show were Windows and chip memory.

Vendors all showed Windows exclusively, even on netbooks costing under $300 at retail.

The latest models had a lot more chip-based memory, called SSD (Solid State Drive) in Taiwan, with drives the size of a credit card carrying 64 Gigabytes for under $140.

Hardware vendors don't much care about the "Windows Tax," Microsoft's plan to push upgrades of the Windows 7 it will ship with netbooks (at a reported $3 each) to Home Premium, which costs much more.

Microsoft hopes that its alliance with Chinese and Taiwanese OEMs will also lead to a surge for Windows Mobile, which will be delivered as an embedded operating system at that low price.

It's a real market threat.

Netbook owners will be encouraged to pay the upgrade price so their gadget becomes a real PC.

During CompuTex I found a possible answer to this at the side of my own netbook, where I hung a 32 GByte Corsair Flash to make up for the fact that my HP Mini came with just 2 Gbytes of main storage. (Shown is the 64 GByte version.)

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, whom I met for the first time at the show, did not need a Corsair on his HP Mini, and noted it came with Ubuntu installed, from the HP online store.

But with stick prices falling and companies looking for ways to increase their value with software, there should be an opportunity to load Linux on a stick you can practically give away, or sell sticks with software that will swap out Windows for Linux and save the old install in case the customer wants to go back to it.

Call it the Penguin Stick.  Make your netbook a real PC for no money down. Avoid the Windows Tax and upgrade your performance.

By putting Linux on a stick, you have hardware you can get a price for, and that price should enable retail distribution, which is Linux' main weakness.

It may be OK for Linux to be invisible, but it's not necessary.

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