APCmag.com just published an interesting review of the new XP-based Asus Eee. In response to customer demand, Asus recently began shipping it Eee ULPC with Windows XP Home installed. While the article did a nice job of addressing both the shortcomings and advantages of an XP install vs. the Xandros Linux install that can also be had on the Eee, I have to take exception with one key point:
Apart from having Windows XP Home Edition and Asus’ own hardware drivers preloaded onto the drive, and an extra $80 added to the price tag (most of which is Microsoft’s licensing fee) it’s identical to the standard Eee PC...As mentioned above, Asus chose the most basic Home edition of Windows XP for the Eee PC, and that makes sense for a device like this: you simply don’t need the added extras of XP Professional.
While this is certainly true for many home or casual users (it isn't called XP Home for nothing), it is distinctly untrue for those of us looking at deployments in educational settings. Domain join and the associated ability to centralize security and impose group policies are actually reasons to Windows. As most of you know, Windows is not my favorite OS on the planet, but even I have to admit that the tools built into Windows Server products and XP Pro make administering a large group of PCs pretty easy.
Most importantly, XP Home provides precious little in the way of user management. It is vital to lock down the OS in a student deployment. This simply isn't possible in any robust way with XP Home.
To be honest, if you want to provide a Windows experience for your students as part of an Eee (or any other ULPC, for that matter) deployment, stick with the Linux install and let them use Terminal Services to log into Windows at school. Server 2003 (and now 2008) is robust, has all the features of XP Pro, is easy to manage, and could virtually be paid for by the money you save avoiding the $80/Eee Windows tax. A simple install of OpenOffice on the Terminal Server ensures compatibility between the work students do at home and work they do at school.