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Asus' Eee Gets Windows XP ... But Hasn't Lost Linux (Yet)

At the CeBIT convention in Germany the other week, Asus unveiled a new edition of its flash-based Eee sub-notebook PC, nominally running a custom version of Xandros Linux.  New models, Asus said, will run Linux ... and now Windows XP.

At the CeBIT convention in Germany the other week, Asus unveiled a new edition of its flash-based Eee sub-notebook PC, nominally running a custom version of Xandros Linux.  New models, Asus said, will run Linux ... and now Windows XP.

According to Asus' press release, Microsoft Works and many of the Windows Live applications will come preloaded with the system.  It claims it has sold 350,000 units so far and is on track to selling anywhere between 3 and 5 million by the end of the year.

So if they're selling so well as it is, why Windows?  From the sound of it, customer demand.  People want it, plain and simple, even if it means the base cost of the unit goes up by a certain amount -- and I'm betting Asus, like most other PC OEMs, has worked out some kind of deal to get a price break on XP in bulk.

Windows is still king of the roost as far as desktop OSes go.  It's what people know and are comfortable with -- even if most of their existing documents can be opened and used on Linux, there are still many people who simply prefer to stick with what they know, even if it means (and in some cases especially if it means) dealing with familiar hassles.

I've seen parallels to this sort of thing in my own experience.  One friend was suffering from the usual trauma of a spyware-infested computer.  I mentioned a couple of Linux distributions, and his response was on the order of "It sounds nice, but I don't want to have to learn everything all over again."  It's a case of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know, and if anything went wrong at least he could always throw in his restore disc and start over.

So how will the presence of XP affect Asus' plans to ship Linux editions of its product?  So far, nothing's changed; you can still get the Linux version side-by-side.  But if Asus finds it has more of a market with XP on its machine than Linux -- and there's little to suggest they won't! -- then I fear it will see no reason to continue offering something that doesn't sell as aggressively as it hoped.