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Strong-ARM Tactics

You're probably just as fed up as I am with hearing about Linux-powered netbooks that'll be veritable Windows-killers. Well, there's more of them on the way. And as it turns out, they may well turn out to be Windows-killers in at least one respect: Windows won't run on them, period.

You're probably just as fed up as I am with hearing about Linux-powered netbooks that'll be veritable Windows-killers. Well, there's more of them on the way. And as it turns out, they may well turn out to be Windows-killers in at least one respect: Windows won't run on them, period.

I'm talking about the netbook line planned for the holiday season this year, courtesy of the folks at Freescale Semiconductor. They're in the process of putting together an ARM-powered 1 GHz netbook that will allegedly sport eight hours of battery time, include pretty much every form of wireless connectivity you could ever want or need -- and come in at under $200.

I, too, will Believe It When I See It. But the fact that the whole shebang is ARM-powered is more important than it might first appear. For one, Windows doesn't run on the ARM processor -- not desktop Windows, anyway, which is the only version of Windows most people are going to care about in this scenario. That means these machines are going to be Linux-powered. End of story.

And at that price, it's going to be almost irrelevant what they run as long as people can log on, do their work and edit documents in a reasonably familiar way. Even in this economy, $200 is almost an impulse buy. Of course, there are a whole raft of other questions -- for one, whether or not the construction of the unit will make it worth the bother (why pay $200 for something that'll break in two months of casual use?), or whether or not Microsoft will throw effort back into porting Windows to other processor platforms as a catch-up measure.

How likely is the latter? I'm not sure, but it's a lot easier to say that Linux can make the leap to other processors with a great deal more agility than Windows. In fact, it already has.


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