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June 1, 2009

Windows on Small Notebook PCs: The Momentum Continues in the US and the UK

On the eve of the Computex, the largest computer exhibition in Asia and the second largest in the world, we got word that PC World, the largest electronics retailer in the UK, is de-assorting (i.e., getting rid of) all of the Linux small notebook PCs in their stores and going all-Windows. It’s pretty big news from across the pond that they’re making this move, but what’s even more important is the “why” behind the decision.

In April I wrote about why Windows market share on small notebook PCs has jumped from under 10% in February 2008 to 96% a year later (that number has increased since then…more on that below), and PC World agrees with our thinking. You can read the entire PC World press release, but to save you some time, I’ve pulled out the key points:

  1. PC World is removing Linux small notebook PCs and going all-Windows in their stores in response to customer demand. They want Windows because it’s the only OS that gives people the choice, compatibility, familiarity and simplicity they need.
  2. Most consumers today are looking for a small notebook PC in the 10” range because it offers a great combination of portability and usability (as in, it’s small enough to take anywhere, but big enough to work on comfortably).
  3. The last year has shown that small notebook PCs are NOT replacement PCs; rather, they’re companion PCs that consumers use to get a full PC experience on the go.
  4. Windows 7 will make small notebook PCs even more compelling and more attractive to consumers because it makes connecting with other PCs, working with documents, and enjoying pictures, music and movies easier than ever before.

Jeremy Fennell, Category Director at PC World, sums things up perfectly at the end of the release:

Despite initial hype that netbooks would move more users onto the Linux platform, Microsoft has emerged as the preferred operating system because Windows makes it easier to share content, and provides customers with a simpler, more familiar computing experience on the move. Based on this insight, all the netbooks in our stores will feature Microsoft Windows, larger screens and keyboards, and greater colour choices to satisfy customers demand for performance, design and familiarity.

Customers demanding Windows for its ease of use, compatibility and simplicity isn’t unique to the UK – it’s happening here as well. The latest data from NPD’s retail tracking service showed that Windows now account for a whopping 98% of all small notebook PCs sales at retail in the US.

I think it’s important to note that all of this momentum is happening before Windows 7 is even out! When Windows 7 does arrive (and brings slick new stuff like HomeGroup, Aero Peek/Snap, PlayTo and Remote Media Streaming, Windows Media Center that lets you watch and record TV, and more), I think the demand for Windows on these devices will increase even more. What do you think?

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