ASUS Delivers a Sexy Netbook, But is it Ditching Linux?
In conjunction with the CompuTex tradeshow, ASUS has announced a new "Seashell" line of netbooks, with larger screens and a whole lot of battery life. The 1101HA (shown) has an 11.6-inch display with 1366 x 768 resolution. There is a 160GB hard drive, and the company offers 10GB of online Eee storage. The new netbook comes with 1GB of RAM, has a Z-series Intel Atom chip, and ASUS is claiming it gets a whopping 11 hours of battery life. That's hard to believe given the size of the display.
ASUS is making other announcements at CompuTex too. It's not clear, though, how committed the company remains to shipping Linux-based systems.
Technically, you can still get all of ASUS' netbooks with Linux, but the company has created something of a firestorm with it's "It's Better With Windows" campaign. Many people have interpreted the marketing campaign to represent ASUS joining forces with Microsoft against Linux. There is no clear language in the announcement of the new 1101HA netbook about Linux availability (or pricing), although I assume it will be an available option.
Notably, the new netbooks from Asus come with 802.11n "Draft-n" Wi-Fi built in, not just 802.11g. This new netbook looks like it has a lot going for it.
It's unfortunate that ASUS is choosing to push Windows so aggressively, when low-cost Linux machines helped the company sell millions of netbooks last year. There are strong signs of momentum for Linux on other netbooks, and Acer has just announced that it intends to put Moblin on all of its products--netbooks, laptops, and PCs. Moblin may also gain momentum because Android Market will run on Moblin 2.0 devices.
Bruce Byfield does a good job of questioning the ASUS/Windows marketing campaign:
"An Asus Eee loaded with Windows is a central part of modern, loving family life...By contrast, I assume, an Eee loaded with GNU/Linux belongs to the worlds of terrorists, trade unionists, S&M clubs, and other renegade loners such as atheists and evolutionists."
I get the sense that Microsoft has a lot to do with this ASUS campaign. InfoWorld and other have suggested that the financial hits that Microsoft has taken from the rise of netbooks have brought on aggressive reactions from the company. At the very least, ASUS should continue to make pre-loaded Linux an option on its systems.