October 25, 2001 – A Microsoft operating system was released as the Internet revolution entered the everyman’s home. Only one year after the absolute fiasco known as Windows ME (in a time before Vista was known as possibly the worst operating system of all time), Windows XP was released, and with it came hopes of a new stable Windows OS. Combining the new technologies of ME with the stability of Windows 2000, XP became the world’s number one OS, and sits on that throne to this day. It heralded the modern internet era, and until recently was the OS of choice for OEMs.
Now, we can finally see what a horrible, horrible mistake keeping it alive was. Since the appearance of a 17-year old DOS exploit, followed by an update that has created countless BSODs and endless reboots, Windows XP looks unlikely to be able to weather the coming years. Microsoft believes they have discovered the primary cause of the current maladies:
“In our continuing investigation in to the restart issues related to MS10-015 that a limited number of customers are experiencing, we have determined that malware on the system can cause the behavior. We are not yet ruling out other potential causes at this time and are still investigating.” (emphasis added)
People attacked Windows Vista for performance flaws and pricing, but at least Microsoft began to clean up its act regarding internet security with Internet Explorer 7 and the improved Windows Firewall. User Account Control, a feature Unix systems have had for quite a while, was a step in the right direction (despite its dreadful implementation). And Windows 7 finally comes with performance improvements and most modern hardware is capable of handling it.
The only market that really had any justification in using XP was netbooks, but even they have moved on to Windows 7 Starter Edition. While XP may have extended support till 2014, users should realize that they need to upgrade far before that.
There are essentially three routes. If you have anything with higher performance than a netbook, it is safe to move on to Windows 7. “Vista-capable” PCs should not still have Windows XP on them. It is an insult to their hardware, and these recent episodes have shown that it is no longer safe.
If for some reason you are still using a 800 MHz Celeron with 128 MB RAM, then it is either time to get a new computer (anything from any brand with any operating system circa 2010) or to install Linux. For the majority of users, the latter seems like too difficult of an option, but Ubuntu is a usable and user-friendly introduction to Linux.
As for netbooks, which is the only platform where new machines still have this abomination, please get Windows 7 or Linux or even a Hackintosh. Microsoft has directions for those of you who don’t know how to set up an ISO to install from a USB. And while I am sure there will be many of those hesitant to move forward from XP, I beseech you: at least take this as a wake up call.
Since my dad taught me how to dual-boot Mandrake Linux 7 with Windows ME in my early pre-teen years, I have not owned a single computer that hasn’t had a Linux distribution on it. And for many years, KDE was my desktop manager of choice. Sometime around KDE 3.4, I deemed KDE too clunky and left it to experiment with other desktop managers.
Still, I never forgot about my roots in the Linux world, and indeed KDE 4 brought KDE significantly forward towards modern desktops. Now, KDE seems to be turning towards everyone’s favorite rising PC market: netbooks. KDE 4.4 is a massive version release touting 7293 bug fixes and 1433 new feature implementations. The result is a promised new, cleaner experience, with the majority of the changes relating to the actual Plasma desktop.
Specifically for netbooks, KDE has made this particular announcement:
Plasma Netbook debuts in 4.4.0. Plasma Netbook is an alternative interface to the Plasma Desktop, specifically designed for ergonomic use on netbooks and smaller notebooks. The Plasma framework has been built from the beginning with non-desktop target devices in mind as well. Plasma Netbook shares many components with the Plasma Desktop, but is specifically designed to make good use of the small space, and to be more suitable also for touchscreen input. The Plasma Netbook shell features a full-screen application launcher and search interface, and a Newspaper which offers many widgets to display content from the web and small utilities already known from Plasma Netbook’s sibling.
This means KDE is stepping up to the plate for a true netbook experience. I tried KDE 4.4 on my laptop, but haven’t used it enough to consider switching away from GNOME. Still, it is good to see that the Linux community is viewing netbooks as a legitimate shot to enter the mainstream market. And KDE is arguably the most Windows-esque desktop manager providing an easier transition for first time users. If you want to give it a spin, go download any KDE based Linux distribution (i.e. Kubuntu, openSUSE).
Microsoft wants to give low-cost netbook manufacturers a low-cost Windows licensing option, but exactly how low will the pricing for the Windows 7 Starter Edition OS be? Well, the price tag is rumored to be higher than the current Windows XP OS, which will still be an option for future netbooks.
Microsoft has decided that rather than lower the price of their Windows 7 OS, the company would instead offer the Windows XP OS with more features and at a lower price.
Potential netbook purchasers who buy a netbook with Windows XP may not be able to run some of the newer software, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll be missing too much.
Microsoft hasn’t yet officially announced the pricing agenda for the Starter Edition, but since the software would only be sold to netbook manufacturers instead of in retail stores, the pricing could vary.
Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer has stipulated that the Windows 7 software range will fall into the scheme of things as follows (from least pricey to most pricey): Windows XP, Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home, and Windows 7 Professional. Surprise surprise.
Unfortunately though, there will be some restrictions on the types of netbooks that can run the Starter version of the Windows 7 software. Rumor has it that such a netbook must have a “super-small screen” and “a certain processor.” More details to come.
The newest Windows operating systems would be displayed on a variety of computing devices, including netbooks, notebooks, tablets, and all-in-one PCs. At Computex, Microsoft is planning on collaborating with 16 PC manufacturers and run their operating systems on more than 30 products.
One reason Microsoft is doing all this is to make up for its not-so-successful release of Windows Vista back in 2005. Microsoft also hopes that by releasing Windows 7, there will be an increase in hardware upgrades as well as the creation of business opportunities.
The first netbooks in 2007 were small, light, and cheap. As consumers’ tastes changed over the past couple of years, the average netbook size and price has increased slightly and netbooks have been equipped with faster processors.
Future netbooks are rumored to combine the best features of current netbooks and smartphones and will have new processors and operating systems as well. Here are some things to look out for:
1. Netbook processors: Netbook processors will be more powerful and have greater capabilities. Newer processors will use less power and thus allow netbooks to operate for longer periods of time. Some potential manufacturers for these newer processors include: Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Qualcomm. The Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm that only uses 500 milliwatts of power has acquired a good amount of attention and is something to watch out for in the future.
2. Netbook operating systems: Netbooks originally started out with Linux, but when Windows was available to be pre-installed, many more purchases of netbooks with the Windows operating software pre-installed were purchased. In the future, more netbooks will run on new(er) operating systems, such as Google’s Android.
3. Apple: There are still many rumors about if Apple plans on breaking into the netbook market. And then if it does, will it issue a netbook or some other related device? There’s always the chance that Apple could even come up with something to revolutionize the netbook market altogether. The company’s currently keeping mum about this, but we’ll keep you posted.
4. Other Developments: Netbooks will continue to evolve, and in general, will be cheaper and better performing in the future. Some things to look out for are the new Windows 7 operating system for netbooks and the development of Snapdragon-based netbooks.
5. Price: Pricing for netbooks is expected to drop in the future. There will also be more discount packages for these mobile devices. For example, in the future, ARM-based netbooks are predicted to be sold for roughly $200 and currently, cell phone companies such as AT&T sell subsidized netbooks for $50, with a two year monthly-data plan contract. (For now though, the latter is only in Philadelphia and Atlanta).
Despite all the signs of netbook evolution, some people are still skeptical about the future of these mobile computing devices. Any opinions?
By the year 2010, netbooks are predicted to be widely used. They are growing ever more convenient, functional, and practical, and in fact, may soon become the mobile device of choice. Here are some trends that netbooks are predicted to follow within the next couple of years:
1. There will be more extremes in netbook pricing. This means that there will be a greater variety of netbooks offered at both cheaper and more expensive prices. For example, the Asus S101 costs roughly three times that of the first Asus EeePC.
2. Hardware that comes with netbooks will be more efficient. Netbooks will be equipped with more powerful processors as well as greater hard drive capacities (the price to hard drive space ratio will decrease). This will also lead to notebooks that use less power and therefore have longer battery lives.
3. Choices for operating systems will be expanded. Many netbooks currently run on the Windows operating systems but in the future, more netbooks will run on Unbuntu, Linux, Android, and other operating systems.
4. Integration of technology will be greatly improved. Devices will be able to more easily communicate with each other and products from the same family will be able to easily interact with each other. This integration will apply to both hardware and software products.