Microsoft and netbooks

Just read a piece in ComputerWorld about the success of Google's Chromebooks and how that's bad news for Microsoft. This is where I say "I told you so."

Microsoft had this market zipped up, with the netbooks, tiny inexpensive notebooks that ran Windows XP, had lots of USB ports, wifi, a camera, long battery life. These were incredible computers. I bought three of them over the course of the craze, bought one for my mom, and urged everyone else to get one. Meanwhile, Microsoft was making noises that they didn't approve. I couldn't believe it. Here they were getting lifted up by a gift from god, and they were saying it wasn't good enough. This is a company that had killed its own laptop business by not caring about malware.

When Vista came out, an awful operating system, they forced the netbooks to use it, when they should have dropped the price on XP to $0 to own the whole market instead of sharing it with Linux. They should have ran a victory lap. Fixed the bugs in XP, downsized their OS development group, and paid a huge dividend to shareholders.

Netbooks were wonderful, but they weren't good enough for Microsoft. Now the Google Chromebook is cleaning up the market that Microsoft should own.

We all lost here. Because the new netbooks, from Google and Apple, are closed systems, where the netbooks were wide open. I could access my file server from my netbook. I could put any software on it, or take it off, same with music and movies. Apple and Google are running gulags, the netbooks were Woodstock. That probably was the back-channel reason why Microsoft struggled so mightily to kill them. They were more interested in pleasing the entertainment industry than users.

PS: I have two iPads, and buy them for my friends and family. I gave a friend a Chromebook because I thought it was perfect for what she was doing, reading books and watching Netflix. I just wish netbooks hadn't been so badly treated by the tech industry, because they were great promising products.


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By Dave Winer, Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 9:17 AM. When in doubt, blog.