The original Eee PC might have promised to bring Linux to the masses, but these days it looks like ASUS is running away from open source and towards Redmond at breathtaking speed.
At a launch event for ASUS ' latest products in Sydney this week, company officials confirmed that Linux now only has a minor role to play in the company's successful Eee PC line of netbooks.
"Linux accounts for about five per cent of our sales," Gordon Kerr, group product manager for system products, told APC.
When the original 700-series Eee was released, the Xandros distribution was the only option, and that didn't stop the machine selling in huge quantities. However, a bias towards Microsoft became apparent by the time the successor 900 series appeared, with models featuring Linux actually selling for more than their XP equivalents.
ASUS eventually altered that approach, but getting a Linux Eee generally requires ordering from a specialist seller online. Mass-market retailers — a key element in the success of the Eee, with Myer at one stage holding the exclusive rights to the machine — now invariably only stock Windows models.
Asus has come under fire this week for the It's Better With Windows web site, which features a video explaining why the Eee with Windows is a better choice since it doesn't involve "an unfamiliar environment".
Asus' anti-Linux stance might be designed to position it to deploy Windows 7 as a potential netbook platform. Having been forced to extend the lifespan of Windows XP after it became apparent that virtually no manufacturers wanted to foist Vista on the netbook market, Microsoft has more recently developed guidelines for which machines will be allowed to run an entry-level version of Windows 7.