Wednesday, April 01, 2009

[Misc] Operating Systems for Netbooks

Netbooks are different from notebooks and desktops; they are used in other contexts, have smaller screens, not so powerful hardware, less diskspace and so on. Windows is hardly the best system for regular desktops and notebooks (in my opinion) and definitly only a temporary solution for the netbook market. Microsoft even had to reanimate Windows XP for that purpose. In effect, Windows is to fat, too insecure and not optimised for small screens and additionally hardware producers have to pay license fees to Microsoft in a very tight market, where some Euro can make a difference.

Since some months the companies like HP apparently are evaluating Google's Android for Netbooks. Now, I am all for Android; But on mobile phones. I am doubtful that Android is a good solution for netbooks though. Android was designed for the typical smaller scale mobile applications e.g. with only "one application" active on the screen. And resource management that focuses on one active application. Now, a Netbook might have a small screen as well, but from the usability point of view it is probably closer to the notebook than to the mobile phone.

Hence customers expect applications in a style they know them from their desktop, like Office or Internet applications (mail, browser, ...). Using Android reduces the number of suitable applications dramatically, and Android applications written for Android cell-phones will most likely not perform well on Netbook hardware.

Now, Linux was already used on several Netbooks like on the EEE-Series. Why not stick to Linux? Probably adapt an existing distribution like Ubuntu to better fit to that specific environment. Then immediately the whole range of destop applications are available including applications like Open Office.

From the software engineering aspect, I would believe, that it is better not to mix up mobile platforms with Netbooks, in the end either applications have a bad user experience on the specific platform they were not developed for (allthough both use the same OS).

But maybe I am proven wrong?

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