Has ASUS all but given up on Linux?

Custom themes are now being developed for Windows as they once were for Linux.

At today's ASUS product showcase in Sydney, a bunch of media representatives were given a taste of the company's latest and greatest notebooks, including the new range of Eee PC netbooks.

The entire range was there, from ultra-portable, touch screen netbooks to high-end, quad core Lamborghinis (I'm not joking). Even Windows Vista was there.

There was only one thing missing – Linux.

I say that not because I expect Linux to be there (far from it), but I was attending an event hosted by a company which once rose to prominence of the back of a Linux-based operating system.

As I've commented before, one of the reasons why ASUS's original Eee PC received so much notoriety what the fact that it was not only the first ultra-portable netbook, but the first netbook that shipped with Linux in a “mass market” way.

Sure there may have been others before it, but the Eee PC defined the market for a commodity netbook PC based on standard components running a Linux-based OS.

At the event I was speaking with ASUS Australia consumer market product manager Gordon Kerr who said Linux is likely to be phased out at the company as a pre-installed operating system on its notebook products.

Quite a dramatic policy shift from only two years ago.

Nowadays, according to Kerr, less than 5 per cent of ASUS netbooks ship with Linux and the venerable Windows XP is the predominant operating system (again!).

“People bought the original seven- and eight-inch Eee PCs for a computer to give to the kids,” Kerr said seriously.

“If you want the full functionality of a notebook you are going to go with Windows.”

That may be true, but the reason for that is there hasn't been anywhere near the amount on industry support for Linux as there has been for Windows.

What I found particularly astonishing about ASUS commitment to Windows is how the company is prepared to develop new user interfaces, or “themes”, on top of windows for its touch screen devices in the same way it did for Linux.

A clear case of “not invented here” twice over.

With companies like Intel and Dell putting their weight behind Linux on netbooks the future looks promising, but the cruel irony remains – the company that brought it to life has now abandoned it.

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