Friday, February 26, 2010

Books are done for

Cantankerous? I am. Running Linux at home has given my local bookshop and Amazon a boost in sales. At work it is different. It appears the days when my employer is willing to pay for a book are over. Now I have to "download a pee dee eff". Books are a source of nourishment for me. Their demise is a sad day. Only this week I was in a bookshop and glad I did not have a spare few British pounds in my pocket. I would have bought another book I did not need or want, until I saw it in the store and the desire set in. I will get the money for this volume eventually, pay day comes along soon.

I am crotchety about the demise of books, even passionate. But they are not the books in the subject of this rant! My subject is netbooks! I believe that they are dead! When they first arrived on the scene in the UK £200 appeared to be the price target. This appears to be moving upward and ever closer to the falling price of the laptop. Be honest, what would you prefer the 15 inch screen and dual core processor of the £500 laptop or make do with a 10 inch screen and a single core atom for £300.

What accounts for the price increase of the netbook? The Atom processor is new but should be a similar price to the older processors, especially in these hard times. The biggest change is the move to Windows! As soon as Linux was replaced these units became small laptops. Many linux distributions have been written for these devices, a special user interface developed. I saw a windows machine in a large electrical retailer's store this week. You guessed it. It looked just like Windows. No special account of the small 10 inch screen, it is a small underpowered laptop. I have now seen a 14 inch, Windows powered netbook advertised, at a higher price still! Why is this a netbook? Presumably the atom processor.

The move to Windows has been welcomed by some. Linux fanatics may be annoyed that open source is again loosing ground to commercial reality. I am saddened to see the demise of a machine type. What is frightening is that this battle has killed the very machine form it was all over.

Neither Windows or Linux has won with the merge of the netbook and laptop into a single form. The looser is the user. He has less choice. This for me is what Linux is about, choice. I do not want Windows to fail, I want the choice. I choose to be crotchety. What my operating or machine form is is I don't care. I just want that choice.