With the proliferation of netbooks on the market today and the massive popularity of the category, it's hard to fathom that the netbook really only took off in late 2007. Today, netbooks are the fastest growing computer category and the netbook is poised to continue its fast growth despite the poor economy.
Microsoft announced today that it now holds a massive portion of the netbook market with a whopping 96% of all netbooks shipping with Windows today. Considering that most netbooks are shipping with Windows XP and netbooks are the best selling computer category right now, an argument could be made that Windows XP may well be selling better than Windows Vista.
InformationWeek quotes Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc from a blog post writing, "It's hard to believe it's been a year since we first started to see netbook PCs running Windows come to market." As impressive as the 96% of the market figure is, it looks even more impressive when you look back at Windows penetration in the notebook market as of mid-2008.
For the first half of 2008, Windows held only 10% of the netbook OS market. According to LeBlanc, the massive growth of Windows in the category comes at the expense of Linux.
Return rates on Linux-based netbooks have been widely cited as being significantly higher than return rates of Windows-based netbooks. LeBlanc writes that Carphone Warehouse in the UK stopped carrying Linux-based netbooks in many of its stores after seeing return rates as high as 20%.
LeBlanc wrote, "When they [Linux netbook buyers] realize their Linux-based netbook PC doesn't deliver that same quality of experience, they get frustrated and take it back."
With many consumers looking forward to Windows 7, the new Microsoft OS is set for a big push into the netbook realm. Lower cost versions of Windows 7 have been tweaked specifically for the netbook market.
Interestingly, even though some Windows 7 variants are being catered towards netbook users, Microsoft will still allow Windows 7 users to downgrade to XP.