Smartphone maker Nokia on Monday revealed that it will soon deliver its first netbook, the Nokia Booklet 3G. This Windows 7-based netbook appears to offer standard netbook parts, but will provide up to 12 hours of battery life and integration with Nokia’s other devices and services.
"We are in the business of connecting people, and the Nokia Booklet 3G is a natural evolution for us," said Nokia Executive Vice President Kai Oistamo. "Nokia has a long and rich heritage in mobility, and with outstanding battery life, premium design, and all-day, always-on connectivity, we will create something quite compelling. In doing so we will make the personal computer more social, more helpful, and more personal."
The Booklet 3G certainly seems to address these needs, though more details are coming in early September, including pricing and availability. For now, we know that the Booklet 3G features netbook-standard parts like an Atom processor, a 10.1-inch screen, an SD card reader, and optional 3G wireless network capabilities. It also includes an HDMI port for connecting the device to HDTV displays and integrated GPS hardware.
Nokia will also provide access to a number of its Ovi services, including the Nokia Music Store and Ovi Suite, the latter of which provides synching capabilities with Nokia-branded phones.
Nokia’s entry into the crowded netbook market may be a bit late, but given the company’s smartphone dominance in non-US markets and close ties to wireless operators, especially in Europe, it could see some success. "We have gone into this with our eyes wide open," Oistamo said, alluding to the razor-thin margins of the PC market.
On the good news front, netbooks are the one bright spot in the PC market this year. Netbook sales are expected to grow 127 percent this year to over 26 million units. The overall PC market is expected to shrink about 10 percent this year.
Windows 7 is set apart from the previous batch of Microsoft OS upgrades by many factors. First, it’s designed to be compatible with Vista hardware and drivers. This means that, in theory at least, a laptop capable of running Vista comfortably should run Windows 7 just as happily.
Second, the public beta was made widely available and lasts up to six months. This gives the testers a long period to help iron out teething issues before the OS’s release, instead of users having to wait for important fixes to be sorted in the first service pack.
If you took advantage of the beta, it’s worth knowing that this was the Ultimate edition of Windows 7. It includes features that may not be present in more basic versions. It seems likely that features such as Offline Files, restricted to the Business and Ultimate versions of Vista, will also be reserved for premium versions of Windows 7.
That’s unlikely to effect the OS’s upgraded mobile features, though, which make Windows 7 more notebook-friendly. For example, the Windows Mobility Center – which enables you to turn on presentation mode, synchronise files or change power schemes – was present in Vista, but it’s much easier to find and access in Windows 7.
All you need to do is right-click the Network icon in the System Tray and select ‘Windows Mobility Center’. Likewise, clicking the Battery icon enables you to change preset power schemes or move directly to editing the options indepth. These are everyday tasks, so it’s good that they aren’t hidden away.
Power management on the whole is better than in previous versions of Windows. On a simple level, the faster boot time means that you’re spending more battery life working than waiting for your laptop to start up. However, there’s also smarter power management happening in the background that employs several tricks to squeeze a little more juice from your battery.
The processor gets stood down more frequently when not in use, as does the network adaptor. This alone could make the upgrade worthwhile, especially if you spend a lot of time running on battery power – try weighing up the eventual retail price of Windows 7 with that of a new laptop battery. As in Vista, if battery time is crucial, you can also save some more energy by choosing a non-Aero theme.
Verizon Wireless will start selling a netbook – a cheaper, more basic version of a notebook – as early as next quarter, Bloomberg said, citing a person close to the project.
The devices are being developed with more than one PC maker, the news agency cited the person as saying. Price and plan details aren’t complete, the person told the news agency. Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc and Britain’s Vodafone Group Plc, competes with AT&T and Sprint Nextel in the wireless carrier market. Verizon Wireless and AT&T see devices used mainly for data rather than voice as the next phase of wireless growth as the vast majority of the U.S. population owns mobile phones.
Verizon Wireless could not immediately be reached for comment.
As netbooks surge in popularity, open-source Linux-based operating systems have established a toehold on the low-cost, stripped-down computers as an alternative to Microsoft Corp’s Windows. Although analysts say no more than 15 to 20 percent of netbooks are running Linux platforms such as Ubuntu, the growing demand for the devices has jolted Microsoft, whose Windows Vista operating system was too bulky to run on many netbooks.
The first netbooks to emerge in 2007, such as Asustek’s Eee PC, ran Linux. Microsoft quickly recovered by making its older Windows XP operating system available on netbooks, where it is now the dominant platform. The average consumer is still more comfortable with the ease and familiarity of the Windows experience. But the contest may still be in the early innings. The expected release of laptops running Google Inc’s Linux-based Android operating system – which many including Microsoft are predicting – would inject fresh competition into the market. Moreover, analysts say equipment makers have an interest in helping to nurture a Windows alternative to help them save on licensing fees.
Forrester Vice President J.P. Gownder said that although Microsoft’s platform now rules the netbook segment, it was initially embarrassed when the devices began to sell without Vista. "It is the first crack in any of the armor at all," Gownder said. The software giant is tailoring a version of its forthcoming Windows 7 operating system for the devices, and the early word so far has been positive, analysts say. However Chris Kenyon, director of business development at Canonical, said that light, portable, Web-centric netbooks are the "sweet spot" for the Ubuntu operating system, which Canonical sponsors. "We’ve seen the biggest manufacturers in the world establish and push non-Windows operating systems and have seen it established as a mainline product." Kenyon expects there to be "many times" more pre-installs of Ubuntu this year than last. PC heavyweights such as Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Inc and Lenovo all offer netbooks with Linux-based platforms, as well as Windows versions.
Jay Pinkert, a Dell spokesman, said Ubuntu allows the company to appeal to the open-source community, and also offer a product at a lower price point. Linux operating systems are free to license – Canonical makes money through support and upgrades for Ubuntu – while Microsoft receives as much as $60 for its netbook version of XP, analysts say. "As long as customers find value in having an Ubuntu option we’ll continue to have it in the mix," Pinkert said.
Netbooks are expected to be one of the only PC segments showing strength in 2009, with analysts estimating global shipments of anywhere from 20-to-30 million in 2009. Although no one predicts an end to Windows dominance any time soon, some do see some opportunity for Linux netbooks in emerging markets, where cost is the overriding concern. And others see potential for emerging open-source operating systems on netbooks. "The big move to Linux will come when Android comes out on the netbook platform… That’s what’s really going to open up Linux," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. He said netbooks are perfect for so-called "cloud-based" computing – with applications hosted on networks rather than on PCs – and that the Android platform, if designed well, could find some traction. Android is used on smartphones like HTC Corp’s G1, but is being designed to support all kinds of connected devices. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney was skeptical that anything can seriously dent Windows’ supremacy, but said Android’s emergence would make things interesting. "If Google got in with Android that would be a good statement, Dulaney said. "It would give Google a placeholder in a market that may grow from bottom up." Microsoft in January partly blamed netbooks for weaker-than-expected quarterly profits. The company makes only half as much on its netbook software as it does for a standard notebook, analysts estimate. Microsoft expects to ship a low-end Windows 7 f
Let us cut to the chase. Will the next iteration of Microsoft’s dominant operating system be any good? After spending a couple of weeks playing around with the beta version of the software, our verdict is that yes, it will be. But why? Windows Vista was a marketing and public relations disaster.
Vista, which was code-named Longhorn , was delayed by over a year and many people who bought machines with the Vista Capable logo on it were horrified to see that Windows Vista barely managed to work on their hardware when they upgraded from Windows XP.
It must be understood that Vista was the first operating system the Redmond-based behemoth launched after the advent of social media blogs, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Digg and the like. Technology blogs and websites took no time in shredding Vista.
But the fact is, if you have a new computer (with dual-core processor and at least two gigabytes of memory), and not a Netbook, Vista works quite well. The integrated search function on Vista is brilliant if you, like most people, have files spread all across your computer.