While netbook manufacturers such as Lenovo and Acer continue to push the limits of the netbook form factor, Microsoft and Intel may be attempting to limit size by adjusting prices.
According to a report in DigiTimes, Microsoft and Intel have made an agreement to limit the upper end of netbook from factors to 10.1 inches. That means problems for some manufacturers, notably Lenovo and Acer, which are both trying to reimagine that space with 12.1- and 11.6-inch netbooks respectively.
Citing sources, the restrictions will come for netbook users who aim to run Windows 7 on their ultramobile computing devices.
"The restriction is expected to end PC vendors' 11.6-inch Atom Zxx-based netbook product lines after the launch of Windows 7, the sources noted," according to DigiTimes.
The report goes on to note that netbooks measuring more than 10.2 inches will not be eligible for lower Windows 7 licensing fees that Microsoft will offer to OEMs.
That hurts a chip maker like Via that doesn't try to restrict OEM choices in form factor for its products. Intel would benefit because its Intel Atom processors dominate the netbook space right now.
With Microsoft allegedly deciding to kick up the cost of licensing fees for netbooks that don't conform to the 10.1-inch or smaller form factor, it seems that Intel could prosper. And netbooks continue to sell—The NPD Group's DisplaySearch found that nearly 6 million ultramobile PCs shipped in the first quarter of 2009.
To throw a little fuel on the fire, last week Tech ARP ran a side-by-side comparison of maximum available technical specifications for Windows XP/Vista and the upcoming Windows 7.
Most notable were the restrictions that Microsoft may plan to implement on screen size. Currently, netbooks running Windows XP or Vista cannot have screen sizes exceeding 12.1 inches. Netbooks that plan to run Windows 7 Starter/Home Basic for Small Notebook PCs cannot have a screen size exceeding 10.2 inches.
Storage is also being restricted, with Windows 7/Home Basic for Small Notebook PCs—read netbooks—limited to 250 GB HDD or 64 GB SDD. On Windows XP/Vista machines, the upper limits are set at 160 GB HDD and 32 GB SDD.
Finally, netbooks running Windows 7 will also be restricted in processor choices. Netbooks running Windows 7 are restricted to single-core processors that do not exceed 2GHz frequency.
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