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Revealed: The 5 netbooks killed by Microsoft

Mini laptops hobbled by licensing restrictions

Microsoft licensing requirements prevent netbooks with good specs using Windows as an operating system. We look at the five netbooks that have suffered at the hands of Microsoft.

When it comes to netbooks, most manufacturers use single core processors and only 1GB of RAM. Is this to keep in line with each other? Perhaps. But there is another reason that's never publicly acknowledged.

Microsoft doesn't cheaply license its operating systems to netbooks with specs that are too good (see the limitations at TechARP). The result, as evidenced by the looming retirement of Dell's Mini 12, is tiny netbooks with lesser hardware than full-sized laptops.

A handful of laptops, including the Mini 12, have broken the mold, but they all pay the price in some way. Here's a list of naughty netbooks that Microsoft is crushing with its hardware limitations.

Dell Inspiron Mini 12

The crime
Dell's Mini 12 is one of a few netbooks with a 12in screen. While that's fine for licensing of Windows XP or Vista (the Mini 12 used the latter), cheap Windows 7 licencing will require netbooks to cap the screen size at 10.2in.

Punishment
With no clear explanation why, Dell recently announced the Mini 12's retirement. I'm guessing the company saw the writing on the wall, and decided to discontinue the model rather than face more expensive operating system costs when Windows 7 arrives.

MSI Wind U115

The crime
The U115's great sin was packing an 8GB solid state drive and a 160GB hard disk drive together. While TechARP's list of limitations doesn't explicitly ban hybrid drives - it only says a netbook needs a certain size of one or the other - that's the rumour.

Punishment
MSI's act of disobedience was dead in the water just as it began. A company representative told Netbook Choice that MSI would sell its current stock of U115 netbooks, and then cease production at Microsoft's request.

Archos 10 with Ubuntu

The crime
Archos went way over the maximum HDD size that Microsoft allows for cheap OS licensing, packing a 500GB drive instead of the maximum 160GB, along with 2GB of RAM. As such, this particular build of the Archos 10 runs on Ubuntu instead of Windows XP.

Punishment
The Archos 10 is living in relative obscurity, released with little fanfare in France only. It's not clear when, if ever, the netbook will migrate into the rest of Europe or the US.

Laptop buying advice

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