Microsoft doesn't plan to offer a version of Windows for so-called 'smartbooks', leaving the space open to Linux, Google's Android and other operating systems.

Smartbooks are a new class of device built around ARM-based chips from companies like Qualcomm, Freescale and Texas Instruments. A number of PC makers are working on smartbook designs, which are targeted at the space between smartphones and netbooks.

Microsoft's mainstream Windows operating systems are designed to run on the x86 instruction set used by Intel, and AMD and won't run on the ARM-based processors used in the new machines. The company has no plans to port a PC version of Windows over to the ARM core, said Steve Guggenheimer, who runs Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer division, in an interview at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

Microsoft does offer a version of Windows Mobile that is compatible with ARM chips but doesn't have plans to develop that for the technically more capable environment of a smartbook, he added.

In declining to do so it won't be following the path of Android, the Google-backed operating system, that first appeared on mobile phones and is currently being tweaked to run on first-generation smartbooks. Several companies have shown Android-based smartbooks at Computex.

Guggenheimer was bearish on the potential market for the machines.

"It's hard to create new categories," he said.

Microsoft knows the difficulties well: It has tried several times to popularize tablet PCs with little success.

"We'll see what happens," he said,