I meant in a good way. As expected, Microsoft realise that existing licensing is too expensive for emerging cheap laptops. [I wouldn’t call it ultra-low-cost PC. To me, it is a PC. It is on the cheaper than the [current] cheapest end, but a PC nonetheless] Its effort is to reduce the licensing price for computers it segmented out as the cheapest end.
If you look at it from a software business viewpoint, it is a correct move, i.e., identified a new market (cheaper than cheapest), segment the market correctly by making sure that it does not cannabolise existing market, and target the market with the “correct” product. For someone who play with software, that sounds like unnecessary work. A better way is to give your OEM people the full software and let them pick-and-mix, then, since we are talking about non-free software, charge them according to what they want.
Here are a few interesting points: First, confirmation that Windows XP will not die. That is because Microsoft need it to compete for platforms that Vista is simply too big. Second, Bill Gates’ last major project, Windows Vista, did not deliver on certain segments of the software market. He should had foresee it. Therefore, Vista is a partial flop. Third, don’t go out and buy for EeePC yet, or you will pay a premium of GBP50 over for the operating system (Windows). Wait a while longer you will might find a flourishing market for similar laptops, driving price down for you. Microsoft just confirmed that a market for these type of products is possible.
Now, to anyone who claim FOSS software does not innovate, how about creating an extension of the cheap end of the market? The fact that Asus did not need to ask anyone permission to use Linux (and OpenOffice.org), and that the software can run on cheapest (and most expensive) hardware, and the ability to customize Linux certainly help Asus to pionerr the market.