SAN JOSE, Calif. Improvements in Windows 7 will make it less likely notebook makers will adopt Linux-based operating systems, said a technology executive at Lenovo. However, the company will evaluate new alternatives including Google's Chrome OS, said Howard Locker, director of new technology for the notebook giant.
"Our S9 and S10 model netbooks had Linux loads, but they didn't do well so we stopped selling them," said Locker, referring to the systems launched in October 2008 mainly targeting the education market.
The fact Apple's iTunes is not supported on Linux clients irked many Lenovo users.
"People didn't realize what they bought, and they returned them because they expected Windows and thought they were broken they expected Windows," Locker said. Meanwhile Windows 7 "has really hurt the alternatives because it's a lot better, so there's a huge gap [for Linux environments] to jump now," he said.
Locker ticked off a handful of Windows 7 improvements. The new OS has a ten second boot time, less than one second resume, better suspend mode, lower power consumption and user interface improvements such as multi-touch support, he said.
Nevertheless, Lenovo is giving Google feedback on the design of its Chrome OS environment for netbooks and expects to evaluate the software. "We're watching it but it's too early to tell because they don't even have alpha code to test," Locker said.
Not all notebook makers agree. In mid-October Acer Group announced a netbook that can boot either Google Android or Windows.
On the wireless front, Long Term Evolution networks may someday supplant Wi-Fi for wide-area links, driving new use scenarios, Lenovo's Locker said.
Today users have "pockets of connectivity" with Wi-Fi, but by 2012 users could have "great bandwidth with [the equivalent of] a universal hotspot anywhere in the US-- maybe you won't even need Wi-Fi anymore," he said.
Better access to bandwidth could drive a need for higher levels of video acceleration in notebook and netbooks. "It will change how notebooks are used, and that will change design of netbook," he said.
As for personal-area wireless nets, ultrawideband is "a DOA dead technology," Locker said. It didn't deliver 10x over Bluetooth and that's why wireless USB failed," he added.
Meanwhile 60 GHz looks promising but "it's very early and still a few years away from prime time and being affordable in cost and power," he said.