Asustek to run Win XP on low-cost Eee laptop

Asustek to run Win XP on low-cost Eee laptop

Laptop for £125 aimed at emerging markets will include older operating system

Asustek is planning to offer a version of its low-cost Eee laptop running Microsoft’s Windows XP by the end of the year.

The Eee laptop currently runs a Linux operating system, but the company will launch the first Eee model with XP in December in Taiwan and worldwide in early 2008.

The Eee is a low-cost laptop rival to the XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child foundation and Asustek claimed that it has already received one million orders.

The entry-level version will cost approximately £125. The company’s chairman and chief executive Jonney Shih maintained his claims that Asustek is on target to sell more than three million Eee laptops during 2008.

“The Eee PC is our answer to where the next one billion users of personal computers are going to come from,” Shih commented.

“We want to enable more users around the world - housewives, the elderly and children. We believe there is a great potential in emerging markets and we are aggressively working with governments to sell Eee PCs through special projects.”

The inclusion of Windows XP on the Eee is a surprise since Microsoft has been actively trying to phase out the operating system in favour of the newer Windows Vista.

However, industry-wide feedback from Windows XP users, who say they are happy with the older operating system, recently forced Microsoft to extend the life of XP.

Commenting on the Eee alliance, Davis Tsai, general manager of Microsoft Taiwan, said: “XP fits the low-cost segment.”

Microsoft has already agreed to extend XP sales to June next year, but Tsai refused to confirm if that deadline would be extended again if low-cost laptops prove to be a big success in emerging markets.

There are now four versions of the Eee, all running the Linux operating system from Xandros. These have over 40 applications, ranging from Skype’s internet communications application to word processing software and the Firefox browser.

The laptops have a small 7in display, substitute a hard disk for Flash-based storage of up to 4GB and are powered by low-power Intel chips.

The first Windows model, demonstrated at the launch, has a copy of Windows XP Professional running on a 900MHz Intel Celeron M processor, and featuring 512MB of DDR2 Dram and a 4GB Flash drive.