Posted 28 July 2008 - 08:44 PM
An interesting report from PC Mag.
by John C. Dvorak
The ASUS sneak attack. The most interesting story the media is downplaying is the ASUS announcement that it will have a ROM boot chip on all its motherboards, which will boot Linux instantly on start-up. When you flick the switch the machine is instantly on. (It's about time.) Of course, you will have to press another button for the machine to load Windows.
This development is important, since 90 percent of the time all a user wants to do is surf the Web. Often when leaving for a trip, I forget to check the weather. To do so, I would have to start up my computer, wait forever for it to boot, then go online. This way, I just flip it on, and boom—I get a browser and the info and I'm done.
It's an extremely subversive ploy for a number of reasons. First of all, it gets people used to Linux, gives them a pain-free experience, and provides quick rewards. Second, it shows users that—most of the time—this is all they need. And finally, it makes Windows look like a subsystem not much different from a program that you run under Windows. The psychological effect of this is profound, and the results could be devastating for Microsoft.
What will develop naturally from such a new architecture will be Linux replacement apps for the usual Windows apps. One at a time they will come. Windows will boot only for those laggard apps, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. The rest of the time, users will remain in Linux, which will be perceived as very snappy and responsive—something missing from Windows.
It's obvious to me that ASUS is doing this to help people get familiar enough with Linux so that the company's ultraportable EeePC can further expand its market share. The EeePC runs Linux.
What's interesting is that the other motherboard makers are going to have to offer something similar. Since Linux is basically free, the additional cost of this feature is minimal—probably a dollar. This is the single biggest threat to Microsoft since the company went public. It's a bigger threat than Google, that's for sure. It's not overt, it's insidious. The only way to prevent this is for Microsoft to develop an instant-on mechanism itself.