Looks like Microsoft is backing off on some of their previous demands in regards to allowing OEMs to keep installing Microsoft Windows XP on netbooks. Microsoft had already extended the End-of-Life for XP on these devices (on June 30th, most manufacturers had to stop offering Windows XP on mainstream laptops).
Previously, they had placed the following restrictions on netbook / sub-notebook manufacturers:
– Screen sizes must be 10.2-inches and under
– Hard drives must be 80GB or under
– No touch-screens.
The extension was to allow netbook customers to use XP, which performed much better than Windows Vista on such limited hardware platforms (although some Vista drivers have slowly been changing that on certain machines). I think a part of it was also to try and discourage OEMs from offering Linux on these devices. The restrictions were put in place to insure that it didn’t hurt Windows Vista sales.
Now the restrictions are:
– Screen sizes must be 14.1″ and under
– Hard drives must be 160GB or smaller
– Touchscreens are allowed.
Also, it’s mentioned that the CPUs are limited to single-core chips that max out at 1GHz, with 1GB of RAM or less. That’s a little tricky because there are definitely machines that exceed the CPU or memory specifications but which are still selling with XP (maybe not on the memory, but the Intel Atom clocks at 1GHz). Obviously a dual-core CPU would be able to run Vista much better than a single-core.