Asustek to Share Eee PC at Taiwan Open Source Summit

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Asustek Computer plans to share its experience with open-source software in its popular Eee PC low-cost laptop at the OpenTechSummit Taiwan 2008, which runs from April 25 to 29, the company said.

The Taiwanese PC vendor is the largest corporate sponsor of the event and is currently selling the most popular laptop that carries an open source OS, the Eee PC.

The company officially started selling the Eee PC last October in Taiwan, offering four different configurations from NT$7,000 (US$231) for the 2G-byte "Surf." They all run a Linux OS from Xandros of New York.

So far, Asustek said it has sold a million of the low-cost laptops, but it declined to break down the number of Linux versions sold versus the number of Eee PCs sold with Microsoft Windows XP.

The Linux OS has allowed the company to keep prices down on the laptops in two ways. First, open-source software comes at little or no cost, and second because the streamlined OS requires a bare minimum of hardware to run. It's been the same story as for the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC), which also uses a Linux OS in its XO laptop.

The foundation has been working with Microsoft to develop a streamlined version of XP that can be used in the XO with lower hardware requirements than full XP.

Microsoft earlier this month published new guidelines for designing ultra low-cost laptops for Windows XP.

Asustek launched its first Eee PC with Windows XP earlier this year, and said the OS had a big impact on sales. The company has forecast that two-thirds of the 5 million Eee PCs it expects to sell this year will run Windows XP, while the remainder will run a Linux OS.

Sales of the Eee PC have been strongest so far in Europe, where around 40 percent of all of the low-cost laptops have been shipped. The company expects that figure to rise to 50 percent later this year.

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