I posted an earlier blog about Microsoft bringing XP out of an early retirement to fight the new wave of netbooks shipping with Linux. But the real story here is why everyday Americans who usually hold to the mantra of "bigger is better" are flocking to them in groves and made them one of the best selling tech products of 2008.
I read an interesting article this past week in Wired magazine with the following sentiments: Back in 2000 when our first child was due I went out and traded our trusty Subaru Legacy wagon in for a GMC 2500 HD (Heavy Duty) Suburban with a 454 V-8 that got 10mpg. What a great truck. It was huge, fast, and huge! But after driving it for awhile I quickly found out it was not good for the ole' daily commute and grind. Then some parts needed replacement and GMC thought very highly of its HD line and charged accordingly. It was all that we wanted but waaaay more than we needed. It was soon traded in and replaced by a much smaller and economical Mazda MPV van when gas was going out of sight at $1.50/gallon. ;-)
This is like the new fifteen and seventeen inch wide screen portable desktops that are available at the local electronics store with dual-core processors and 4GB of RAM that can double as small enterprise servers in a pinch. They are not good for daily commuting either unless your idea of light is a 7 or 8lb. anchor in your bag. Well, what is quickly being discovered that most of the time spent on a portable PC is mostly made of web surfing, social networking, and e-mail. All of which can be accomplished by a sub-$500 netbook with a 4GB SSD, 512MB RAM, etc.
And this back-to-basics mentality is just right for this new economy.