While I am not a big fan of Microsoft, I do like a couple of their products and have to use their Windows platform quite a bit. My IBM ThinkPad X41, for instance, uses Windows XP, and while I grumble frequently about how bloated an OS it can be, the version that is installed on the machine (apparently the For Legacy Products version) is pretty nimble and somewhat thinner. My older ThinkPad, the 760XD, runs Windows 98SE, mainly to be a backup for my Jornada.
Which brings me to my main point. The Jornada uses Windows CE, as does my little subnotebook. The version found on the subnote is 6.0, the latest. Windows CE is an interesting product. For one, it is light, no doubt due to its primary mission of being used on "gadgets"; PDA's, smart phones and portable computers. It is almost always ROM based, and always boots very quickly.
It is almost a forgotten product, or at best the target of abuse.
Yet, it was the operating system that was chosen for these subnotebooks that are flooding the market at usually less than $150 a unit. As I write these words, they are beginning to develop a small, cult-like following. These computers are selling.
But for some reason, the rest of the world hasn't noticed, it seems.
It no doubt has to do with price. These computers are viewed as cheap, after all. The one I own, however, works flawlessly.
What they need are applications. Note; I say "applications", not apps. They could also use slightly better support, but again, for the price, that may be a long shot. Based upon what I've read, developing Windows CE applications is not that hard, and I may yet give it a shot.
The open source community has also noticed these computers. The Android OS is already an alternative operating system for them (in some places, apparently, you can buy them with Android already installed). Debian has also been ported; how long will it be before Ubuntu develops a gadget version, I wonder.
But the thing is, there is room for development here. These little machines have plenty of potential. Their distributors seem to be missing the point and a real opportunity.