96% of U.S. netbooks are Windows-based, Microsoft says

While Linux initially made significant inroads into the burgeoning world of netbooks, Windows now commands an overwhelming majority of that market—at least in the United States. So says Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc in a post on the Windows Experience Blog.

LeBlanc isn't just pulling data out of thin air. He quotes NPD Retail Tracking Service numbers that say Windows only showed up in 10% of netbooks sold in the first half of 2008, but the OS's market share reached a comfortable 96% "as of February 2009." (In case you're wondering, Microsoft apparently defines netbooks as "small notebook PCs with a screen size 10.2" and smaller and a price under $500.")

The blog post goes on to enumerate the advantages of running Windows on a netbook, and LeBlanc notes that both MSI and Ubuntu Linux backer Canonical "stated publicly they saw Linux return rates 4 times higher than Windows." Clearly proof that users can't live without Windows.

To be fair, we've also seen Dell and Asus claim no differences in return rates for Linux and Windows netbooks. Asus CEO Jerry Shen also said last October, "A lot of users like the Windows XP, but in Europe a lot of people want the Linux option."

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