IF RUMOUR is to be believed, Intel is up to its dirty tricks again, this time by way of a pact with Microsoft to secure a 10.2 inch screen size maximum for netbooks sporting Windows 7, leaving poor old Via and its 11-inch and above segment out in the cold.
The Vole had previously said it would offer its cheap netbook version of Windows 7 on any little lappy up to 12.1 inches screen size, but the gossip geeks in Taiwan's ODM notebook makers say Intel persuaded the software giant to change its mind.
What the move means in practice is that netbooks bigger than the specified 10.2-inches won't be eligible for the lowest Windows 7 licensing rates, meaning firms like Via - which don't restrict vendors' spec choices - and OEMs making 11.6-inch Atom Zxx-based netbook product lines will have to cough up more cash for a heavier version of the OS.
This, in turn, will ensure that Intel clings on to its 10-inch netbooks price advantage whilst kicking the 11-inch and above netbooks segment where it hurts. Of course, it's also in Intel's interest to make netbooks as small and basic as possible, with Chipzilla desperately seeking to limit any further cannibalization of the market for its faster chips that get bunged into more expensive notebooks.
How much of a price difference the move will make is not yet certain as the Vole has yet to announce the price tags on its Windows 7 SKUs. But if recent statements by Dell's director of product management for business clients, Darrel Ward, are to be believed, Windows 7 prices could be even higher than they've been for Vista and XP.
Microsoft's official pricing for Windows 7 is expected to emerge in a couple of weeks. µ