When is a Netbook Not a Netbook?

Microsoft’s netbook pricing dilemma continues.  It is tough to optimize for both unit share and revenue, but my former colleagues in Redmond remain undaunted.  In our last installment, I suggested:

Starter Edition seems to be dead on arrival (in fact, to go back to a stock soundbite, you can’t spell Starter Edition without the letters D, O and A…), but they can always keep offering the immortal Windows XP if necessary.

Since then, Starter Edition has gone back to the drawing board and XP has gotten yet another life extension.

But wait, no stone is being left unturned in this campaign:

Microsoft at Computex has said it wants PC builders to avoid using the term “netbook” in the future.

Microsoft now plans to call them “low cost small notebook PCs”

As the kids say, good luck with that.  So what if the category name is too big to fit on the packaging of most netbooks.  Suggested official pronunciation: “lick-snips” (handy mnemonic: put your tongue in a weed-whacker).  I for one am heartened that the oft-criticized but much misunderstood Microsoft naming department survived the recent layoffs.

Some suggest it is more than just another step in a relentless quest for terminological precision:

While ostensibly claiming it’s primarily a definition, Microsoft is believed to be using the new label to better let it force system makers into using more expensive versions of Windows 7 on certain computers. Vendors have already been told that they can only install Windows 7 Starter Edition on notebooks with no more than a 10-inch screen, 1GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive and a single-core 2GHz processor. By exempting systems that don’t quite fit into the category even if their characteristics are similar, Microsoft could require that they pay for the significantly costlier Windows 7 Home Premium.

In other news today:

  • Microsoft also said it wants Internet users to avoid using the term “Google” in the future, particularly if they are anywhere near a browser address bar.
  • IBM spokesman Lou Canute reminded PC users to be sure to regularly save files they are working on to their “hard file”, or they could risk losing data.
  • Descendants of Claudius Ptolemaeus issued a statement commemorating the 675,000th successful orbit of the Sun around the Earth since the publication of their ancestor’s earthshaking astronomical work Almagest.
  • Larry Ellison suggested Soracle might build netbooks (Ok, this is real).  Soracle officials say they have what it takes to compete in low-cost, high volume consumer markets as evidenced by this clamshell-style prototype developed in Sun’s labs which can be seen below:

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