Why Netbooks Failed – 2020 Retrospective

by birtanpublished on October 4, 2020

Netbooks when i say that word you likely think of thick but fairly small x86 laptops from around 2007 to 2012. often with about six to 11 inch displays cramped keyboard and uh we don't talk about the track pads netbooks were meant to be budget laptops small and portable enough to be perfect for school or even just around the house it wasn't a bad concept but it was executed horribly and i can honestly say without a doubt netbooks were one of if not the biggest scams in the tech industry of all time namely thanks to microsoft hey

How's it going i'm josh from 91 tech and today we're taking a retrospective look at netbooks a form of products that was ultimately ruined mostly by microsoft and their desire for money that's a tiny netbook yeah it's good looking lightweight generally awesome and you can just go online video chat with my cousin this is under 200. are you some famous mind reader a visionary no i have them the new lightweight hp mini netbook with windows and america's largest and most

Reliable 3g network built in only 199.99 the lifespan of the netbook was a short and kind of painful one and one that was started in late 2007. the asus epc is credited with the beginning of the netbook boom being an absolutely tiny laptop looking device with a 7-inch display either a linux-based operating system or a version of windows xp a 4 gigabyte solid-state drive remember this is 2007 and the whole package came in at around 399.

For this laptop that might sound like a lot but don't forget how expensive big and clunky laptops were around this era a promise of a tiny device that was significantly cheaper than windows laptops seemed like a really good idea especially for college students and the like who were on limited budgets but needed a laptop easy to bring around we'll come back to the epc but i want to quickly mention that netbooks while they look like a laptop and quack like a laptop they aren't really a laptop i mean they are but they were presented

As their own kind of thing initially kind of like how tablets nowadays aren't laptops but they kind of can be especially if they run windows and have attachable keyboards but back to the epc when it came with the linux version called zandros from what i can tell while the os looked pretty bland it seemed fairly usable windows xp likely would have been rougher but that was an option as well four gigabytes was a pathetic amount of space but if you were using it for text documents and web browsing you didn't really need any more the ssd ensured relatively fast speeds

And it's fair to say some people were quite impressed i'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the epc was pretty much the peak of the netbook line yeah the first one it represented something new something different something kind of innovative it was almost like a concept device a good idea that was soon to be butchered in every way imaginable thanks to the garbage bloated hardware that would follow as well as the rise of tablets it also didn't help that in 2008 the macbook air was announced and not

Only was it a lot thinner and a lot lighter than a lot of netbooks but it completely blew them out of the water in terms of power and overall usefulness they were actual laptops and could be used as such whereas netbooks were netbooks but the macbook air wasn't cheap and because of that netbooks would stick around and continue to gain in popularity i'm not doing this video just to blast netbooks it might sound like that so far and i'm sure some of you clicked on this video thinking hey i used to have a netbook i liked that thing and if it

Worked for you that's great but unfortunately i think for most people the negatives outweighed the positives but there is good and bad so let's start with the good of netbooks these were the days before tablets ultrabooks and chromebooks meaning regular old laptops were what you were looking at in terms of portable computing and besides them being huge and clunky they were also very expensive with absolutely terrible battery life and so it made sense an alternative would be able to slip into the cheaper

Market with a smaller device and better battery netbooks that ran lightweight versions of linux and even windows xp were generally decent little web browsing machines of course nowadays they wouldn't be able to handle the web but back then it was a lot more simplistic with these very light tiny devices that for the time were attractively designed as opposed to the typical almost industrial look of other laptops you were getting multiple hours of battery life on a streamlined experience these things were called

Net books for a reason similar to chromebooks of today the web is all they were really meant for netbooks quickly took off in popularity as the truth was much like today when it comes to laptops most people don't need them for anything more than basic web browsing in the july of 2008 netbooks only made up one percent of all laptop sales but by the december they owned nearly a fifth of the entire market you know that whole suffering from success meme that's basically what happened to netbooks they were doing too well and that's a big part of their

Downfall manufacturers were pushing screen sizes even larger to 9 and 10 inches and they packed them with more storage and it was all accessible for often less than or around 300 at least for the lower tier models come 2009 not even two years after the first netbook and we started to see the beginning of the end coincidentally right around when windows 7 came out my turn one sec i have to tweet the deets so that the hendersons know where to rendezvous here you go thanks mom hey son i'm a bit

Turned around can you drop a pin on it sure dad so it says to head west on 85 which is coming up in a few miles thanks buddy now back to fringe as netbooks kept getting better and the sales did as well hardware manufacturers began to get unhappy people weren't buying their expensive crap and that was no good microsoft and intel started to pressure netbook makers to limit the specs and windows 7 licensing costs were made more expensive for any machine with the screen size over 10.1 inches which completely halted netbook innovation

In terms of form factor and now we start to see the bad and i do think it really started with windows 7. early netbooks weren't great by any means as lightweight as windows xp was it could still be a bit of a struggle on the low tier x86 intel processors and of course we won't even talk about vista because it was pretty much irrelevant the linux based os is fair to better but as a consumer if you had the choice of some os you had never heard of or windows you were going to choose windows introducing windows 7 starter edition

Perhaps one of the biggest scam jobs from microsoft of all time it was made exclusively for netbooks and would come pre-installed you couldn't buy a license for it even if you wanted to windows 7 starter was a monumentally stripped down version of windows 7. removing things like ui options personalization features like changing desktop backgrounds you couldn't change the wallpaper what the heck microsoft as well as the removal of multi-monitor support which would have been really nice considering how small netbooks were imagine if you could have hooked it up

To your tv it also got rid of the ability to switch between users without fully logging off no dvd playback xp compatibility mode and quite a few more things you couldn't change the wallpaper i want to emphasize how dumb that is there was no reason for them to do that they just did that to try to encourage you to buy actual windows 7. who the heck decided that would be a good idea despite the stripped-down options windows 7 still chugged with the lower powered intel atom processors netbooks came with not

To mention the pathetic amounts of ram suddenly netbooks went from decent lightweight internet machines to the bloated sluggish experience netbooks were created to get away from in the first place it might not be fair to fully blame microsoft for the downfall of netbooks but gosh darn if they didn't help it along it honestly makes me angry how they completely ruined what could have been a really good thing you could upgrade to that better version of windows if your computer had the minimum required specs but let's be real the kind of person

Buying a netbook wasn't going to try to make it any better these are the kind of people who buy it for a simple streamline experience and while netbooks were still somewhat that the artificial restrictions microsoft demanded guaranteed a lackluster time for the user if you bought a netbook you probably weren't ever going to buy another one because you wouldn't have a good time these people also didn't have a ton of money which is part of the reason why they were buying a netbook so why would microsoft expect them to buy full

Windows 7. that's insane but if you want to change your wallpaper that's what you had to do or get around it by editing the registry and whatnot while all this was happening regular laptops were getting better i've mentioned the macbook air already but windows laptops were slowly improving too getting slimmer with better batteries and actually half decent hardware and come 2010 the death of the netbook was cemented with the launch of the apple ipad as much as microsoft tried its best what really killed netbooks off were the

Tablets if a product is cheap no matter how crappy it is people will still buy it so netbook still had a shot until that ipad apple made the initial jump with ipad and soon after you had dozens of cheap android imitations that as crappy as some of them were were just as capable of the web browsing and facebook use that netbooks were sales began to plummet and by about 2012 netbooks had finally about died off this was even further cemented with windows 8 a piece of software that was almost fully designed for tablets you might remember that everyone

Hated windows 8 and the reason was is because it was designed with touch screens in mind this would leave netbooks in the dust not to mention that netbooks didn't have the hardware necessary to run windows 8 in the first place of course windows 8 was a disaster and most people skipped it but at the time it was pretty clear that microsoft didn't care about netbooks and were ready to move on and then chromebooks came in and replaced netbooks in the market except

Chromebooks were actually half decent because they didn't struggle to run windows but instead ran the very lightweight chrome os they were pretty limited but so were netbooks chromebooks definitely have had their flaws but considering how cheap they've typically been it's tough to complain and they have the tendency to age better than netbooks have before i get comments saying your school has chromebooks or whatever and they suck yes chromebooks are still cheap and don't have great hardware but schools have the tendency

Only to replace laptops like that every five years or whatever and that means regardless of what they get the hardware is going to be slow at some point similar to netbooks chromebooks weren't made for productivity work at least beyond google docs and slides i actually had one in high school and i used it for a while until the battery decided to crap out on me for no reason but perhaps talking more about chromebooks would be a good idea for another video so i think i'll save it for now

Chuck norris netbooks died off thanks to a combination of factors microsoft was a big one ipads were even bigger but ultimately their limited hardware just couldn't keep up technology was changing at a rapid rate and already underpowered hardware from 2010 or whatever would really feel it straight out of the box not to even mention a year or two down the line windows 7 starter edition was just kind of the nail in the coffin the netbook i've been showing here is my mom's and

To say she was disappointed with it when it was purchased would be a bit of an understatement not only did it come with a crappy trial version of word but the keyboard is a bit cramped and it's just not a pleasant experience the trackpad is just awful although she and probably most netbook users did use a wireless mouse netbooks had their limited use cases but the makers marketed them hard and almost fooled buyers into thinking they'd be more capable than

They were the four years of netbooks were kind of an anomaly in the tech market and i kind of doubt we ever see anything quite like it again but it's still fun to see what used to be and in an alternate universe what could have been had microsoft not put the windows 7 starter limitation who knows what would have happened i think tablets still would have won out but netbooks might have survived for a bit longer also some of the designs when it came to netbooks were really darn unique lots of different colors patterns in a

Time where gray and black were usually all you were getting in laptops as much as i'm not a fan of how companies essentially exploited their customers by pushing out crap hardware admittedly it did result in a few interesting designs some of the callers for acer aspires from this box for example they had a blue and a reddish brown color and if you look closely at the netbook you'll see what looks like a water drop on the top i like that it's also kind of sparkly which i'm not a fan of but it is different the water drop though it's a

Simple touch but one that i appreciate but with that i think i'm pretty much about done here not the most in-depth video out there i'm sure but hopefully it's given you a quick look at what netbooks were and why they pretty quickly failed so if anyone ever asks you whatever happened to netbooks you can tell them intel and microsoft windows 7 starter edition followed by tablets that's pretty much how they died and you know what while netbooks have all the telltale signs of an ugly laptop with crappy cheap plastic

Huge thick bezels tiny touchpad and crappy keyboard i can't help but appreciate the form factor in general look it's almost cute in a way a relic of a time long past and one that'll never come by again did you ever have a netbook did you like it did it work for you let me know in the comments down below if you found this video interesting maybe hit that like button and consider subscribing for more content just like this you can follow me over on twitter and instagram at 91 underscore tech if

You'd like to for some reason and we also have a discord come drop by and say hi thank you so much for watching i'm josh from 91 tech and i will see you all next time i'll come back to the epc but i want to mention that netbooks while they quack like a duck and look like a duck aren't really

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