As they count down the hours until Steve Ballmer's keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Wednesday evening, folks are compiling their lists of what they hope to hear from the CEO. Along with the details and plans for Windows 7, I'm interested in the intersection of that new OS and the netbook. Market leader Asus is pushing new ideas on what the netbook can become, and at its news conference Tuesday evening, Microsoft General Manager of Marketing Dave Fester demonstrated Windows 7 beta on one of its Eee netbooks.
Ed Bott at ZDNet says one of the things that Ballmer probably is thinking but won't voice in his speech is his frustration with missteps made by OEMs that exacerbated his company's difficulties getting Windows Vista out of the doghouse with many users. Microsoft has been working closely with those OEMs this time. In Asus, it has a partner that pretty much created the netbook, understands it, and seems to have a vision for making it the majority's choice in the netbook vs. smartphone battle first, and then in the netbook vs. laptop battle. Its swiveling touchscreen on the T91 is one example. Its dual-screen netbook with on-board "instant Internet device" is another. It's clear that the company has taken what it has learned from watching Apple's mobile device success and added efficiencies that will serve the business user well.