Android to invade Microsoft's netbook turf

ASUS says it will put Android, MeeGo operating systems in upcoming devices

Sure, Microsoft may have lost its way in the smartphone market and fallen far behind in tablets, but at least Redmond has one unassailable stronghold in mobile devices -- netbooks!

(Also see: Netbooks, we hardly knew ye)

For now, anyway. According to seattlepi's Microsoft Blog, Taiwanese computer maker ASUS plans to start using Google's Android mobile operating system (as well as Intel's MeeGo OS) in upcoming Atom notebooks.

It's all part of what ASUS getting back to what chief executive Jerry Shen calls "the original idea of the netbook." Shen, interviewed by a Russian tech site, said, "Thanks to Windows, netbooks have become mini-laptops."

I'm not sure that's a compliment. Netbooks initially were designed as lightweight devices for connecting to the Internet. That was about it. Then Microsoft discovered the market and Windowsized it. Sounds like Shen doesn't think mini-laptops are the way to go in a world increasingly populated by tablets and smartphones.

Shen also appeared to adopt a you've got to be kidding wait-and-see attitude toward Windows Phone 7, telling the Russian tech site, "We focus on Android, but the new Windows Phone is very promising, in particular through support for Nokia. We wait for the development of this platform, and next year may represent the smartphone and Windows. This year we will have only Android."

Such enthusiasm for Microsoft and its fine line of mobile devices!

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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