Netbook computers have an interesting history. Widely derided as underpowered and little more than “toys” when they first appeared on the scene, netbooks have grown into solid solutions for those interested in ultra-portable computing. Netbooks often positively distinguish themselves from the increasingly popular tablet computers – like Apple’s iPad – by having a real keyboard as well as the ability to install whatever compatible programs the user desires (rather than be limited to “apps” from an “app store”).
Because netbooks are focused on relatively low price points, they often use lower powered components than laptop computers. On earlier generations of netbooks this sometimes meant that the computer would be loaded with an operating system that was unfamiliar (perhaps a variant of Linux that was prepared just for that particular model of netbook) and difficult to work with. Today, however, as netbooks have “grown up,” there are many popular options available for the operating system.
Netbooks almost always come with Windows as their operating system. Windows is a time-tested and proven OS that most people are at least vaguely familiar with. It may or may not be the best operating system out there, but at least you’ll know how to use it from the off.
Even though Windows Vista and XP are on their way out, they retain a strong following on many netbook computers. Because these versions of Windows are not current, netbooks that use them are often available at a lower price than those which include Windows 7. But since there’s such a large user base that still uses Vista and XP (including on desktop and laptop computers), there’s no shortage of programs available, or assistance and advice to be found on the Internet if you have any questions.
Many of the higher end netbooks currently on the market come with the Home Premium version of Windows 7.Some cheaper netbooks come with Windows 7 Starter instead, which has some limitations.
Linux, the open source operating system, remains popular on many models of netbooks. Since Linux is free, netbooks that have it installed are often cheaper than similarly versions which come with Windows. Individuals who already use Linux on another computer will have no difficulties with a Linux netbook, of course, but even new users will find the learning process to be relatively simple. Certain Linux installations that are popular with netbooks (such as Ubuntu) closely resemble a Windows environment.
Jolicloud (specialized type of Linux)
Some developers have used the unique nature of a netbook computing environment as an opportunity to create new versions of Linux that are optimized for those computers. Jolicould has become popular for just this reason, and is worth considering if you find it on a netbook that you’re otherwise interested in.
If you’re thinking about buying a Chromebook rather than a standard netbook, then you’ll also be buying into a different, and relatively new, operating system. Google has designed the Chrome OS with web use in mind, as well as other technologies such as cloud storage.
Chrome OS is literally a browser. There is no desktop on a Chromebook, just a menu homepage from which you can access all of your files and meet your software needs. Chrome OS has also been designed to be fast. It’s meant to be at least as fast on start-up as an Apple Mac computer, but preferably faster.
Chrome OS isn’t just about speed though. It has a number of other features that mark it apart from rival operating systems like Windows. For example, its security features are quite robust. This is important as extensive browsing can expose your netbook to security threats. The biggest threat to any computer is viruses, and Chrome OS has been designed in such a way as to make it virtually immune to all computer viruses and other forms of malware.
With the new wave of netbook computers you’re almost certain to find an operating system you’re either already familiar with or will have little problem in learning.
Important Features To Look For When Buying A New Netbook
Netbook Processor (CPU) Guide
Netbook Graphics Processor (GPU) Guide
Questions You Need to Ask Before Getting a Chromebook
What’s The Difference Between a Netbook and Nettop?
Selecting a Netbook Brand – Which One is The Best?
Netbooks vs Ultrabooks