Last week Asus launched the Eee PC 900, and going by the sheer volume of readers who accessed the World's first full review of said machine here on TrustedReviews, it would appear to have been a very hotly anticipated product. But I can't help but wonder why so many people have been waiting with baited breath for the new Eee PC, because if the general trend of IT products is anything to go by, end users don't crave simple devices that do simple tasks well. Or is it, as I've suspected for some time, a case of end users having to put up with what they've been given for so long?
Let's take a quick look at what the Eee PC 900 has to offer. Basically you have a very small, very light notebook with a very targeted usage model - the Eee PC is an ideal solution for anyone who wants to be productive, no matter where they find themselves. Now it's fair to say that any number of Windows based notebooks have been doing this for years, and there's a lot of truth to that. However, if you wanted a Windows based PC that's anywhere near as small and light as the Eee PC, you'd be looking at spending over £1,000, instead of the £329 that Asus' new baby will cost you.
But the Eee PC doesn't simply offer a svelte chassis at an attractive price, it also provides a very satisfying user experience. An Eee PC 900 equipped with its streamline Linux build and a basic suite of productivity applications is a perfect tool in today's digital age. Gone are the days of kids going off to university and blowing their whole student loan on a notebook - now those same students can spend around £300 on an Eee PC 900, which will be a perfect companion throughout their academic career. Of course that probably means that the money saved will go on beer, but hey, you only go to uni once.
At its most basic level, the Eee PC has proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt - the vast majority of notebook users don't need Windows Vista.
If you've been working in the technology industry for a while, you'll be well aware of how each new release of Windows becomes more bloated and more resource hungry. Microsoft is keen to tell us that each incarnation of Windows has improved the user experience, making it easier for novice users to get to grips with, while offering more features for experienced users to enjoy. But I can't help but wonder how many of these magical new features end users would have been happy to have lived without, in exchange for a faster, simpler and more streamlined operating environment.
If you sat a novice user down in front of an Eee PC 900 and went through the basics, I have no doubt that they would be productive in no time, without ever having gone near a Linux based machine in their life. This is because the simple Linux environment in the Eee PC is, to all intents and purposes, transparent. Rather than trying to be a living, breathing entity in its own right, the operating system in the Eee PC is a tool that allows the end user to be productive. A tool that allows other applications to be executed and employed. A tool that serves the user, rather than hinders them by getting in the way.