MIT Technology Review – The emergence of ultracheap netbook computers has been one of a few bright spots for the PC industry over recent months. Last year, some 14 million netbooks were sold against forecasts of 5.3 million, according to research company Gartner. And at this week’s Computex industry conference in Taipei, Taiwan, computer makers and hardware manufacturers will demonstrate a host of new models and netbook-specific hardware.

But the battle to provide the software that runs these streamlined computer systems is becoming increasingly interesting. The first netbooks, released in 2007, provided a rare opportunity for the Linux operating system to reach a wider audience. Since then, however, Microsoft has reasserted its dominance, pushing Windows XP and its next major operating-system release, Windows 7, for netbook computers.

The latest version of a Linux-based netbook OS called Moblin could be set to challenge this dominance. Originally developed by Intel and optimized to run on its Atom netbook processors, Moblin version 2 beta was released last month.

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