Will Windows 7 Kill SSD-based Netbooks?
Intel’s Josh Bancroft made an interesting comment in a blog post the other day, claiming that Windows 7–which might very well require more hard space than Windows Vista—is going to make for cramped working conditions on your average Netbook.
Why’s that? According to a report from Pricegrabber.com, only eight of the current ten best-selling netbooks even run on SSDs, and of those, both run 8GB solid-state drives. Bancroft estimates that a full Windows 7 installation, even of Microsoft’s barebones Windows 7 Starter package, could eat up to 6GB of working space. That doesn’t leave much room for other programs and files, even given the limited amount of use a Netbook offers. What’s to stop consumers from picking up a similarly priced Netbook with greater-than 100GB hard drive?
While Windows 7 could theoretically become the final nail in the coffin for solid-state drives on Netbooks—at least until the market sees larger capacity drives at similar price points—other signs point to a blasé consumer attitude toward flash-based Netbooks. According to Pricegrabber, only 11 percent of consumers would absolutely purchase an SSD-based Netbook compared to 14 percent that would shy away at all costs. The largest voting block, 43 percent, would require “considerable” price drops before they would consider purchasing an SSD-based Netbook. The cost-per-gigabyte ratio of solid-state drives is just too large to justify the purchase, suggest 54 percent of surveyed online users.
Right now, conventional hard drives average around an eight-cent-per-gigabyte ratio, whereas solid-state drives are approximately 75 percent times that figure at $6.12 per gigabyte. At those prices—even given an SSD’s reported speed benefits of twice as fast boot times and eight times the data writing capability of a magnetic hard drive—it’s easy to see why DRAMexchange doesn’t see many SSDs jumping into Netbooks during 2009. According to the research firm, short-term demand for solid-state drives will be brought on by the enterprise market. Expect to see less than ten percent of all low-cost PCs using solid-state drives in 2009.