CWmike writes "Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols puts his thumb on what really happened to spur Microsoft's change of mind on sparing Windows XP: The smashing success of Asus and others' Linux-powered UMPCs and mini-notebooks caught Microsoft completely by surprise. It turned out people wanted inexpensive, hard-working Linux laptops rather than overpriced, underpowered Vista PCs. If anyone thought this was a flash in the pan, that Asus just hit it lucky once, they haven't been paying attention. Intel is putting big bucks into its Atom family of processors, which have been designed for UMPCs, or as Intel would have it, MIDs. Intel has encouraged both the computer makers and the Linux companies in its Moblin initiative to run desktop Linux. The Linux companies have picked up on this. Canonical, Ubuntu's dad company, has come up with an UMPC-specific version of Ubuntu 8.04, the latest version of this popular Linux distribution, for Intel Atom UMPCs. At Computex, by my count, more than a dozen new UMPCs were announced both from vendors you've never heard of and from big name companies like Acer and Asus. You can also expect to see Dell releasing its 'mini-Inspiron' with Ubuntu by June's end."