Here’s an interesting article on wired.com that describes the use of alternate operating systems for the new Netbook computers. Netbooks are designed to be small, lightweight laptops that run a low-powered CPU to maximize battery life, and are used mainly to connect to the Internet. So, these machines are designed to do just about everything via the Internet. As such, hardware manufacturers are starting to install Linux-based operating systems on these machines since Linux is inexpensive and can easily run web browser and email applications.
Internet-based tools already exist for calendar, word processing, and email functions (e.g., Google), and there are lots of online storage options available. So I can see very customized operating systems ranging from a standard Linux installation to some reduced, optimized version of Linux. This will certainly challenge Microsoft in the area of Internet Netbooks operating systems.