Small new "netbook" computers from Acer will come with Google's Android operating system if buyers desire, instead of Windows from Microsoft.
The move by Acer, the world's third-largest PC maker, could raise Android's chances of becoming a widely used alternative to Windows on mobile computers.
Because Android, originally designed for mobile phones, is freely distributed by Google, netbooks running the software would cost less, Acer executive Jim Wong said Tuesday at Computex, a huge computer show in Taiwan. He would not give a specific figure. Wong also praised Android's fast boot-up time.
Netbooks, which are inexpensive little laptops primarily designed for using the Internet, originally were sold with another free operating system, Linux. Microsoft's current operating system, Vista, was seen as too expensive and slow for those computers. But Microsoft regained control of the budding market by licensing the older Windows XP to manufacturers for a low price.
Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 7, is being geared for netbooks as well as larger computers. Several PC companies used the Computex show to highlight coming models based on Windows 7, including Taiwan's AsusTek Computer.
Also, ARM Holdings, a chip-technology licensing company, said it would launch a new chipset to drive netbooks, taking on a domain dominated by Intel's Atom microprocessors.