To be exact, according to Asustek, "The company shipped 2.5 million notebooks in the first half of this year, 1.7 million units in the third quarter and is expecting to ship 1.9 million units in the fourth quarter, bringing the company's annual notebook shipments in 2008 to at least six million units." Breaking that down by operating system, "The ratio of Eee PCs preloaded Windows XP and Linux stands at 7:3."
So, by year's end, there will be 2.4-million more desktop Linux uses. Maybe my colleague Preston Gralla is right. Perhaps Microsoft is getting worried about Linux on the desktop and that's one reason why they're cutting the fat out of Vista Second Edition, aka Windows 7, to make it more competitive with Linux. Certainly, Microsoft is already doing its best to flim-flam people with overly-rosy early reviews of Windows 7.
I think Microsoft does have reason to worry. The demand for instant-on computing is already bringing Linux into just not some, but most, new computers in 2009. While Microsoft, as is its wont, promises great things ahead with Windows 7, sometime between now and 2011, the major desktop Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora keep coming out with new, and better distributions every six months.
At the moment, my best guesstimate is that about 3% of all desktop users are running Linux at part of the time. While you can talk about how Windows 7 may mean bad news for Linux, I really see a ten-fold increase in Linux desktop sales from a major international PC vendor to be much bigger news than what Microsoft may, or may not, do to Linux sometime in the future.
Microsoft is always talking about how much better the next version will be, Linux is showing us today how much better it has become with vastly increased sales and new versions that are available today. Advantage: Linux.