The VAR Guy wasn't looking for love, but he found it during a trip to his local CostCo last night. There, he spotted the $299 Eee PC from Asus. It's built on Linux -- but CostCo's in-store promotional materials for the device barely mention Linux. That may be a smart move. Here's why.

During the CostCo visit, The VAR Guy noticed numerous shoppers checking out the Eee PC. (The three Es stand for Easy to Work, Easy to Learn, Easy to Play.) None of the CostCo shoppers -- not one -- checking out the Eee PC last night asked whether it ran Windows, Linux or something else. Fact is, most consumers don't know about Linux yet.

The CostCo shoppers had more practical questions on their mind:
  • Did the tiny, $299 sub-notebook have Internet access? (yes)
  • Wireless support? (yes)
  • Email capabilities? (absolutely)
  • The ability to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations? (yup)
Notice the checklist above doesn't mention "Windows" or "Microsoft Office." More and more of today's consumers are thinking less about software products by name. The Internet and widely supported standards (TCP/IP, HTML, Ethernet, etc.) have started to free us from monolithic software packages.

Hey, The VAR Guy is still a Microsoft Office user. In fact, he thinks it's pretty darn good. But if you're in the market for a low-cost sub-notebook that is easy to use while on the road, the Eee PC is connecting with thousands of users.

Indeed, the Eee PC with a 7 inch screen has been a hot seller. But The VAR Guy will likely hold out for the new 9 inch screen. He may need to pay a little more for that extra real estate. The fact that it runs Linux is a bonus to The VAR Guy. But for most consumers, Linux isn't even on their radar yet.

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