Instant-On Portable Computers: A Fast-Growing Trend

jkOnTheRun is reporting on the news that Phoenix Technologies is jumping on the Instant-On bandwagon. This is a growing trend to put lightweight platform software on notebook and netbook computers , so that you can get work done on the fly without having to wait for a system to go through a whole, lengthy boot cycle. Until now, these features have primarily consisted of Linux-based operating systems that allow you to jump into an instant messenger, Skype or other applications without waiting for a full system start. Now, it looks like the trend may spread out.

I’ve written about SplashTop’s instant-on software and its growing use on netbook systems before.  SplashTop employees a small-footprint Linux operating system that lets you instantly get web access via a browser, and run applications such as Skype without having to wait for your system to boot. It’s been a hit with many users of the Asus netbooks and other portable machines that it ships on. Lenovo also recently announced that it will include SplashTop on its IdeaPad S10e netbooks.

The entry of Phoenix Technologies into this space could deliver instant-on features to many more models of portable computers, though. Phoenix has provided BIOS solutions for computers of many kinds for decades. Its HyperSpace environment is similar to the Linux-based equivalents for Instant On features, but Phoenix is not playing in the Linux and open source spaces. Instead, the company is working with Opera to combine a fast-loading version of HyperSpace with Opera, so that portable computer users can jump right into web-based applications.

“The solution developed as a result of this partnership will enable consumers to access the Internet and begin browsing the Web, conduct secure transactions or read and send email within seconds of turning on a HyperSpace-enabled PC without having to wait for Windows to boot,” says the announcement.

This actually turns out to be more useful than it sounds at first. How many times, when your laptop is off and you’re about to leave for a trip, have you wished you could check something on the web, such as a weather report? Windows users are especially familiar with long, frustrating boot times. I expect that with Phoenix entering the race, we’ll see Instant-On arrive on many more portable computers than we’re seeing it on now. If you’re in the market for a new machine, it’s worth trying before you buy.

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