A netbook is a light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient, highly portable laptop that achieves these parameters by offering a smaller form, fewer features, less processing power and reduced ability to run resource-intensive operating systems (e.g., Windows Vista).

Suitable for web browsing, email, and general purpose applications, netbooks are targeted increasingly at users accessing web-based applications (also known as Cloud computing) — which require a less powerful client computer.

Led by the popularization of small-form-factor laptops by Asus and then others, the term 'netbook' became a widely used and genericized industry classification rather than a reference to a particular product. By April 2008, Intel had begun officially using the term netbook to recognize a specific sub-category of laptops.

The term had existed previously – although related to specific products rather than a category of laptops:

  • Psion in 1999 had used the product name 'netbook', and in 2008 claimed trademark rights to the term where used in a product name.
  • MSI had registered the product name Wind Netbook.

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