By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Asus launched its new 8.9-inch Eee PC yesterday, offering more memory, a multi-touch trackpad and better webcam, but despite two operating systems, chains will only see the Windows version.

The new Eee PC 900, which squeezes a screen almost two inches larger than its predecessor into a body the same shape and weight, will come in both Windows XP Home and Linux versions, but traditional retail chains will only get the XP version, according to Asus notebook and wireless product manager, Albert Liang.

Liang told that computer resellers will sell the Linux version, due to their ability to alter specifications, while department stores and large chain retailers would receive only the Windows version.

The Windows version is cheaper than the Linux version, at RRP $599, versus the Linux version’s RRP of $649.

And, despite Windows taking up more space in on the computer’s solid state hard drive, the Windows XP Eee PC only comes with 12GB of space, as opposed to the Linux version’s 20GB.

Liang said this was due to a desire to keep the cost of the mainstream version down.

The 900 series also debuts a new two-button, multi-touch trackpad, similar to that on the latest Apple MacBook Pros, which allows zooming and scrolling by using two fingers at once. The technology, called FingerGlide, means pinching in will zoom out, while sliding two fingers out diagonally across the screen will zoom in. Two fingers slid down the pad will scroll.

Enquiries on future plans for the seven-inch version, which has dropped to $299 in some specialist computer retailers, were not returned at time of publication.