A recent Gartner Analysis prediction suggests that overall sales of netbooks will increase to 21 million units in 2009, or roughly 80%, while PC sales are expected to decrease by 11.9%. In order to gain further ground in this newly Windows-dominated segment, Microsoft is strategically offering Windows XP on netbooks for a steep discount.

Although the software giant has yet to publicly disclose its pricing for netbook licenses, an unnamed source quoted by the Wall Street Journal has leaked that Microsoft will be selling licenses for a mere $15, or less. For reference, when purchased in large lots, PC makers are commonly charged between $50 and $60 per copy of Windows Vista for a typical notebook system, and $30 for the Starter Edition of Windows.

With Windows 7 on the horizon, Microsoft has its sights set on targeting even the lowest budget netbook with its Windows 7 Starter Edition. On the other hand, companies like Acer and Intel doubt on the success of the Starter Edition due to the three-application cap and fees associated with upgrading. Perhaps we'll be seeing a Linux comeback?