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Power users and gamers are about the only ones buying 17.3-inch laptops these days. Lightweight and thin designs are winning favor among mainstream users, but just how small are consumers willing to go? They're dipping below the 15.6-inch form factor and heading straight to 11.6-inch laptops, though there's a reason other than portability as to why these smaller size notebooks are gaining steam.
According to Digitimes and the supply chain sources it spoke with, shipments of 15.6-inch laptops are on the decline in part due to the stagnant market in Europe. Meanwhile, 11.6-inch models are finding homes at an increased rate these days because Microsoft is offering up large discounts on Windows 8 licensing fees for the smaller form factor.
It's unclear why Microsoft is pushing 11.6-inch models so aggressively. Maybe Microsoft is looking to steal some share away from Apple and its MacBook Air category. Whatever the reason, there are deals to be found. Not only is Microsoft helping to push prices down, but Intel is reportedly offering lower prices to brand vendors for its upcoming Bay Trail processors, which are slated to launch in the third quarter. The caveat is that they have to guarantee a minimum order level to get the reduced pricing.
Finally, Google's Chromebook platform is also helping to drive the 11.6-inch category.