Maybe They Should Call It “Windows 7 Grudging Acknowledgment of Reality Edition”

By  |  Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

Windows 7 LogoPaul Thurrott had it right: Microsoft has decided to lift the three-apps-at-a-time limitation from Windows 7 Starter Edition, the low-cost, low-end version of the OS which will likely show up on a lot of netbooks beginning this fall.

The company announced the change in plans at the Windows 7 Team Blog, in a post that also detailed remaining limitations of Starter Edition, among them its lack of Aero effects, custom wallpaper (!),  Taskbar previews, Fast User Switching, Media Center features, and DVD playback. It also tries to dissuade folks from associating Starter Edition and netbooks too closely:

As we continue to say since we announced the Windows 7 editions in February, all editions of Windows 7 have been optimized to run on the broadest range of hardware ranging from small notebook PCs all the way up to high end gaming machines. Windows 7 Starter should not be considered “the netbook SKU” as most machines in this category can run any edition of Windows 7. Many of our beta users have installed Windows 7 Ultimate on their small notebook PCs and have given us very positive feedback on their experience.

The post’s right that netbooks can run beefier versions of Windows 7–actually, I’m typing these very words on an Asus Eee PC 1000HE that’s working just fine with Windows 7 Ultimate. But  it remains to be seen just  how many netbooks will ship with anything other other than Starter given the price competition in the category (which is fierce) and the additional cost to bundle higher-end versions of Windows (which will be substantial). Starter Edition exists only because Microsoft would otherwise have to cede the low-end netbook market to Linux; it’s a version of Windows that Microsoft is releasing only because it doesn’t have much choice.

So if you’re thinking about buying a Windows 7 netbook, would you opt for Starter, or would you be willing to pay extra bucks for Windows 7 Home Premium or another more full-featured edition?


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Ian Says:

    Well the 3 app limitation would be a show stopper for sure. Not sure about the rest. I think Microsoft has to be careful here. If a stripped down version of Windows offers less than a beefier Linux install I think the choice would be clear.

  2. tbman Says:

    Windows 7 starter edition will probably end up being a complete throw away os. It will probably be tossed for a version of linux where you can play a dvd and put up your own wall paper. Microsoft shouldn’t even waste their time coming up with things to cripple and just throw out plans for starter edition and do something worthwhile.

  3. Backlin Says:

    I will probably run Home Premium or Professional on any computer to my name. This Starter edition is really a waste of time.

    Also, I seem to remember hearing that the Starter edition will only be available to developing markets. I’m not 100% sure on that, however.

  4. JDoors Says:

    I still think Microsoft had Starter Edition right all along: If you INSIST on something CHEAP-CHEAP-CHEAP, OK, fine, we’ll make it available, but YOU won’t like it and WE certainly won’t either.

    Anyone looking for the cheapest product out there will be perfectly happy with Starter Edition, whatever the limitations (and considering the intended market, I don’t think the “three app plus” limit was even newsworthy).

  5. drew Says:

    I have an HP 1030NR, and recently dumped XP to dry out Ubuntu Remix. I had to be out of town suddenly, and grabbed my netbook and Verizon wireless modem. It worked great, was peppy, and did everything I needed to do (e-mail via web and working on documents in OpenOffice and Google Docs)

    Since Remix is free, there would have to be a very compelling reason to get me to spend money on Windows 7, regardless of edition. I teach High School (social studies and engineering) and 95% of what I do is Word handout and PowerPoint lessons. I can do both in OpenOffice.

    Yes, OpenOffice does not seem as polished as Word 2007, but it is faster, and it has actually forced me back to considering WHAT I am writing, rather than HOW it looks. I can do all the writing I need on the netbook, send it to my office computer, and do the final touchup editing in Word.

  6. Matt Sharpe Says:

    The one restriction which will prevent me from using Starter Edition is the lack of Aero!! My netbook supports it, so its a bit crazy to artificially disable it. All the other restrictions like lack of DVD and media center wouldn’t bother me.

  7. Aaron Pressman Says:

    >>Starter Edition exists only because Microsoft would otherwise have to
    >>cede the low-end netbook market to Linux

    Actually, I think in more cases, they’re competing against their own former OS, Windows XP, for cheap netbooks. Maybe they’re sick of supporting XP? Funny, this was a big issue a decade ago at the antitrust trail. Is Windows’ biggest competition operating systems like Linux and Mac OS or just prior versions of Windows.

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