Should I Upgrade from Windows 7 Starter?

Ericuse165 asked the Windows forum if it's wise to upgrade his netbook's OS from Windows 7 Starter to a more powerful version.

Because Windows 7 Starter--the cheapest and least powerful edition of Windows 7--is only available on very inexpensive PCs, it's reasonable to assume that it's stripped down so as to not burden cheap hardware. But that's not quite true.

All 32-bit Windows 7 editions have the same minimum hardware requirements. Microsoft maintains that most netbooks can run Windows 7 Ultimate just fine.

PC World Lab tests done in 2009 (for this article) came to much the same conclusion. Running a Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 with Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium, the Lab found that while Starter was faster than the other editions, it wasn't faster by much. Using the WorldBench 6 tests, Windows 7 Starter scored 31 points; both Home editions managed a very close 30 points. (XP beat all three with 33 points.)

I should mention that, when I examined the test results closely, I noticed that Home Basic performed a tad faster than Home Premium. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that Aero Glass, which comes with every edition of Windows 7 except Starter and Home Basic, slowed down Premium a bit.

In addition to missing Aero Glass, Windows 7 Starter also lacks multiple monitor support, DVD playback, Windows Media Center, and the ability to personalize the desktop. But these features are missing to justify the lower price, not to speed up the OS.

So if you upgrade your netbook to a more powerful version of Windows 7, you will probably lose some performance. But not much.

Read the original forum discussion.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

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