Why Microsoft Didn't Hobble Windows 7 on Netbooks

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If there's been any doubt that Microsoft plans to use Windows 7 to put the nail in the coffin of desktop Linux, there's this news: Microsoft says it will no longer cripple the Windows 7 Starter Edition it's targeting for use on netbooks. Users will be able to run as many applications at a time as they want.

Microsoft generated quite a bit of controversy a little while back when it said that one of the versions of Windows it planned to target for netbooks was Windows 7 Starter Edition, which would only allow people to run up to three applications simultaneously.

That would have been the surest way to push people to buy netbooks with Linux rather than Windows 7 installed. Even Microsoft's partners critized the company: both Acer and Intel said Windows 7 Starter Edition netbooks simply wouldn't sell.

Microsoft has since seen the light. Brandon LeBlanc, Windows Communications Manager for Microsoft, recently wrote on the Windows 7 blog that Windows 7 Starter Edition will allow people to run as many applications as they want simultaneously. It still won't be quite the full version of Windows 7. He notes on the blog that Windows 7 Starter Edition does not include, in his words:

"* Aero Glass, meaning you can only use the “Windows Basic” or other opaque themes. It also means you do not get Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek.

* Personalization features for changing desktop backgrounds, window colors, or sound schemes.

* The ability to switch between users without having to log off.

* Multi-monitor support.

* DVD playback.

* Windows Media Center for watching recorded TV or other media.

* Remote Media Streaming for streaming your music, videos, and recorded TV from your home computer.

* Domain support for business customers.

* XP Mode for those that want the ability to run older Windows XP programs on Windows 7."

For netbooks, these are fairly minor features --- who needs multi-monitor support on a netbook, or expects to watch recorded TV on one?

Windows netbooks already far outsell Linux netbooks. The Windows 7 Starter Edition will allow netbook makers to keep the prices on their netbooks down, while offering the most important features of the newest version of Windows. Given that, Linux on netbooks will fade even further.

This story, "Why Microsoft Didn't Hobble Windows 7 on Netbooks" was originally published by Computerworld.

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