As we’ve already seen time and again, Windows 7 Beta runs great on netbooks, even though the beta is basically an early build of Windows 7 Ultimate, which will be the most expensive version of the OS.
Windows 7 boots, launches programs, and performs more CPU intensive tasks just about as quickly as Windows XP, all while providing extra eye candy and features like live thumbnail previews of running programs from the taskbar. But Microsoft charges a fair bit of cash for a full version of an operating system, so I don’t think anybody expected Microsoft to offer low cost Windows 7 Ultimated edition licenses to netbook makers.
Today Microsoft announced that there will actually be 6 different versions of Windows 7, including a Starter Version which is designed for netbooks and computers in emerging markets. But as the folks at GeekZone explain, Windows 7 Starter edition kind of sucks. Sure, you get the new Windows 7 taskbar and Home Group features. But you can only run up to 3 applications at a time. Sure, it’s tough to see more than 3 windows at a time on a 1024 x 600 pixel netbook display, but if you want to run Skype, Windows Media Player and your web browser all at once, you can’t launch an image viewer, IM application, or anything else at the same time.
Netbook makers could decide to offer customers a chance to purchase machines with Windows 7 Home Premium (according to ZDNet, Home Basic will only be available in emerging markets), but that will certainly drive up the cost. While a lot of folks have been speculating Windows 7 could kill the popularity of Linux-based netbooks, maybe Microsoft’s next generation operating system could actually help keep Linux netbooks alive.