We already know that Windows 7 Ultimate, the version of the next generation of Windows which Microsft has made available as a free beta download, runs great on many netbooks. But there’s a good chance that Microsoft will develop a stripped down version of the OS specifically for netbooks. Not because min-laptops like the Asus Eee PC or Acer Aspire One can’t handle the full version, but because Microsoft won’t want to provide the full functionality of Windows 7 Ultimate at the discounted price it currently charges netbook makers for Windows XP.
ZDNet reports that Microsoft is sending emails to some testers asking if they’d be willing to try a version of Windows 7 on low power machines with 1GHz processors, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of available disc space. Microsoft says testers need a DVD-RW drive, but I’m guessing that’s just for burning the installation image to disc and installing the OS, so a USB drive would do.
It’s possible that the folks who sign up to test this version of Windows 7 will be the first to see the operating system that Microsoft will eventually license to mini-laptop makers. On the other hand, Microsoft is limiting the invitation to users in Chile, Egypt, Lebanon, Brazil, Jordan, and India. So maybe this isn’t a version of Windows 7 designed for netbooks, but instead one made for countries where Microsoft may not find it feasible to sell Windows at full price.
Update: ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley says this is not a Netbook-specific version of Windows 7, but rather… something else.