A Microsoft official is predicting the availability of $200 netbooks by the 2009 holiday season. Although the company is positioning Windows 7 Home Premium as the default version of its next generation operating system for home computers including laptops and netbooks, Microsoft will make Windows 7 Starter Edition available in developed nations like the US. This will be the first “starter edition” operating system that Microsoft markets outside of the developing world.
Windows 7 Starter Edition will be cheaper for netbook makers to load on mini-laptops. But it will come with a number of restrictions. For instance, users will only be able to run up to three programs at a time. It’s also possible that Microosft could drop personalization features such as the ability to change the desktop background.
In other words, Windows 7 Starter Edition won’t be nearly as much fun to use as Windows 7 Home Premium Ultimate, OS X, Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP, or pretty much any other full fledged operating system. What it will be is cheap. Cheap enough that Microsoft director of OEM marketing Mark Croft says he can envision computer makers using the operating system on $200 netbooks. While final pricing information hasn’t been released yet, it sounds like Microsoft plans to make Windows 7 Starter Edition OEM licenses as competitive with Linux as possible, which is quite a feat considering many Linux distributions are freely available.