When Microsoft releases Windows 7 to manufacturers the company will make several different versions available, including the low cost Windows 7 Starter Edition which limits users to running 3 programs at a time. In the past, Starter Editions of Windows were only available in developing nations, but Microsoft sees the crippled version of Windows as a way to allow netbook makers to license the software without driving up the price of mini-laptops. If customers want more features they can either buy more expensive netbooks with Windows 7 Home Premium or they can pay Microsoft for an upgrade after bringing the computer home.
Nobody really knows how this strategy will work until it’s tried. My guess is that a lot of users will be frustrated at their computer’s inability to run multiple programs. Some will figure out ways around it, some will buy upgrades, and many will just decide to return or stop using their netbooks. And some people won’t notice. After all, if you can run a web browser and an instant messaging app, you can get a lot done these days.
But if you want to be able to run multiple programs and access all of the features of Windows 7 that are available in the current beta version of the operating system (which runs beautifully on most netbooks), you’ll want Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Ultimate. While I doubt that netbooks will be shipping with Ultimate any time soon, several computer makers have already expressed an interest in Windows 7 Home Premium. And Samsung officials say that while Microosft is offering the Starter Edition for netbooks, once the company finds out more about pricing it will decide whether to offer different versions of the operating system on netbooks.
In related news, Samsung has no current plans to develop a Linux netbook. But if market demand for one increases, (say if Microsoft charges too much for Home Premium licenses), then the company might consider building one.