When it became clear last year that netbooks were becoming major players in the PC industry, and they weren’t generally powerful enough to handle Windows Vista, Microsoft decided to extend the product life of Windows XP. But just for netbooks. In other words, computer makers could preinstall Windows XP on mini-laptops, but not on full sized PCs. And since netbooks tend to sell at very low prices, Microsoft also let PC makers purchase XP licenses for as low as $15, as a way to discourage them from shipping netbooks with Linux.
But Windows 7 was designed from the ground up to work on systems with smaller screens, slower processors, and less RAM than Windows Vista. In other words, most versions of Windows 7 will run on your average netbook with little difficulty. Still, Microsoft feels the pressure to offer a low cost version of Windows 7 for netbooks, because it’s hard to justify charging hundreds of dollars for the operating system on a $300 laptop. So Microsoft is offering a severely somewhat crippled version of Windows 7 called Windows 7 Starter Edition.
While I can’t imagine why anyone would want to run Windows 7 Starter on a full sized computer, (aside from the presumably lower price), Tech ARP reports that Microsoft is setting new guidelines that let PC makers know the maximum hardware specifications to qualify for Windows 7 Starter. This information hasn’t been confirmed by Microsoft, but in a nutshell, here it is:
- CPU: Single core processor that operates at 2GHz or less and uses 15W or less of power
- Screen Size: 10.2 inches or smaller
- RAM: 1GB of less
- Storage: Up to 250GB hard drive or 64GB SSD
There will reportedly be no restrictions on touch screen capabilities or graphics performance.
Update: It looks like Microsoft is removing the restriction that only lets you run 3 applications at a time on Windows 7 Starter Edition!
Update: It’s official: Microsoft has removed the 3 app limit. The company explains exactly what Windows 7 Starter can and can’t do in a blog post.