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.

via ZDNet

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11 replies on “Rumor: Microsoft sets max hardware specs for Windows 7 netbooks”

  1. This is utter monopolistic bullshit manouvers from MS! I use Linux on my netbook and will continue to do so.

    1. these hardware restrictions are bullshit. let the market decide. all this just makes me want to use linux on my netbooks

  2. So MS is still planning to “reach out and [insert your own interactive verb]” netbooks. I never thought the 3-app restriction would fly, because it’s so totally obvious and stupid that it would help rather than hurt Linux.

    But since the whole Vista vs XP thing was going to be over, it never occurred to me that they would still try to cripple netbooks! Was I ever naive!

    I don’t think they should be allowed to control the way netbooks are designed and manufactured. Grasping for an analogy, I think of a produce wholesaler telling a grocer: “Well, I’ll let you carry our line of small potatoes, but you damn well better not let your customers buy anything bigger than a one quart pot to cook them in.”

    I’ve never thought a totally free market would cure the the world’s woes, but I’d rather leave market regulation to governments, not big corporations.

    Unlike a lot of people, I’ve always been grateful for the computing power MS has given us. I’ve used a copy of every Windows version since 3.1 (except 2000 and NT), but they are driving me more and more toward Linux.

  3. Starter Edition is still a miss. Buyers will riot… lawsuits guaranteed.

  4. Okay so no Ghetto edition. But what other tricks does MS have. Steve Ballmer is ‘tricksy’, he will do something to wreck any good will this gesture has put forward.

  5. Dropping the maximum screen size from 12″ to 10″ will make the laptop manufacturers happy. I wonder if Windows 7 crippled edition will help Linux win back some of the market share.

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