Almost every netbook that ships with Windows 7 comes with the crippled Windows 7 Starter Edition. Users can’t use Aero Glass desktop effects or even change the desktop background. Windows 7 Starter doesn’t include Windows Media Center or support for multiple monitors. Wikipedia has a good breakdown of all the Windows 7 features you’re missing if you get a netbook with Windows 7 Starter.

The reason most netbooks ship with Windows 7 Starter is simple: It’s cheaper than other versions of the operating system and helps PC vendors keep prices low. Since the whole point of a netbook is that it’s a cheap, portable computer, price is kind of key.

But Microsoft does offer an upgrade path. Netbooks with Intel Atom processors are perfectly capable of running the higher priced versions of Windows 7. All you have to is pay for the “anytime upgrade.” Normally that means shelling out $79.99 to upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium. But starting on April 4th Microsoft and participating retailers will be offering a promotion that lets you upgrade for $49.99.

The promotion ends on July 3rd in the US, but specifics will vary from place to place.

Microsoft is also dropping the price of upgrading from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional from $89.99 to $79.99. But I don’t think that’s likely to affect netbook users as much as the first price drop. $50 really doesn’t seem like a lot of money to pay for an upgrade, even if you only spent about $50 on your netbook.

Of course, if all you want to do is change your desktop background, there are ways around Windows 7 Starter’s limitations. But if you need some of the other features that only come with higher end versions of the OS, you might want to snag an upgrade license in the next few weeks.

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14 replies on “Upgrade your netbook to Windows Home 7 Premium for $50 starting next week”

  1. Or you could download Snow Leopard off a torrent, and make a tiny Hackintosh netbook. Like I did ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Not worth the $50. The most important feature, “XP compatibility/Virtual PC” mode, isn’t available until “Pro” and higher. Until then, all you get are some worthless gizmos and things which will probably only serve to drain your battery even faster.

    I mean, if the most important things you do on your PC are change backgrounds, whine about bezels, and watch movies, it might be worth it.

  3. Ubuntu is a great alternative.

    When Google Chome OS comes who will shell out this amount?

  4. Oh, well; another waste of my time. I clicked on this ‘news’ article because I thought Microsoft had finally come to their senses and was giving us users of real, supported, problems-fixed-immediately, major-upgrades-every-six-months operating systems $50 to try their offering, to see if we could live without all those benefits, which should be standard fare for an OS costing $100-$200, or more.
    On second thought, if they did that, the price for the inferior operating system would still be ‘way too high.

  5. You fail to mention that not all netbooks can handle the upgraded version of Windows 7. Many will bog down on the extra CPU time used for background processes if they upgrade.

  6. How about upgrading from XP to 7 will this work for that as well? I have seen some post which state that you can use the upgrade to do a complete install.

  7. Cows can be milked…

    “do things like personalize their PCs with all the new Windows 7 themes, create a desktop background slideshow of their own photos, switch between open programs more easily with Taskbar Previews, and enjoy Remote Media Streaming.”

    50$ ๐Ÿ˜†

    Only a monopolist can do this…

  8. OR you could just give the _free_ and _open-source_ Linux system a test run and save the MS upgrade money.

    Unlike the costly and heavy MS windows versions targetting desktop machines, there are Linux “distributions” that are both light-weight and optimized for netbooks’ smaller screens.

    Because MS has most hardware manufacturers under restrictive bulk licencing schemes (keeping competition from being preloaded) sometimes latest models of netbooks may have components or setups that aren’t fully supported by the Linux distros yet, but it’s worth checking out anyway: just download a “live OS” system (or two, for comparison) for your USB stick and boot. Or google for the name and model of your netbook together with popular Linux distros for netbooks and laptops, such as:

    Jolicloud, Moblin (now known as Meego, by Intel and Nokia), Ubuntu Netbook Remix or perhaps Chrome OS or Android by Google.

    They’re as light or lighter than windows XP but up to date like Mac OS X or windows 7, and more secure too.

    In fact MS is only giving this “discount” for upgrading from the silly windows “starter edition” to a more (or perhaps too) functional desktop OS because enough people have already chose to use Linux instead.

    Btw. Netbook-centric sites like this one would do well to increase their coverage and reviews of non-MS alternatives (specifically aimed at these lower-end systems no less) as a useful and informative service to your readers, but it’s your call is you want to concentrate on listing bog-standard specifications (+ “windows starter of course) with the odd screenshot. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. $50 sounds pretty steep to me considering it’s possible to get a legit full copy, not upgrade, of 7 Pro for $19 or 7 ultimate $25 if you know how to use a search engine.

  10. not worth it could just spend 50$ more on a netbook and get one with windows 7 home premium….god even a cheap laptop worth a dvd drive more ram….this really is not worth it to anyone don’t get it!

    God i”m a Microsoft fan…no i really i”m

    1. Lots of people bought Windows 7 Starter because it just made sense for them at the time. You make it seem like no one has a Windows 7 Starter netbook when there are millions of them out there.

      I’ll have to read up on the differences between Starter and Home Premium but $50 doesn’t sound like a bad deal to upgrade your OS. I don’t think it’s been that cheap since you could go to XP from Windows 98 or Me.

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