CNet UK reports that Microsoft officials are saying the company plans to release a version of Windows 7 specifically designed for netbooks. ComputerWorld, on the other hand, is calling BS and pointing out that early builds of Windows 7 run just fine on netbooks so there’s no need for a custom version. I’ve seen plenty of reports of users installing Windows 7 on netbooks, and the OS apparently runs as well or better than Windows Vista, and some people say it performs even better than Windows XP.

But you know what? That might not be the point. Microsoft could decide to release a netbook-only version of Windows 7 and here’s why: money.  Right now the company is offering deeply discounted versions of Windows XP to netbook builders in order to convince them to install the OS on cheap laptops rather than using free and open source software like Linux. If Microsoft chooses to charge mini-laptop makers full price for Windows 7, it could push many companies to seriously reconsider Linux, because a large part of the appeal of netbooks is the low price.

So Microsoft could strip a few features from Windows 7 and lower the licensing fee. It’s not that you couldn’t run the full version of Windows 7 on netbooks. It’s just that Microsoft may not want you to. That’s the same reason most netbooks running Windows today come with Windows XP Home Edition instead of Windows XP Pro. In order to preload XP Pro, computer makers would have to pay full price for the software.

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10 replies on “Will Microsoft release a netbook-specific version of Windows 7?”

  1. I’m running Windows 7 Beta on my Lenovo S10, it works way better than XP. No performance issues what so ever. I’ve loaded the Vista drivers, don’t get any errors or such. I’d like to see a special Netbook version of Win7 though, perhaps a bit more streamlined and geared towards power saving.

  2. I have Win 7 dual booted with the native XP on an Asus 1000H. A few hiccups but it runs. I installled all the drivers/toolbar apps that would load under Win 7 from the Asus recovery DVD and the latest WLAN drivers from Ralink . There is a free version of Kaspersky AV you can download for Win 7 from Kaspersky. I do get an audio and VGA hot key warning error when booting up but this doesn’t ssem to affect anything major. It boots quickly as well.

  3. If they do I doubt it will be that different from Vista Basic. A version without media center and fancy graphics.

  4. I installed the beta of 7 on a Shuttle KPC with 1 gig of RAM (shared with video) and with just the OS running had only 300 MB of RAM free. Unless MS will start allowing 2 GB of RAM on these machines performance is going to stink if you use more than one program at a time or use multiple tabs in Firefox.

  5. I have the beta on mine and my only complaint is that it is a bit big for my Dell Mini9. I have a 16 GB SSD and the OS takes up almost 9 GB. I haven’t tried to slim it down yet but if MS offer tools to slim it down that would be helpful for the SSD crowd.

  6. We’d love a custom version of Windows 7 specifically for netbooks, especially those still hanging on to their EEE 701s with a mini-PCIe slot like mine. I tried the beta version, and I must say I’m impressed.

  7. Euh, I installed the win7 beta. And got horrible video processing if I was doing anything BUT video. If they fix that, I’m IN! If not, I’ll stick with XP.

  8. They could also be looking at the UI, too – lots of custom overlays of XP on netbooks being shown at CES.

    But yeah, it’ll probably be a feature-stripped version.

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