Microsoft: All netbooks will run any Windows 7
There will very likely be some netbooks shipped in the US and other developed markets this year that will feature the Windows 7 Starter Edition SKU announced in February. But this version will have some limitations to it that go beyond the inability to display the Aero front-end using Windows Presentation Foundation -- the direct implication of a statement made by a Microsoft spokesperson to Betanews this afternoon.
But that will not mean that premium editions of Win7 will not be able to run on netbooks, the spokesperson continued, but rather that OEMs may end up choosing to pre-install this limited edition on netbooks for sale.
"Any SKU of Windows 7 will be able to run on netbooks, which means that the hardware limitations of a netbook won't affect the functionality of Windows 7 regardless of SKU," the spokesperson told us. "With Windows 7, Microsoft is on track to have a smaller OS footprint, an improved user interface that should allow for faster boot-up and shut-down times, improved power management for enhanced battery life, enhanced media capabilities and increased reliability, stability and security."
The Journal article suggested that one of the other limitations a Starter Edition user may be faced with is the ability to multitask only a limited number of applications simultaneously -- a feature, we pointed out to Microsoft's spokesperson, that would require a fairly sophisticated application of group policy and therefore, arguably, a more elaborate SKU of Windows than one that omits such a limitation altogether.
The spokesperson would not deny the existence of this or any other specific limitation for Starter Edition, but went on to say that this edition should not be perceived as "defeated" or encumbered (agreeing with our contention that it would need to be elaborate to effectuate the limitation) because it enables customers to choose systems that may be better suited to their needs. Last February, the company announced that Starter Edition would be available in developed markets through retail channels, although Windows 7 Home Basic -- a version which will likely contain limited features -- will only be available in developing markets.
"These engineering investments allow small notebook PCs to run any version of Windows 7, and allow customers complete flexibility to purchase a system which meets their needs," the spokesperson told us. "Small notebook PCs can run any version of Windows 7. For OEMs that build lower-cost small notebook PCs, Windows 7 Starter will now be available in developed markets at a lower cost. For the most enhanced, full-functioning Windows experience on small notebook PCs, however, consumers will want to go with Windows 7 Home Premium, which lets you get the most out of your digital media and easily connect with other PCs."