On second thought, Microsoft lifts Windows 7's three-app limit for netbooks

If it's a counter that's determining arbitrarily how many applications your limited edition of Windows 7 should be allowed to run, how much precious system resources does that counter consume? And couldn't that memory and space be put to better use, say, running an app? Where and how should netbook manufacturers tell customers they can only run three Windows apps at a time? These were the kinds of questions Microsoft's engineers have been fielding with regard to a limitation in the company's forthcoming Windows 7 Starter Edition, a SKU of the operating system it wants netbook manufacturers to pre-install.

In an indication this afternoon that all this listening to consumers' wishes may be giving Microsoft's people a headache, the company's Win7 evangelist Brandon LeBlanc announced this afternoon the addition to Starter Edition of a kind of feature, if not in fact the subtraction of a feature that nobody wanted: The three-app counter will be gone.

Hiding his message in an announcement touting "worldwide availability," LeBlanc wrote, "We are...going to enable Windows 7 Starter customers the ability to run as many applications simultaneously as they would like, instead of being constricted to the 3 application limit that the previous Starter editions included. We believe these changes will make Windows 7 Starter an even more attractive option for customers who want a small notebook PC for very basic tasks, like browsing the Web, checking e-mail, and personal productivity."

Even that's just three items, and users could certainly add more to that list, breaking the old barrier. To make sure users hold it down a bit after being thrown a big bone, LeBlanc added that the company will not relent in its decision not to add the Aero front-end, sound and graphics customization, Media Player streaming, or XP Mode to Starter Edition. Many netbooks will run on processors like Intel's Atom, whose integrated graphics would not be capable of rendering Aero anyway, and which does not support the hardware virtualization libraries necessary to run XP Mode.

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