Microsoft Speaks about Windows 7 and Netbooks


win7-logoJust a quick tidbit here since Windows 7 SKUs are a hot topic with plenty of commentary going on right now. Microsoft has a Q&A style press release that’s specific to Windows 7 and netbooks. I recommend reading the entire release, but here’s the most relevant bit:

“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. For OEMs that build lower-cost small notebook PCs, Windows 7 Starter will now be available in developed markets. 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.”

My take: I think you’ll be able to purchase netbooks most commonly with Windows 7 Home Premium. OEMs may offer upgrade options to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate and thus charge accordingly. Hopefully, a Windows 7 Home Premium license on a netbook doesn’t add a relatively large cost to the hardware, but there’s no info on that yet. I’m also thinking that the Starter Edition might be offered in lieu of, and the same price as, a Linux operating system from an OEM. Thoughts?


Alex Whiteside

TurtleWhisperer, Microsoft have already stated that Home Basic simply will not be available outside of the list of “developing markets”. That’s why it comes down to a choice between Home Premium and Starter.

Frankly, I expect that Starter would be even more of a PR fiasco than Home Basic, and from MS’ comments they seem to think so too. I suspect they’ll continue the XP approach and offer a huge discount on OEM licences for systems below certain specifications. It won’t be a different edition, but the licencing will be substantially different.


If the OEM price for W7 on netbooks is not significantly cheaper than on other platforms, you’ll start to see Linux come back into favor as the price gap will be enough to make people stop and think. The question is: Will MS will cut a deal, or does it feel secure enough to ride out a Linux inrush?

I think they’ll split the difference, with some sort of hardware-limited discount for netbook OEMs, but not at the same level as they’ve been discounting XP.


you wont see Starter in netbooks, i believe you will see an explosion of Home Basic NOT Home Premium like everyone is predicting. Basic certainly wont hurt their netbook sales, so why would they offer anything more? for people like me Basic wont do it without Aero, so i will be forced to take the “upgrade” route (and pay more).


This multiple sku thing is completely fucking moronic, instead of celebrating each technical aspect that makes them king, they are separating, completely over valuing them. You would have thought the wide spread and generaly vista multi sku mockery, followed by the complete befuddlement of non techie’s would have been enough to put a end to this bs.
They need one version at one really great price point to put a cork in the ship


I bet they all are still heavily based on the same 1993 kernel called New Technology(NT). At one time they wanted to replace NTFS with a much faster DB engine and get rid of the horrific thing they call a registry but they retreated in defeat on those ideas. Looks like much of the original kernel is alive and well.


Vista currently has the whole “Anytime Upgrade” option to upgrade from Home Basic/Premium to the higher level bundles, so it seems likely they’ll do the same with Windows 7.

That said, I don’t expect Windows 7 to be more expensive than Vista… in fact, I’d say the same or 10-20% less. As for the OEM pricing options, I’d expect $50-80 for a Home Premium package.

John in Norway

I’m pretty sure MS will be offering Win 7 at a special discount for netbooks. They wouldn’t be that stupid to lose such a big market share, would they?


buying “cheap” with a full blown linux distro and then turning to an expensive ms world? this way doubling, tripling the investment in their netbook? consumers must be really stupid to do so


I would be happy if the Netbooks come with any basic version as long as there was a painless way to allow people to upgrade if they felt so inclined.

Ideally Microsoft need to offer a one click way to upgrade Linux devices to Windows 7, then consumers can buy cheap and decide for themselves how much they need the additional functionality of 7.

James Kendrick

I suspect that the $350 XP deals we’ve been seeing lately will become $400 deals with Win7 involved. XP is going to immediately be removed from availability by MS when Win7 ships I believe.

Brad Linder

I certainly hope you’re right. But if Microsoft doesn’t allow netbook makers to acquire Home Premium licenses at a discount, we’re either going to see netbook prices rise or an explosion of mini-laptops with Linux preloaded.


@James – I think you are right. I would not want a half baked OS (Win 7 – Starter) on a netbook. and I would not wish to purchase a product upgrade. These netbooks are very price sensitive and highly disposable. I would not want to invest to much money in an OS, on a netbook that I might use for 12 months or so. Microsoft seems to have some strange focus groups, if this is the type of things they come out with.

James Kendrick

I think Microsoft would love to have you purchase whatever version you want for your netbook but the issue for netbooks will be price.

It makes no economic sense on a <$400 netbook (retail price) for the OEM to spend near $100 on a license fee for one of the "enhanced" versions of Win7. This is going to be interesting to see how it shakes out in the low price end. I predict that OEMs will shun Starter and it's 3 program limit like the plague. There isn't a reason good enough to give a customer why their product is shackled.

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