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Microsoft's Windows 7 Starter Edition, targeted at the hot netbook market, can only run 3 programs at once. Some are saying that Microsoft is purposefully crippling the functionality of the basic version to force customers to upgrade. Microsoft admits that its relying on customer upgrades in the netbook market to maintain its profits. Will this strategy work for it?   (Source: PopGadget)
With Windows 7 Microsoft is releasing cheap versions of its OS for netbooks, but faces the challenge of getting customers to buy pricier versions

Microsoft's Windows 7 is the apple of many in tech community's eye, with even former Microsoft critics eager to get their hands on the hot new OS which arrives later this year.  In response to the growing netbook market, Microsoft is set to release slimmed versions of the OS which can install on netbooks.  And while these versions are likely to make netbook owners day, they represent a challenge for Microsoft as it will likely to sell the base price at cheaper rates than standard OS's to keep its Linux netbook competitors at bay.  In order to maintain its bottom line, Microsoft is relying on a risky strategy -- counting on customers trading up to more expensive version.

Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell describes this challenge, stating, "The challenge for us clearly is to get the average selling price up.  We see Windows 7 at as an opportunity. We’ll have the ability for people to trade up, which would give us a price more similar to what we would normally get for a consumer."

Paul Otellini, Chief Executive of Intel, a key player in the netbook industry, believes that Microsoft's strategy is a dangerous one.  He states, "That upgrade’s going to be tough for a bunch of reasons.  Microsoft has to figure out: What’s their strategy?"

Windows sales accounts for 28 percent of Microsoft's $60.4B USD annual revenue and is the area where Microsoft sees its biggest profits.  However, netbooks are threatening that strong revenue base by demanding cheaper OS's.  Microsoft consented to sell netbook makers cheap copies of Windows XP for the time being (Windows Vista is too bulky of an OS for most netbooks), rather than lose market share.  However, ultimately it’s losing money for each customer who picks a netbook with Windows XP over a more expensive laptop or desktop with Windows Vista Home Premium.

With Windows 7, Microsoft may be trying to tempt customers to upgrade by giving them a base OS that is very much bare bones and lacks many desirable features.  Michael Silver, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc. states, "If you look at Starter Edition, I really don’t think Microsoft wants to sell that at all -- it’s pretty crippled.  It’s really there just so they can say they have a really low-priced offering."

The most basic version of Windows 7 , Windows Starter Edition, can only run three programs at once -- something many users will find unacceptable.

Analysts believe Microsoft's tactics will probably not work, though, and customers will just buy the crippled version and be mildly discontent or choose a competitor like a Linux netbook instead.  Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Washington, states, "I don’t know that there’s much room to charge more than what’s been charged currently.  I’m pessimistic about this."

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is pushing his company to work to make upgrades more attractive.  For Windows 7, Microsoft looks to make upgrades a much easier process.  Switching version will take only minutes as most of the core software will stay the same, only certain features will be unlocked based on the version.

Thus far, Microsoft has released no concrete information on the pricing of its different Windows 7 versions.

Despite the general sentiment that Microsoft's move to limit the functionality in its base OS for netbooks is a bad idea, there are some analysts who think that the move could pay off in the short term.  States Sarah Friar, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in San Francisco, "Microsoft will be able to find something that lets them cream off a little more revenue than what they get from XP right now."

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By Jonesd on 3/10/2009 10:07:51 AM , Rating: 5
Jason, don't you think that the title "Microsoft Cripples Windows 7 Starter Edition in Hopes of Netbook Upgrades" is misleading as Starter is 'already' crippled, not just for Netbooks?

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 10:25:08 AM , Rating: 4
The thing that surprises me is that this is old news. It has been known for at least two months now that Win 7 Starter was going to have these limitations.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By Brandon Hill on 3/10/2009 10:30:08 AM , Rating: 1
The new information is the commentary from Microsoft, Intel, and analysts on the reasons for the limitations and the pluses/minuses of going with this approach.

I thought that was pretty clear.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 10:41:22 AM , Rating: 4
I still have yet to see any official comment from Microsoft about Win7 Starter being targeted towards netbooks. The only official thing I've heard with regards to Win7 Starter is that it was created at the behest of manufactures. No specifics were cited.

Specifically this comment from the Windows Team Blog.

"Windows 7 Starter: Something that our OEM partners asked for is to have an offering for folks that will do very limited things with their PCs and for PCs with limited hardware capabilities. Windows 7 Starter only allows up to 3 applications to run at once. This is something that will be offered only through OEM partners."

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By Mr Perfect on 3/10/2009 1:41:14 PM , Rating: 3

Do we know if any netbook manufacturers are using Starter? After all, there is also a Starter edition of XP with the three app limit, and no one used that on a netbook.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 2:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
Windows XP Starter Edition Fact Sheet.

This is an interesting read:

As a result of ongoing collaborations with governments on PC access programs and increasing digital inclusion, Microsoft developed Windows XP Starter Edition in 2004, an operating system designed for first-time PC owners in developing technology markets.

Microsoft Windows XP Starter Edition is designed to offer an affordable and easy-to-use entry point to the Windows family of products that is optimized for lower-end hardware , tailored to local markets, in local languages, and is compatible with a wide range of Windows-based applications and devices.

Windows XP Starter Edition began as a limited pilot program at the request of government partners and then grew into a product benefitting millions of first-time PC owners in 139 countries around the world. Windows Vista Starter was launched in January 2007 as part of the Windows Vista Family.

Methinks that Microsoft has a pretty good idea on how to target and market Windows 7 Starter Edition. They've been working with this concept for 5 years. With Windows 7 they are now expanding it from developing countries to developed countries.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By 91TTZ on 3/10/2009 1:48:12 PM , Rating: 1

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By ccmfreak2 on 3/10/2009 11:10:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, I was just thinking the same thing. Why even publish this story? Nothing new here. It's been known ever since the Windows 7 OS Breakdown was given back in January ON DAILY TECH.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By redeem4god on 3/10/2009 2:06:43 PM , Rating: 2
Why should this be any different then Vista Starter? It has always been a bait-n-switch scenario for MS but this strategy might just backfire but not for the reasons they think.

Netbooks are primarily designed to be Net surfing components and by that same design are already limited . While I agree with many that Linux could better utilized memory/SSD/HDD/browser functions, they would still be limited in great comparison to a full fledge laptop (notebook for apple) or PC.

The bigger question is with the ability to run Windows 7 Beta on Boot Camp and through VMware Fusion on apple along with dual booting a pc what's to stop users from simply keeping the beta (albiet updates aside)to use for a long duration? does Microsoft plan on voided millions of copies of betas?

As with every iteration of OS that MS puts out they fail to see the bigger picture from OUR standpoint. Lower your price,stabilize and we will buy.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By Brandon Hill on 3/10/2009 10:27:42 AM , Rating: 3
Considering that Starter Edition will be primarily aimed at netbook computers with less processing power (at least in the U.S.), it seems appropriate.

In other words, this version was tailored for the netbook market where processing power is limited and pricing is more sensitive.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 10:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
Find me an official comment from Microsoft HQ that states Windows 7 Starter is for netbooks.

I'm not saying that it isn't the case, I just haven't seen it.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By ercinkc on 3/10/2009 11:23:53 AM , Rating: 3
There are two articles directly from Microsoft that talks about their tactics/ideas.

This one talks about netbooks and windows 7 starter edition.

This one talks about the different sku's. One key quote here is...

We’ll also continue to offer Windows Starter edition, which will only be offered pre-installed by an OEM. Windows Starter edition will now be available worldwide. This edition is available only in the OEM channel on new PCs limited to specific types of hardware.

It is saying that Starter Edition will only be available on certain hardware configurations.


RE: Sensatiolnalism
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 11:39:51 AM , Rating: 2
It looks like this is the money quote from Microsoft with regards to "lower-cost small notebook" and Windows 7 Starter.

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.

I can't envision Windows 7 Starter breaking a 1% market share. Instead of all the lampooning of Windows 7 Starter I'd be more interested in who Microsoft and the OEM's are marketing Windows 7 Starter to.

There are still too many unanswered questions about the intent of Windows 7 Starter to have an informed discussion on it. IMHO of course.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By MonkeyPaw on 3/10/2009 12:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, I don't think I'd have much of a problem with the 3 program limit on my netbook. Very rarely do I have more than 2-3 things running at one time on my Eee, and I use it for work. I guess it depends on how MS defines that program limitation. Will having 4 instances of Firefox, IE, or Excel not work? Will background apps like AV count as a running program?

To a point, I understand where MS is coming from, as this low-cost OS will compete with netbook OS's that are completely free. 7 Starter may not be as good, but will it being "Windows" be enough to sway people from the linux distros? MS hopes so. I guess depending on what programs you plan to install, it just might make the difference.

Sadly, I think the loss of Aero is a bigger deal breaker to me. Non-aero is ugly and bulky looking, and Windows classic is so 1995. ;)

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By wordsworm on 3/10/2009 2:09:05 PM , Rating: 2
I can break that quite easily: Windows explorer (x2 enough of the time), FF, FileZilla, maybe a poker program, media player, and Photoshop can all be running at the same time for me. So, if they wanted to limit it, I suggest upping the ante to 7. Windows 7 starter limited to 7apps seems OK for me. But 3? No chance of that happening. I would skip those netbooks altogether.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By bodar on 3/10/2009 2:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you be running all that (PS?!) on a netbook? It's a netbook. Y'know, for browsing the net. Also, as much as like x2 -- on WinXP anyway -- I severely doubt the target audience of Starter will use a substitute explorer shell. This would be intended for bottom of the barrel netbooks, where PS would be a fantasy because of the RAM required.

TL;DR -- This isn't for you. Get a real notebook instead.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By wordsworm on 3/10/2009 9:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
I can do more than that with a netbook. A netbook to me means a highly portable desktop publisher. I mostly use Photoshop for simple tasks like resizing pictures to fit a column. I use Filezilla to upload to Wordpress. I often have as many as three Word documents open (research, outline, story) simultaneously. I often have a few Windows Explorers open to help me keep track of things. Then there's FF for research, email, etc.

Right now I do have a laptop - running XP, an old AthlonXP-M on a Toshiba, and it's starting to physically fall apart. The plug has been repaired twice on the back, and the USB ports are starting to do the same. It's time to replace it - and not because it can't do what I need it to. My wife has an Acer Netbook. It has more horsepower (Atom), 2x the RAM, and 3x the hard drive size that my laptop has. My only real issue with it has been the keyboard. From what I understand, there are new netbooks out there that have good keyboards. Games? I don't care about games one bit. An Atom has what I need in a laptop. Heck, I've even been looking at using it in a new desktop - the old QC with an older 320MB 8800 I'm leaving behind in the office for my illustrator while I go back to teaching for another year.

I simply wouldn't buy a netbook with Windows 7 on it if I had to pay to upgrade it simply so I could have 3+ apps running on it. That's just retarded. I don't mind at all though, really. I'm a fan of Linux, even if I've barely used it. If I have to choose between Windows 7 and Linux, I might just go for it, or just use the 'free' XP I started using since getting ripped by the Windows ME virus that MS unleashed and I got suckered into paying for. I've even paid for Vista only to replace it with pirated XP because my office doesn't have the Internet and Vista won't work unless you're connected. MS is really working hard to make products that I won't use. This is just another excuse to keep using XP or furthering my ambition to move over to Linux. After all, I've heard that Photoshop 2 works on Linux now, and that's been the only piece of software tying me to MS at all.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By bodar on 3/10/2009 10:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
Fair enough, but you'd still be using a higher-end netbook -- like this one:,2817,2337032, -- not the cheapest one you can find, which is where Starter is aimed, at least IMO.

I don't recall reading anywhere that Starter is for ALL netbooks, just those trying to cut costs to compete in the low-end market. Some people really just want a basic machine for web/email. Higher-end netbooks could easily run Win7 Home Premium -- as proven during the Beta -- and manufacturers would be stupid to put Starter on these netbooks.

I do agree that 3 is cutting things a bit close, even for a low-end netbook. Five might be a livable number.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By wordsworm on 3/11/2009 5:54:26 AM , Rating: 2
Well, a look into my crystal ball reveals that netbook sellers will do everything they can to lower the initial cost. After all, that is one of the main draws to them. Too many people look at the big price tag rather than the obfuscated fine print which might exist to inform the purchaser of whatever limitations there might be.

Personally, I am still on the fence: netbook or notebook - that is the question.

Anyways, anything MS does to dig itself into the ground is fine by me.

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By Reclaimer77 on 3/10/2009 4:22:04 PM , Rating: 2
lol Mick strikes again.

Using the word "crippled" is just so inflamitory and inaccurate. Come on...

RE: Sensatiolnalism
By wordsworm on 3/10/2009 9:26:00 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, if not crippled... what they did was the equivalent of tying your hands and one foot behind your back. So, how about "MS hobbles Windows 7 Basic so that it's Useless" as a title?

Bait and switch
By Moohbear on 3/10/2009 10:11:28 AM , Rating: 2
So MS is trying some bait and switch tactic here. Luring customers with the Windows brand at rock bottom price, but with a hamstrung OS. It was already a very poor idea to segment so much Vista (who actually understand the differences between versions?). I can see that backfiring badly when customers will realize what's going on with this sucker, I beg your pardon, starter version. And then they complain about piracy.

RE: Bait and switch
By StevoLincolnite on 3/10/2009 10:29:08 AM , Rating: 3
The Multiple "different versions" which you describe has been in practice for years now, including with Windows XP where you had: Home, Professional, x64 Edition, Starter Edition, Professional x64 Edition (plus 2002 and 2003 iterations of that), Embedded, Media Center Edition, Media Center Edition 2004, Media Center Edition 2005, Tablet PC Edition, Edition K, KN and N.

Starter Edition isn't new, it was also a variation of XP.

RE: Bait and switch
By mindless1 on 3/10/2009 10:37:06 AM , Rating: 3
It's new to push something so crippled on mainstream computing devices. In the past there was XP Home in that segment, not much of an issue because there was no 3 app limit.

That is an extreme limit, boot any OEM system's factor installation and count what's running in Task Manager by the time you hit the desktop. Even Win95(!!) could be superior for most people, if it had the drivers required.

RE: Bait and switch
By ccmfreak2 on 3/10/2009 11:25:17 AM , Rating: 2
XP Home was no starter edition. It wasn't designed for low-end laptops (relative to that time period). At the release of XP, low-end laptops were running Win98 or maybe Windows 2000.

Keep in mind you are dealing with netbooks - low end 1.6Ghz single core machines with a Gig of RAM. These are not gamers, programers, or video maniacs - these are your low budget individuals who want something "new" (hence windows 7) without paying much for it. These are individuals who will be doing nothing but checking their e-mail to get pictures of their children and grand-children, typing a word document every now and then and MAYBE searching for a new dinner recipe on google. My point is, for most people with netbooks, the 3-app limit won't be much of an issue . Don't want the limit? Get it with the 7 1/2 -year-old Windows XP. Wal-Mart already offers those netbooks.

RE: Bait and switch
By mindless1 on 3/11/2009 9:22:47 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, so we have these apps:


Oops, no. There's already an app for the sound card mixer, possibly wifi, battery monitor. I think you don't realize just how severely limiting 3 apps is. We haven't even covered antivirus, printer driver front-end, Acrobat, or so many other popular things.

To say low end 1.6GHz, 1GB ram is totally irrelevant. Anyone old enough to have owned a contemporary computer back in the Win95 era was running more than 3 apps at a time then, with a fraction of the processing power and an order of magnitude less memory.

It's not grandmothers who are buying netbooks, it's people who are accustomed to running a few things simultaneously. Certainly it doesn't need as much multitasking as a desktop, but a better limit would be 15 apps, not 3. As I already mentioned, take a look at a new factory installed OEM laptop, how many apps it's already running by the time it has merely booted to the desktop.

RE: Bait and switch
By Jeffk464 on 3/10/2009 11:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
Good thing I kept my original win95 CD, I knew I was keeping it for something. :)

RE: Bait and switch
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 10:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
One thing to consider. This version of Windows will be for sell only to OEMs. Consumers can't purchase this edition of Windows off the shelf.

A second thing to consider is that this edition is in response to manufactures that requested such a limited and cheap version of Windows. To what end is unknown. All that can be gleaned from that info is that manufactures have a specific target market in mind... perhaps places such as libraries or other public use PCs? If you look at the official comments from Microsoft they never stated that Win7 Starter was for netbooks. It is only the pundits that have made that claim... which has carried far and wide.

A third thing to consider is that Microsoft has stated that they don't expect any version of Win7 to be mainstream except for Home Premium and Professional.

When you take the above points into consideration you realize that this article is simply a speculative rabble rouser.

RE: Bait and switch
By mondo1234 on 3/10/2009 10:48:33 AM , Rating: 3
That is true, I didn't think of it like that. They will have to put the "Runs only 3 Programs Inside" sticker on the case. Why would I want a machine that can only run the calculator, calendar, and addressbook at the same time? It is already limited by memory, just leave it at that....

RE: Bait and switch
By clovell on 3/10/2009 12:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree entirely. Vista was a complete debacle when it first came to market because the hardware that was 'Vista-Ready' couldn't handle the OS. Netbooks need a lighter OS to be able to perform at expectations. Microsoft learned it's lesson here.

RE: Bait and switch
By Oregonian2 on 3/10/2009 1:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a bait-and-switch if you deliver the bait. B-A-S is when you lure someone in with a promise but won't deliver -- forcing a switch to something higher priced.

Saying they're doing a B-A-S is like saying that Safeway is doing one by advertising Boston-Butt Pork for $1.50/lb and when you go in, they also have baby-back-ribs for a lot more (in addition to the Boston-Butt).

Almost every business has low-end cheap versions and higher end spendier versions.

Would you call different speed grades of intel or AMD processors B&S for the slower cheaper (and pin-compatible) version?

It's not a bait-and-switch if you deliver the bait.

P.S. - I think it's crap that they have that starter version, but I support their right to do so (to vaguely borrow from a famous quote).

RE: Bait and switch
By Moohbear on 3/10/2009 2:24:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's bait'n'switch if they don't advertise clearly and unambiguously the (artificial) limitations coming with the starter edition. Somehow, I doubt you'll see a note or sticker on the box saying it can run only three applications concurrently. This time, it's not really some feature missing like in the different version of XP and Vista. It's crippling the OS on purpose to displease users and drive them to more expensive versions.
It's like a car manufacturer putting a speed limiter locked at 55 mph on their car and asking for a premium to remove it.
Note that I have nothing against Windows 7, I'm running it and I like it. I just find it cheap coming from MS. Not that MS as a monopoly on cheapness. Apple charges for a VGA adapter on their $3,0000 laptop (and they used to come for free).

RE: Bait and switch
By Oregonian2 on 3/10/2009 6:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's my understanding that the starter version won't be sold by Microsoft in a box, so there's no box for them to clearly put the limits.

There will be people who think all versions of Windows 7 will do the same thing despite the differences in prices, and that it'll be Microsoft's fault for not explaining that the different prices mean something -- but perhaps we can detail out that discussion once it's on sale. :-)

It's like a car manufacturer putting a speed limiter locked at 55 mph on their car and asking for a premium to remove it.

If they sell a car version at $10K where their non-limited version is $20K and people get surprised that there's a downside to buying the $10K one then I just don't know what to say.

Does the term "starter edition" not give a clue just by itself?

RE: Bait and switch
By Oregonian2 on 3/10/2009 6:33:04 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - All editions other than the full-blast "full" maximum edition are "artificially" crippled.

3 Apps Count
By n0nsense on 3/10/2009 10:30:47 AM , Rating: 3
Normal windows user will run Antivirus. That makes 2 apps.
IM x3 (windows users usually don't use consolidated IM, but one for each protocol)
ooops ...
Where is Internet Browsing ?
Music ?
What a joke ...
My phone running 3-5 tasks ...
You have to be stupid to pay for this or even to take it for free.
I guess Linux will gain more and more popularity.
One special reason is ARM based netbooks with 10+ hours of battery life :) This may (and i hope will) make some change in peoples perception. wintel is not "the only" option.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By anotherdude on 3/10/2009 10:53:41 AM , Rating: 2
do you know for a fact that anti-virus and other apps running in the background will be counted as 'apps'? I'm not saying they aren't, I just have yet to get clarification on that point. 3 apps total would be a tight fit to say the least, particularly if you have separate AV and anti-spyware running, this is what makes me wonder if they might have a more narrow definition of 'apps'.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By blaster5k on 3/10/2009 11:10:48 AM , Rating: 2
I'm wondering about this too. If you have AIM, an e-mail client, and anti-virus software running, are you SOL if you want to open a web browser or watch a movie? It seems like the distinction between an application and background process can be pretty gray at times.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By n0nsense on 3/10/2009 11:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
Ooo ...
And then you'll be limited to MS or MS sharing apps.
Will be office considered as one app or you can not run PP+Outlook+World ?
or if it considered on for MS Office, will OOO receive same treatment ?
I can continue ...
Any way, the only "true" reason that i heard in Windows favor compared to *NIX and OSX (Which is nix too) is Heavy Modern games. This is not valid for netbooks.
Price of software should not be on same level as hardware.
Especially when we talk about home non professional general use software. (OS, Office, CD/DVD burning, Photo/Audio/Video editing/playback software). You can get rich without it (see google). But if you greedy bustard (see MS) that takes your money not because he gives you some value, but just because he can, you should be punished (vanished) :)

RE: 3 Apps Count
By Golgatha on 3/10/2009 12:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, I wonder if IE8, Firefox, and Google Chrome will be treated equally.

I could imagine IE8 being considered part of the OS and thus not counted towards the 3 app limit. Firefox et al could be considered a single app since it has tabs, but Google Chrome might not get the exposure it could possibly get if each instance of chrome.exe is counted as a single app.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By wordsworm on 3/10/2009 9:35:43 PM , Rating: 2
You know, I was just thinking along the same lines: maybe they won't 'count' MS apps for that limit. ie., run Word, IE, and whatever else they push. However, that would likely be a multi billion dollar anti-trust lawsuit. Even the US would likely go after them for that, not to mention the EU.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By anotherdude on 3/10/2009 3:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
so in other words you don't know if your example was valid or not and instead of admitting it you talked out your a$$ some more about some other stuff you don't know about either?

RE: 3 Apps Count
By mikefarinha on 3/10/2009 11:18:33 AM , Rating: 2
I've read earlier that anti-virus would not be counted as a running app under Win7 Starter.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By omnicronx on 3/10/2009 12:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
It doesnt, MS has already stated that background services do not count.

From MS:
Background “services” in the system tray such as an antivirus service, Bluetooth service, fingerprint reader services, etc., do not count as one of the three programs unless the user opens up the full program to run it.

This means that it will only count if you open up the gui. So you can still do the main three things on your netbook without problem, Surf, listen to music or watch video, and IM without problem.

Furthermore, I give it a few months before a crack to eliminate the limit is released ;)

RE: 3 Apps Count
By ViroMan on 3/10/2009 11:24:47 PM , Rating: 2
Furthermore, I give it a few months before a crack to eliminate the limit is released ;)

No to mention this....

For Windows 7, Microsoft looks to make upgrades a much easier process. Switching version will take only minutes as most of the core software will stay the same, only certain features will be unlocked based on the version.

Wait for the cracks to enable everything.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By Oregonian2 on 3/10/2009 6:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'd suspect that the App count may be the number that shows up in the Windows Task Manager (on XP anyway) on the Applications tab. Vast majority of processes don't count there. I've nine listed at the moment on my desktop.

My ZoneAlarm Suite does show up there, but the task manager itself doesn't.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By Jeffk464 on 3/10/2009 11:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
Wow that would suck if they were, I counted 11 apps running in the background of my vista laptop.

RE: 3 Apps Count
By omnicronx on 3/10/2009 12:33:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are missing the point here. Windows 7 starter will be an option to OEMS, it will not be forced. Do you really think netbook manufacturers are going to undermine themselves? What you are going to see is probably two versions of each netbook, one with starter and one with home premium with a small increase in price. Nobody is going to force you to get a netbook with a 3 app limit.

Personally I do not quite see the point in what MS is doing here, but the fact nobody is imposing the starter edition on you, its just another product to choose from.

Likely a bad move
By aliasfox on 3/10/2009 11:33:56 AM , Rating: 2
Not saying Starter edition in and of itself is a bad move, but I can see a lot of the OEMs offering starter edition on their price-leader machines that people will pick up from Best Buy and such, just as most offer Windows Vista Home Basic right now. Without fair warning, people will have spent $500-1000 on a machine that is unfairly crippled, while having to shell out an additional $100-200 for a retail copy of "normal" Windows.

For example: parents buy a kid a laptop for school. Kid has a browser (for Facebook), IM, and Word open (you know, for that paper he's supposed to write). Now he can't open iTunes, or a dedicated email client, or anything else.

To fix the situation, there are three options I can think of:
1) Blame Starter Edition, buy an upgrade
2) Blame the computer, buy another Windows machine (and hope it's not Starter Edition again)
3) Blame Windows 7 as a whole, buy a Mac

Two out of the three options benefit Microsoft, one out out of the three screws Microsoft big time (I'd bet the app limit is too much for most consumers and they may not go back to MS for a while), and all three options screw the customer. MS is walking a very, very, very fine line between making money and screwing itself over.

RE: Likely a bad move
By Farfignewton on 3/10/2009 6:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
For example: parents buy a kid a laptop for school. Kid has a browser (for Facebook), IM, and Word open (you know, for that paper he's supposed to write). Now he can't open iTunes, or a dedicated email client, or anything else.

Man, if I had any kids and felt they needed a laptop for school, you'd have sold me on Windows Starter right there. I might be tempted to call Bill (alright, Crazy Steve) and see if I could get a version that only supported one app at a time :D

RE: Likely a bad move
By aliasfox on 3/11/2009 10:03:55 AM , Rating: 2
Like it or not, but laptops are far more convenient to pack up at the end of the school year, and they're much easier to work on when one is sexiled (i.e., you can carry it somewhere else).

But yes, if I'm paying upwards of $50k/year these days for a private education, the kid damn well better learn... something...

RE: Likely a bad move
By bodar on 3/10/2009 10:48:59 PM , Rating: 2
If you spend anywhere near $1000 for the low-end hardware this edition is meant for, then you pretty much deserve what you get. This is especially true since Win7 Home Premium runs well on "borderline" systems that would choke on Vista Home Premium.

This will likely be on price-leader machines, but more for the $300-$400 systems (less for netbooks).

RE: Likely a bad move
By aliasfox on 3/11/2009 9:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
What you're assuming here is that Dell/HP/Gateway will be reasonable on that count. If they could sell a machine for $750 with Starter Edition or $800 with a full version of 7, which one do you think they'd be advertising come back to school or the holiday season?

smart move
By Moishe on 3/10/2009 10:05:44 AM , Rating: 2
I think having the tiered approach to Windows is a smart move. They are actually responding to the market by competing on price as well as features. Microsoft is certainly not as arrogant as it once was.

I love how for years people complain about the price... so Microsoft now offers a cheaper version with limitations and people complain about the limitations. This is just like how people complained because Windows was wide open upon base install and when MS increased security people complained because it was too much trouble to be secure.

So what does this teach us? People love complaining and it has nothing to do with MS other than the fact that it is fashionable to bitch about this particular company.

RE: smart move
By mindless1 on 3/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: smart move
By Farfignewton on 3/10/2009 10:52:01 AM , Rating: 3
What it teaches us is you are pro-MS and totally ignoring the reason to have a modern computer.

I think you are overlooking the fact that the whole purpose of netbooks is not so much "modern computer" as it is "basic tasks". By and large they seem to be marketed as smaller, less powerful laptops for web surfing, picture viewing, music playing, etc. I don't think there are too many people trying to do anything productive on one, so I don't see the 3 app limit being a big deal for most people. On the other hand, by that same logic, there isn't much reason to upgrade either. My $.02.

RE: smart move
By mindless1 on 3/11/2009 9:25:49 AM , Rating: 2
Boot any OEM laptop and tell us how many apps are running BEFORE the user chooses to launch anything. It's already > 3. Even your antivirus, sound card front-end GUI, battery/power-management app and printer interface could already exceed that 3 app limit without even running any of the "apps" people seem to be thinking of.

RE: smart move
By mondo1234 on 3/10/2009 11:12:13 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, it is like Acura say they will sell you a car at the same price as a Corolla, but it will have a wheel missing (and you cannot put it back on) so it doesn't compete with our 4 wheel product line. I also I dont get the statement of:

ultimately it’s losing money for each customer who picks a netbook with Windows XP over a more expensive laptop

How is MS losing money on a product already developed? They will get rid of XP so it doesn't compete with the crippled version of Win 7? XP was the only thing saving their buttocks on netbooks.

By superheman on 3/10/2009 10:53:04 AM , Rating: 3
Those that are against this 3 program deal, well first you guys and gals gotta be out of your mind expecting a crippled laptop as called a net book and hope it to function as a full fledged notebook. Another thing is never believe the media without full support. Net books have limited memory and processing power but only running 3 programs that's ridiculous as even vista can run more than 3 programs even with 1 gig of ram.

In time notebooks will get cheaper till the point that net books wont have a market. netbooks are really for those who cant afford 700-1000 dollars for a normal laptop. Netbooks are smallers and serve to pretty much do light tasks but really a money maker for computer manufacturers cause its crap dressed in lower price. With all the components you need added into a netbook to do light tasks, just pay 200 more dollars and you get a faster cpu, more memory, and more hard drive space.

RE: lol
By MadMan007 on 3/10/2009 10:58:45 AM , Rating: 2
Running three programs != running 3 CPU-heavy programs. I can easily see running more than 3 programs in a useful manner on a netbook.

RE: lol
By omnicronx on 3/10/2009 12:43:40 PM , Rating: 2
Running three programs != running 3 CPU-heavy programs. I can easily see running more than 3 programs in a useful manner on a netbook.
Which is why you will have the option to upgrade... I wouldn't buy a crippled OS either, but it seems MS thinks there is a market for it. If they can create more revenue by selling two OS's without losing marketshare, then it is a good business decision. Last time I checked, MS is a place of business, they do not exist to make everyone happy, they exist to make money.

By MadMan007 on 3/10/2009 10:14:14 AM , Rating: 2
Not a big deal, especially if all functions are installed just not activated, because I'm sure there will be a workaround hack in short order. I do think it's a dangerous gamble though because Linux netbooks already tend to be cheaper. MS wants Windows on everything and yet they're upset that Netbooks are selling too well with XP...can't have it both ways.

RE: hax
By Jeffk464 on 3/10/2009 11:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
Ya, I wonder if this means windows will have to extend the date for supporting winXP even further.

"Starter Edition" isn't new...
By joemoedee on 3/10/2009 11:21:06 AM , Rating: 2
MS has offered a similar version before, however it was only available to "emerging markets".

Windows Vista Starter - Same 3 program limit, limited supported hardware

Windows XP Starter - Same 3 program limit, limited supported hardware.

Also there was Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, which allowed XP to run on old hardware.

"Starter Edition" is just that. Starter. If it works for you, great. If not, upgrade.

A new Windows version typically means you need to upgrade hardware. It has for a while now. If you had a 386, Windows 95 ran pretty slow, if it ran at all. Windows 2000? Ditch the Pentium 1. Windows XP? Probably want to ditch the Pentium 2.

People want MS to be all things to all people with all differing hardware, but add all these new functions at the same time.

If you're knowingly purchasing what is basically very low end hardware in a Netbook, (An Atom is what, the equal of a 2003 Pentium M in real world performance?) you should not expect it to run the latest and greatest with all the bells and whistles. MS makes an offering for your machine. Buy it, or buy something else.

RE: "Starter Edition" isn't new...
By Jeffk464 on 3/10/2009 11:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think the only reasons to buy a netbook over a laptop are extreme portability and low power requirements. So having the underwhelming performance of the atom processor seems like an ok trade of to me. But personally I'm not trading my laptop for one of these netbooks.

Win 7 < Vista?
By Frallan on 3/11/2009 6:40:42 AM , Rating: 2
I have a relativley powerfull lappy (E6600 + 2Gb DDR2) - I have up-(down?!?)-graded to XP because it ran like crap with Vista Home (preinstalled) on it.

If there is a version of Win 7 that is able to run on netbooks am I correct in assuming that win 7 is less demanding on the hardware then Vista?

RE: Win 7 < Vista?
By 13Gigatons on 3/12/2009 1:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
Windows 7 is a little bit quicker then Vista but your laptop is probably better off with Windows XP. It's hard to beat XP on new fast hardware.

By judasmachine on 3/10/2009 10:07:57 AM , Rating: 3
i am thinking of getting win7 when it officially comes out, and i personally don't care if i can only run three apps at a time, as i don't do anything but write, and surf on my netbook anyway. i think in a review of the ion chipset on anandtech they say, "quit trying to make the atom do things it wasn't designed to do." i have to agree.

Not News
By Flunk on 3/10/2009 10:28:24 AM , Rating: 2
Windows Vista Starter and Windows XP Starter have the same limitations. I fail to see how this is newsworthy.

The Starter Edition is normally sold only in emerging markets so it's more likely we'll see Windows 7 Home Basic on netbooks, not Starter.

This is just another example of a post first and do research later philosophy that does not belong on a serious news outlet. Perhaps you should write for the Inquirer.

By SurreDeth on 3/10/2009 11:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
So let me get this straight, in the future when I'm in the market for a cheap computer I can either pick a slim down version of an OS that limits me to 3 running applications at any time which I have to pay for or a free OS without any limitations. Both of which would be new to me anyway, so why would I pay for Windows?

By Doormat on 3/10/2009 12:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
OEMs are complaining about high return rates on linux-based laptops because people don't realize they don't run Windows programs (despite however many disclaimers there might be during the buying process).

OEMs want something cheap ($20/license in bulk, instead of $50) so they can hit their price targets.

I can already hear the segment on the news about how people bought a Win7SE laptop (because the average person doesn't know WTF a netbook is) and it can only run 3 programs at once and MS wants $79 more to run more than 3 programs at once. Its extortion they'll scream! Even if there is a big red and black warning box during the purchase process that warns of this, people wont read it, or they'll claim they never saw it.

I can understand it from an economic and business standpoint, but cant they see they're setting themselves up for a load of bad PR when this thing hits?

How Quickly We Forget
By clovell on 3/10/2009 12:21:00 PM , Rating: 2
Decent article, Jason, although I hate the title.

Look, having a Starter Edition is a good thing for everybody. We can all agree that one of Vista's main problems when it came to market was that there was too much underpowered hardware that bore a 'Vista-Ready' seal. This 'Starter Edition' is fantastic in that it understands what it is.

Microsoft has to find a way to let XP die. Continuing to support separate OS's like this will only further cannabilize their sales and bottom line.

Now, I know that most of us here would love to be able to grab a Windows 7 Starter Edition and slap it on some modern hardware, were there not restrictions like 3 apps at a time. I mean, it's already nLite'd already. But, in the end, this is meant for netbooks. About the most I'd expect to do is browse the web, while writing a paper in LaTeX, with a separate pdf open. Anything more, and I'd pickup a cheap C2D notebook.

Which, may lead to an interesting topic - with hardware continuing to improve, when does the netbook market segment start to bleed into the UMPC market? I think that's the crux of the issue here, but I feel as though I'm starting to ramble, so i'll wrap it up there.

Pick your own OS version.
By bnutz on 3/10/2009 2:16:53 PM , Rating: 2
I wish there was a way that when you first turn on your OS, it gives you a choice of which version of the OS you want of if you did not want it at all. The money would be paid to MS directly on line or over the phone and you would not have to pay anything if you wanted Linux. It would also make the computers cheaper since you pay MS not the Manufacturer. But it should still have the 30 day free trial.

By nismotigerwvu on 3/10/2009 4:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
If I had the choice between a Windows 7 based netbook that only allowed 3 concurrent applications to run or a linux based system that hasn't had it's testicles removed, I'm pretty sure I'd side with Linux.

Atom isn’t that bad!
By smilingcrow on 3/10/2009 7:48:34 PM , Rating: 2
I hear some people saying that Atom isn’t designed for heavy lifting but heavy multi-tasking and heavy lifting are not the same thing. I’ve just come back from 2 months in India and bought a Samsung NC10 just for the journey and I was glad I upgraded the RAM to 2GB as I multi-tasked a lot and often used well over 1GB and had about 7 applications open not including background tasks. The Atom generally worked fine but did bog down occasionally with Opera but then again the same can happen with a C2D.

So 2GB of fast RAM and a fast 160GB HDD would have been much more than laptops had when XP was first released and I doubt the CPUs available in entry level laptops at that time had much more grunt than an Atom either. I think Netbooks are perfectly capable of doing more than a few basic tasks as some suggest and once a dual core Atom is released on a 32nm process it should hopefully be cheap enough to become widely adopted which raises the bar even higher.

I like the idea of a high end 12” NetBook becoming my main and possibly only PC as the only other competitor is an expensive 12” business laptop which costs 3 or 4 times the price which seems untenable to me. Bring on the cannibalisation. :)

leaner and meaner
By Jeffk464 on 3/10/2009 10:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wait the cheaper version of windows 7 will be leaner and meaner then the other additions. Sounds like a win win to me, the more add on crap that is stripped from windows the better in my opinion. Lets just hope they don't strip it of direct X 10.

Upgrade for older machines?
By vailr on 3/11/2009 9:58:19 AM , Rating: 2
MS should offer a Windows 7 version that was cheap enough (and works well enough) for every Windows ME, Windows 98, and older machines to upgrade to. Just go to your local Staples, Best Buy, etc. store and get a modern Windows O.S. for less than $50. Offer a special $10 price for Goodwill stores to use to recycle donated machines.
Considering that their competition is the free Ubuntu, they need to lower their pricing for Windows. Bill Gates has enough money now.

By contractcooker on 3/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: Pathetic
By strikeback03 on 3/10/2009 10:17:17 AM , Rating: 2
Most businesses are in business to make money. So obviously they would prefer people buy versions which cost significantly more than the additional expense to code them.

Article doesn't mention it, but of course it is also likely this will result in more pirated copies (think Spore).

Or the users could just go for the Linux version.

RE: Pathetic
By StevoLincolnite on 3/10/2009 10:20:01 AM , Rating: 2
Or why not just give it away for free and make everyone happy?

The idea of having multiple tiers is simple, to target different price points, it happens in every market.

Video cards, nVidia and ATI do the same thing with a low-end, Medium and High-End parts.

Processors, you get your budget Sempron/Celeron/Athlon or your high-end Extreme/Black edition chippy's with everything in between.

Basically it gives consumers choice, and are able to buy whatever they can afford or buy whatever they need feature wise.

Microsoft is a Business with a sole purpose to make money, they are no different from Apple/nVidia/AMD/IBM/Dell/Acer/Sony/Nintendo in that regard.

RE: Pathetic
By mindless1 on 3/10/2009 10:42:53 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt anyone needed to be told MS is looking to make money, but despite that the issue is more complex. It is in MS best interest to keep people running windows, to reduce the growth of the 'nix movement with average John and Jane Doe users. Once they get comfortable with 'nix, why will they pay for their OS?

That's the catch, when you are competing with free you gamble on whether you are giving prospective customers enough added value for their money. Since an OS is rightly considered a means to run applications, and since most people were running more than 3 apps 10 years ago, this gamble is likely to backfire, people aren't likely wanting to pay addt'l on the cost of a netbook to get an OS they discard, in favor of paying again for the higher version of Windows at retail that costs half what the netbook does.

RE: Pathetic
By mindless1 on 3/10/2009 10:45:48 AM , Rating: 2
Therefore I see the best solution to be that MS offer an upgrade version of Win7 at a price befitting the netbook market, perhaps up to $50 more which is reasonable considering the OEM bundled price of windows in the past.

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