We learned before that there will be six versions of Windows 7, but will that be all? Perhaps not.
Bloomberg’s report on Windows 7 for netbooks spins the idea that there will be multiple versions of the upcoming Microsoft operating system for low-cost, portable laptops. While the story does not make clear if Microsoft is aiming to splinter its lower-end versions into smaller subsets, the message is that there will be strong encouragement for the user to pay for an upgrade to a higher tier.
Netbooks, besides just offering portability as a key differentiation factor, also occupies budget-friendly price brackets. OEMs will also want to opt for the cheapest licence of Windows 7 to keep its price tags low.
While being the cheapest version of the OS, Windows 7 Starter Edition will be limited to running only three programs at a time. Users who find this limitation unacceptable will have the convenient option of upgrading to a version of Windows that isn’t bound by the three program rule.
With netbooks and budget notebooks growing at a rapid rate, Microsoft would naturally find it important to not simply allow the cheapest Windows 7 to be the most prevalent version on the market.
“The challenge for us clearly is to get the average selling price up,” Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell said last week. “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.”
As we’ve reported in previous stories, upgrading to a higher version of Windows 7 is easy as it’ll just involve a license switch. The system would recognize that certain features are then “unlocked,” opening up more of the OS. Of course, this does call into question how Windows 7 would handle upgrades on a stripped-down, ‘lite’ version. This is even more of a puzzle now that we know users will have the option of not installing previously mandatory software such as Internet Explorer 8 or Windows Search.
Keeping all features on the hard drive, but dormant, would be a waste of storage – particularly on smaller SSDs – but with most users expected to upgrade through an Internet transaction, perhaps new data could be downloaded at the time of the jump.
Clearly, the message here is that Microsoft wants everyone to run Windows 7 Home Premium, which the company already forecasts to be the most popular SKU. With the streamlining of Windows 7, it could be Microsoft’s aim to have Home Premium on netbooks as well.
“With Windows 7, we’ve matched hardware improvements with some investments of our own. With Windows 7 we are 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,” said Brad Brooks, corporate VP for Windows Consumer Product Marketing.