Let’s talk about Windows 7 Starter

There has been a lot of talk recently about Windows 7 Starter, so I thought I’d dive a little deeper into what it means to have this edition of Windows 7 running on a small notebook PC (a.k.a. a netbook).

Windows 7 Starter

Today, the Starter edition of Windows is designed for entry level PCs and available only in certain regions. We first introduced a “Starter edition” with Windows XP, and did again with Windows Vista. Starter comes with limitations, such as being able to run only 3 concurrent applications on a PC at a time (this excludes background processes such as anti-virus applications, wireless and Bluetooth, and system tools like Explorer and Control Panel).

There of course will also be Windows 7 Starter edition, but based on the feedback we’ve received from partners and customers asking us to enable a richer small notebook PC experience with Windows 7 Starter, we’ve decided to make some changes compared to previous Starter editions.

For the first time, we will be making Windows 7 Starter available worldwide on small notebook PCs. We are also 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 email and personal productivity.

It is important to note that Windows 7 Starter still includes only a subset of the features offered in the higher editions of Windows 7 such as Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional and above. Windows 7 Starter does not include:

  • Aero Glass, meaning you can only use the “Windows Basic” or other opaque themes. It also means you do not get Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek.
  • Personalization features for changing desktop backgrounds, window colors, or sound schemes.
  • The ability to switch between users without having to log off.
  • Multi-monitor support.
  • DVD playback.
  • Windows Media Center for watching recorded TV or other media.
  • Remote Media Streaming for streaming your music, videos, and recorded TV from your home computer.
  • Domain support for business customers.
  • XP Mode for those that want the ability to run older Windows XP programs on Windows 7.

After using Windows 7 Starter out myself on my Dell Mini 9, I loved the advancements that it inherently offered versus Windows XP but also concluded that I wanted more. I like to personalize my Dell Mini 9 the way I want it (because I like showing it off and take it everywhere because it’s so small). I also use it to watch videos and listen to music. Because I also have a portable DVD drive, I also sometimes watch movies on my Dell Mini 9 as well. I believe that the majority of consumers will want a version of Windows 7 – like Home Premium – that will make their small notebook capable of all the things that you could do with an “traditional” PC, like playing movies, working with documents, listening to music, working with photos, and even playing games.

As we continue to say since we announced the Windows 7 editions in February, all editions of Windows 7 have been optimized to run on the broadest range of hardware ranging from small notebook PCs all the way up to high end gaming machines. Windows 7 Starter should not be considered “the netbook SKU” as most machines in this category can run any edition of Windows 7. Many of our beta users have installed Windows 7 Ultimate on their small notebook PCs and have given us very positive feedback on their experience.

I’ve since moved to Windows 7 Home Premium on my Dell Mini 9 and am glad I did.

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