Microsoft may offer Windows 7 on thumb drive for netbooks

Microsoft has shown Windows 7 running on netbooks even since it first introduced the operating system, however, helping consumers getting it on there may prove a bit tricky. According to CNET, Microsoft is considering offering Windows 7 on a thumb drive so that netbook owners are able to easily upgrade their machines in case they lack a DVD drive, and are unable to use an external one.

Even though Microsoft is considering selling Windows 7 on a thumb drive, there are other options for netbook users to upgrade. Less tech-savvy consumers could pay for someone else to do it, such as a service like Best Buy's Geek Squad. More technically literate consumers could order Windows 7 as a download and put it on their own thumb drive, or use an external DVD drive.

Another hurdle Microsoft needs to overcome is since most netbook owners running a Microsoft operating system are running Windows XP, users will have to backup their data and do a clean install of Windows 7, since it does not support an in-place upgrade from Windows XP. Netbook owners who don't realize they're running Linux, and not Windows, may also be confused when attempting to "upgrade" as well, since a large number of lower priced netbook systems ship with the open source operating system and not Windows XP.

There's no word on whether desktop and notebook users will be able to officially utilize Microsoft's thumbstick version of Windows 7, providing the company does offer the option.

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I doubt that people who are unable to identify the OS they are currently running would be able to perfom an OS install anyway.

That's actually a good idea, I could see a lot of people using the thumb drive in order to upgrade. Or you could just get the $50.00 for an external DVD drive.

"Netbook owners who don't realize they're running Linux, and not Windows, may also be confused when attempting to "upgrade" LMAO if you cant tell the difference if your netbook has linux or windows on then you realy need to decide is computing for you realy? how hard can it be to turn your netbook over and see a Windows product key on the back or you could try starting up the netbook and if you dont see windows xp loading then you have another OS..

I think this is a great idea, I would pay for Windows 7 branded installation flashdrives, with no excessive packaging, less chance of getting scratched and convenient, especially if they make it usable so you can add all your own programmes to it as well, slipstream those thumbdrives, 8gig installation ready to go. I love this!!!

I wish they didn't put a hardware lock (if they do that is) so I could devirginize the install with a future vLite or 7Lite. I despise the HomeGroups crap popping up everytime I connect to a network, the location fine but this is just lame. They also need to document HomeGroups better for those illiterate.

I could also imagine blue, green, and black flash drives glowing with the Windows flag colors.

This is a great idea. I hope they do it. However, as far as netbook users upgrading from Linux to 7, I highly doubt that there will be more than a small handful of customers that are so technically illiterate that they don't know they're running Linux (or understand the difference of it vs. Windows) that are going to want to upgrade to Win 7.

those that are so technically illiterate normally stay away from brands they haven't heard of. Most would be running Windows, unless someone really knows how to persuade.

"There's no word on whether desktop and notebook users will be able to officially utilize Microsoft's thumbstick version of Windows 7, providing the company does offer the option."

What the heck does that even mean? Why would they will offer it but not let people use it officially?

Because they may only offer a netbook only version (i.e. starter edition), and we don't know if Microsoft will provide a thumbstick version for premium versions of Windows 7 that desktops and laptops use. It would nice as an alternative option if they did though.

soumyasch said,
I thought they would offer only the netbook-specific version (Starter, right?) on pen drives.


But the installation media is the same for all versions, you just get different keys to unlock features

neufuse said,
But the installation media is the same for all versions, you just get different keys to unlock features

I don't think thats true mate. I'm sure I read recently in an article right here on Neowin that Microsoft is moving away from the one media for all versions approach with Windows 7.

TCLN Ryster said,
I don't think thats true mate. I'm sure I read recently in an article right here on Neowin that Microsoft is moving away from the one media for all versions approach with Windows 7.


As long as Home Premium, Pro, Ultimate are all on one DVD I could care less about the rest but it would be nice if Starter and Home Basic was included too, but not likely as they will be only OEM options. I was tired of the XP days having to have several XP discs. OEM's of Pro and Home, Retail of Home and Pro, VLK of Pro, then came Tablet PC and Media Center editions which added yet another disc and required the OEM XP Pro SP2 disc that would recongize the key. These are all 32bit editions too, it was getting really silly.

Honestly the Vista solution was great, you had one source file on the DVD to install multiple editions, they had basically a transforms file to install based upon the key or edition selected, much simpler than XP and it would be easier to have as few discs as possible for duplication sakes.

TCLN Ryster said,
I don't think thats true mate. I'm sure I read recently in an article right here on Neowin that Microsoft is moving away from the one media for all versions approach with Windows 7.


I don't think that is true, it makes more sense to keep the media the same

TCLN Ryster said,
I don't think thats true mate. I'm sure I read recently in an article right here on Neowin that Microsoft is moving away from the one media for all versions approach with Windows 7.

That would be incorrect because if they did split it up the whole idea of 'anywhere upgrade' would fall to pieces. Anywhere upgrade is based on the customer having everything on the DVD that they need.

Why only netbooks? DVD drives these days are way too poor in quality. Many of the recent ones I have seen today lose the ability to reliably read/write/both within three months. A pen drive on the other hand is a lot faster, and works lot more reliably.

Since it seems to sound like a option one would get directly from MS if you want it, but don't have a netbook, I don't see why you couldn't buy it on a USB stick instead of a DVD.

soumyasch said,
Why only netbooks? DVD drives these days are way too poor in quality. Many of the recent ones I have seen today lose the ability to reliably read/write/both within three months. A pen drive on the other hand is a lot faster, and works lot more reliably.


I haven't seen a single DVD drive fail in years..... maybe buy better brands?

Although this seems to be a good strat that targets netbooks, you more than likely do not have to have a netbook for this to be an option for you. As long as your motherboard's bios supports booting from USB. I bet it will probably cost more.

Ridlas said,
Get better brands

I have seen the same happen to Sony, LG and Samsung drives. And on my Laptop, DVDs burnt using the TSST Corp drive isn't readable anywhere (even though the burning status was shown to be successful). Its under warranty, and I am on the third drive within just 10 months of buying.

Shadrack said,
Although this seems to be a good strat that targets netbooks, you more than likely do not have to have a netbook for this to be an option for you. As long as your motherboard's bios supports booting from USB. I bet it will probably cost more.

I am ready to pay a bit more than pay for something I can't boot up from (more likely than not, the boot device selector times out on DVD boot before my DVD drive spins the DVD up and is ready for reading).

Hang on, just let me download the damn ISO and I will choose which physical media I will put it on.

The better brands for DVD drives are Pioneer, Lite-ON, and well you might have some bad Samsungs because they have been good for friends' builds.

I still have a CDRW drive from ~1999 (Creative CDRW8432e) and it only recently started to fail (after at least 7 years of use burning more than ~800 burns). Likewise, have an LG DVDRW drive from 3-4 years ago and it works flawlessly as well. Don't get me started on CDROMs, which I still have from ~1993 in the junk box (all of them work). So it might be the climate where you live or something, because I've never had one drive fail.

I always buy Pioneer DVD rewriters. They only cost £18-21 and they are very reliable. I have 2 in my machine and both work just as well as they did on the day I brought them

Frank Fontaine said,
I always buy Pioneer DVD rewriters. They only cost £18-21 and they are very reliable. I have 2 in my machine and both work just as well as they did on the day I brought them

I've bought 3 DVD drives in the last 10 years. A DVD-ROM back in '99, then a DVD-RW and then a dual-layer DVD-RW. All Pioneer and all still work fine. reliability is awesome and you don't even have to pay through the nose for them.

Hopefully that means reduced packaging. The size of the Windows 7 case, although much better than Windows Vista in size and convenience, is still excessively large imo.

I don't need anything bigger than the Mac OS X box (see here).