Microsoft confirms no Windows 7 restrictions on netbooks

Microsoft announced that they have removed the netbook restrictions that previously prevented OEM and ODM from installing any version of Windows 7 on their netbook. The lifted restriction means OEM and ODM can install Windows 7 starter on a netbook, and that the three application restriction has been removed as per consumer's request.

"OEMs and ODMs have the choice to install any version of Windows on a netbook," a Microsoft UK spokesperson said. "[But] Starter is an entry version and doesn't have many of the consumer or business features. The three application limit isn't there anymore."

Windows 7 Starter and Home Basic variety only come in 32bit versions and are missing a variation of features from the higher end versions. Some of the features missing from Windows 7 Starter include:

  • Aero Glass
  • Taskbar Preview
  • Aero Peek
  • Desktop personalization
  • Fast user switching
  • Multi-monitor support
  • DVD playback
  • Support for domains and XP Mode
  • Windows Media Center

Home Basic also lacks some key Windows 7 features including Aero, Taskbar Preview, Internet Connection Sharing and some other features. Windows 7 Home Basic will not be sold in the US, Europe and other established markets, while Windows 7 Starter will be available through OEM.

Retail stores and manufactures will be able to strip some of the cost off their netbooks using Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic. Microsoft will now have two entry level SKU versions of Windows 7 in some markets.

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57 Comments

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Well, I'm glad they lifted this restriction for sure. Though I still think the DVD playback restriction is silly. I imagine a lot of netbook users use them to watch movies...

I don't know why people are worrying about all this detail. Whatever happened / happens, "hackers" will write patches, to get around limitations Microsoft care to try. Doubtlessly all the speculation and announcements were all part of MSFT (free) marketing hype... "Yes it is, well maybe, no it isn't, yes it is..."

Personally I'm still very happy with XP on my $250 throwaway netbook. It does everything I need, and is far less complex. I am able to install XP multiple times on the same partition , with a simple tweak to an answer file. I wouldn't bother trying that with Vista. Vista / Windows 7 might be for some folks, but the way I use my PC, these later versions of Windows are over complex, with extremely messy directory structure and bizarre permissions and file links.

For all those screaming "xp runs better than 7". Xp was released in 2001 to run on 2001 hardware. Obviously putting it on todays newer hardware with your larger and faster hard disks, multicore processors and gpus, naturally it's gonna run like it's on crack! That's an unfair comparison, as windows 7 is doing a hell of a lot more behind the scenes and still manages to scale back nicely on older hardware. Stop living in the past, it's 2009 now, should you really be sticking to an os that is now 8 long years old???

Technically speaking XP doesn't even take advantage of the multi-core processors to their potential. Microsoft released a patch to help but it doesn't work 100%. You just get some better balancing but not a full use.

Those things that are removed already, I would've removed or disabled instantly anyway!

Who needs some pretty Aero crap, Taskbar Preview, Aero Peek, Desktop personalization, Fast user switching, Multi-monitor support, or DVD playback?

Well, the multi monitor support would've been alright.

cork1958 said,
Those things that are removed already, I would've removed or disabled instantly anyway!

Who needs some pretty Aero crap, Taskbar Preview, Aero Peek, Desktop personalization, Fast user switching, Multi-monitor support, or DVD playback?

Well, the multi monitor support would've been alright.

Aero is faster than a CPU rendered UI, but to each his own.

It used to eat up a fair amount of cpu power so some people would switch over to the classic theme. In Windows 7 that issue has been eliminated IMO.

Wow, now it sounds like a real OS. DVD playback doesn't matter as netbooks don't really have drives... could you still use another program though if you did?

Does anyone know if the Starter and Home Basic editions consume less resources on a netbook than the other editions would (Ultimate/Business, etc.) ?

Since Starter and Basic automatically disable features like Aero they would.

You could manually disable the same things that consume resources in the other editions though (like Aero, taskbar previews, etc.).

Remove ei.cfg from your x64 dvd and Home Basic is there yet it isn't on Technet. I never even noticed that until I saw this article.

Foxxx428 said,
Remove ei.cfg from your x64 dvd and Home Basic is there yet it isn't on Technet. I never even noticed that until I saw this article.

Microsoft probably realized that no one in their right mind would be running Home Basic x64. :P

Home Basic 64-bit won't be making it to the retail market so officially it is only available as 32-bit but yea I noticed that when I did a sku check on the discs. I have bootable 32-bit and 64-bit DVDs now that I can use for any edition (except enterprise).

Been running Windows 7 Ultimate on my Acer Aspire One d150 Netbook for quite some time now, everything enabled and it absolutely flies, and is very stable. Even performs better than the Windows XP did.

No no, it is the dynamic desktop personalization.. the changing background effects. Windows 7 Home basic and starter can only have a static background image you need to manually change.

Andrew Lyle said,
No no, it is the dynamic desktop personalization.. the changing background effects. Windows 7 Home basic and starter can only have a static background image you need to manually change.

At first it was impossible to change the desktop picture on Windows 7 Starter, they've changed this?

.Neo said,
At first it was impossible to change the desktop picture on Windows 7 Starter, they've changed this?

It doesn't have desktop personalization feature so no. There is a manual over ride I have seen, if it works or not, that I don't know, but I have seen guides.

dagamer34 said,
Why would anyone want starter in the first place?

Possibly for use of less resources, memory, processing power, etc. Maybe it's slightly faster since it doesn't do as much.

I have seen someone try to override the background but apparently they have it hashed elsewhere and that hash is digitally signed so replacing it won't be easy for sure. Not even the OEMs or ODMs can replace the background (you know for branding and stuff).

.Neo said,
It's still a complete joke you can't change the desktop picture on Windows 7 Starter.


What is a complete joke is that some consider this a "limitation". I guess I've been artificially "limiting" myself to a solid black desktop since Windows 3.0.

Either way, my desktop is always covered in windows. If I wanted to look at pretty pictures, I'd buy a picture frame.

Aero looks similar to Aero Glass, but lack the transparency in window borders and other special effects(e.g. the 3d win+tab interface).

Technically what they're trying to distinguish, it seems, is the Windows Aero visual style from the "Windows 7 Standard" visual style. They are identical except that the latter doesn't have the transparency option. It's still "glass" - and you can replicate its look with the Windows Aero style by disabling transparency. "Windows 7 Standard" only exists on the "Home Basic" SKU. It would be redundant on SKUs with Aero.

It is not to be confused with "Basic" or "Classic" (non-composited) visual styles.

users can install Windows 7 starter on a netbook

No they can't. "OEMs and ODMs" can.

Anyone could have told you that Microsoft had no intention of preventing netbooks from being installed with the higher versions of Windows that have the better profit margin. The only restrictions I'd heard of before was how crappy a netbook had to be to qualify for Starter.. that restriction may be gone now, which is probably easier for everybody.

Yep. OEM and ODM only for sure. I have a technet subscription and I was heavily surprised when it listed my key type as OEM for Win 7 Starter.

lordcanti86 said,
Didn't they say this back in....I dunno...June?

The response to the 2nd comment in this thread addresses this.

The "Contact Us" button on the main page doesn't seem to work, but here goes:

I find it confusing that on the bottom of your main page, "Previous" is on the right side, and "Next" is on the left side. Isn't that a bit backwards? Everything else (browsers, installers, wizards, etc) uses a left arrow for "Back" and a right arrow for "Forwards".

HalcyonX12 said,
The "Contact Us" button on the main page doesn't seem to work, but here goes:

I find it confusing that on the bottom of your main page, "Previous" is on the right side, and "Next" is on the left side. Isn't that a bit backwards? Everything else (browsers, installers, wizards, etc) uses a left arrow for "Back" and a right arrow for "Forwards".

No, it makes sense. Previous as in 'previous stories before these'. The words should probably be different 'earlier' and 'later', though.

So, in other words, for the vast majority of their market, nothing has changed? They still won't sell the Starter edition or Home Basic in the US or Europe.

At first glance, it appears that they WILL be selling those two editiion everywhere, but then you get to the end, it says they won't sell them here. Which is it?

I'm going to guess we're not going to see starter except on very very few devices...

home basic on devices that otherwise would still be shipping with XP... but nothing "modern" (even eee pcs have dedicated graphics chips, even if they're intel based and share ram - still would benefit from aero-based Desktop rendering) so it's very unlikely we'll be seeing nearly any home basics as well.. I'm getting the feeling like Microsoft's going to heavily discourage this on the OEM level, weather it gets traction is another story, though, we'll have to wait till next month to have any real idea.

Andrew Lyle said,
Microsoft just confirmed it officially last week, the story was a little late, but reports started breaking out today.

Ahh I see, Gotchya

It's not a matter of working, that's been known all along. Previously, Started was only licensable for machine under a certain set of specifications, designed to limit its use to the cheapest of netbooks. Now it's available for use on any hardware apparently.

Odom said,
You make it sound like half a year or so, even though RTM is not even out for two months...


"month's'" means more than 1. So, yes, two would work.