Microsoft to introduce new 'netbook-like' Windows Server SKU

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer listed the areas where Microsoft plans to invest in the annual Strategic Update presentation for Wall Street analysts. During the event Ballmer said the company will introduce a new, low-priced Windows Server version in the next couple of months but acknowledged that Microsoft has to decide on how it will handle Windows 7 SKU pricing for netbooks.

Ballmer said about 90% of netbooks generally priced at $200 to $400 have been shipped with a stripped-down version of Windows XP and buyers of netbooks with the low-end version of Windows 7 will have the option of upgrading to the more powerful versions.

Microsoft has already said that there will not be a separate netbook-specific SKU of Windows 7, and will allow netbook makers to preload any version of Windows 7 they want. However, Microsoft expects PC makers to opt for Windows 7 Starter Edition for smaller notebooks with limited specs and Windows 7 Home Premium for notebooks with sufficient specs.

During the meeting, Ballmer also called out Internet Explorer as an area where the company is losing market to its competitors, specifically to Firefox.

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19 Comments

Starter Edition is totally useless. You can run only 3 apps at a time which is irrelevant as of today. And also IE loosing market share to other browsers is not news. long live Firefox

Actually, I disagree. Windows 7 Starter would be perfect for Netbooks. Why? Well, what are Netbooks really used for? Email, Web browsing and IM. You can do Web browsing, Email in the web browser and have an unlimited amount of tabs open. People aren't going to have Photoshop, Word and Excel on these these things, they can't even run Photoshop because the Intel ATOM which most of them have don't have the instructions to process such large apps, not to mention the limited memory.

So, three apps is not an end to the user experience in a world where people communicate mostly through social networks and web mail.

@ Mr. Dee, I have an old 1.4 ghz laptop with a gig of ram + 32 mb onboard video that runs Photoshop CS2 just fine. I think those net books would be capable of running it if my old laptop can. But I agree that most people shouldn't have an issue (as long as the vendors aren't stupid about what machines they put starter on and don't confuse consumers).

Actually your 1.4 Pentium will destroy the Atom. A 1.86 Atom isn't much faster than a 1GHz Pentium M. Atoms are basically designed for low power comsumption, not performance, with the 1.86 Atom only using 2.4 watts.

I guess microsoft doesnt expect netbooks to sustain their sales growth into the future or a competitive netbook version would seem like a pretty viable option. That or they are hoping once manufactuers cant opt to put XP on them they will just cop the cost of Winfows 7. Ah well im sure microsoft has better people than me working on their strategies, but a netbook optimised and priced version makes more sense to me than a cheaper and further scaled down server edition.

Windows 7 starter edition only suits OLPC or EeePC 401. i mean quite honestly what do they expect... 3 applications oh messenger music and web browsing oh wait have to stop listening to music to check my emails gtfo they aren't that under powered geez. netbooks are not 3rd world computers. atom N270 with 1GB ram is well powerful enough to do all of the above and more without slowing down... N280 can do 720p movies apparently and thats just wasted power if they think 3 applications is using too much resources. Maybe they can compact windows resources in the background to only 3 see if microsoft could do that then let us run all applications we want wouldn't work too well would it so yeah. netbooks are made to multi task beyond that of a smart phone but not as powerful or heavy as a full blown laptop of course they should be able to run more then 3 applications because windows mobile sure can why can netbooks which are more powerful jesus microsoft what are you thinking Windows 7 home retail is going to cost the price of a netbook probably so rubbish they are embracing the netbook platform they are just hunkering it more then anything. else just stick to xp atleast it isn't restricted or "stripped down" as the article says it just works efficiently enough to get tasks done without rubbish policies getting in the way.

You didn't read the article, did you?

"Microsoft has already said that there will not be a separate netbook-specific SKU of Windows 7, and will allow netbook makers to preload any version of Windows 7 they want. However, Microsoft expects PC makers to opt for Windows 7 Starter Edition for smaller notebooks with limited specs and Windows 7 Home Premium for notebooks with sufficient specs."

That's saying that Microsoft doesn't care what version you put on a netbook, it's the PC Makers/OEM companies who will decide what version goes on, so take up you're argument with them, not Microsoft.

Netbooks can run the full version of Win7 just fine. All MS is doing is giving netbook makers the choice here, and most will go with Home Premium I bet.

If they do Starter edition for netbooks maybe it'll let you run more than 3 apps at once? This all just depends on pricing really.

Starter edition for netbooks make sense because it probably doesn't have enough juice to run 4 or more programs at once...

lol dude how come my mate can run steam messenger mail firefox with several tabs remote desktop connection FTP PuTTy all at once and it still runs smooth ?

Oh geeze... themailnurse: get a friggen clue. Learn how to read and compare system specs? Intel Atom 1.6GHz w/ 1GB of RAM is what is standard in most netbooks TODAY...tomorrow they will be even better. I sure do hope that you don't work in an IT department.

However, Microsoft expects PC makers to opt for Windows 7 Starter Edition for smaller notebooks with limited specs and Windows 7 Home Premium for notebooks with sufficient specs.

Did you miss this part? If you got a decent notebook, you probably won't be getting the Starter edition.

How limited could the specs POSSIBLY be? Honestly? I was running more than 3 programs back in the 486dx 66MHz days in Windows 3.1. 3 apps only is just ridiculous.... i guess it is just to reduce the cost... but make the limit more reasonable. 6 apps is more like it.

That analogy is flawed. Just because Windows 3.1 ran 3 programs at once doesn't mean it could run 3 of today's programs, no mind 3 of them.

Netbooks are powerful enough for multi-tasking like using Internet, music, writing up documents and emails. That's what they are designed for, nothing hardcore. But, for some netbooks like the original eee-pc which had limited storage, then Windows 7 Starter seems more sensible.

I wrote emails, surfed the Internet, wrote documents and did spread sheets, even had an IRC client which was kinda like IM. All on machines much much much less powerful then the slowest, smallest, netbooks that are being released today. You young folks have a warped view of computing IMHO.

Saying that Windows 7 Starter is sensible for any netbook is false, because they could all handle Home Premium. Saying it is a "strategy" so that Netbook manufacturers can keep their list prices down, and MS can sell the version of Windows 7 that users want is more like it.

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