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Wednesday, 27 May 2009 10:48

Microsoft looking for Moore's Law to save Windows 7

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The jury is in about the performance of Windows 7 RC on netbook computers - it's as slow as a wet week. For Microsoft the "great white hope" is now Moore's Law. Will new entry level netbooks be powerful enough to prevent Redmond's second white elephant in a row?

{loadposition stan}What is becoming increasingly clear is that Windows 7 is merely an attempt at damage control after Microsoft's monumental misreading of the market with resources hungry Vista.

In itself, Vista is not a bad desktop operating system if you're running a power hungry machine with plenty of grunt. With a little tweaking, Microsoft could eliminate the stuff that annoys people like the incessant UAC queries.

However, it just so happens we're living in an age where everyone is downsizing to notebooks and netbooks, which is the growth area of the PC market - an area where Vista can't play.

Windows 7 was meant to address the failings of Vista - its huge footprint, its massive memory demands, its overall requirement for power hogging processors.

Unfortunately, Windows 7 does not look like it is going to even come close to delivering on that promise. In fact the minimum specs for Win 7 look similar to those of Vista.

The Windows 7 footprint is still close to 10 GB, an order of magnitude greater than that of Windows XP, thus requiring plenty of storage. Win 7 still requires at least 1 GB RAM (probably 2 GB for acceptable performance), it needs a fast processor and graphics card.

There's no way Windows 7 is made for those little netbooks that created a sensation when they burst on the scene 18 months ago.

So what's going on here?

CONTINUED Page 2


What seems to be going on is a load of Microsoft spin created to delay the market from turning to alternatives to Windows.

{loadposition stan}All of that business about Microsoft releasing cut down, crippled versions of Windows 7 for small netbooks was rubbish, spin.

Artificial limitations on the numbers of applications that be opened at once and the size of netbook displays was a bunch of baloney. The operating system is what it is - it has a footprint and minimum specs and that's what they are whether you cripple it or not.

The fact of the matter is that Microsoft has been watching very closely what's happening in the netbook space and it's seeing the rapid rise in netbook specs.

The mid-range netbooks have advanced to the point where their processors, memory and storage capabilities can just about handle the demands of Windows 7 - just about but not quite.

What Microsoft is hoping is that even the new spate of small netbooks will come up to the hardware performance requirements necessary to run Windows 7. The price of SSD is dropping as will the price of Atom processors. Meanwhile it's holding the market at bay with XP.

Recent figures on netbook sales from NPD showed that Microsoft had a resounding 96% marketshare of retail over the counter sales in February so the strategy appears to be working so far.

The danger for Microsoft is that the challenges are coming thick and fast from all sides on the Linux front. Aside from Android and Ubuntu Remix, Intel has released its own Linux distro desgned specifically for Atom powered netbooks, Moblin 2.0.

For now, Microsoft looks to have stayed the Linux threat on netbooks. However, it has only been able to do that by practically giving away Windows XP.

The big question which has already been asked is will the market buy into paying more for netbooks capable of running Windows 7? Given that people are buying netbooks these days usually because they want a cheap and very portable computer, Microsoft is not likely to like the answer to that question.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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