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Monday, 01 June 2009 06:08

"Windows 7 crippleware!" scream outraged netbook owners

Microsoft has once again upset many in the netbook user community with news of artificially imposed limitations on the entry level version of its upcoming new operating system Windows 7. All over the web netbook users are accusing Microsoft of crippling Windows 7 Starter edition for no other reason than to extort extra dollars from them.

{loadposition stan}Official Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc did little to dispel a growing view that Microsoft is attempting to blatantly rip users off with Windows 7 in his latest blog post.

LeBlanc explained that for the first time in the history of Windows Starter editions (yes there have been such crippled versions of both Vista and XP) the Windows 7 crippled version would be available globally on "small notebook PCs."

The post proudly proclaimed that Microsoft is "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."

However, what ever beneficial effect the above statement was intended to have for Microsoft's image was quickly dispelled a few paragraphs later in the post.

LeBlanc made it crystal clear that Microsoft's intentions are to force netbook users to upgrade to a more expensive version of Windows 7 while denying them the right to opt for Windows XP.\

In his post he says:

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."

Understandably, the above did little to sooth the seething anger of ropable netbook users.


Comments from irate users centered mainly around the artificially imposed lack of DVD playback, no media streaming, no personalisation and no media centre. Fewer have noted the lack of XP mode.

With the announcement of its intentions for Windows 7 Starter edition, Microsoft has telegraphed in no uncertain terms that it intends to end the profit sapping abomination of the continued success of its own Windows XP.

The fact that Windows XP runs so well on netbooks and requires fewer resources to do a similar job to both Vista and Windows 7 has been an expensive embarrassment to Microsoft.

So strong has been user loyalty to XP that Microsoft has been forced to offer "XP Mode" as a feature of Windows 7 in the hope of enticing existing XP users to make the switch to the more expensive new operating system.

For price conscious netbook users, however, Microsoft is playing a different game. New netbook users won't even get basic features already available on Windows XP, such as DVD playback, unless they upgrade to a more expensive version of Windows 7.

Windows 7 requires considerably more resources than XP to run and hardware vendors such as Dell and Asus have fallen into line by considerably beefing up their versions of netbooks to 10 inch displays, 1 GB RAM minimum, 160 GB hard drives and at least Atom N270 processors. Small notebooks is a more apt description of the new generation of so-called netbooks.

The ground breaking Asus Eee PC 701 running Linux (and later XP) seems to be disappearing into distant memory. Once again, Microsoft looks like it is succeeding in manipulating the hardware market by flexing its Windows muscle.

The issue for Microsoft, however, is that the Eee PC 701 revealed an underlying demand for real netbooks.

The question is whether Linux implementations such as Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Intel's Moblin 2.0 and Android, running on a new range of small netbook hardware based the Atom and VIA hardware platforms, could once again sneak under Microsoft's guard.

Microsoft managed to beat off the Linux netbook challenge by resurrecting Windows XP at give-away prices. It can't do that again using an artificially crippled version of Windows 7 that doesn't even have DVD playback.

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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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