back to article Microsoft breaks Windows 7 three-apps netbook handicap

Microsoft has made a major concession on Windows 7 for netbooks, saying it'll no longer restrict the number of applications you can run concurrently. Windows 7 Starter Edition will let you run more than three applications at one time, Microsoft's Windows 7 evangelist Brandon LeBlanc blogged Friday afternoon. Late on a Friday …


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  1. Michael Habel Silver badge

    So no MCE on Netbooks then??

    Humm not much of a loss considering how usefull MSC has been over the years.

    I suppose for you guys in the UK that would suck, at least Freeview DTT seem like a service worth useing (if you can get it), But her in Germany DTT (DVB-T), just plan sucks!

    And yeah Windows 7 ~may~ have native support for DVB-S (And is it to much to hope for S2?!).

    But, what I need from Microsoft is DVB-C, and that seems as unlikely as me hitting the Lotto. :(

    So I think the adage goes something like this:

    ...And nothing of value was lost!!

    Tux, cause DX'ers know the best STB's (Dream, Reel, Nokia (dBox2)*, Azbox AbCom, all come standard w/Linux.

    *Ok the Dbox2 needed to be hacked first :p

  2. Jimbo
    Thumb Down


    why do we have like 2,000 versions of windows 7?

    1. HOME

    2. BUSINESS (same as home plus bitlocker, XP-mode and 64bit option during installation)

    how hard is that?

  3. George

    More than 3 apps....

    M$ is starting to buckle under customer pressure, good. The 3 apps limitation is a joke in the first place.

  4. John P


    So basically, stripping out every major improvement they've made between Vista and 7, leaving the user with a slightly less buggy version of Vista instead of the nice shiny Windows 7 interface they expect.

    Microsoft just don't get it.

    Skull and crossbones because they will no doubt be using all of the features they have stripped out of Starter Edition to advertise Windows 7, therefore deceiving the consumer in to believing that when they buy Windows 7 they will get all of those features. It's basically piracy.

  5. bish

    Wait..., you pay less, and in return you get a slimmed-down version of Win7, without all the bloatware but otherwise fully functional?

    Somehow, I'd expect to pay more...

  6. Kevin

    I wonder

    Will it run as fast as the 1st public beta of windows 7 and not like the bloatware of the final RC?

    And what will be its price. If its under $60 I might actually pick it up and upgrade past 2k if it preforms like the 1st beta.

    I only wonder because I've tried them both and the 1st beta was fast as hell on the PC I used, and the Final RC was a fair deal slower on the same exact PC.

  7. DT

    damned if they do, damned if they don't

    Include "glittery features" -> be accused of including superfluous bloat unsuitable for a notebook & of selling people stuff they don't need.

    Don't include "glittery features"..... get accused of trying to upsell

    Include a media player -> get slapped with a lawsuit and slated for anti-competative monopolistic behaviour

    Don't include a media player.... and the author claims a PC should "rightly" have a media player bundled with the O/S? Wonder what the folks at RealNetworks would have to say about that?

    Bottom line is, some will complain about windows 7 either way; even if they contradict their own previous views ;( vis-a-vis attitude to aforementioned competition lawsuit).

    Cue the first non-MS employee to rejurgitate a comment about "source code similiarities"...

  8. Frank

    XP-Pro is not good enough - why??

    I'm happy using XP-Pro on my laptop and EEE 901 and will do so as long as I can. As described in the article, WIn-7 Starter doesn't have anything that XP-Pro doesn't already give me (as far as I can tell). Although I can't see why I'd want it, I also can't see why I'd miss any of it's 'missing' features if I did buy a netbook with Win-7 Starter installed. As for Remote Media Streaming - XP-Pro on my EEE does struggle with playing my domestic NAS based video files, but I'm sure that's a CPU power problem because it also struggles if I transfer them to the internal drive.

    Can anyone explain why I'd want to use Win-7, Starter or Full-Fat version, if I'm happy running XP-Pro on a 5 year old laptop and an EEE 901?

  9. Pierre

    OK, can I be of very bad faith?

    Assuming a "yes" there: OK, they broke the 3 apps limitation, but you won't be able to run a single one at acceptable speed anyway. (damned if they do, damned if they don't!)

    (/bad faith)

    Now for the media playing bit (and more seriously): it will come without DVD playback and other media-related stuff... does that mean that they removed the piece of smelly crap that WMP is, or did they remove driver support? The first would actually be a very good thing (vlc all round, Yay!). The second would be yet another driver hell unleashed on unsuspecting users (Booooh!).

    Not that I care anyway. If I ever feel the need to buy a netbook*, it will either be a Linux one, or a Windows-soon-to-be Linux one.

    * basic requirement: super-cheap, 1 GHz CPU (max), 258M of reliable RAM, a few Go of strorage -or a SD slot-, decent 800x600x24 display, a usable keyboard and 8+ hours of battery power. A wireless netwok card would be a plus (reduced battery life acceptable when on, but must be hardware-switchable). Make offers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But it IS fully functioning...

    I'm afraid I must totally disagree with the conclusion to this article:

    "More-adventurous users might be happy to download their own non-Microsoft players, or treat the netbook as a lightweight second machine that doesn't need media. Most ordinary consumers won't, though, and will - rightly - expect a fully functioning, self-contained PC package out of the box."

    Netbooks do not have an optical drive - why expect the operating system to have DVD player


    Netbooks do not have TV tuners built-in, so what's the point of media centre?

    Most USB TV tuners that I have come across provide software to view/record/pause/etc., so

    the lack of built-in OS support is no problem for anyone buying this particular type of add-on


    Trimming the eye candy also makes sense for a target machine with limited procesor power.

    The main show stopper in the starter edition was the 3 application limit, MS are to be

    congratulated for coming to their senses and removing these shackles.

    I look forward to seeing an equally strong candidate OS from the Linux camp, the various

    'lite' offerings thus far fall way short of providing an ideal netbook experience. Moblin looks

    like it may be a contender here even if it does have a bit too much facespacetwatbook for

    my taste.

    No icon as there isn't one of a wounded penguin.

  11. david bates

    Media is my killer app

    The main reason I originally bought my 701 was so I could watch movies etc on the train. The fact that it is also a useful second machine/browsing platform alone probably would not have swung it for me.

  12. Matt
    Thumb Down

    Oh yay!

    The three app limit was ridiculous, but even now Win 7 for netbooks still looks lame. People have shown the current crop of Atom-powered units can amply handle the full Win 7 Ultimate RC without any problems. The sheer number of different Windows editions is laughable. It's like Vista all over again.

    All these SKU's serve to do is allow MS to keep the price artificially high for "Ultimate" versions, whilst giving essentially the same piss-poor product away for peanuts with cheap hardware. They want to stomp all over Linux in the budget market, but preserve their margins at the top end. It's not as if they've worked diligently to optimize the OS from the ground up, specifically for low power devices. They've just disabled and left out a few bits to justify the price difference. Its as if they want to make choosing a computer as confusing and awkward as possible - Mrs Miggins buys a new laptop only to find the cut-down version of Windows doesn't look the same as the wizzy TV ad, and is told she must pay an extra £100 for an Anytime Upgrade. Congratulations Mrs M, it's a PC! *Cha-ching*

    Well, I for one am tired of this BS. I don't want to be treated like a second class citizen and to be up-sold a new product key, just so I can do what I've always been able to in XP.

    Maybe, just maybe, if MS trimmed the range down to just 2 Windows versions that were sensibly differentiated as Full and Lite products, and if they weren't unnecessarily mean about feature exclusion, and actually charged a sensible amount for each product in the first place, they wouldn't NEED to tie everyone in knots with all this version crap.

    It'll be a cold day in hell before I buy a computer with Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic for Netbooks (EU compliant) w/o Developing World Restrictions Edition.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Starter edition sounds ideal for desktops...

    No aero - who cares, waste of resources

    no new taskbar - who cares, it is awful

    no dvd playback - who caresm that's why you install your own software of choice

    no media centre - I can not, EVER, think of one time I have used this

    no remote media streaming - I don't even know what that is...

    no winXP mode - fail, but it isn't available on the normal mode anyway

    only question is can it run directx?

  14. Richard Kay

    @Manny Caruana

    "I look forward to seeing an equally strong candidate OS from the Linux camp, the various 'lite' offerings thus far fall way short of providing an ideal netbook experience."

    In that case you really do want to try Ubuntu Netbook Remix. They are developing this to become an OEM offering, but it's easy enough to download and install, if you have a spare 1G or more pen drive you don't mind reformatting. I replaced the cut down Linux my Acer Aspire One was supplied with using UNR and it's really excellent.

    A minor bug at the start was easily fixed by removing icons from the favourites menu selection, though I can now use favourites having done this - this was a daily development build. The aptitude package management system works perfectly so no problems updating and installing just about any Ubuntu Jaunty package. The only exception was Cgoban, an old style game which renders direct graphics which don't fit into the limited X server desktop resource, though it works fine on desktop machines. Everything else just works - wireless, wired, graphics, sound, DVDs and all the usual Linux application software.

    Given that the Atom CPU performs similarly to a high end Pentium 3, there are sometimes delays of 2-3 seconds using Firefox, though no such problems using the Konqueror browser. Boot speed is very fast. Frankly I'd be surprised if anyone finds running son of Vista (Windows 7) as pleasant an experience on such low power/weight/size/cost hardware.

  15. Laxman


    It comes with Windows Media Player, which for once has support for more formats than ever - DivX, H264, AAC,...

    It doesn't have DVD support but then, netbooks don't even have DVD drives, and most DVD drives come with a external DVD decoder you can use in Media Player.

  16. R.E.H.

    We're going to complain about what, now?

    "More-adventurous users might be happy to download their own non-Microsoft players, or treat the netbook as a lightweight second machine that doesn't need media. Most ordinary consumers won't, though, and will - rightly - expect a fully functioning, self-contained PC package out of the box."

    Please... OEMs will just bundle PowerDVD or something which they can license for pennies. Microsoft removing DVD support from the OS (frankly, I didn't realize it ever had it) is hardly a loss. Ordinary users will GET a fully functioning, self-contained PC because the OEMs will make it so. It's the more adventurous users that will have to go to extra effort to rip out the preinstalled bloat.

    Also, as it has already been pointed out, netbooks don't have an optical drive.

  17. Dave Bell

    Why DVD?

    If it doesn't have the ability to read data from a DVD, aren't they going to hit problems with the size of an install disk?

    If they're not including the drivers to cope with the DRM implemented on DVD video, why have people misunderstood?

    It's hardly as if people aren't going to want to connect an external DVD box, because that's what is available in an office. And possibly write a DVD at a back-up.

    I'd either rip a DVD to some form of MPEG4 or, if I really wanted a portable DVD player, buy the dedicated hardware. I don't want to mess around with an external DVD drive sucking battery power.

  18. Wolf

    The restrictions in place actually make sense.

    Everyone's been complaining for years that Windows was bloated. They've complained that Windows offers too much, that an OS should just be a basic program runner/resource manager. Well congratulations! MS has stripped out a lot of bloat in Starter Edition. You got what you wanted and you're STILL complaining? Jeez.

    Let's look at these restrictions, shall we?

    1. No Aero. Ok, this lets the mfg use a cheaper graphics chip. Cost of the netbook is reduced. No eye-candy to "waste" computing power either. Why are you complaining again?

    2. No DVD playback. MS has to pay a per unit license fee to the monopoly that owns DVD format. No DVD playback means no DVD fee. This is a cost reduction. Lower cost = lower price. Why are you complaining again?

    3. No multi-monitor support. Ok, multi-monitor takes more advanced (read more expensive) graphics chips (and more RAM), pulls more power (reducing battery life) and takes an external jack (which, of course, the belly achers want to be both VGA *and* digital). More expense, more real-estate, higher cost netbook. It's a *netbook*, intended for use while on the road or to throw in your briefcase. Why should you need an external monitor? So why are you complaining again?

    4. No multimedia center. So? This is a woefully underpowered machine by today's standards, it doesn't really have the horsepower for such applications. Isn't MS removing bloat? :) Why are you complaining about not having to put MCE on a system that can't really use it properly?

    5. No wallpaper change/color change/sound changes. Eh, it's a *netbook*. Meaning you're primarily going to use your browser. In full screen mode. (all cramped 1024x600 of it) Meaning you won't see the wall paper most of the time. Or the screen colors. As for changing OS sounds, meh. On a netbook just exactly how does that affect you? Isn't all that just bloat anyway? So why are you complaining again?

    6. Yes, these changes are to make Starter Edition less appealing for full blown notebooks and desktops. So? It costs $15 (or whatever). If it had *no* restrictions everyone would use it.

    Now that the 3 app limit has been removed (which was a STUPID limit, agreed) I don't see why you're complaining about a $100 discount for what amounts to Windows with a few trivial restrictions. Why isn't that a GOOD THING? Someone care to enlighten me? Or is this just good old British pub-dweller bellyaching?

  19. Jimbo

    to @Manny

    "Netbooks do not have an optical drive - why expect the operating system to have DVD player support?"

    ahhhh, maybe 6 months down the road you will get DVD player, then what? You will have to pay extra $50 to get DVD player software?

    "Netbooks do not have TV tuners built-in, so what's the point of media centre?"

    ahhhh you can plug most of the netbooks to your TV and use it as a cheap video/music streamer

  20. James O'Brien


    Even though we have 2000 versions of Windows, they are still lagging behind the 50 thousand distros of *nix out there.

    And yes OSX is a distro.

    /there got my weekly bash of all OS' out there.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    consumer feedback

    "Microsoft told The Reg that its action was based on customer and partner feedback."

    Presumably that feedback was "3 programs at once, are you bloody kidding me? I need 2 programs running just to make Windows secure"

  22. Phil

    EU and MS

    So EU's restrictions on MS are a good thing? The XP N version sold well didn't it. Win 7 without IE or media capabilities is really going to fly out the door, OEMs will sell what works.

    As a UK national non MS employee I don't see the point. Does MS OSs stop you using 3rd party software? No, but it includes to get you going if only so you can download the latest and buggiest nightly builds of 3rd party stuff, does VLC work - why yes (although it's not good at HD stuff - terrible visual and sound rendering but that may be my 3 year old hardware that works fine with WMP, must be a MS conspiracy).

    Most people just want a box they take out the box and use ALA apple, pity the apple brand is now being targeted by the evil hackers as well.

    Why is there no icon for good/bad against the EU and some of the harebrained decisions?

  23. Brian Whittle

    why no mce

    'THe reason there will be no media center on the "starter edition" is it would have a feature the basic version will not have thus putting it above that version, so its inevitable really.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "ahhhh, maybe 6 months down the road you will get DVD player, then what? You will have to pay extra $50 to get DVD player software?"

    You get software with most non OEM drives, so you won't have to pay extra there!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Fuck this shit!

    I'm having a problem right now with this kind of crap. All of our laptops are windows Vista business edition. Someone wants to run a training DVD when they visit a client but they can't. Microsoft says I should "Take Vista to the next level" by upgrading it to ultimate edition. I'll tell you what they can do, they can GO AND FUCK THEMSELVES.

    Playing a DVD is something that I think is basic functionality. Technology moves on and this shit should just be available.

    No one is going to buy a crippled OS unless they just don't know about the restrictions in its functionality. Then when they do find out, they are just going to be royally pissed off.

    Like me

  26. P Saunders
    Paris Hilton

    Oh, so 3rd worlders do have intelligence?

    Did MS suddenly realise that many of us in the Third World are capable of counting higher than 3? Took a while, didn't it?

    Paris, 'cause it doesn't matter that she can't count higher than 3. Just as long as she can multitask.

  27. Ash
    Thumb Up

    Can I put this on my regular PC?

    Aero Glass? Don't need.

    Windows Media Centre? Don't need.

    No DVD Playback? I'm sure VLC can change that.

    No Theme changing? So what?

    If it supports DirectX 10, this seems like the ideal operating system for a Windows gaming PC.

  28. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    fkn lost the plot

    why 1000000 versions of windows? home, and pro. why do they need more? it just pisses off their customers

  29. Guilherme Eilert
    Gates Halo

    I like it.

    I quite liked XP and Vista starter edition except for the 3 progs limitation. If the regular edition of windows 7 provided the option for an install like that, except maybe for the DVD thing, I would go for it. Heck, I would still go for it, only would rather have the DVD playback out of the box.

    If they sell it in the stores, I'm buying it to upgrade XP. Someone above said something very true, they could charge more, instead of less, for it.

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