Windows 7: Microsoft Takes Netbook OEMs on Short Leash

Aug 12, 2009

When Windows 7 comes to market, the Starter Edition will be conceived especially for notebooks. As they did for Windows XP, Microsoft has come up with a list of technical limitations.

The stripped down Windows 7 Starter Edition isn't for sale to end-users, but will be delivered directly to hardware vendors, who will install the OS on their devices -- along with a few accompanying words from Microsoft. For quite some time the firm has offered its so-called Microsoft Windows XP Home Ultra Low Cost PC (ULCPC) program that carefully prescribes what OEMs can do with the Windows logo. ULCPCs are what the small, low cost notebooks that were installed largely with Linux will be called -- also netbooks. The upcoming Windows 7 will get a similar limitations list, as the Techarp news portal from Malaysia reports.

Nevertheless the Microsoft hardware requirements have since been simplified somewhat. Whereas the Windows XP/Vista list was limited to a 1-GHz processor, Windows 7 was raised to 2 GHz. RAM should stay at a maximum 1 GByte, while storage will double from 32 GBytes to 64 GBytes SDD. Hard disk storage increased from 160 GBytes to 250 GBytes. No more limitations will apply to graphics and touch functions. Screen size, on the other hand, will decrease from a 12.1" to a 10.2" maximum diagonal.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer officially confirmed this strategy when he sat down with analysts on July 30. In the financial analyst meeting, he was quoted as saying rather eloquently, "Our license tells you what a netbook is. Our license says it's got to have a super-small screen, which means it probably has a super-small keyboard, and it has to have a certain processor and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." In the company's submission to the U.S. SEC, they finally opened up to the possibility that Linux undertakings such as Red Hat and Canonical were providing them some real competition, as we reported earlier.

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  • Microsoft Starter - California Unfair Business Practice?

    Did Microsoft consciously know that purchasers of the Starter 7 version would expect Starter 7 to include prototypical Microsoft operating system features (such as Windows Media Player), and that then those users would be forced to pay for a Microsoft upgrade (since they had already purchased a netbook rather than, say, an Apple laptop)? Depending on the facts, could this be an Unfair Business Practice under California law? Could there be a few smoking gun Microsoft emails, financial projections floating around? Purely hypothetical of course.....but could it be worth it for a class action lawyer to take a look?
  • Linux vs OS

    I have Backed up all my files that were working with Window VISTA; and now if I buy a Netbook with Linux, will I be able to read my files from my USD Storage mostly done with Microsoft Suites, Word, Excel etc ??
  • You all suck out loud

    You linux fan boys all suck out loud and have to be some of the most ill-informed and stuck up snobs on the Web.
  • Why use MS anyway!!

    Yes MS is trying to micromanage the markets. They have consistently done this over the years. Their people have told IT honchos that you are prohibited from removing Windows if the box came with it installed. They have bribed people to install their OS over the customers selected/purchased OS.

    In fact they are running hard to prevent users from using anything but MS products. Depending on how you define the concept of an OS, their are at least five major OS's. They are: Windows, Apple, BSD, Unix, and Linux.

    The biggest problem is low understanding and high expectations. Most people do not know how their computers work and are to lazy to learn. Reminds me of the teachers who wanted to return to Windows. They used the approch that it was too hard to learn a new OS. After four or five years of no problems with students using Linux, the adin folks rolled over. Guess what? The new computers came with Vista. The poor teachers had to learn a new OS even though it was Windows...

    If you want to use Windows software, fine. I personally know there are several OS's that are cheaper, and more secure. Oh, by the way, please do not use the FUD crap from MS. FUD is FUD, look for independent FACTS.

    Then do what you want. But remember MS was selling XP in the US for over $100 bare, but would sell it w/Office in China for $3.00. This so other OS's hopefully would not get a foothold.
  • Who are you kidding?

    "The winner here is the final customer. When buying this netbooks with a Windows logo you will know that the hardware can actually deliver the performance that the sales guy is promising you."

    Just like the minimum specs worked for Vista????? A minimum spec Vista computer will barely run, much less deliver performance. I have seen several systems with Vista, and the memory useage and speed is pathetic, even on faster hardware. I have no faith that Windows 7 will be much different.
  • Sources point back to TechARP, not Microsoft

    I've seen a lot of second-hand reports about Microsoft setting limitations on what kind of hardware Windows 7 Starter Edition can run on, and ultimately they all seem to point back to TechARP, not Microsoft. I've extensively searched Microsoft's site and no hint of the specs appears anywhere. Who has actually confirmed this information through Microsoft?

    As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft can handicap itself anyway it wants. Yes, it means most netbooks will wind up humbled instead of truly useful, but those vendors that want to make a more powerful machine and want to give their users choice of OS are certainly free to do so, even if they'd be in the minority. It's a gamble that could pay off.
  • MAXIMUM SPECS - not Minimum

    @ the anonymous, who keeps yapping about minimum specs...

    The Netbook license specifications for Windows 7 are MAXIMUM specifications. READ CAREFULLY! MAXIMUM SPECS!

    This is Miscrosoft limiting the Netbook to only carry an Atom processor of 2 Ghz maximum, to only have a maximum screen size of 10,2 inch diagonal, to have NO MORE then 1 GB ram present. They limit disk storage to 64 GB SSD and 250GB HDD.

    In essence, Microsoft is retarding the hardware developments of the Netbook in the hope of shoveling more regular and pricier Windows 7 licenses on the machines we call laptops/notebooks.

    Too bad for Microsoft that Linux is very happy on a machine with a 10.2 inch screen diagonal, 1 GB ram and a processor of <= 2GHz. It means you can upgrade your Windows 7 Albatros very easily to something workable and safe with say Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

    Too bad for us that OEM's will probably only produce Netbooks with the limited MS specifications. While these are adequate for Linux, it will mean that you can get a Linux machine with as good specs as the Windows machines, but not anything better.

  • fcuk liunx and fcuk mcirosfot

    we tech are less than 1% in world. 99% dmub asses dont know what liunx is. why bother smart people when you can wipe shit and use liunx. let 99% use shit mcirosfot.
  • This is rediculous

    I have an ASUS EEE PC 100HE with 2GB of RAM running Linux Mint (Gloria).

    I have to say that the system requirements of Windows 7 is absolutely rediculous. Linux Mint chugs along just fine, it's snappy, and hardly uses 300MB of RAM.

    Sorry but the 1 GB minimum requirement is rediculous.
  • Market open for Linux then...

    This dictation of maximum specs would essentially leave the higher-performance netbook market open to Linux without any competition. Great news, as long as there are manufacturers willing to supply that demand. Dell previously offered Win netbooks with lower specs compared to their Linux netbooks, with the Linux versions at lower or equal costs. Now manufacturers will be able to offer higher-margin machines with better specs only with Linux. Sounds like what we're used to already: low-performance Windows or high-performance Linux. If you want power, choose the penguin.
  • Capta system

    Your 'Capta' spam filter thing isn't working properly. Please have your developers soundly beaten.
  • Remove Win7 and install Linux

    RE: Charles - Dallas, TX Aug 12, 2009 8:34pm GMT
    "Don't boycott the units. Buy one - but immediately remove that crap that Redmond calls an OS and install Linux on it."

    Don't forget to demand a refund for the Win7 license, which you won't be using.
  • Seriously?!?!?

    I don't believe this... While technology gets smaller and more powerful, MS have now decided that if you're going to buy a small device, you can't have the power... Interesting... Meanwhile, here in NZ, you're hard pressed to find a Linux Netbook.

    Buying a Windows Netbook isn't really an option. If manufacturers aren't delivering the features because they want to be compliant with MS's license, then we're getting a stripped down version of what could otherwise be. That and you're still supporting MS by paying the Redmond tax.

    Since when has it been up to some other player to decide what the consumer wants? They're not supplying the netbook, they're not buying the netbook. They shouldn't have the sort of power that

    So the options? Don't get a netbook unless you can get something with Linux pre-installed.
  • Read the article again

    Those aren't the MINIMUM specs so that you get a good Win7 experience. Those are the MAXIMUM SPECS that Microsoft will allow on a 'netbook'. To ENSURE that you CAN NOT get a fantastic experience on one ... so that (they hope) you will buy a larger, more powerful, more expensive system with a FULL VERSION OF WINDOWS 7 ... a license that Microsoft receives a lot more money for.

    If you think they're dictating limits for the good of the consumer, you're driving down the information superhighway in reverse.
  • You guys....

    The fact is: Microsoft released a new OS. Windows 7. Together with it it released the min specs the hardware must meet for each version of this new OS.

    The hardware manufacturers who want to certify the hardware as complaint with the OS version they plan to install in that hardware need to meet the requirements.

    The winner here is the final customer. When buying this netbooks with a Windows logo you will know that the hardware can actually deliver the performance that the sales guy is promising you.

    As far as I know Linux versions also have hardware requirements and min. specs. in order to deliver performance to the user. Or either the Linux fan does accept a slow system running in Linux but not a slow one running in Windows or it just beats Windows because.... he doesn't really know, but who cares. What's the problem ? Shame on you... The truth is that Linux is much better than many of is Fans... MUCH BETTER !!!!

  • No Boycott's

    Don't boycott the units. Buy one - but immediately remove that crap that Redmond calls an OS and install Linux on it.

    It will run much better and perform as initially designed. MS only wants this part of the market because they have seen their customer base slowly dwindle as consumers become much more savvy regarding PC's and OS's.

    100 Years ago people were mostly buying Ford's because it was the easiest to buy after Ford developed a good assembly line for his cars. Once other car makers followed and people started learning that there actually was no difference between a Ford or a Chevy or a Chrysler and that design and the way that they looked were the only differences, they all started receiving similar market share.

    We are now seeing the same thing with OS's. Microsoft wasn't able to crush everyone so now we have more people with more computers and more knowledge. And they are learning, hey these are basically the same they just look different. They all have good points and Microsoft has the most bad points and they can't stand it.

    Microsoft did nothing until someone came out and said that Linux is the number one selling OS for Netbooks.

    They can't stand it that they are losing Market Share and that people are actually starting to think for themselves.

    The same thing happened to GM. They thought they could build a car and everyone would come. Where are they now. MS's day will come if they choose not to compete but try to control the market. A free market economy always works out this way.
  • you misread what he said

    anonymous #1, those are not the min specs, they are the maximum specs. Microsoft is trying to keep netbooks slow and weak, so they can push more people to buy the more expensive win7 licenses.
  • WTF are you talking about "bullying"?

    Who is microsoft bullying?
    Microsoft released the minimum specs that the OS will need in order to run with decent performance.
    You want OEM's to _not_ follow the minimum spec and have another fiasco like when
    vendors were selling 'Vista Certified' hardware than was too slow to run Vista ?!!
    If you slap that windows logo on the box, it damn well better run windows, and run it well.
    Honestly, there's just no pleasing some people.

    I don't understand the "stunting hardware to meet microsoft specs" argument either.
    Linux generally uses less resources than windows. If anything you can by a smaller netbook
    and still run linux comfortably. Unless I misread what you meant.
  • Stunting netbook growth?

    Yeah, this is just dreadful. Here's the problem: netbook makers may stunt their specs to match Microsoft's demands. That means even if there is a Linux alternative, the hardware itself is already crippled to keep within arbitrary requirements from Redmond. I think Linux has another opportunity to win the netbook market, even if round 1 ultimately went to Windows for many users.
  • Is not the customer always right?

    Microsoft is not the one ultimately paying for the unit. Why should they have a say in what the unit can and can not do. Is Microsoft afraid the customer might actually use it? Who are they to way what a customer wants. I hope everyone boycotts the units. Time Microsoft stopped being a bully. The FTC should take MS to task over this unfair business practice..
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