Microsoft Defends Windows 7 Starter Edition for Netbooks, Calls Linux Users Geeks
As much as we’re excited about the performance of Windows 7 Premium on netbooks and how smoothly it has run in our early tests, we’ve been equally perplexed by the Starter Edition of this OS and its myriad limitations. The reason for Starter’s existence, according to Microsoft, is to enable netbook makers to offer lower-cost machines. But when you add up all the drawbacks you have to wonder if Starter makes sense for anyone. To get some answers we spoke with Don Paterson, director of marketing, Windows client. Late last week Paul Thurrott reported that Microsoft would remove one of the most contentious limitations of Starter Edition: the inability to run more than three programs at once. As of Friday afternoon Microsoft said it had “nothing new to share.” Also on Friday, Windows journalist Ed Bott tweeted that "My sources say 'under discussion, not decided yet.'" The good news is that Paterson had a lot to share on the subject of netbooks, ranging from Starter Edition’s many other calculated trade-offs (no customizable wallpaper for you!) to why he doesn’t think Linux stands a chance (he says only geeks would want to tinker with it). Here are the highlights of our in-depth interview:
- In Starter Edition users won’t get multi-touch capability, enhanced previews along the taskbar, or the ability to initiate Home Groups. And even though 95 percent of people like to customize their desktop background, what you see is what you get with Starter.
- Microsoft doesn't buy that people are purchasing netbooks as primary machines. Based on their data, netbook buyers tend to be college grads, in their 40’s, with a family, making over 75 grand a year, suggesting that netbooks are complementary purchases.
- Despite the fact that Samsung and Lenovo call their 12-inch NC20 and S12 netbooks, Microsoft says anything above a 10-inch system is a notebook.
- Paterson called Dell’s griping about Windows 7 pricing being too high “negotiation in the press.”
- Intel’s Moblin and Android will each have an equally difficult time winning over consumers because it’s not what Windows users are accustomed to. “When you look at Linux, it’s like ‘Wait a minute, I have a whole learning curve, and how do I make my way through it?’”
- The 12 hours of battery life that ARM-powered netbooks promise is overkill, and it’s not worth the trade-offs in terms of application compatibility. “You certainly need more than 3 hours, but 12 may be a little much.”