Windows 7 Starter Edition limits netbook designs

Woody leonhard By Woody Leonhard

Last week, Microsoft dropped its plan to enforce a three-concurrent-app limit on Windows 7 Starter Edition — the version of the new OS that will be preinstalled only on small PCs, such as netbooks.

Microsoft is still expected, however, to restrict netbook hardware configurations that are eligible for Starter Edition pricing, which means your choices for cheap netbooks may be hobbled — at least in the near term.

When Microsoft first unveiled the various versions of Windows 7 in February, the Windows Team blog explained the editions as follows:

  • Windows 7 Starter: Something that our OEM partners asked for is to have an offering for folks that will do very limited things with their PCs and for PCs with limited hardware capabilities. Windows 7 Starter allows only up to three applications to run at once. This is something that will be offered only through OEM partners.”
Windows 7 Release Candidate spelunkers soon discovered that Starter Edition differs from Home Premium in a number of key ways: there’s no Aero Glass, no Media Center, no DVD burning or playback, no Snipping Tool or Sticky Notes, and no Fast User Switching, among other restrictions.

Heaven knows why, but Starter Edition users can’t even change the desktop background (wallpaper).

UPDATE 2009-11-19: In the Nov. 19 Top Story, Woody Leonhard explains how to change the desktop wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter Edition for netbooks.

In addition — as promised on the Windows Team blog — the Release Candidate Starter Edition was going to limit you to a maximum of three applications running simultaneously.

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Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.