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Microsoft Doubles Storage Capacity For Netbooks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 10 comments

Netbooks manufactured with Windows XP have had its 80 GB HDD restriction dropped by Microsoft in favor of a 160 GB limit.

Microsoft is becoming a bit more lenient with the limits it has imposed on netbooks manufactures who wish to use Windows XP as the OS. As of Wednesday, Microsoft officially doubled the maximum allowable hard disk drive size to 160 GB, up from 80GB. MSI and Asustek already have taken action to update their Windows XP netbook offerings to feature 160 GB HDDs, which should affect the MSI Wind U100 and Asus Eee PC 1000H netbooks.

Due to the demand for Microsoft Windows XP in netbooks, Microsoft has a large amount of control over the allowed specifications of netbooks. With Microsoft wishing to push its Windows Vista operating system, it has been attempting to cut life support to Windows XP. Since netbook computers are arguably too underpowered for Windows Vista, it seems netbook manufactures have pressured Microsoft into continuing to provide Windows XP as a low-cost speedy alternative. As a compromise it seems, Microsoft has set guidelines for what are acceptable system specifications for Windows XP, limits that netbook manufactures follow faithfully. Although Linux is a viable alternative to Windows XP and it is used in some netbooks without system specification restrictions, many consumers still prefer a Windows operating system.

Some of the restrictions Microsoft have supposedly placed on netbooks include a 1 GB of RAM limit, a specific list of allowable slow CPUs, limited screen sizes, and limits on solid state drive capacities. Increasing the hard disk drive limit from 80 GB to 160 GB should have little effect on the system prices, yet it should add extra appeal to those looking to buy a netbook and increase sales of netbooks featuring HDDs, compared to those featuring SSD storage options.

Although the limits imposed by Microsoft are still tight, they meet the basic requirements needed for what a netbook has been designed for: basic, inexpensive, portable functionality.

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  • 1 Hide
    Hitokage , September 5, 2008 12:13 AM
    Why the hell should Microsoft decide what the hardware is in the systems just to license XP onto them? That's complete bull. Another reason just to pirate the damn OS and install it yourself.

    Shooting yourself in the foot, Microsoft...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 5, 2008 12:38 AM
    Same with Apple. You're not allowed to build a computer and put OSX on it without the 'stolen' Apple logo. Even a simple upgrade has to be done by Apple instead of the user due to their 'overly-protected-and-perfect' system... Of which we know Apple gets away with a lot
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , September 5, 2008 3:55 AM
    Netbooks wouldn't be so sluggish with Vista if Intel would ramp up it's Atom CPU's and design a low-power chipset specifically for the Atom, in favor of the 945.

    A dual-core hyperthreading Atom along with 2GB ram would be plenty to run Vista on a small netbook like the HP mininote.
  • 2 Hide
    mitch074 , September 5, 2008 8:10 AM
    Vista is a dog as soon as you go under 1 Gb of RAM, less than dual core CPU, and use integrated graphics - for a machine that is supposed to be used for mere web browsing and some documents editing here and there, 2 Gb of RAM, a dual core CPU and a dedicated video chip (with dedicated RAM) are, simply put, overkill.

    Current netbooks literally have the power of mid-range laptops of 5 years ago (in a much smaller package) - and that's more than enough for what they're supposed to do.

    @Luscious: can you hear yourself talking?! 2GB of RAM for Web browsing! Current browsers need at most half a gig with a dozen tabs open! Would that mean that Vista needs the rest to merely boot?! And Atom isn't built to be powerful - it's built to be cheap. Dual core Atom would be more power consuming (I agree with you about the chipset though) for very little improvement: netbook screens don't really allow the kind of multitasking a dual core CPU is made for - and the Windows desktop doesn't allow what Xorg's virtual desktops allow.

    Finally, this kind of gadget is interesting only when it's cheap; thus, only one version of Vista qualifies: Home basic - which is slower and has less features than XP Home, and at the same time is a bit more expensive.

    That's where Linux is interesting, and allowed the EeePC to be successful: cost is zero; it's a server-worthy OS, thus it's stable; it's modular, thus it's fast; code is optimized, thus eye candy is there if you want it even on puny hardware; and main use being browsing, it provides Firefox, Flash and Java - more than enough.

    In fact, the only reason Microsoft grudgingly allowed XP to be sold again, is because they have no OS ready to go on such machines (they would qualify as 'Vista Ready, but you know, the class action suit...) while Linux runs on pretty much anything with a CPU and RAM - and it SCALES.

    The net result:
    - slightly more expensive or hardware-crippled XP home-equipped netbooks, that look old, can't connect to an enterprise network, and come with little to no software installed
    - fully powered, fully able Linux-equipped netbooks, that come with OpenOffice.org, Skype, a multiprotocol IM client, games, pedagogic softwares, encyclopedia, a media player... and a smooth 3D desktop if you feel like tinkering.

    In fact, if you look at the MSI Wind U100, the Linux version is cheaper and comes with more software installed.

    If you feel like removing a perfectly working system to replace it with a pirated, crippled OS, or directly pay more for said crippled OS, go ahead; but you should at least give the Linux version a whirl in typical use. I know what I'll use anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    captaincharisma , September 5, 2008 3:13 PM
    well i welcome you to see if you can make a 3GhZ atom CPU at 3 Ghz like you want. Microsoft wants to state hardware specs so people don`t be stuck with a windows computer that is slow and limited.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 5, 2008 3:52 PM
    Fuc IT!!!

    1GB of RAM???
    Shitholes!!!

    Now with Iexplorer 8 using 400MB ram, and windows using 300, you can barely run windows on 1 gig!

    Then what about the dual DDR systems? Where will they be able to still get 2x512MB DDR2 ram soon?
    2x1GB is good enough for XP. I actually wondered if I shouldn't put 2x2GB in my netbook...
  • 0 Hide
    mdillenbeck , September 5, 2008 5:39 PM
    It isn't the HDD size that is restricting sales, it is the lack of a touch screen - something Microsoft does not allow in a netbook. Although not everyone would want a touchscreen for the extra cost, I suspect this would be a highly popular option (considering the small screen size). Of course, I am thinking more of a stylus interface (like a tablet) rather than actually using a finger or fingernail - but then again, both may be useful.

    As already stated beofre, Microsoft cripples them so that netbooks can't be used as a loophole to avoid Vista. That should tell you how confident Microsoft is in Vista's capabilities.
  • 0 Hide
    tommysch , September 6, 2008 8:09 PM
    I do agree that they should all sell Linux installed options as a low cost replacement, so we could install illegal copies of XP pro over it. Dont get me wrong, i love linux but not as a job/university laptop due to the limitation in replacement for some rare software , and virtualisation isnt the best choice for that specific market.

    A well tuned P4 1gb ram w/ integrated gpu and a 5200rmp hdd Windows XP machine can run rock solid and arguably faster than my desktop (witch is a Q6600 @ 3.6 , a 9800gtx , 2 disks RAID1 running Vista x64, 4gb RAM) in most common applications, from playing music (exclude fatty itunes), websurfing, emailing to Office.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , September 7, 2008 5:32 PM
    LusciousNetbooks wouldn't be so sluggish with Vista if Intel would ramp up it's Atom CPU's and design a low-power chipset specifically for the Atom, in favor of the 945.A dual-core hyperthreading Atom along with 2GB ram would be plenty to run Vista on a small netbook like the HP mininote.

    I think we all agree that the chipset should go, but why even try to put Vista on a netbook? I haven't seen anybody (not even Rob Enderle, LAST OF THE INQUIRY-BASED ANALYSTS!) give any compelling reason to use Vista on a netbook. The hardware requirements alone would be prohibitive for that market, making more powerful CPUs would cause battery life to take a hit, and -where's the advantage?-

    What does Vista offer in a netbook that you can't functionally get from XP or a modern Linux distribution? Vista may have more eye candy than XP, but on a screen that small I'll take a basic interface if given the choice. Until you get into very expensive and high performance (even for a desktop) hardware territory, Vista doesn't offer any performance advantage. Linux + Compiz Fusion allows for eye candy even on modest hardware for those that want it. Check Youtube for people using it on the first generation Eee PCs.

    @captaincharisma: Is that the reason they're limiting screen size, touch screen functionality, and setting an UPPER LIMIT on harddrive and RAM capacity? It looks to me like Microsoft is setting upwards rather than lower limits, artificially restricting the performance a netbook can offer if the vendor wants to sell an XP version. It only makes sense if they're trying to make sure XP is only installed on "real" netbooks instead of full-fledged laptops, where Vista comes pre-installed by default, not to ensure that netbook hardware is up to snuff.
  • 0 Hide
    AndrewMD , September 25, 2008 8:54 PM
    I have a Samsung Q1 original (900Mhz) with Windows XP Tablet Edition and an Acer AspireOne Netbook, both of them perform very well. Considering the Q1 is a 2 year + old UMPC, it keeps up with Intel's "Atom" 1.6ghz CPU....

    The original UMPC suffered from high cost and low end equipment. But either way you look at it, the Netbook is today's UMPC. Touch screens are not an end all be all solution.

    As the market evolves, we will see more powerful based netbooks.. I wouldn't spend more than $350.00 for one though..