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Microsoft Working on Windows 7 for Netbooks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

Microsoft and Google are set for another rivalry, this time in the netbook market.

According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the Redmond, WA software giant is engineering a version of its upcoming Windows 7 operating system specifically for netbooks.

During an investment meeting, Ballmer noted that the netbook sector is one of healthy growth for Microsoft, and that Windows is on approximately 90 percent of netbooks today. "We made a strategy a year ago that said, we will have high market share on netbooks," said Ballmer. "We priced to have high market share on netbooks. We did the marketing work to have a high market share on netbooks... we're now I think over 90 percent attach rate against netbooks, which I'm very excited about."

So what of Windows 7 on the netbook? Microsoft has already said, and many have already proved, that the upcoming Microsoft OS can run on current netbook hardware without major issues. In fact, the Win7 beta takes to netbook hardware much better than it's older brother Vista. As far as a netbook-specific version of Windows 7 is concerned, Steve Ballmer believes there will be a Windows 7 tailored for netbooks. "We have a real opportunity given that Windows 7 fits on netbooks, to think about having a special netbook edition," said Ballmer.

However, Ballmer stressed that consumers should be able to upgrade to a higher version of Windows 7 if they so desire. "Maybe somebody will want home, or maybe somebody will want the business edition of Windows 7 on a netbook. I want to make sure we facilitate letting the OEM or end customer, trade up if they want to trade up."

Many have speculated that Windows 7 Starter or Basic would be the option of choice for netbooks. However, those versions are strictly for emerging markets, and the possibility that Windows 7 Basic may start at $200, is already startling. Furthermore, Microsoft needs a light and inexpensive version of Windows 7 that can compete with Google's Android OS if it makes its way onto netbooks (which it will), and the two lowest tiers of 7 will likely be underdeveloped when compared to Android. Over the next year and beyond, the netbook sector will become a battleground, Windows 7 versus Android, and Microsoft looks like it's gearing up for battle.

For a transcript of the entire investor meeting, follow the link.

Discuss
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  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2009 11:37 PM
    Linux is better than either. Besides, if you're opting for dirt cheap netbook hardware, why would you want to shell out any amount of money for an OS when Linux is more than capable, and free?
  • 4 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 25, 2009 11:55 PM
    I think they will be able to get Windows 7 working well on netbooks®. I wonder how many "features" they will have to strip out of it and what the additional cost will be (software license and hardware requirements).
  • -6 Hide
    Flameout , February 26, 2009 12:15 AM
    ugh this is not good news. your average person will by windows based netbooks because they're already familiar with windows, which will keep microsoft at a high marketshare, which will put future generations on the windows train, and the horrible cycle will just go on and on
  • -2 Hide
    jsloan , February 26, 2009 2:06 AM
    Headline: "Microsoft Kills Netbook"
  • 1 Hide
    Flameout , February 26, 2009 2:30 AM
    i hope android takes off now that google has so much advertising muscle. i wonder if it will compete with ubuntu.

    either way i hope linux will become more widely used
  • -1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , February 26, 2009 3:54 AM
    Windows 7 Netbook Remix?
  • 1 Hide
    jacobdrj , February 26, 2009 4:16 AM
    My brother already uses the Windows 7 beta on his Acer Aspire One. He LOVES it. Much better than Linux, and faster than XP. He is trying to get me to beta-test 7.
  • 4 Hide
    smalltime0 , February 26, 2009 4:38 AM
    Stop reporting the $200 Win 7 basic as speculation, its purely rumour.
  • 2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 26, 2009 5:59 AM
    DoItWithUbuntuLinux is better than either. Besides, if you're opting for dirt cheap netbook hardware, why would you want to shell out any amount of money for an OS when Linux is more than capable, and free?

    Because truely only 'nerds' can utilize linux properly to make it a rival for windows. Normal, ignorant, users don't have the knowledge, and rely on windows because that's what everybody else knows, and can help them with.
  • -2 Hide
    resonance451 , February 26, 2009 7:41 AM
    In many ways Windows is better than Linux because it offers a familiar interface with lots of support for what consumers use most. Welcome to the spoils of a monopoly. I don't see the average user installing all the auxiliary stuff needed to let Linux support even half of what Windows does.

    And Linux will never catch up. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. It's open source: free. Companies are built to do one thing: make money. The money will stay with Microsoft and that's what will be developed for and supported. It's a circular loop. If Microsoft and Windows are finally toppled, it won't be by Linux. And it won't be any time soon, and not without dramatic changes in the marketplace.
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 26, 2009 8:33 AM
    resonance451In many ways Windows is better than Linux because it offers a familiar interface with lots of support for what consumers use most. Welcome to the spoils of a monopoly. I don't see the average user installing all the auxiliary stuff needed to let Linux support even half of what Windows does.And Linux will never catch up. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. It's open source: free. Companies are built to do one thing: make money. The money will stay with Microsoft and that's what will be developed for and supported. It's a circular loop. If Microsoft and Windows are finally toppled, it won't be by Linux. And it won't be any time soon, and not without dramatic changes in the marketplace.

    imo the only way windows can truely be replaced is if something along the lines of flash and silverlight one day start working as intended. Once any given piece of software only needs to conform to a single standard (a given runtime version of a framework), and the standard is installable on any given platform (read : opensource), then, and only then can windows be replaced.
    In english - once you can run your Quake 6 via a sandbox in a future java at the same speed on CentOS7, OSXII, Windows 9, and still run inventor 2014 as well, printing to any printer using a modern evquivalent of the ancient postscript language. Only then can you replace windows. And it still requires that it can be done without modifying the standard setup of that java install (or silverlight, flash etc).
    In short - it won't happen as long as applications/binaries are platform bound.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 9:09 AM
    @ neiroatopelcc : I take it you have no actual experience with Linux, and are only repeating what you've heard. Why don't you bring yourself up to speed and download the latest version of Ubuntu? I'd rate it as more user friendly than Windows, now whenever non-techie friends ask me to build them a computer, I install Ubuntu instead of Windows or Vista, mainly because it's just so gosh-darn user friendly.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 9:36 AM
    @resonance451: In Ubuntu(and others), there is a button that says "Applications" in the upperleft corner of the desktop, and if you click on it, at the bottom of the menu it says "add/remove applications", which brings up a massive list of tonnes and tonnes of free, open-source applications you can install, then you just browse through categories or search for keywords, click "install", enter your password, and it installs it automatically. Now please explain to me how it's easier to install Windows applications.
  • -3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 26, 2009 10:45 AM
    URaLinuxNoob@ neiroatopelcc : I take it you have no actual experience with Linux, and are only repeating what you've heard. Why don't you bring yourself up to speed and download the latest version of Ubuntu? I'd rate it as more user friendly than Windows, now whenever non-techie friends ask me to build them a computer, I install Ubuntu instead of Windows or Vista, mainly because it's just so gosh-darn user friendly.

    I was using a Centos 5.2 yesterday in fact. But I gave up trying to make the dhcp server work as I wanted around noon, after trying various things suggested on pages found via google, and using the examples in the man pages to no avail.
    Also I did implement installing two (different) linux distro's via the wds systems that I am maintaining. So I do in fact have experience with linux. I don't consider myself an expert on it though. I choose to ignore everything between redhat 5.2 (when changing from some alpha's with unix) and present as linux can't do anything a windows server can't do easier.
    And I'm afraid if I don't manage to make that damn centos system do as I want next time I'm in that city (next week some time), I'll end up paying another windows 2008 server license and build a proper isa server instead of that stupid centos system. I'm sure linux is fine once you know every little detail. But I just want the stuff to work, and that's where microsoft scores points.
  • -3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 26, 2009 10:47 AM
    ps. linux isn't user friendly if you're a toms hardware user! I find the occurrance where you can't post comments in the talkback sections happening a lot more often on gnome with firefox than on vista with ie... it does happen on both, and the problem is bestofmedia, but it just doesn't happen as often in windows for some reason.
    And for me user friendly includes stuff working the first time, and your clipboard not being wiped just because you have to kill a process and start it again....
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 12:42 PM
    Let's take a moment to consider the target market of the netbook; business travelers and students that nned a device that can give them a full web browsing experience and allow them to check their email and work on a document or spreadsheet while away from their home/office. With task specific "squishy" versions of linux that are being put on netbooks, any user can accomplish these tasks, without having to worry about paying for Windows, then for office and for whatever other application they think that they need on Windows. Oh yeah, *nix boots faster too, which is another thing the netbook target market needs. And so ends my rant...
  • -2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 26, 2009 2:10 PM
    Blu1Let's take a moment to consider the target market of the netbook; business travelers and students that nned a device that can give them a full web browsing experience and allow them to check their email and work on a document or spreadsheet while away from their home/office. With task specific "squishy" versions of linux that are being put on netbooks, any user can accomplish these tasks, without having to worry about paying for Windows, then for office and for whatever other application they think that they need on Windows. Oh yeah, *nix boots faster too, which is another thing the netbook target market needs. And so ends my rant...

    I work IT in a company with roughly 500 employees and approximetly 11.000 students (not all there at once ofc). I only know one person there that uses his netbook for anything work or education related. More or less everyone I know who has one uses it as a better mp3 player for his livingroom or as a tool to hold naval maps etc for their boat trips (most of our employees are 'old' and have assets like boats).
  • 0 Hide
    captaincharisma , February 26, 2009 2:51 PM
    doesn't matter how user friendly they make linux wait till they try to go install a program on it from the internet and see how much trouble they have with it. if you install linux on your folks PC you might as well just wait by the phone everyday because they will be calling everyday.like was said Linux will NEVER replace windows as a dominant OS they have been saying this for more than 10 years and it never happened yet
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 8:48 PM
    I agree with Blu1, we're not talking about servers, OS world domination or even work-horse laptops, we're talking about massively underpowered netbooks for light-duty general purpose useage, Netbooks should be low-cost, it doesn't make sense to pay for an OS and Office suite when there is a free one that's just as good and completely compatible with all of the same formats. Besides, it doesn't matter if YOU have had difficulty with a particular Linux distro on a particular machine in the past(it does happen, I know this), an OEM is going to choose an appropriate distro/hardware right on the bat, and then test it for compatibility before releasing a product.