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A Peek at Windows 7 Starter's 3 App Cap

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 54 comments

Although Windows 7 Starter Edition will likely be the least used version by readers of this site, its artificial limitations do have our attention.

Windows 7 Starter Edition will be the el cheapo option aimed at low-cost PCs and netbooks, perhaps paving the way for more of the latter products to hit $200. This makes sense, but what has many concerned and curious is the artificially three programs running at once.

Early tests of Windows 7 Starter Edition beta versions show that the three-program limitation is already in place. Microsoft clearly has some sort of criteria as to what counts towards that three, and we would hope that mostly background running applications such as anti-virus programs don’t hog a spot, but we won’t really know until the final version is in our hands.

Microsoft details in its help section, “With Windows 7 Starter, you can open up to three programs at the same time. For example, if you start WordPad, Paint, and Calculator, and then you try to open a web browser, you’ll see a message telling you that you already have three programs open.”

With such limitations in place, users will either want to pony up the cash for the upgrade to Home Premium, or rely heavily on web-based applications such as Google Docs or webmail. We can’t see anyone being happy in being forced to shut down a program just to do some math on the calculator.

For now though, check out these images courtesy of WinSuperSite of Windows 7 Starter Edition hitting the app cap.

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  • 3 Hide
    predaking , April 1, 2009 8:01 PM
    If netbooks don't have XP started edition or vista starter edition, why would they have windows 7 starter edition?

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/winxp/WinXPStarterFS.mspx

  • -4 Hide
    2GooDrumr , April 1, 2009 8:09 PM
    Ok, so I liked VIsta, but most people didn't...This is probably the worst sales concept I've ever heard. What is MS trying to pull? Nice, lets try to actually push people to OS X.
  • -6 Hide
    2GooDrumr , April 1, 2009 8:12 PM
    I personally liked Vista and happily use both x64 and x86 variants but this? Really?? Sure, for the netbook crowd it could work out fine, but anyone else; you know that manufacturers will try to load this up on unsuspecting buyers and just hate the whole experience, never looking at what Starter means. I want Win 7 when it's out, but Ultimate or Premium. This is going to push customers further away...
  • 8 Hide
    czar1020 , April 1, 2009 8:16 PM
    Doesn't matter , someone will come up with a way to bypass it sooner or later. just another pos they made to make their main product cost seem correct.
  • 1 Hide
    predaking , April 1, 2009 8:16 PM
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/compare-editions/starter.aspx
    Windows Vista Starter is not available in developed technology markets such as the United States, the European Union, Australia, or Japan. Windows Vista Starter ships on lower-cost computers sold by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Microsoft OEM distributors in 139 countries.

    In essence, Windows Vista Starter is ideal for beginner computer users, and is the most affordable edition of Windows Vista.
  • 4 Hide
    phatboe , April 1, 2009 8:19 PM
    @predaking MS will stop supporting XP once Win7 is released & the few netbooks with vista on them didn't sell well because of their high price and/or slow performace. Vista is way to resource intensive for the likes of a netbook. To tackle both these problems MS will make a Win7 starter ed. for netbooks since starter ed. is cheaper than the Home ed. and Win 7 is not as resource intensive as Vista.
  • 2 Hide
    fwaits , April 1, 2009 8:20 PM
    While I don't know that this sales design is the best, it IS a cheaper alternative for those that are very basic users. That's the difference between Win7 Starter and XP Home on netbooks. It costs less. Win7 Home will cost you a bit more if you want the full functionality. Then it's not really different from what you pay for today on XP Home.
  • -1 Hide
    p05esto , April 1, 2009 8:20 PM
    Vista Basic 64 rocks. Lean and mean, no bloatware or MS crap sofwtware I didn't want. I'm glad I saved money and have a faster system than people who got suckered into the premium versions.

    I hope Windows 7 has a similar version that is just the core OS without the software added in. I do need to open a lot of programs and such, so "starter" isn't going to cut it I guess. Hope MS reads this post so they make a version just for me ;) 
  • 6 Hide
    jerreece , April 1, 2009 8:22 PM
    Microsoft is so worthless. This is one more major company creating stupid, pointless, and idiotic limits on their product in order to force people to spend more money on another product which is not actually any better.

    The next upgrade from this just won't have the limit. Then perhaps it'll throw in some other stupid freebie. These artificial limitations companies put into products like this are simply greedy.

    If they really want to create a version of Windows 7 for folks who can't / won't spend as much as Microsoft wants, they should just charge less.

    I'll bet you if they charge far less anyhow, they'd likely see more sales, and a little less piracy.
  • 0 Hide
    predaking , April 1, 2009 8:24 PM
    @phatboe Phatboe Vista starter and XP starter are not available for developed markets.

    Why would windows 7 be?
  • 0 Hide
    thedipper , April 1, 2009 8:25 PM
    2GooDrumrOk, so I liked VIsta, but most people didn't...This is probably the worst sales concept I've ever heard. What is MS trying to pull? Nice, lets try to actually push people to OS X.

    LOL
    A netbook user isn't going to (and cant go to) Mac OSX.

    Sorry to ruin your day, but most people are PC users because most people cannot afford Apple hardware.
  • -7 Hide
    A Stoner , April 1, 2009 8:32 PM
    It's Microsoft's ship to sail. MSFT price is hanging on this release. The price will be based on people buying products. I am perfectly happy with Windows XP and can see myself remaining very happy with it for several more years, as I seriously doubt that the game manufactures are going to stop supporting it any time soon. While I may miss out on the spiffy DX10 and the DX11, I will not have to deal with Vista SP2 in the mean time. I am hoping that many people, all over the world, do the same as I plan to do, and skip yet one more generation of Microsoft products.

    My biggest hang up with Vista, and now 7 is the UAC use. If they were smart, they would make it a smart application. Instead of using a carte blanche approach to launching programs, it should be capable of making many of the choices it forces on the user, repeatedly. Thus you either shut it completely off, or suffer with it.

    My recomendation is to make a setting that works as a firewall with antivirus software as the first key, and as a last resort, user input. Basically, it would open the file in a virtualized area, allow antivirus software to check it, and if it is ok, do a checksum and mark it as always allowed, until the checksum is invalidated. Using it as a check ONCE verify/block, would take 98% of the irritation away,while taking not one bit of the security away. Only when a program is flagged as virus or possible virus, would UAC prompt the user whether it wanted to continue, and because it did this virtualized test of the program, it would be able to give accurate detailed information to the user, which they could then use to make a decision as to whether to allow or block the program from moving into the sommon working space.

    As a safety measure, safe mode would have options to reset individual program UAC flags or system wide UAC flags.
  • 1 Hide
    thedipper , April 1, 2009 8:42 PM
    A Stoner,
    You do realize that Microsoft really doesn't care that you're not buying Win7, right? A small amount of their income is OS sales, they really don't care. People like you, who don't know how to use the OS then come whining with feedback in the wrong places, is why we can't have anything nice. It's why Vista was given false, bad hype for years.

    I see you wrote a bunch of garbage about security, why don't you take that to Microsoft feedback instead of a comment section on a news and review site?
  • 0 Hide
    sot010174 , April 1, 2009 8:43 PM
    The starter edition is an elegant way to translate Windows TRIAL EDITION. I disagree with this 3 progs limitation, but I don't see any other alternative except charging less for the basic edition, but then, everyone would jump to the basic bandwagon... I personally use vista HP for about a year, and I never missed having Aero on. Aero doesn't add nothing really useful and just bogs the system down and raise power consumption...

    I think this will only drive users to format their brand new lappies and put a pirated copy of XP. Problem solved.
  • -2 Hide
    jsloan , April 1, 2009 8:44 PM
    another april fools posting? the question is will a netbooks even support a single running windows 7 application, let alone 3 at the same time. i have windows 7 installed and i've stripped it down as much as i can and i just cant see how they are going to get the windows 7 pig, which is really nothing but vista tweaked, running on a netbook with the little amount of memory they normally come with. they maybe talking about those new netbooks that are really low end notebooks and priced at $500+, but not the 200 onces.ok they'll get it running, but it will be very slow as it spends all it's time thrashing, can you imagine running office 2007, ouch, i have 3 gb machine with dual cores and gets slow as i consume 1.5 gb...
  • 6 Hide
    thedipper , April 1, 2009 8:47 PM
    jsloananother april fools posting? the question is will a netbooks even support a single running windows 7 application, let alone 3 at the same time. i have windows 7 installed and i've stripped it down as much as i can and i just cant see how they are going to get the windows 7 pig, which is really nothing but vista tweaked, running on a netbook with the little amount of memory they normally come with. they maybe talking about those new netbooks that are really low end notebooks and priced at $500+, but not the 200 onces.ok they'll get it running, but it will be very slow as it spends all it's time thrashing, can you imagine running office 2007, ouch, i have 3 gb machine with dual cores and gets slow as i consume 1.5 gb...

    You do know that Win7 is barely over the resource usage of Windows XP on a small-memory system, right?

    You do know that NT6/6.1 uses more memory when you have more, and unloads that extra usage when something else needs it, right?


    Oh right, you don't. You don't know what you're talking about and I suggest you learn. You're spreading bad hype and driving away customers from an OS because YOU don't understand them.

    P.S. New OS are small upgrades from the last, I suggest you look at the history of Windows.
  • 1 Hide
    thedipper , April 1, 2009 8:55 PM
    Nearly everyone here, including the article, has any idea what the point behind Windows 7 Starter is.

    Win7 Starter is for NETBOOKS and similar applications. If it ships on your new Dell, that's Dell's scamming, not Microsoft's.

    The 3 application limit is because Netbooks (by definition) probably won't have more than a browser open.
  • 2 Hide
    JimmiG , April 1, 2009 8:56 PM
    The limitation is a bit unnecessary and extreme. I regularly run more than 3 apps on my Aspire One netbook with WinXP - if all Win7 netbooks come with this limitation, XP will still be the de-facto Netbook OS (together with Linux).
  • 4 Hide
    hellwig , April 1, 2009 9:03 PM
    I wonder if I can run a program that spawns off other programs as child processes. Seems to me Microsoft would have to limit the number of visible programs open. But then what happens if your Antivirus pops up a warning, but you can't open it because the message window would count as an additional program putting you past your limit? What happens if one program you use often likes to spawn other processes in the background?

    I'm sure there will be work arounds, and those work arounds will be quickly exploited.
  • 6 Hide
    g-thor , April 1, 2009 9:06 PM
    I haven't used a netbook, so I have to ask the question. Are netbook users really going to be running an e-mail client, a web browser, a word processor and, say, a photo editing program all at the same time? on a 1 or 2 GB Atom processor? On a 9 inch screen? Do they demand the same capabilities they get on their $800 desktops from a $200 netbook? I'm not being sarcastic; I really wonder if users will demand so much from these devices.

    My opinion - I suspect that netbook users are generally checking e-mail, surfing the web and running one more program as a norm. Is it really that harsh a limitation?

    One last question. Are we all going to get sued for using the term "netbook"?
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