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Microsoft Says Windows 7 Wins on Netbooks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 28 comments

Even with the lauded release of Windows 7 beta, there is still a small question mark next to what will become the defacto operating system for netbooks.

The fact is that Windows XP is getting way past long in the tooth, and Windows 7 looks to be the one to finally replace it for the masses. That said, the performance requirements of Windows XP and its smaller footprint makes it well suited for the Intel Atom and while Linux is even more efficient, users still want that familiarity of Windows.

“Customers choose Windows because they want the best possible user experience. While many initial small-notebook PCs in the market were Linux-based, they didn’t live up to customers’ expectations. Customers expected a Linux-based PC to look and function like their Windows-based desktop PC and they were disappointed,” said Brad Brooks, corporate VP for Windows Consumer Product Marketing. “To share some numbers: since February 2008, Windows OS share has gone from 10 percent to over 80 percent on these machines, and our research shows that these are overwhelmingly new PCs and/or PC users.”

Brooks also took the chance to boast Windows' ubiquity, saying, "Windows provides a level of application and device compatibility you simply don’t get with Linux. Windows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office and popular applications like Apple’s iTunes and Microsoft’s Zune, PC games like “World of Warcraft,” and a host of others. It also works with the largest set of printers, digital cameras and other devices. Linux doesn’t come close to doing any of these things.

"That may be why return rates of Linux-based netbooks are so high. Partners MSI and Canonical have mentioned to press that return rates on their Linux-based small-notebook PCs are about four times those of Windows-based small-notebook PCs."

Microsoft isn’t going to be selling Windows XP licenses forever (and supporting it) and netbooks will eventually have to get with the times. Windows 7 will take over at some point -- and it’s in the interest of Microsoft and all computer users in general to move to the more modern and secure system, however, the overall performance has to be there for netbook users to feel like going to Windows 7 is more of an upgrade rather than a step backwards in usability.

“With Windows 7, we’ve matched hardware improvements with some investments of our own. With Windows 7 we are on track to have a smaller OS footprint; an improved user interface that should allow for faster boot-up and shut-down times; improved power management for enhanced battery life; enhanced media capabilities; and increased reliability, stability and security,” explained Brooks.

“These engineering investments allow small notebook PCs to run any version of Windows 7, and allow customers complete flexibility to purchase a system which meets their needs. For OEMs that build lower-cost small notebook PCs, Windows 7 Starter will now be available in developed markets,” he added. Windows 7 Starter is a light-weight version of the OS without the fancy interface, and is also limited to having three applications open at once (perhaps in an effort to prevent the system from getting bogged down).

Windows General Manager Mike Ybarra added that Windows 7 differs from Vista in that the different editions are engineered to run on a wider range of systems. “We have designed Windows 7 so different editions of Windows 7 can run on a very broad set of hardware, from small-notebook PCs (sometimes referred to as netbooks) to full gaming desktops. This way, customers can enable the scenarios they want across the broad hardware choices they have,” said Ybarra.

Users of the public beta are already reporting good performance from Windows 7 on netbooks, and Ybarra promises that Microsoft is still working on fine tuning things even further.

“At beta we've had a lot of people running our most premium, full-featured offering on small-notebook PCs (netbooks) with good experiences and good results. So we’re pleased to see that on this class of hardware Windows 7 is running well. And of course we will continue to tune Windows 7 for performance as we move through the engineering cycle,” assured Ybarra.

Downloads of the public beta closed today after being available to the public since early January.

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  • -6 Hide
    geoffs , February 10, 2009 8:37 PM
    Windows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office and popular applications like Apple's iTunes and Microsoft's Zune,....

    I think you missed the punctuation, should look like this:
    "Windows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office, and popular applications like Apple's iTunes, and Microsoft's Zune,...."

    Otherwise, it looks like he's saying iTunes and Zune are both popular, and no one can say that with a straight face.
  • 8 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 10, 2009 8:37 PM
    Does the three application limit include processes for antivirus, firewall, and DRM? What if I want to run something useful?
  • 1 Hide
    pug_s , February 10, 2009 8:40 PM
    We will see if win7 actually delivers its promise.
  • 0 Hide
    notherdude , February 10, 2009 9:16 PM
    geoffsWindows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office and popular applications like Apple's iTunes and Microsoft's Zune,....I think you missed the punctuation, should look like this:"Windows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office, and popular applications like Apple's iTunes, and Microsoft's Zune,...."Otherwise, it looks like he's saying iTunes and Zune are both popular, and no one can say that with a straight face.


    MS could say it with a straight face, but only MS, hehe
  • 7 Hide
    foxman , February 10, 2009 9:51 PM
    "Microsoft Windows works with Microsoft Office [...] and with Microsoft Zune." What a ridiculous statement. I mean, I HOPE they work together, those products are all coming from Microsoft.

    Anyway. I do agree with this: "Customers expected a Linux-based PC to look and function like their Windows-based desktop PC and they were disappointed". Linux isn't Windows, and if you expect it to be exactly the same, you sure will be disappointed.
  • 7 Hide
    Greatwalrus , February 10, 2009 10:22 PM
    foxmanAnyway. I do agree with this: "Customers expected a Linux-based PC to look and function like their Windows-based desktop PC and they were disappointed". Linux isn't Windows, and if you expect it to be exactly the same, you sure will be disappointed.

    Good god, I would not be using Linux if it was anything like Windows. :) 

    I heard that netbook is supposed to be a trademark by Scion, so we may have to use a different term in the future... like "webbook"
  • -1 Hide
    Tindytim , February 10, 2009 11:05 PM
    Why is Tom's using that fake 'Windows Se7en' logo. That was created by some graphic artists, that's not the logo for Windows 7.

    But I'm sure the 3 app limit will be based on the apps in the Taskbar (as in, only having 3 windows in the taskbar at a time). I'm sure there will be a registry hack to open that up.

    Although I doubt many netbooks will be able to run 7 well, except for those with ION.
  • 0 Hide
    radguy , February 10, 2009 11:20 PM
    I have been really impressed with the 7 beta on my msi wind. I think this starter idea with only 3 programs is pretty stupid. If they had 5 or prefered 7 would be much better but the overall idea is still stupid and step down not up. My wind runs just fine for everything I use the netbook for: IM, office, surfing, a few other little things. Windows runs well and overall I'm impressed enough to stick with it. Got about 5% increase in batt life too.
  • 4 Hide
    Flameout , February 10, 2009 11:46 PM
    The return rate of linux based netbooks/notebooks isn't surprising. Most of them are morons that expect a non macintosh computer to have windows. The thought of having something other than windows is too much for them to handle, even though linux has all the programs and utilities you need.
  • 0 Hide
    that_aznpride101 , February 10, 2009 11:54 PM
    Quote:
    Brooks also took the chance to boast Windows' ubiquity, saying, "Windows provides a level of application and device compatibility you simply don’t get with Linux. Windows works with everyday programs like Microsoft Office and popular applications like Apple’s iTunes and Microsoft’s Zune, PC games like “World of Warcraft,” and a host of others. It also works with the largest set of printers, digital cameras and other devices. Linux doesn’t come close to doing any of these things.

    "That may be why return rates of Linux-based netbooks are so high. Partners MSI and Canonical have mentioned to press that return rates on their Linux-based small-notebook PCs are about four times those of Windows-based small-notebook PCs."


    That's a shot at the waist.... As much as I hate Microsoft, what he's saying about Linux is somewhat true.
  • 3 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 11, 2009 12:45 AM
    that_aznpride101That's a shot at the waist.... As much as I hate Microsoft, what he's saying about Linux is somewhat true.
    "Somewhat" is correct. Closed-source driver availability is dependent on the manufacturers. If they feel like having their existing products support newer versions of Windows then they make drivers available. If they don't then you have to replace them which is effectively "planned obsolescence". If open-source drivers are available then as long as someone feels like maintaining them then the hardware can still be used. Microsoft had all kinds of complaints about manufacturers not having drivers ready when Vista was released in spite of it's ridiculous development time. I've encountered a lot of hardware, especially wireless NICs, softmodems, softprinters, and video cards, that aren't supported on Vista (and now Windows 7). Since Linux has both open and closed source drivers available it supports many more older devices and quite a few of the newest depending on the manufacturer. Office (X), iTunes, and World of Warcraft are available on Macs also. The Zune is insignificant compared to the iPod.
  • 3 Hide
    curnel_D , February 11, 2009 1:38 AM
    GreatWalrusGood god, I would not be using Linux if it was anything like Windows. I heard that netbook is supposed to be a trademark by Scion, so we may have to use a different term in the future... like "webbook"

    I'm on my way to the patent office now to coin that term, so dont even think about it.
  • 2 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , February 11, 2009 1:39 AM
    "The fact is that Windows XP is getting way past long in the tooth..."
    People keep saying this, but I've never seen a decent explanation for it. What is it that XP fails to do on netbooks? Aren't most of them Atom-based, and isn't that about as powerful as a Pentium 3? Do any of them use more than 3GB of RAM? How many applications for netbooks can benefit from being 64-bit?

    Is it just inadequate security, or something?
  • 0 Hide
    daveloft , February 11, 2009 2:36 AM
    foxman"Microsoft Windows works with Microsoft Office [...] and with Microsoft Zune." What a ridiculous statement. I mean, I HOPE they work together, those products are all coming from Microsoft.

    So by that logic I guess I should be able to use my copy of Office on my Xbox, right?
  • -4 Hide
    geoffs , February 11, 2009 5:37 AM
    F*** all of you MS bootlicks!!!! You rated me down to a -5 for the pointing out that MS actually suggested that iTunes and Zune are popular, when the stats show that the Zune is virtually dead. Others made essentially the same point, but were less obvious about it and they're at +2?

    Y'all need to lighten up a whole lot and get related to reality. Zune is a failure, iPod and iTunes are kicking butt. By the same measures, Windows is still kicking butt on Mac OS X and Linux, despite the recent gains of those systems. Just because someone points out that MS is not dominant in every market, or that Apple is winning/dominant in one market, doesn't mean you have to rate that post down.

    Buy a clue or get a life. I don't care which, but do something!
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , February 11, 2009 6:41 AM
    It has nothing to do with what you said, we just hate you, and love to see you pissed.
  • -2 Hide
    daskrabbe , February 11, 2009 7:15 AM
    Microsoft...
    You might not want to steal your logo from a movie about a serial killer.
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , February 11, 2009 7:18 AM
    daskrabbeMicrosoft... You might not want to steal your logo from a movie about a serial killer.

    You do know that's not the Windows 7 logo, right?

    Wasn't made by Microsoft, and Microsoft hasn't used it in any of it's publications or products.
  • 0 Hide
    daskrabbe , February 11, 2009 7:46 AM
    heh
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 11, 2009 10:29 AM
    Can Windows 7 run under 256 Mb RAM?

    I just made this experience: created a virtual machine with just 256 Mb RAM and installed XUbuntu -- a lightweight desktop system.

    When I turned on the machine, the operating system would use just 130 Mb of memory. Here's a screenshot:

    http://i40.tinypic.com/vfj9k3.png

    Then I turned on Firefox, and memory was still below 180Mb.

    That's why Linux will dominate the low-end ($200) netbook market: not only because it is free, reducing the software cost by $30-$60, but also because it requires less hardware, reducing the overall cost by other $30-$60.

    If you consider software AND hardware, Linux is what will make it possible to sell netbooks for $200, while Windows netbooks will start at $300. (Windows at $200 will be a non-starter.)

    If you want to repeat this experiment, try XUbuntu:

    http://www.xubuntu.org/
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