Windows 7 Starter Edition Three App Limit Axed?

We really like the things that Microsoft has done to make Windows 7 efficient enough to allow it to run acceptably on most netbooks – something that we couldn’t say for Windows Vista.

As a lightweight solution for netbooks, Microsoft has been selling Windows XP licenses to go along with the hardware. That won’t be happening as often after the release of Windows 7, as everyone will be pushing the newer OS.

In an effort to keep costs low and to manufacture different product tiers, Microsoft has said that it will make Windows 7 Starter Edition the cheap solution for low-cost PCs, including netbooks. Windows 7 Starter Edition will be held back with a three-app limit, which as the name suggests, allows at most only three applications to be open at once. (Click here to read more on the limitation.)

According to a blog report from long-time Windows tech journalist Paul Thurrott, Microsoft will remove the three-application limitation from Windows 7 Starter Edition.

Thurrott’s blog posts reads:

Exclusive: Microsoft to remove 3 app limit from Windows 7 StarterNo word yet on whether the other lame limitation--the bizarre inability to change the desktop wallpaper--will be fixed as well. To be honest, this is a bigger issue than the 3 app limit, which sounds horrible but doesn't actually come up all that often if at all.

We haven’t heard this information from any other sources; but if true, Microsoft has some thinking to do on how to differentiate (i.e., cripple) a cheap version of Windows to still attract users to pay up for an upgrade.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • eddieroolz
    as everyone will be and pushing the newer OS.


    Either way, this won't affect me. I don't buy netbooks, and I'll most likely get Home Premium of Windows 7 anyway :)
  • fausto
    i don't like having a bunch of sku's....i think it's bs.
    people will use the features they need...there are a lot features i don't want but would have to pay for in order to get what i truly want. bs if you ask me.

  • hellwig
    If they want to cripple Windows Starter Edition, limit the maximum screen resolution. That will not only reduce the appeal, but hopefully stop OEMs from making "netbooks" with 13"+ screens.

    Also limit the number of useable cores. A nice new quad-core won't do anygood if the OS only uses two of them.

    I mean, the whole goal is to stop people from using start edition with a bigger, more powerful machine, right? Why not limit the OS to small and crappy, virtually?
  • apmyhr
    Wow, this is suprising. I actually thought the 3 app limit was a good compromise to keep starter from canibilizing the sales of their main editions. Maybe hellwig has a good idea. Limit the hardware performance virtually. I might go as far as to say they should cap CPU speed at ~2GH, RAM at 1GB, and set a total of 320GB recognized hard disk space. However, outright banning the better hardware, as mentioned in a previous article, would be a bad idea and might violate anti-trust laws.
  • computabug
    No, screen size will be enough. And make upgrade a mandatory reformat, with configuration settings being written to another media and imported. Seriously, we don't want another process (scanning system hardware without user's explicit authorization) to slow down an already weak netbook. I thought software on netbooks were supposed to be light? If they do this, I'm going Ubuntu and screwing over any company that writes Windows software but not Linux stuff.
  • computabug
    I meant the limit on screen size would be limiting enough to make people upgrade ^.^
  • lejay
    It would have been the perfect virus protection. Simply always run 3 programs you know.
  • mrfisthand
    I imagine this is thanks to ignorant people complaining, this will probably increase the price as well
  • doomtomb
    This is stupid, put random limitations to piss people off into buying the upgraded version?
  • starryman
    Just a random BS software policy from M$ to differentiate the versions for more cash. I wouldn't run more than 3 apps simultaneously on a netbook but then again it should be left to the user if they want to clunk along with more than 3 apps.