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Windows 7 to Usher in $200 Netbooks

Microsoft said early on that Windows 7 Starter Edition would be targeted at low-cost PCs and netbooks. How does $200 sound?

Dell Mini 9 has reached $199, albeit with Ubuntu

Microsoft held a meeting with OEMs to discuss Windows 7 (what else?) and the topic of netbooks naturally came up. While we know that there will be six different SKUs of the OS, we don’t yet know at which price point each will sit.

What we do know, however, is that Windows 7 Starter Edition will be the cheapest one, which will be no doubt the option for OEMs looking to build the cheapest netbook running a Windows. Microsoft thinks that netbooks at the entry level could hit a new low price point -- something netbooks have been slowly moving further away from with ballooning feature sets.

“We have a couple of the OEMs continuing down a path to be very aggressive on price. It puts the pressure on everyone. We're anticipating opening price points to reach about $200 at least in the US market this holiday season,” said Mark Croft, the director of OEM Worldwide Marketing, according to a TechRadar story.

Interestingly, Croft added that Nvidia Ion machines could come in at just $50 more, making a $250 GeForce-equipped netbook sound very attractive.

Microsoft cautions, however, that pricing and specifications will like vary greatly. “There isn't a standard, uniform view of the world. Each OEM has nuances on this depending on what they think their brand value is, each one has a slightly different take on what they're trying to do in terms of market share or margin,” Croft added. “Some of them are trying to make $10 on this device or $20, and some are just trying to sell a unit and break even.”

While Windows 7 Starter Edition could become the usual flavor for the el cheapo netbook, Microsoft is pushing for the Home Premium edition to be the standard.

“We are clearly going to market to customers that Home Premium is the default,” said Croft. “We've made our case to the OEMs; we've shared some analyst data with them about customer preferences.”

Microsoft has said before that it would like for users of lesser versions of Windows 7 to upgrade. Artificial limits on Windows 7 Starter Edition, such as limiting the user to have only three programs running at once would quickly make a case for an upgrade. Encouraging OEMs to start with Home Premium would not only fulfill Microsoft’s business desire, but also give the end user a better experience. Sadly, that might not happen with a $200 netbook.

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.
  • jhansonxi
    Starter edition is a stupid response to Linux popularity on the low end. They will almost have to pay OEMs to use it at a $200 price point. It will be interesting to see if ARM-based devices force them to make a Windows 7 version for it (or at least improve Windows CE enough to be usable).
    Reply
  • jsloan
    3 programs running at a time, is this really a limit on a netbook, do they have the memory/cpu to handle 3 programs at a time. do they even fit on the screen

    other than developers who really runs 3 programs at the same time. you basically run one or two
    Reply
  • tayb
    I'm running Firefox, AIM, 2 Microsoft Office Windows, 3 JCreator Windows, iTunes, PCSPIM, and Notepad right now. Not that I would ever waste my money on a crappy notebook some want to label a "netbook" but if I felt in the mood of tearing dollar bills to pieces I would at least get a version of Windows that allowed me to multi-task.
    Reply
  • coldmast
    ubuntu anyone
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    jsloan3 programs running at a time, is this really a limit on a netbook, do they have the memory/cpu to handle 3 programs at a time. do they even fit on the screenother than developers who really runs 3 programs at the same time. you basically run one or twoThree apps? Definitely. Start off with an IM and a VoIP client running in the background. That's two. Then add a music player. Then try to do something productive like use a web browser, PDF reader, or graphics editor.

    The question of handling larger and/or many applications depends on the architecture which isn't really defined yet. A 500MHz CPU, 256MB RAM, and 4GB of storage would handle common web browsing, IM, and media playing at the same time. I've done it with old hardware (AMD K6/2, Pentium III) that isn't as computationally efficient as modern devices.
    Reply
  • gnesterenko
    I do believe that I've read that background tasks don't count towards this 3 app limit. I could be wrong of course, but pretty sure I heard that somewhere. So all the little side-apps might not even count. We'll see.

    "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
    Reply
  • i agree with gnesterenko that background tasks do not count. just look at the number of processes windows xp have when idle with no program opened by the user
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  • FlayerSlayer
    jhansonxiStarter edition is a stupid response to Linux popularity on the low end. They will almost have to pay OEMs to use it at a $200 price point.
    I remember a quote from Bill Gates at University of Washington in the late 90's. "About 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade. "

    Then remember also that by the time XBox360 was launched, the XBox program on the whole had still been a loss for Microsoft with all the development, advertising, manufacturing, and repairs costing more than the revenue.

    If MS has to lose money to push Netbooks with Windows, they'll do it just to maintain market share and keep people from getting used to Linux.
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    gnesterenkoI do believe that I've read that background tasks don't count towards this 3 app limit. I could be wrong of course, but pretty sure I heard that somewhere. So all the little side-apps might not even count.I'd like to know how they determine when an application is just a "background task". If an IM is running in the system tray is it background or foreground? If I open it full-screen is it foreground? If I have a media player, web browser, and word processor open does an incoming IM message fail to pop-up unless I close something? Is there a window size limit for "background" apps like the 10.2in screen size limit for XP on netbooks?
    Reply
  • Economister
    $200 including MS's pound of flesh? Unlikely. With Linux, maybe
    Reply