We have a bit of unfortunate news – Microsoft has officially put down the popular belief that it would be making a netbook version of Windows 7. The machines will still run the OS, of course but the official lineup of new SKUs didn’t include any mention of netbooks.
The list includes Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Home Basic is only going to be offered to emerging markets.
Mike Ybarra, Windows General Manager, announced that Microsoft expects netbook manufacturers to run Ultimate, the most powerful of the new OS group.
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.
Apparently, Ultimate works fine on netbooks, as he went on to describe:
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.
From the consumer end, however, this really just looks like another way to increase profit margins and drag consumers away from the cheaper Windows XP which has thus far been standard in netbooks. Josh Bancroft may be right – all the clues are saying Windows 7 is going to be expensive, and the expectation that netbooks use the most powerful version of the OS only supports this suspicion.
Either Microsoft is going to pull something surprising and offer a reasonable price for Windows 7, or sales are going to Linux. Linux is losing its image as a tech elites-only OS which is too complicated for average consumers. Just take a look at the new, simplified HP Ubuntu OS. Even Moblin 2.0 is going to offer the awesome touch-sensitive Moblin Clutter interface – nothing screams accessability like touch sensitivity. If Microsoft’s raising of Windows netbook prices chafes consumers enough, Linux is going through the roof.