There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Windows 7 Starter edition for a while now. Much of the concern focusing on the operating systems ability to only run three concurrent applications. Because of what seems to be an strong outcry against the limitation regardless there has been clear evidence of how it actually works (the app limit does not affect background processes such as anti-virus applications, wireless and Bluetooth, and system tools like Explorer and Control Panel), Microsoft announced that they have removed the limitation:
There of course will also be Windows 7 Starter edition, but based on the feedback we’ve received from partners and customers asking us to enable a richer small notebook PC experience with Windows 7 Starter, we’ve decided to make some changes compared to previous Starter editions.
For the first time, we will be making Windows 7 Starter available worldwide on small notebook PCs. We are also going to enable Windows 7 Starter customers the ability to run as many applications simultaneously as they would like, instead of being constricted to the 3 application limit that the previous Starter editions included.
We believe these changes will make Windows 7 Starter an even more attractive option for customers who want a small notebook PC for very basic tasks, like browsing the web, checking email and personal productivity.
Read the entire article here
Considering that Netbooks or small notebooks, which Windows 7 Starter specifically targets are becoming more powerful, the decision is the right choice I believe. Then again the limitation concerns came across as a bit overblown, especially after reading experiences with the OS by journalist such as Ed Bott who thoroughly tested the capabilities and presumed limitations. I am still concerned though by some of the other limitations the OS includes mentioned in the article:
"Personalization features for changing desktop backgrounds, window colors, or sound schemes"
I think that’s a rather weird decision that really shows a lack in understanding of what devices are to people these days. I can customize the wallpaper on a US $33 cellular phone, but I can’t on a US $300 Netbook? That’s a decision the Windows Team needs to seriously reconsider. I personally am a aesthetics nut and I find the Aero Basic theme in Vista and Windows 7 distasteful, I was hoping Microsoft would improve this theme, in fact it has even taken a step back in Windows 7 based on my experiences using it for more than a couple of months.
Microsoft first introduced the Starter Edition of Windows with the release of the Windows XP operating system back in 2004, restricting it specifically to certain developing and emerging markets such as Russia, Africa and parts of Asia. The product sku under Windows XP and Vista were preloaded on new systems. Windows Starter edition includes restrictions such as being 32 bit only, support only for Intel Celeron, Atom and AMD Sempron processors. Windows 7 is expected to continue that trend with support for mainstream markets such as the USA, especially for the currently popular Netbook and small notebook form factors. Microsoft does note that all Windows 7 SKU’s will support Netbooks. Microsoft at the Professional Developers Conference 2008 displayed a Netbook running the Windows 7 Ultimate SKU with Aero Glass graphics.