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Bloomberg: Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Strategy for Netbooks in Question

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windows7Predicting how things will work out with Microsoft’s Windows 7 upgrade strategy is as fraught with peril as trying to predict where the economy is going these days. That said, Bloomberg has   a post questioning the Microsoft strategy for Netbooks that will offer a limited and stripped down Windows 7 Starter Edition, hoping customers will then move up the chain and upgrade to a different SKU.

Microsoft got completely caught off guard (as did just about everyone else except Asus) by the Netbook phenomenon. It is almost guaranteed that we’ll hear customers squawk about the Starter Edition (it supposedly will only run three apps at at time) and the upgrade path. As long as Microsoft insists on the multiple SKU approach going down that road is probably the only way Microsoft can protect that strategy. Of course many, myself included, think that multiple SKU approach could be jettisioned without damaging the revenue stream, but we don’t count the bean in Redmond.

In the eventual marketing of all of this, the real question will be how the consumer perceives what he/she is going to receive with a low cost Netbook purchase. Microsoft is banking on folks like my wife who rarely open anything beyond a browser and Microsoft Word not really caring about the limitations of the Starter Edition to outweigh the digital reams of bad mouthing it will receive from bloggers and such about the strategy.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

7 Comments

  1. Kahm

    03/04/2009 at 10:36 am

    When we asked for a slimmer version of windows for netbooks, we were expecting a stripped down and faster running one. Not a deliberately crippled one.

  2. Sumocat

    03/04/2009 at 10:36 am

    So is the problem that people won’t like the limitation, or Microsoft won’t generate enough revenue, or people won’t upgrade, or what? I understand questioning the strategy, but is there a problem with it?

    The OEMs wanted a low-cost version of Windows. Microsoft is supplying one. Low-cost PCs aren’t really intended to run a bunch of apps simultaneously, but thanks to the cloud, one can run multiple apps from one browser. I haven’t checked, but I don’t think gadgets count against that 3-app limit. Obviously not everyone will be content with that, but it seems like a solid compromise to me.

  3. Mark (K0LO)

    03/04/2009 at 10:55 am

    I’d have to agree that this is a reasonable strategy, and I don’t think there will be a massive outcry. You would be surprised at how many people I run into who run one app at a time, and always in full-screen mode.

  4. Andre Da Costa

    03/05/2009 at 8:36 am

    Considering most activities take place in the browser these days, the 3 app limitation can be sooth by replacements in the browser: Web Mail, Social Networking sites and the soon to be Office Web Apps that will run in the browser only. The only other apps that will be open on the Taskbar is probably IM and Media Player.

  5. Ben

    03/05/2009 at 4:36 pm

    yea, but if you have browser + chat client (which is almost always running) + mail/calendar… well, right there you are at the 3 program limit. Now, what do you do if you want to view a quick Word doc, or look at some photos?

    Maybe net-savvy folks can run half their apps from the browser, but the average Joe and Jane might not be so bright.

  6. Aaron Axvig

    03/05/2009 at 10:40 pm

    Do we have any proof that the Starter Edition will actually be going on netbooks? Last I heard, it was completely up to OEMs to decide what version of the OS they put on, and that Microsoft wouldn’t be marketing Starter Edition to anyone but third-world countries.

    THERE IS A 3-APP LIMITED VERSION OF XP AND IT IS NOT ON A SINGLE NETBOOK!

  7. Aaron Axvig

    03/05/2009 at 10:40 pm

    BTW, congratulations on finally giving up the lame “or whatever we will call them” after every time you said netbook.

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