Predicting 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.