Some Confusion on Windows 7 and Netbooks

So, in my feeds this morning there is a headline from Technologizer that says Microsoft to Squeeze Windows 7 onto Netbooks, picking up on some recent Steve Ballmer chatter and with a link to an eWeek article that has this bullet at the top of the article.

Microsoft plans to offer a low-end version of its upcoming Windows 7 operating systems that works with "netbooks." Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the announcement while talking about the economy in New York City.

But then as you read the article on eWeek you see the following:

Ballmer said about 90 percent of netbooks — small notebook computers generally priced at $200 to $400 — have been shipped with Windows XP. While most netbooks currently run on a stripped-down version of Windows XP, Windows 7 was designed to work fully on the inexpensive laptops, he said.

Buyers of netbooks with the low-end version of Windows 7 will have the option of upgrading to the more powerful versions, Ballmer said.

I don’t want to accuse anyone of sloppy reporting but the way I read the comments from Ballmer in context with Microsoft’s decision to offer a low-end SKU of Windows 7 I don’t believe we’re looking at a different Netbook version. Instead I think we’re looking at Microsoft’s murky marketing and up sell strategies by using the low end ““Starter Edition” on Netbooks. Note that we’ve seen reports of this before that also include the info that Netbooks will be able to run any version of Windows 7. Keep in mind, reports so far suggest that the Starter Edition will only be able to run three applications at a time. So the real story in my opinion isn’ t that there is a Netbook edition of Windows 7, but that Microsoft’s is using the Starter Edition as a way to separate Netbooks from Notebooks, while at the same time offering a lucrative upgrade path in a growing market.