Microsoft backs down? Starters 3 app limit removed?

The "rules" and restrictions on Windows 7 for a netbook are the subject of debate, since Microsoft are appearing to have made a U turn on the 3 app issue is anyone clear on what exactly 7 will offer on a netbook?
The "rules" and restrictions on Windows 7 for a netbook are the subject of debate, since Microsoft are appearing to have made a U turn on the 3 app issue is anyone clear on what exactly 7 will offer on a netbook?

We all remember the articles around Vista 7 Starter having a 3 apps limit, a move which presumably Microsoft wanted to encourage customers to upgrade to one of the other (more expensive) versions of 7. It comes as little surprise to me now that Microsoft appear to have backed down on that particular scheme and its now reported that the 3 app hobbling has been removed.

Before we look at this further, cast your mind back over the last few weeks at all the MS faithful that claimed 3 apps wasn’t a problem. They claimed it would’nt have an impact on your Windows experience and some claimed that many bloggers/reporters were making an issue out of nothing. So why has Microsoft backed down on its Starter policy then? and the other question I would like to ask, when we get news like the 3 app hobbling what are the motives behind some reporters trying to dismiss negative news on Microsoft. In my opinion Microsoft realized that the 3 app limit was a bad idea and removed it.

Microsoft are alleged to have said:

“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,”

Which leaves me a little confused since I was reading at the time by many that the 3 app limit wouldn’t make a difference and wasnt an issue.

Microsoft are reported to have said that there will be other restrictions placed on the Starter edition, and one of our most noted MS faithful seems to think one such restriction will be the inability to change the backdrop within 7. He has this to say on Twitter:

“I think the wallpaper limitation in Windows 7 Starter is lame. I can change the wallpaper on a $30 phone, why not on a $300 Netbook?”

and Id answer Mr Da Costa, because Microsoft would hope it will entice users to upgrade. Wallpaper and customization of your OS is something that is popular.

If netbooks are (Microsofts words) for simple tasks, why are they wanting to release 7 when XP seems to be keeping customers happy?
If netbooks are (Microsofts words) for basic tasks, why are they wanting to release 7 when XP seems to be keeping customers happy?

Which does make me think that there isnt enough here (in respect of 7 on a netbook) to entice users. Forgetting that many people already have one, already have a dedication to the XP platform, who is going to want to go out for the 7 on a Netbook, when by Microsoft’s own statement the netbook is for simple tasks?

In my opinion Windows Starter will allow that cheap 7 laptop into your home, once people realize what restrictions are on it they will upgrade making that Netbook not so cheap any more. The off the shelf price will still be in the Netbook range, however IMO the price could be much higher in the long run.

What I would like readers to consider as a result of this article is to always research and form your own opinion. There are people on the Net who could put a positive spin on the end of the world and whilst we saw many dismissing the issue of the 7 hobbling, it now transpires that even Microsoft think it a bad idea (IMO)

My advice for those who MUST have a Windows based Netbook, should go with XP. I believe this Vista 7 on Netbooks could be fraught with issues.

Talking of netbooks, anyone have Vista on one and would like to comment?

Goblin –


9 thoughts on “Microsoft backs down? Starters 3 app limit removed?

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  1. Microsoft hasn’t totally backed down with the restrictions. They still have hardware restrictions on what qualifies as a netbook in terms of getting the cheaper Windows 7 licensing:

    Seems to me that the only things that should set restrictions on computer hardware should be the technical limitations and economics of the hardware companies, not those of Microsoft.

    I’m a little concerned that otherwise perfectly viable machines, like the 12 inch netbooks, might begin dying of in the retail channels simply because they are now outside the arbitrary limits imposed by Microsoft. Either the companies might decide against paying the larger licensing fee and end the product line, or the extra expense of the larger license fee might be passed on to consumers, making the hardware more expensive than it should be an killing it off through lagging sales compared to competing products within the restrictions.

    My hope here is that either I’m wrong about this, or the ARM (and other alternative chip) netbook makers pay no attention to Microsoft’s limits since Vista 7 won’t run on them anyway.

    Microsoft pulls that price hiding trick elsewhere in their product line too. They like to make sure that people see the Xbox 360 as much cheaper than a PS3. But here’s the thing:

    1) A base model PS3 currently sells for about $400 USD, which includes an internal hard drive and an internal wifi adapter.

    2.) If you want a hard drive with a 360, which is probably necessary to make use of all of its features and services, then you wind up paying at least $300, either for a Pro model (includes hard drive) or for an Arcade model (no hard drive) plus MS proprietary after market hard drive.

    3.) You still don’t have wifi on the Xbox. Unless you can conveniently run cable to your Xbox (which not everyone is in a position to do), you will need to spend another $100 to buy an MS wifi adapter for the Xbox. (Though there are unofficial DIY methods that might be a little cheaper if you know what to do)

    4.) You still need to pay regular subscription fees if you want to make use of online multiplayer features, whereas online gaming is free on the PS3 network.

    Without arguing about the which hardware is better, which game library is better, or which network service is better, I have still established that the upfront cost of buying an Xbox 360 with full use of its capabilities has a good probability of being greater than or equal to than the cost of buying a PS3 with full use of its capabilities. And considering the regular Xbox Live Gold subscription payments, the TCO is likely higher as well. This isn’t to say that the Xbox is rubbish; I’m not even going to take the argument that way. It’s just to say that the cost is no cheaper than a PS3, but potentially higher.

    (Full disclosure: I have never owned either an Xbox 360 or a PS3)

  2. Great post Will. Thank you.

    Yes youre correct the limitations on the deployment of 7 is an issue in respect of the systems specs, however I think the biggest issue was the 3 apps one since it would restrict every user that bought it (IMO) With the current specs of what can have pre-installed 7 starter, thats more of a seller issue, since the buyer can always choose a different/better model should the specs not be up to requirement.

    The point you make about the Xbox is so true IMO and whilst we see many proprietary “deals” at low cost, when you add it up its usually more than expected. I presume its done this way to keep the illusion of being cheap and hoping the purchaser wont keep track of money spent.

    The Xbox Live (unless Im mistaken) also charges you if you want to develop/deploy your own work (even if you are not charging for it) As I say, I believe this is correct (please correct me if I’m wrong) and if I have indeed got it right, is this the way Microsoft thinks its encouraging innovation? by charging for people to develop on their system?

  3. Goblin says:
    “My advice for those who MUST have a Windows based Netbook, should go with XP. I believe this Vista 7 on Netbooks could be fraught with issues.”

    Will says:
    “I’m a little concerned that otherwise perfectly viable machines, like the 12 inch netbooks, might begin dying of in the retail channels simply because they are now outside the arbitrary limits imposed by Microsoft.”
    Fraught with issues? How about its just not going work, no matter how much M$ tries to shoe horn Vista2 on these netbooks. XP is getting mighty long in the tooth now, how many times will customers have to buy the old dinosaur? Endless it seems, since M$ cannot, or will not reinvent the wheel (xp) and come up with something that half works.

    Will is onto something larger here, the fact that M$ is using its monopoly “windows” power to detate to OEM’s how they build their netbooks. This is so wrong, and cry out for “antitrust and/or class action lawsuits.”

    For me, I am waiting for ARM, and the advantages that is may bring. Chief among those advantages, is Linux without an competing dumped Windows on the ARM platform. Maybe there, I can get a 15″ display in time.

  4. We are currently involved in a pilot project for our employer to get the most usability out of the inexpensive netbooks for its mobile and remote users.

    In our lab we used SIDUX, Mepis, Pardus, Mandriva, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Puppy for the eeePC and a few others. We’re down to SIDUX, Mepis and Mandriva; They fit the bill just right on the units we tested (Acer Aspire one 10.2 & Asus eeePC 1000HA). Eliminating redundancy of apps worked well and help speedup the little buggers.

    We’re also recommending dropping the eeePC since Asus is not so keen on GNU/Linux, considering they have a web page saying “It works better with Windows”.

    XP wouldn’t be useful since you have to add anti-virus, office suite, and several more apps that would’ve been prohibited to overall cost.

    Installed the Win7-7100 build. Replacing the factory 160gb, 5400 rpm factory HDD with a 320gb, 7200 rpm really didn’t help with all the drive thrashing. In addition brought RAM up from 1gb to 2gb. That helped a little, but not enough to be useful in day-to-day ops.

    BTW, these units will only be available to employees that wish to use GNU/Linux. Training will be available on request.

  5. I hope people didn’t take my XP comment as a recommendation of it. There are always going to be people who will never want to move from Windows and that comment was aimed towards them.

    Of course I think Linux on a netbook is far superior for the reasons that have been touched on here but there are always going to be people who want to stay with Windows for no better reason than they are comfortable with it.

  6. Hey Goblin:
    I did not misunderstand your recommendation of XP comment, myself I would recomment XP over Vista/Seven as well. We do understand that there are those who will never leave (or try linux) windows. I have a relative like that even, who sadly has to keep asking me to help protect it and clean up the windows malware. Still I will not entirely give up on my relative. But other relatives, friends, and acquaintances I have been more successful with. Last night I was playing poker in a casino, and the dealer ask me to fix her Windows laptop, that I know is full of malware. She also asked me if she should buy another computer and what kind. I told her that Mac and Linux were virtually malware free, but Linux could be put on her laptop. A player on the table that was listening to the conversation, with another windows broken malware infested computer, asked me where to get Linux, and I of course told him where to download and run Mepis. The pain of windows users everywhere is deep my friend. And at least for now, Linux is the answer for many.

    My point stands though, that Seven will still be the same bloated Vista that is too resource hungry too run on most netbooks. The fact that MS is giving on the limitations of Starter Seven, is a sign of desperation. Also, XP Home should also be viewed as a sort of a “limited” OS like Starter was. While not a 3 app limit in XP Home, it is crippled compared to XP Home in regards to networking. This is an important fact, as MS does not want businesses to buy cheap netbooks, which MS makes about $15 on XP Home. Just look at the post by Andrew and you see that businesses are interested in these cheap netbooks, but will require the networking that Linux can provide, but not XP Home.

    @Andrew: quote: “We’re down to SIDUX, Mepis and Mandriva.” Good choices, I use Mepis 8, and always try Sidux too. Sidux is very cutting edge, sometimes maybe a bit too cutting edge. You might also check out PCLinuxOS which is another very user friendly distro based on Mandriva. I think its the better “Mandriva,” which is also good. You might join the forum at they are a good bunch there, a lot of useful imformation, and anything you get stumped on (if) you can ask.

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