Microsoft made headlines recently when The Wall Street Journal reported that the company planned to equip netbooks with the Starter edition of Windows 7, a semi-crippled version that only lets users run up to three applications at a time.
This is puzzling, considering that Microsoft really needs Windows 7 to be on the netbook. Netbooks are the one segment of the PC market that’s actually growing, even in the current economy. For now, Microsoft is offering Windows XP on netbooks because Vista simply won’t run on a netbook’s limited hardware, but it’s going to need to move them to Windows 7 once that operating system hits the market.
(It’s worth noting that while Microsoft claims any version of Windows 7 will run on current netbooks, Intel is not making such claims. In fact, Anand Chandrasekher, Intel’s head of Ultra Mobility, recently said that Intel will be releasing new Atom processors in the second half of 2009 that will support Windows 7 Starter and Basic editions.)
Which brings up the question: Is there anything wrong with running a full version of Windows 7 on a netbook? To test this out, I decided to install the Windows 7 Ultimate beta (because of frequent updates, I worked with builds 7000 to 7077) on a Dell Mini 9 netbook. How well would it run?