Microsoft: We haven't announced a netbook version of Windows 7

The blogosphere is abuzz with a news report that Microsoft has announced a version of Windows 7 specifically designed for netbooks. That news report, however, is flat-out wrong. Microsoft has made no such announcement, and might not even be working on a netbook-specific version of the operating system.

An article on CNet UK says that:

Microsoft has confirmed to CNET UK that it will be providing a version of Windows 7 specifically developed for netbooks and sub-notebook computers, as well as at least one version for consumers, and one for enterprise users.

Note that the article doesn't say a source inside Microsoft, but rather the company itself has confirmed that. That would mean that Microsoft has officially announced it's working on a version of Windows 7 for netbooks.

The article surprised me, because the pre-beta and beta of Windows 7 is already being run on many netbooks, by people who have downloaded the beta and pre-beta. The beta and pre-beta are Vista Ultimate --- there is no netbook-specific version of Windows 7. That means netbooks are right now running the regular version of Windows 7.

If that's the case why, I wondered, would Microsoft announce a netbook-specific version?

In fact, Microsoft hasn't announced a netbook-specific version. I asked a Microsoft spokesman if there were a netbook-specific version in the works, and if so, how it will differ from the normal version of Windows 7.

The answer I received was what I expected --- a set of commonly asked questions and the official Microsoft answers about Windows 7. Here's the most suitable one:

Q: Has Microsoft determined which Windows 7 SKU will be made available on small notebooks?

A: We haven't made any announcements regarding Windows 7 SKUs.

So although it's certainly possible that Microsoft will develop a netbook-specific version of Windows 7, they haven't announced it, as the CNet article claims.

Will Microsoft actually develop a netbook-specific version of Windows 7? That's not at all clear at this point. Windows 7 has a smaller footprint than Vista, and runs fine on netbooks even in its beta form. In fact, at the PDC when Windows 7 was publicly unveiled, Windows and Windows Live senior vice president Steve Sinofsky showed off Windows 7 while using a Lenovo S10 netbook. He said Windows 7 was using less than half of its 1 GB of RAM. And the Web is full of reports of people running Windows 7 on their netbooks.

Because an unmodified version of Windows 7 can run on netbooks, it's not necessarily true that there needs to be a netbook version. So for now, the next time you hear someone say that Microsoft has "confirmed" that it's working on a netbook version of Windows 7, you can safely tell them that it simply isn't true.

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