The crippled version of Windows 7 that will ship with some netbooks may be a non-starter --- partners Acer and Intel have both said they don't believe that netbooks equipped that way will sell.
As I blogged yesterday, Microsoft has said that it will limit to three the number of applications people can run simultaneously on many Windows 7-equipped netbooks --- those that run the Windows 7 Starter edition.
Microsoft gets less money for Windows on netbooks than it does on laptops or desktop PCs --- $15 for netbooks versus $50 to $60 for laptops and desktops, by some accounts. So the idea is that if someone wants a full version of Windows 7 that can run more than three applications simultaneously, they'll have to pay extra for it.
Most likely, that will only ensure that Linux laptops will begin selling in big numbers again, and that people will also forgo Windows 7 netbooks for Windows XP ones, which will only further hurt Microsoft.
I'm not alone in thinking that. Two of Microsoft's biggest partners --- Acer and Intel --- think the same thing. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Sumit Agnihotry, a vice president of product marketing at Acer. Here's what the newspaper had to say about Agnihotry's thoughts:
[Agnihotry] wouldn't say whether Acer plans to use the Windows 7 Starter version. But he said that being able to run just three applications -- and the requirement that customers pay extra for a higher-end version -- could be a tough sell, since Windows XP has no such limits.Acer expects to sell models at different price increments, Mr. Agnihotry said, noting that customers are willing to pay more for features beyond what XP offers. Acer is "very sensitive about adding new cost" since netbooks' greatest attraction is their low price, he said.
In other words, people aren't going to be likely to want to spend extra for the full version of Windows 7, and and Acer might not even be willing to put it on its netbooks.
Similarly, Intel isn't convinced that putting Windows 7 Starter edition on nebooks is a good idea. The newpaper notes:
Intel Corp., a longtime Microsoft ally whose Atom microprocessor powers most netbooks, has also voiced some skepticism about Microsoft's Windows 7 plans. Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said at an investor conference in February that Microsoft's plan to convince consumers to upgrade from the Starter version "is going to be tough for a bunch of reasons."
If even Acer and Intel, two of Microsoft's most important partners, aren't convinced that Microsoft is doing the right thing, it's time for Microsoft to re-think its plans.