Friday, February 06, 2009

Is Windows 7 A Viable Netbook OS?

windows seven logoThere has been much debate over the new operating systems and its performance with many users claiming it runs as fast as Windows XP. Many users out there have thoroughly tested Windows 7 on their netbooks often times with mixed results. However the general consensus is that the new OS runs fairly smoothly.

Microsoft's Windows Consumer Product Marketing, claims that Windows 7 has a smaller OS footprint, faster boot-up and shut-down times, improved power management for enhanced battery life, and other improvements that will make it possible for all Windows 7 editions to run on netbooks. This however has come into debate as the overall footprint of Windows 7 might take up too much space on SSD equipped netbooks.

Intel employee and fellow blogger Josh Bancroft has been testing the Windows 7 beta on his netbook which he thinks "runs GREAT," but he foresees several serious problems with pricing and storage, according to a blog entry posted on an Intel website Tuesday.

Norton 360: Comprehensive, automated protection Bancroft's first concern is price, of course Microsoft hasn't yet disclosed the pricing for the new Windows 7 line-up as of yet but we can assume none of the 6 versions currently planned will match the price of the discounted XP version used in many netbooks today.

"Currently, when Microsoft sells a license of Windows XP on a netbook, they're making very little money. They would have preferred to stop selling XP altogether a long time ago. But the low cost of an XP license adds very little to the overall cost of a netbook - important when you're selling a device for $300-$500," Bancroft writes in his post. It would be safe to assume that Microsoft won't be discounting the price on any of the available version of Windows 7 so the only option left would be an increase in price.

Bancroft agrees with that position stating, "No one but Microsoft knows how much it will charge for the various versions of Windows 7, but it's safe to assume that it won't be much (if at all) cheaper than Windows Vista. And adding, say, $100 to the cost of a $400 netbook just to pay for Windows 7 is going to be a tough proposition all around."

Much of the popularity of the low powered netbooks stems from them also having a lower price tag. So I don't see a cost increase being a viable option, not when you have a cheaper XP or Linux option available.

The second major concern would be the operating systems footprint. The beta version takes roughly 6 gigs of hard drive space. My current fully functional (all my applications installed) operating system footprint is nearly 15 gigs. That doesn't account for anything other than my day to day applications, no music or videos and only a few photos.

This wouldn't be a problem on a netbook with say a 160gig hard drive. But what about those people wanting to use SSDs that only offer 4, 8, or 16GB of total space? Obviously the only option would be the 16gb drive as the OS its self wouldn't fit on the 4 gig drive and there wouldn't be much room for apps on the 8 gig drive.

That leaves you with either a) going with a larger SSD at a higher price or b) being stuck with a standard drive. SSD price for larger drives has fallen recently but again adding any additional cost just isn't viable.

Introducing the Inspiron Mini 9. Starting at $249.According to Bancroft, "The cheapest version (Starter edition, with its insane limitation of only running 3 apps at a time) is the logical choice, given the price sensitivity of netbooks." Microsoft on the other hand is still pushing their stance of any version. I their recent press release they are encouraging you to think of Windows 7 Home Premium as the version you'll want to see running on you netbooks.

I'd have to agree, I wouldn't want to run a crippled version of any OS, In fact I wouldn't!. Based on the features I wouldn't want to run anything less than the Home Premium version. But how much will Windows 7 Home Premium add to the cost of a netbook, and will it be worth it?

Bancroft sums up his post with several interesting questions:
But how much price increase will the market stand? Will netbook sales and adoption taper off if the next generation of Windows 7-equiped devices are MORE expensive than their predecessors? Will people flock to Linux-based alternative operating systems, like Easy Peasy (formerly Ubuntu Eee, by Jon Ramvi)? Should Microsoft simply give Windows 7 away for free, to try to "wipe away the bad aftertaste" that Vista left with some people? What do YOU think?
Personally I don't see Windows 7 as being a viable option, at least not in its current incarnation and I don't see people wanting to use a cut down version. The price premium for the regular OS when added to low end machine just wouldn't be worth it. So while Microsoft might be calling Windows 7 on a netbook a "Win" I'm calling it an epic fail.

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