Netbook Users Unhappy with Windows 7 Starter?

A recent survey run by consumer electronics site Retrevo suggests that consumers may be shying away from netbooks running Windows 7 Starter Edition, the lowliest of the many editions on Windows 7’s totem pole.

Retrevo’s survey asked 1,100 “users” if they were planning to buy a netbook this year. Of the 21% who responded “yes” a little over half said that they would be “unsatisfied” with a netbook running Windows 7 Starter, based on lack of features such as “Multi-monitor Support, Desktop Personalization, DVD Playback” and others.

First, I’ll point out why this survey might not be as big a deal as the Internet news mill is making it out to be: Most significantly, this survey is pretty unscientific, identifying the participants only as “users” with no other data given about the sample or the margin of error. I contacted Retrevo for comment about this and will update you if I get a response.

It should also be said that DVD playback is not included in Windows XP without the use of third-party codecs, which I assume can just as easily be added to Windows 7 Starter.

Having leveled those criticisms, their main point stands – Windows 7 Starter Edition is just a little too neutered, not including Aero or something as simple as the ability to change the desktop wallpaper. I don’t think that Microsoft is trying to kill the netbook market, as the Retrevo piece suggests, but I do think that Microsoft is trying to have its cake and eat it too – offering a low-priced cut-rate edition of Windows to maintain its dominance over Linux in the netbook market, but removing just enough significant features that a large percentage of users will be tempted to cough up the $80 that it costs to do an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments section.

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18 Responses to Netbook Users Unhappy with Windows 7 Starter?

  1. chieftain20 November 10, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    Well if I’m getting a netbook for $300, I don’t expect it to do what my $800 laptop does, just basic email checking, and probably some Office ’03 work. But not having Windows Aero, and being unable to change my background would make me want to upgrade to the Home Premium, or do a re-install of XP back onto it (imaging the hard drive first, in-case I need to undo the install).

    But as I said before I wouldn’t expect my netbook to do all things I’d ever want it to do, just VERY simple things. That’s the only plus to having a 2.5lb 7″ netbook vs a 7.5lb 15.4″ gaming laptop. It’d be cool to have one that has a high performance SSD that can stay on for like 9 hours. And it’d be great for running torrents all the time, low power consumption.

    • Forrest November 13, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

      For $300 I would expect the full windows experience. $300 is not as cheap as they want to you to think it is. I would expect a sup-windows experience on a netbook for $150 -$175, not $300, $300 is almost a full computer in my mind and better have all the full computer features and run like one. Until netbooks are $150 then windows 7 starter should not exist.
      my 2 cent 🙂

      • chieftain20 November 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

        That would be sweet if they were that cheap. But even $200 I would get one with starter, and probably use one of my copies to upgrade to the full W7. Most likely Home Premium since I wouldn’t really use the other features of higher versions on a netbook.

  2. Henry Leatham November 10, 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    I think it’s completely ridiculous. I personally have an EEE PC 1000HD With Windows 7 Ultimate installed, it runs as well as it did on XP and I’ve had no problems with it. Companies shouldn’t limit their products with Starter. Windows 7 Starter is another name for Windows 7 Fail.

  3. Chris November 11, 2009 at 1:44 am #

    There is absolutely no reason to have starter preinstalled on netbooks, i’m running windows 7 professional on my netbook and it runs great

  4. Adam Z Lein November 11, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    I suppose the difference is between buying a netbook for $300 that has Windows 7 Starter, or paying $380 for a netbook with Windows 7 Home Premium. Aero and desktop wallpapers doesn’t really affect the functionality of the OS. It will still be able to open Internet Explorer or any other browser you want. So why not save the extra $80 if you don’t really need the more advanced features?

    Of course, I personally would want at least Home Premium for the Media Center software.

  5. Gabriel Ortiz November 11, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    Think about it: a netbook is for those internet surfers, and on-the-go people who don’t need all the extra functionality of a laptop or PC. So netbook users should not expect the “cool” features of Home Premium to be included in their new netbooks. I guess it’s just logical. Want better features? Spend $80 more or buy a laptop.

  6. Mohammed November 11, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    I don’t think that it’s going to be windows 7 fail in case of putting window 7 starter on netbooks. However, Microsoft puts its self in the safe side by putting this edition on netbooks, because of netbooks limitations.

    Just think about it, people who need these machines for limited functions, they don’t want to spend more money on more features that they don’t want.

    Finally, in my opinion, the performance of Windows 7 on a netbook would be as the same as the performance of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit on a powerful notebook.

  7. Yoann Boiziau November 11, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    I’m not astonished to see that people are not happy with Windows 7 starter !
    Who would be happy with an OS that can launch only 3 windows at a time ?

  8. Anonymous November 13, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    I’m running Windows 7 Home Premium on an hp Mini. Due to the RAM limitations of the machine (2 GB max), I’ve decided to run with the Windows Classic theme. I also have a Dell Inspiron running Win 7 Pro and I’ve got all the candy I want there. With my netbook, I want it to work fast and on less resources to conserve battery.

  9. Mick December 22, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    Win7 starter is a loser. M$FT is just trying to milk another $80 out of users that have already coughed up up $300+ for a net book. I would be happy with the system IF the wallpaper was changeable and the aero theme was enabled. The wallpaper problem is easily solved by putting third party software such as Stardock on the machine. (More $) or a free wallpaper program if you can find one that works. After trying many of the freebies the one that seems to work best is Oceanis Back Ground changer for Win7 Starter. It uses little resources and can display a single or multiple wallpapers that change at time intervals that you specify. Now if MS would just enable Aero for starter users I would be a happy camper. Link for wallpaper software below:

    • Martin Pettersson December 22, 2009 at 10:51 am #

      It’s a loser for sure… My wifes Samsung N120 came with W7 Starter. In the beginning it was ok but after a month of normal use it is at least as slow as her old computer, a 5 years old WinXP machine. Extra software installed is just Incredimail (there were no email client delivered in the package) and Skype.
      So basically the money she has spent on this computer has given her zero value. She would be better off with her old computer.
      This is typical for Microsofts products. My computer at work, managed by a proffesional IT department, was fast in the beginning but a few months later it was as slow as my old computer.
      I have installed Ubuntu Netbook remix on the Samsung N120 (dual boot) and everything works (including WiFi and camera) and the computer is really fast. Basically everything she need it there. I have added Skype.
      No speed deterioration can be noticed.
      With this computer as an example, I just wonder what Microsoft is doing… Not that I care, we would be better off without them, but this is interesting…
      I have more power and more usability in win95 than I have in Win7 Starter…
      You will probably tell me to defrag, clean registry and other stuff… I have done that and it has a small effect. The end result is anyway a completely unusable computer.

      At work in my office, I have to use Windows XP because of company policies. In the production environment, I can choose. Some machines come with Microsoft Windows. So far I have had to restore backups and mess with every singel one of those that we have had for more than one year. We also have Solaris, Gnu/Linux, most of those are machines I have designed the control system for. They are running year after year without any need for any maintenance at all.
      Microsoft say the TCO and not the license price is the most important, and I strongly agree!

  10. Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    Why would you go back to XP?? Its not like XP has Aero or any of the advantages in security. That’s just stupid. Small netbooks have issue running Aero anyway simply because they were never ment to be a power house. They are a cheap second computer. People are expecting too much out of them. The more you expect out of them the more you need a full fledge laptop.

  11. Neuropagan March 26, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    i find it to be a futile attempt by microsoft, there are free third party work arounds for those limitations. My wife is running W7 starter on her netbook and is enjoying aero and personalizations ( no its not stardocks) she even has encryption you just have to be smarter than your OS and doing a bit of poking around on google helps also.

  12. CHEATED by MS June 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    I think microsoft’s watered down W7 will persuade customers to go elsewhere.. I DID. There are enough simple add-ons and alternatives that disuade people from being coerced into sending Bill Gates more money.


  13. Jordahl_md January 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Hello and HELP,
    Do others have trouble downloading certain files; ie, .WMV, .DOC, or running same files from email ??? The download seems to start, but there is nothing in the folder when download complete.
    Ref. WMV, the error says media not supported. I have the media player.
    The WMV that comes with ACER works fine.


  14. Kawikachann February 13, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    I don’t know of anyone that actually wants less, in anything…if I buy a net book, I need the product downsized and light/rugged enough to pickup on the fly. I won’t expect or need bells and whistles, but 3 windows, and no word processor of any kind – that’s called a paperweight. This is monopoly at it’s finest, it’s a big bully holding all the marbles, and wants all of yours too. Call a spade a spade, it’s not $240 plus $80 for a 7, its a $320 net book jerk.

  15. Mike March 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I have been trying to load printer software and it don’t work

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