Despite Microsoft’s claim that most consumers will only see two versions at Windows 7 at most, it seems that vendors aren’t playing along.
In a vote of confidence for Windows 7‘s suitability for use on netbook PCs, Hewlett-Packard Co. said it will likely offer at least three different editions of the upcoming operating system on future models of its Mini netbooks. That includes the Professional and Home Premium editions, which Microsoft Corp. last week said will be the two primary versions of Windows 7, and the low-end Starter edition, which will limit users to running three applications at a time.
This is a huge error, especially using Windows Starter in the US. Starter was designed as a low cost platform for emerging markets (where presumably no one wants to run more than three apps at a time). One big issue with Vista was different flavors of Windows, running on different hardware platforms, with different performance levels confused the market and often led to frustration (and a few lawsuits). It doesn’t appear that this is something MSFT will be able to control and they need to get ahead of this quickly. Aside from too many OS choices, there’s no way Starter is going to meet the needs of most users. I understand that Microsoft is trying to avoid the cannibalization of higher license priced license SKUs by devices like netbooks (which is what’s happening now with most netbbooks shipping with XP and not Vista) but this isn’t the proper approach to take. It’s time for MSFT to cut down the number of SKUs now and focus on delivering optimal experiences, even on low end hardware.