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Microsoft Reveals Maximum Windows 7 Netbook Specs

Gordon Kelly


Microsoft Reveals Maximum Windows 7 Netbook Specs

Microsoft may have restored some good will with its Windows 7 Starter edition changes yesterday, but netbook fans aren't likely to be thrilled by this latest development...

The Redmond giant has formally announced the new maximum specifications for netbooks shipping with Windows 7 and they represent very little improvement on the hardware currently enforced upon those with XP.

The most notable restriction is the very surprising decision to once again limit netbooks to just 1GB RAM, a remarkable choice considering how much better machines with 2GB run and just how cheaply this upgrade can be made. Other disappointments include a restriction to single core processors that have a 15W thermal design (read: Atom or VIA Nano) though their clock rate has been increased to 2GHz.

The maximum screen size has been cut to 10.2 inches from 12.1in as well but by way of compensation eligible HDD and SSD capacities are boosted to 250GB and 64GB respectively while there is no limitation on the choice of graphics and capacitive touchscreens are now allowed. Of course manufacturers can ignore these spec limitations altogether if they ship netbooks with Windows 7 Home edition or above, but then the greatly reduced license charge won't be available and that means higher prices.

Personally, I'd pay that bit more to have a netbook which isn't forcibly capped to 1GB RAM and I suspect so would many others. Consequently, it will be interesting to see if the dull uniform machine specs that accompanied XP based netbooks will be as prevalent this time around...


via TechHarp


May 26, 2009, 10:30 am

Gordon, my LG X110 netbook with 0.99 GB of RAM (soldered and non-upgradable) has a windows experience MEMORY result of 4.4. I have seen configurations with 2 GB RAM with exactly the same result. It seems that amount of memory installed is not a limiting factor, and that any possible bottlenecks would be somewhere else (chipset probably?). Please test this and confirm.


May 26, 2009, 10:44 am

Well, 1gb is just 'adequate' for a netbook--any of the applications you open that are 'that' hungry for the ram are usually not ment to be run on laptops that small. i never had any need for more memory on my NC10. Said this, processor restriction's a less favorable change--video oh video playback.


May 26, 2009, 1:02 pm

You forgot to mention manufacturers can also ignore these arbitrary, artificial and basically ridiculous limits if they ship their netbook with Linux.


May 26, 2009, 1:25 pm

this seems somewhat bizarre, especially as a dual-core Atom is available (or will be shortly - Zotac Ion etc.), I'd expect there will be another U-turn in a few months


May 26, 2009, 1:25 pm


Hamish Campbell

May 26, 2009, 1:41 pm

Stuff adequate, for the price of the extra gig I'd much rather kick adequates arse and zip along in snappy fashion.

Plus I'd rather decide myself whats appropriate to run on my machine.

Admittedly though, if I ever by a netbook I'd rather have linux on it, more fun and hopefully cheaper.


May 26, 2009, 1:53 pm

@HH: I wouldn't pay the Windows experience test any heed whatsoever. 2GB would be preferable, end of. That said, you are right that other factors are significant limits - most obviously the CPU itself.


May 26, 2009, 2:36 pm

Completely agree with basicasic - to limit hardware like this is outrageous. What are the reasons for choosing Win7 on a netbook over some of the superb (and free) linux distros?


May 26, 2009, 3:37 pm

This really is irrelevant as all it means is any netbook with higher than these specs will just ship with a standard version of windows 7 (home premium not starter) which I personally would prefer anyway even if it means a £20 price hike (not exact), and most netbooks will ship with this anyway read:almost all those with ION. Starter is designed for low end netbooks (in the near future this will mean netbooks with Intel graphics) that probably won't touch these specs apart from the 1gb. In short don't worry as this really doesn't matter.


May 26, 2009, 4:17 pm

You can buy 2GB MSI Wind U100 netbooks with Win XP Home Edition here in Holland from major retail stores so I wonder how far MS can enforce these self-appointed licence restrictions and whether they actually apply to all markets.


May 26, 2009, 5:05 pm

@basicasic + Kaplan - I agree entirely. Manufacturers and consumers aren't going down this route. At last count 96 per cent of netbooks are now running Windows...



May 26, 2009, 5:22 pm

...Which is why we should all use Linux


May 26, 2009, 5:57 pm

This angers me. Why should they dictate MAXIMUM specs????


May 26, 2009, 6:04 pm

@piesforyou - it's simple really. Microsoft offers a large discount on the price of a Windows licence when it is being installed onto a 'netbook'. This helps manufacturers to keep the price down.

Microsoft consequently has to draw a line as to what it deems constitutes a netbook otherwise manufacturers would inevitably try to get the cheap licences on a much wider array of machines.

Tarik Bos

May 26, 2009, 6:09 pm

hi, i'm miceosoft. i'm retarted, don not like to satisfy my costumers and like getting EU non-competetive charges put against me.


May 26, 2009, 6:12 pm

@Andrew Violet: Thank god for one voice of reason amongst all the cackling of people who just love to pour some hate onto MS.

Starter Edition is aimed at devolping nations, so this is a non-issue for 99.99% of people reading this. Anyone in the UK, Europe, America, etc is going to get a netbook with Home Basic (at the least) and will not run into these restrictions. They've actually made these restrictions much simpler than those for XP, for an OS that actually has the same (or even lower) technical requirements. Truth of the matter is wherever manufacturers put out machines with Starter Edition it'll be on the most basic of machines to cut costs so they'd always be well within these limits in any case.

So yet another non-story being blown out of all proportion for people to vent unnecessarily against MS and for websites & blogs to get some hits.


May 26, 2009, 6:38 pm

@HK - I'd say that's unfair. The story deals with the news proportionately: "Of course manufacturers can ignore these spec limitations altogether if they ship netbooks with Windows 7 Home edition or above, but then the greatly reduced license charge won't be available and that means higher prices"

Of course Starter edition also isn't just aimed at developing nations, it's for all netbooks which wish to qualify for a reduced licence cost.

As I stated in my answer to piesforyou above, Microsoft doesn't have to give licence discounts AT ALL so it gets to define the specs to stop manufacturers exploited the offer. If they/we don't like it then we can pay more for a full licence on a machine without restriction.


May 26, 2009, 7:13 pm

@Gordon: Oh come on, I give TR more leway than most other sites, but that article has an incredibly unnecessary negative bent. It's stirred up lots of angry ignorant comments just as you'd expect. That one liner doesn't excuse things like "netbook fans aren't likely to be thrilled by this latest development...", "very little improvement", "The most notable restriction is the very surprising decision to once again limit netbooks", "Other disappointments include", "Personally, I'd pay that bit more to have a netbook which isn't forcibly capped", etc, etc ad infinitum.

So don't worry you and everyone else here will be buying netbooks that cost a little bit more with Home Basic or Premium that don't have any of these dissapointing forced caps. :-)

Sure Starter isn't just developing nations, but it will be in most cases. For the few it's not I think it's totally fair of MS to limit the specs for it's most basic stripped down version of the OS for people who're going the Argos/cheap route. As I said already if you are going that route then the machine'll be basic anyway so it's a mute point. This is still all a storm in an Indian tea cup.


May 26, 2009, 7:16 pm

@Gordon asus have already said they will probably ship all but the absolute low end netbooks with starter as the price hike is not as big as the one with xp is. For starters every touchscreen netbook (this will probably become a mainstream trend) worth a look will have home premium (for windows media centre touch interface) and I'm not sure starter even has the touch mode. Additionally any netbook at the moment that is over £230 will most likely not have starter. All starter is for is viable alternative to the light linux distro's, that appear on machines incapable of running xp. Therefore this is a completely pointless problem unless anyone is in a developing nation or are considering a (lost for words thats how bad it would be) kind of netbook, in which case I'd be surprised if any people in said situations are reading this site. (sorry for the generalisation, but it is an educated assumption that is most likely to be true)


May 26, 2009, 8:05 pm

I think the netbook market is rather obscured at the moment.

There are lots of people clamouring for machines like the Eee 1004DN, the Samsung NC10 and Ion-based systems. But these aren't netbooks, they're ultraportables. They share all the characteristics of something like the Sony TT - long battery life and very light weight while still being broadly capable - except that they're a cheaper version of it.

That's fine, and I can understand why these ultraportables are so popular, but because they grew out of netbooks I think they've rather obscured the genuine netbook market - machines with a basic processor and a few gigs of storage that are perfectly good for browsing the web, programming, writing, listening to radio and other undemanding tasks.

The windows 7 starter edition specs are odd ones and seem to be neither here nor there, I guess microsoft are as confused about the market as most of the media.


May 26, 2009, 8:25 pm

If a "netbook" cannot run xp it should be binned, install Linux/Ubuntu/whatever distro erm... no thanks.

The NC20 runs windows 7 perfectly fine for me.


May 26, 2009, 9:31 pm

The whole netbook segment of the market is turning into a farce. What with MSI's latest effort trying to extract £450 for the same old under-powered rubbish and now our favorite monopolist dictating specs of netbook to carve up the market its hard to see where it will all end.

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