Are they serious?

I havent been keeping up with my internet reading for a while so only the big buzzes have been getting through.

I note the noise about Win 7 and the general relief that its appears so far to be less crap than Vista. So far.

I just noticed a comment today saying the cheap, netbook targeted version of Win 7 (starter) will only let you have 3 apps open simultaneously. At first I just thought it was a joke, a miss timed april fools perhaps.

Anyway it appears they are serious! I’m stunned.

What apps do they expect netbook users to be running?

Web browser? – Firefox is at least as good as any IE

Email? – Thunderbird is at least as good as Outlook Express, or its next incarnation.

Skype? – does MS have a product in this space? I think so – is it something something something live?

Office? -puh-leeese! that big daft ribbon takes far too much screen to be usable on a netbook. OOo make much more sense,( or Gnumeric).

The thing is, the most likely 3 apps are all areas where Microsoft has some serious competition. And all the competitors works at least as well on Linux.

Why would anyone buy a crippled Windows netbook, when they can have the same or better apps for free on Linux?? It makes no sense to me – unless they are expecting netbook manufacturers to stop supplying Linux machines? (HP – I’m looking at you)

So if the netbook manufacturers want to shift Windows netbooks its looks like they are stuck with the next version up of windows, which is rumoured to cost significantly more than the starter version.

So you can have a crippled Windows netbook for just a bit more than a Linux one, or you can have a normally functioning Windows one for significantly more money. But you will probably be using the same or similar apps whichever way you go.

I must be missing something about how this is going to boost windows uptake?

Please let us know in the comments

Cheers

Simon

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18 Responses to “Are they serious?”

  1. Gordon Says:

    There have been similarly crippled versions of XP and Vista available, albeit not in mature markets. Perhaps Microsoft think folk in developing nations are only just getting the hang of computers and wouldn’t possibly need to run more than three apps at one time. Patronising and cynical in the extreme.

    Mind you, with applications being run in a single browser process a la Google Docs, Google Mail etc., this might not be the inconvenience it once was. What a great business plan from Redmond there…drive people to your biggest competitor.

    I’ve no real use for a netbook, but from the capabilities of the machine and what I’d likely use it for, full-blown Windows seems like a stunning waste of money and system resources. A lightweight Linux install that supports basic apps and, of course, allows unhindered web connectivity is surely the choice of any sane person.

  2. Jayson Says:

    I would like to know what they consider 3 programs. Do background services count? Does anti-virus count? How about anti-spyware? If so, then you really only get 1 open program since you can’t run windows safely without either of those.

    I also wonder if Chrome (yes, I’ve switched) would count as more than one program since each tab runs as a separate process. That would raise the neck hair of all the monopoly folks…

  3. Simon Says:

    AV isn’t counted. Dunno about a firewall – that would be a bit harsh wouldn’t it?
    Multi process apps is an interesting question – I have no idea I’m afraid.

    Gordon makes a good point though of pushing people to Google Docs (or the new web based Office 14 – oh no – that had a big daft ribbon-a-like UI so is unusable on a 600px screen.)

    It could be their client os of choice for all the cloud Saas nonsense they were gushing just before commercial reality hit last November.

  4. Harlan Grove Says:

    It’s not outside the realm of possibility that when Windows 7 whatever loads there are so few system resources remaining on netbooks that there wouldn’t be any way to run more than 3 foreground programs/applications. But that still leaves the question why anyone would want to run a crippled Windows version rather than a Linux version that could run as many applications as could fit in memory.

    But the key to Windows success on consumer machines is Solitaire. Nothing makes mom or pop’s day like the bouncing deck of cards after winning a game. Copyrighted, so no legal way to provide similar functionality under Linux. Microsoft’s true killer app.

  5. Jayson Says:

    @ harlan
    That’s copyrighted?! well, I’ll be!

  6. Harlan Grove Says:

    The Solitaire .EXE is copyrighted, the bouncing cards are implemented in the .EXE, and this isn’t essential functionality for playing the game. Ergo, copyrighted as a value-added extra, functionally inessential but esthetically distinguishing feature.

  7. Ross Says:

    Aren’t net books designed for light weight use and mainly internet surfing? So then would the thought process go, if it’s on a netbook people probably wont be running more than 1 or 2 apps?

    I think people are right to point out that users could run Linux for free and with no limits, but on the other side of things it’s good to see MS trying to offer a alternative, even if they might not be getting it quite right.

    One thing that would be interesting would be to get a base copy of XP/2000 add some eye candy and a few tricks, then knock that out as a low cost net book os. – They might do that but it will brake with the windows 7 ideals, and they might not be 100% sure of where net books are going in the long run?

    Interesting times

  8. Bob Phillips Says:

    … and run counter to the MS marketing strategy that the latest is the greatest. If they market XP or 2000, even in a cut-dwon version, whilst they are pushing Win 7, they immediately throw a spanner in the marleting spin.

  9. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    If “3” is hardcoded in one of the OS’s dlls, or is a registry key value, it’s not worth crying foul just yet.

  10. Ross Says:

    @ Bob,

    Yeah, that’s a good point, but I guess there doing that at the moment with Vista, and XP. I suspect you are correct though, as is often the case, and MS wont actually do it, at least because of the marketing department. To be fair to MS, there have always been about marketing, Bill Gates was/is a brilliant programmer but it was his marketing instincts that brought MS to there current standing, it would be hard to turn full circle on that I guess?

    P.S has Simon paid you the 10 quid for the ribbon bet yet?

    @ Stephane,

    Would that mean that the price of the 2 OS (3 app, and full) would have to be the same? Would that work in the netbook market, I cant see how this would work, unless it was hard coded – I’m probably begin very thick!

  11. Bob Phillips Says:

    Ross,

    I agree that they are running Vista and XP, but always on the presumption that people are going to upgrade (althoug they have just conceded that many customers will jsut skip Vista – me included).

    What you suggest is a good idea, but it would mean that MS have to commit to Win 2000 or XP in the future, whereas they currently still work on a migration strategy. If they change in that manner, the next thing you will be hearing is customers demanding that they develop an Excel-lite, or Excel 2003 as I call it, and improve that functionally as well as going along a different path with Excel 12/14/… Wouldn’t that be fun.

    Unfortunately, I think MS need a whole philosophy change, they are wedded to an old business model. Such a change is beyond their capability I believe, that is why I think they are ultimately doomed.

    As for my £10, no he hasn’t. I will be calling it in in April when we next meet.

  12. Ross Says:

    >>it would mean that MS have to commit to Win 2000 or XP in the future, whereas they currently still work on a migration strategy.

    That’s a well made point. Just thinking about that, I can begin to see the amount of effort it would take – it’s not after all, just the OS, it’s then supporting all the other things that run on it and so forth….,

    on a slightly different note, but some what related, I wonder if windows 7 will support VB6 – I bet it will

    >>As for my £10, no he hasn’t. I will be calling it in in April when we next meet.

    You better get to him before he get to the bar :-)

  13. Bob Phillips Says:

    >> it’s not after all, just the OS, it’s then supporting all the other things that run on it and so forth…., <> on a slightly different note, but some what related, I wonder if windows 7 will support VB6 – I bet it will <<

    I am sure that you are right, and cannot see how it wouldn’t be. Imagine no vbrun.dll, I cannot belive they are even near to superceding that little beauty.

  14. Bob Phillips Says:

    That should have read

    >> it’s not after all, just the OS, it’s then supporting all the other things that run on it and so forth….,

    Exatly. I read something recently that pointed out that an OS is intriniscally the kernel, which is mean and lean , even Windows. It is all the gumff layered on top that bloat it. And MS do love their bloat at the moment (glass windows – yeah, we really need that before we get good netwrk managemnet).

    >> on a slightly different note, but some what related, I wonder if windows 7 will support VB6 – I bet it will

    I am sure that you are right, and cannot see how it wouldn’t be. Imagine no vbrun.dll, I cannot belive they are even near to superceding that little beauty.

  15. Harlan Grove Says:

    Having just loaded Ubuntu 8.10 on a flash drive and confirmed that it works just fine on all the machines in the house (‘cept the Mac), I’d just need to configure it to mount the local machine’s C: drive and make /usr/local a symlink to a subdirectory on that drive, and I could have a standard, rather broad base configuration with specialized software on each PC. And I can run more than 3 applications at once. And I could have my base system and my datafiles on any machine I boot just by carrying around the flash drive. I don’t get crippled Windows.

    It’d be fun to see the look on Microsoft senior managers’ faces if either Red Hat, Coherent or Novell showed up on a few major college/university campuses and handed out loaded Linux flash drives. All free software, so the lucky 1,000 or so recipients could LEGALLY copy (OK, dd an exact image – not too difficult to script the process) their free flash drives’ contents onto any & all of their friends’ flash drives. Talk about viral marketing!

  16. Patrick O'Beirne Says:

    Checking back…
    Are people able to run Excel 2007 with VBA on a netbook?
    What size? 2GB RAM? 1024×768?

    Ta,
    Patrick

  17. Jayson Says:

    @ Patrick:

    MSFT has dropped the 3 app limitation for windows 7. 2GB should be more than enough ram. The question is whether you can stomach working on a spreadsheet on such a small screen, resolution aside.

  18. Patrick O'Beirne Says:

    Thanks, Jayson.
    I have an old Portege (256K max RAM, office 2000) and have gone back to it to check that I can run with 1024×768; it’s good enough for travel purposes.
    My question was mainly whether the kind of people who read Simon’s blog and are therefore serious users have found a netbook was adequate for Excel 2007 purposes, and it looks as though it is, although working at half speed:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/computers/?p=693
    May 19th, 2009 Living with a netbook: The performance penalty
    “On most tests, the netbooks took more than twice as long as the
    dv6-1030us and dv3z to complete the same calculations.”

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