With netbooks being the only kind of system making any sales headway, Microsoft will be going all out to generate revenue with Windows 7.
If you buy a netbook your choices are really Linux or Windows XP. By the end of the year, Windows 7 will be a further option. However, what you'll find is a cut down Starter version of the OS installed, with the full edition tucked away waiting to be activated at the touch of a credit card. To encourage this upgrade, users will only be able to run three applications at a time with the netbook version.
In theory this isn’t too bad, that could be a web browser with your web mail in one tab and your favourite sites on others, a game of online poker in one and the word processor that you should be working on as the third application. However, look at your desktop now -- it's likely you've got a couple of other things running too.
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However, netbook users will be buying these machines on the basis of their budget – wouldn't we all rather have a shiny new Mac Book! So, it may be quite a while before they have the money to upgrade the OS, if at all, or may end up being quite happy only running a couple of applications at a time.
Microsoft may be confident in this approach, and even with a moderate uptake of the upgrade offer, given the huge sales of netbooks, it could still help boost Windows sales and improve Microsoft's bottom line. Others don't seem so sure, a Bloomberg article
lists quite a few doubters, including Intel boss Paul Otellini.
Effectively, Microsoft is using the Starter version as a foot in the netbook door to prevent Linux (and oddly, Windows XP) getting a wider hold in the netbook market. It, realistically, can hope that a decent flow of upgrades will help its revenue, but if Microsoft is hoping for a torrent of upgraders, it could be a long time waiting.