In the wake of criticism from everyone from hardware makers to netbook enthusiasts Microsoft has relented on the strict three-application limit built into the Starter edition of Windows 7.
Windows 7 Starter was aimed as the entry-level OS available for netbooks â€“ or ‘small notebooks’ as Microsoft has taken to calling them â€“ but in keeping with the previous XP and Vista editions created for developing countries could run only three full-window programs at once.
Attempts to launch a fourth program resulted in a message proclaiming â€œMaximum number of windows is already openâ€ and suggesting that if you want to open another program then you’d better close one first â€“ along with of course a promo for instantly upgrading to Windows 7 Home edition which faced no such artificial restrictions.
Early this morning Sydney time Microsoft announced that the final RTM edition of Windows 7 Starter would work like every other version of the OS and allow users to run as many simultaneous apps as their PC could handle.
â€œWe believe these changes will make Windows 7 Starter an even more attractive option for customers who want a small notebook PC for very basic tasks like browsing the web checking email and personal productivityâ€ wrote Microsoft in-house blogger Brandon LeBlanc on the company’s official Windows 7 Team Blog.
other ways to encourage you to upgrade to a more fully-featured edition of Windows 7
However Windows 7 Starter still has many handicaps designed to lessen its functionality and appeal compared to more expensive editions of the OS. Systems running Windows 7 Starter won’t support the Aero Glass UI â€œmeaning you can only use the Windows Basic or other opaque themesâ€ writes LeBlanc. â€œIt also means you do not get Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek.â€
Also missing from the mix: the ability to change desktop backgrounds window colours or sound schemes; fast user switching (one user has to log off before another can log on); multi-monitor support DVD playback and Windows XP Mode.
These limitations are partnered with the restricted hardware specs which Microsoft has decreed for Windows 7 netbooks which prevent a netbook running Windows 7 to be sold with more than 1GB of RAM and fix the screen to a maximum of 10.2 inches down from the current XP-based ceiling of 12.1 inches.
So while killing the three-app limit makes Windows 7 Starter far more usable as a netbook OS Microsoft has plenty of other plays in place to ensure there’s a substantial gap in functionality between a netbook running the low-margin OS and a larger notebook â€“ be it still a 12 inch netbook a thin-and-light ULV system or a conventional laptop â€“ running an upscale edition of Windows 7.