Report: Microsoft sets specs for netbook-only Windows 7

Tells OEMs to shrink screens, lower power consumption

Microsoft will limit sales of some editions of Windows 7 to systems with screens no larger than 10.2 inches running a low-powered single-core processor running no faster than 2GHz, TechARP.com said last week.

TechARP.com, a Malaysian site that has leaked information provided to computer makers by Microsoft in the past, reported that the company will restrict Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Starter for Small Notebook PC and Windows 7 Basic for Small Notebook PC to configurations that strictly define the netbook category.

Although Microsoft has detailed six Windows 7 versions it will ship later this year, including the entry-level Windows 7 Starter, it has said nothing about any edition dubbed as being for a "Small Notebook PC." However, company executives at times have talked about a special Windows 7 SKU for netbooks.

According to TechARP, Microsoft will sell the three editions only to OEMs for use on netbooks that have a 10.2-in. or smaller screen, no more than 1GB of memory, a hard disk drive of 250GB or less (or a solid-state drive no larger than 64GB) and a single-core processor no faster than 2GHz.

The processor must also be a power miser. To qualify for one of the Windows 7 editions, netbooks must use "single core processors that do not exceed 2 GHz frequency, and have a CPU thermal design power that is less than or equal to 15W, not including the graphics and chipset," TechARP said.

The requirements are similar to those Microsoft imposed on computer makers last year when it decided to extend Windows XP Home licensing to netbooks, which were called "ultra-low-cost PCs" (ULCPCs). At the time, Microsoft allowed larger screens -- up to 12.1 inches -- limited graphics to DirectX 9 or less, and didn't specify the power rating of the processor.

Microsoft will ship Windows 7 later this year, but it has not set prices or a launch date.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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