Windows 7 Starter Edition for netbooks loses 3-app limit

Capricious limitation -- of allowing only three apps to run concurrently -- was expected to be reversed.

A reversal seemed highly likely from the moment Microsoft announced a three-application limit in the Windows 7 Starter Edition OS planned for netbooks. You could practically hear the industry utter a collective boo even before the electronic ink was dry on that Microsoft decision. Credit Paul Thurrott who got the goods about Microsoft removing the app limit.

The three-app limit (a max of three applications running concurrently) was Microsoft's way of stopping users from taking W7 Starter Edition and running it on more powerful hardware, figuring netbook users could get by with just running three apps concurrently. It may even be questionable whether most netbooks can run much more than three apps anyway. (I'm still not convinced networks will be much more than a very small niche part the market, but then again, that's for a different blog post. ) But the last thing Microsoft needs to do is help out full featured netbook contender Linux, by imposing seemingly capricious limitations like the app limit.

As a product developer, it has been my experience that customers hate what they perceive as arbitrary software limitations, resulting in something we frequently call "crippleware". All of us in the network world can remember back to the days when Check Point priced their software based on the number of IP addresses exposed on the outside interface of the firewall. Under the covers it was still the exact same software, with a governor applied to restrict outgoing network traffic to a certain number of IP addresses, unless more dollars were forked over for more IP addresses. I'm sure no one put a proxy server in place behind the firewall to fool it into thinking there were only a few internal IP addresses trying to get through the firewall. Nah.

Customers generally will accept that lower priced software has fewer features compared to more expensive, higher end versions. The problem here is that isn't the case with the Linux alternative. All the same Linux stuff is available on a netbook, no features were removed or crippled, and the $0.00 Linux price is also very attractive. Just like Vista's Home and Home Premium editions have fewer and more features, respectively, Microsoft will either have to figure out if they can still apply that same approach for netbooks, or be forced to rely on the speed and processing power of the lower spec'd netbooks to be the limiting factor.

On the flip side, Microsoft's gaining a lot of value by being so transparent about Windows 7 decisions like the 3 app limit. It's reminiscent of the recent reversal of the decision to lower the default UAC setting in Windows 7. (See this related blog post .) After some very vocal feedback, Microsoft has now reversed both of these decisions early enough to make adjustments prior to the Windows 7 product launch.

Credit Microsoft for not only listening, but also changing these kinds of decisions in time to include them in the final product. That's very promising, and is something I hope we'll see more of.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows 7netbooks

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mitchell Ashley

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?