Microsoft Lifts Limits on Windows 7 Starter

Responding to complaints, Microsoft will no longer place a three-app limit on Windows 7 Starter Edition.

After weeks of vociferous complaints, Microsoft announced late Friday afternoon that it will, after all, remove the three-application limit for upcoming Windows 7 Starter Edition. That edition will become Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) default netbook offering when Windows 7 ships later this year.

With the explosive success of netbooks in the past year and a half, the application limits had become a sore spot with purchasers -- and potential purchasers -- of those less-expensive, limited function machines. Microsoft already offers a limited Windows XP Starter edition, though only outside the U.S.

The company announced in February that it would extend distribution of Windows Starter Edition worldwide, including the US, with the release of Windows 7.

Despite the fact that it is likely to be five or more months more before Windows 7 is available for sale, Microsoft has no plans to relax the three-application limit for XP Starter Edition. However, Windows 7 Starter Edition will now be able to run an unlimited number of apps -- at least up to the machines' hardware limitations.

"Based on the feedback we’ve received from partners and customers asking us to enable a richer small notebook PC experience with Windows 7 Starter, we’ve decided to make some changes compared to previous Starter editions," Microsoft Windows 7 team blogger Brandon LeBlanc, said in a blog post Friday.

LeBlanc's post also included a pitch to prospective customers pointing out that Starter Edition is not the only edition of Windows 7 that will run on what Microsoft officials have recently begun referring to as "small notebook PCs." Company officials have said for months that all of the versions of Windows 7 will run on most netbooks.

Starter's missing features

In fact, LeBlanc also emphasized the features that will not be in Starter Edition that do come in more upscale editions.

"Windows 7 Starter does not include Aero Glass, meaning you can only use the "Windows Basic" or other opaque themes. It also means you do not get Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek," his post said.

Also missing will be personalization features, and the ability to switch between users without having to log off. Multi-monitor support will also be lacking, as will be DVD play back capabilities.

In addition, it will also lack support for Windows Media Center, remote music and video streaming and support for XP Mode.

The "Release Candidate" or RC -- the final test version -- of Windows 7 was released publicly in early May, and company officials have said it will be on store shelves in time for the holiday shopping season.

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