When it unveiled the SKUs (stock keeping unit strategy) of Windows 7 in February 2009, Microsoft promised that all editions of its next iteration of Windows client would be made available for netbooks. Fact is that Microsoft has constructed Windows 7 to be more lightweight in comparison to Windows Vista, specifically to play nice with netbook computers. But as Windows 7 moves from Release Candidate to RTM, the Redmond company is introducing a strategy similar to that for Windows XP on Ultra Low Cost PCs (ULCPCs), namely a set of maximum hardware specifications.
Microsoft has not confirmed any details yet, but TechARP (via Mary Jo Foley) revealed that Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic for Notebook PCs would require machines not to have screens larger than 10.2 inch, no more than 1 GB of system memory, would be limited to a maximum of 250 GB HDD or 64 GB SDD, and to just single core processors with frequencies smaller than 2 GHz (the CPUs also needed to have a thermal design power no larger than 15 W, with the graphics and chipset not included).
The restrictions will be valid for the Starter edition, the Starter for Small Notebook PC SKU and the Home Basic For Small Notebook PCs flavor reserved exclusively to the Chinese market. While Microsoft has shrunken the maximum allowed screen size for Windows 7 in comparison with Windows XP on netbooks from 12.1" to 10.2", it increased the storage space up from just 160 GB HDD or 32 GB SDD, and processor frequency from the low of 1GHz, while removing all limitations for graphics and touch capabilities.
For Microsoft tailoring Windows 7 to netbooks is not only a question of imposing a set of hardware requirements to its OEM partners, but also one of price. The software giant provided no details when it came down to how much it would charge for Windows 7 for netbooks, but due to the extremely low cost of such devices, the operating system would not have a price tag equivalent to the same editions for non-netbook OEM computers.