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Innovation

Study claims netbook users dissatisfied with Windows 7. Are you?

Another day, another Windows 7 study. The latest comes from Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping site, which asserts that users aren't keen on Windows 7 netbooks running Starter Edition. I bet I'm not the only one who would beg to disagree with many of the survey's findings.

Another day, another Windows 7 study. The latest comes from Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping site, which asserts that users aren't keen on Windows 7 netbooks running Starter Edition.

In a blog post entitled "Is Microsoft Trying to Kill the Netbook Market?" Retrevo officials outline their findings, based on responses from 1,100 of its "users." Among the claims are users aren't aware of the limitations of Windows 7 Starter Edition (like no desktop personalization, no multimonitor support, no DVD playback). Retrevo said 54% of respondents would not be satisfied if their new Netbook only came with Windows 7 Starter Edition. XP Starter was a better choice, Retrovo's respondents said.

While I do think Microsoft would like nothing better than for the netbook market to disappear, as it has put a serious dent in its Windows client margins, the rest of Retrovo's findings seem off-base to me. (Example: Windows 7 netbooks running Starter will support the use of a DVD player via a USB port, contrary to Retrovo's assertion that Microsoft killed that XP Starter feature.)

Whether you agree with Microsoft's decision to continue to field lots of different Windows SKUs or not, I'd claim the company has been pretty clear for the past year that Windows 7 Starter was not going to be able to do everything. (Originally, it also was going to be crippled so it wouldn't allow users to run more than three apps concurrently, but Microsoft removed that limitation earlier this year.)

Microsoft officials also have noted that PC makers can choose any version of Windows 7, including Ultimate, to preload on netbooks. Whether OEMs can cost-justify some of the pricier SKUs is another matter.

I've been shopping for a Windows 7 PC starting on October 22, the day they went on sale at retail. I've been impressed by the choice of Windows 7 netbooks I've found. Many come with Starter Edition; others I saw were preloaded with Windows Home Premium. Toshiba loaned me one of their Mini NB205-N330 netbooks running Windows 7 Starter. I've found it very responsive, portable and perfect for my basic daily  tasks (surfing the Web, posting to my blog, answering email, etc.).

Yes, I am a more educated consumer than many out there, so I know what a netbook running Starter will and won't do. But two different salespeople at my local Best Buy were very clear with me about what Windows 7 starter netbooks would and wouldn't do. I'm not implying that it's been completely smooth sailing for PC users looking to move to Win7; Computerworld noted recently that some Dell and HP users who ordered upgrades to Windows 7 are having to wait considerably longer than they were led to believe for their upgrade disks.

I'd be curious what others in the market for Windows 7 PCs have found. Are retailers, PC makers, resellers savvy about the new PCs and upgrade deals out there? Are Windows 7 Starter netbooks good enough for you?

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