Some comments in our article and forums about the possibility of a Windows 7 Starter $200 netbook inspired me to take a deeper look into the issue. If Windows 7 Starter is keeping companies from pushing out $200 netbooks, then why aren’t free Linux alternatives already doing so? Although Linux has zero costs when it comes to licensing and code, there are still a few other expenses OEMs have to cover when building a Linux system:

  • Testing and creating drivers
  • Hiring and training staff that are ready to work on Linux and provide tech-support
  • Costs in repackaging due to the increased return rate on Linux machines

There are many other factors I didn’t list but these three points give you an idea of why Linux netbooks aren’t cheaper than they are. If Linux netbooks are still in the $300 range and Windows says they can offer a $200 netbook, how much are they actually charging vendors for Windows 7 Starter? What if Windows 7 Starter is really a cloak for what is actually Windows 7 Trial Version?

The possibility of that being true isn’t unrealistic. If you think about it, Starter contains a few inconvenient restrictions that draw away from the complete Windows experience, particularly the inability to have three simultaneous applications open.

Is Windows 7 Starter really just Windows 7 Trial Version?

One of Windows 7 Starter's restrictions include the inability to change your wallpaper

What saves Microsoft from being bashed upon for these restrictions is their Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU) program, which allows a user to upgrade to a higher-level version of Windows at any time. As bad as many of us think Starter can be, there’s virtually no risk in purchasing a Starter-equipped machine at all. Seeing that Starter is the cheapest version of Windows you can ever put on a computer, why wouldn’t OEMs be willing to put it on their machines. It would allow OEMs to have much lower list prices and WAU would reduce the fear of customers of not being satisfied with Starter. This begs the question of whether Microsoft really intended for you to stay on Starter permanently. Let’s take a look at a possible scenario:

  1. You walk into the store to look for a cheap and affordable laptop
  2. The cheapest laptop is $200 and has Windows 7 Starter. You can upgrade any time so there’s no risk, why not buy it?
  3. After a couple of days on your netbook, you’re about to explode after the 100th notification from Windows telling you need to keep the app-count to less than three
  4. You want to upgrade. The price is less than the laptop but it might be more than what you want to pay. You’ve already got a laptop but you’re not completely satisfied, so you opt for the upgrade

If you haven’t spotted it yet, the trick being used here is upselling. After being stuck with a Starter netbook you’ve purchased because if was “no-risk” and cheap, you now want to upgrade. People are also more likely to go through small changes or make smaller transactions than large ones. Meaning that most people are probably more likely to upgrade to Home Premium or a higher edition like Microsoft originally planned to. (story Link)

This entry was posted on Apr 29, 2009 at 1:48 AM and is filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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