updated 11:35 am EDT, Fri June 12, 2009
Atom Unlikely for Win 7
Netbooks using current-generation Intel Atom chips are unlikely to get an upgrade to or option for Windows 7 due to Microsoft's pricing policies, industry tipsters have said on Friday. Those using the 1.6GHz Atom N270 and 1.66GHz N280 will reportedly be kept on Windows XP as Microsoft's pricing for Windows 7 Starter Edition would push the system price too high. A Windows XP Home license is currently said to cost between $25 and $30, but Microsoft now wants between $45 and $55 for the most basic Windows 7 license; as the prices of netbooks themselves have been driven lower because of N270/N280 prices, the new policy would potentially give up sales.
Many PC builders also don't see Windows 7 being as useful an upgrade on netbooks as it would be on the desktop, where most of the features would be more obvious. These same firms are believed to be negotiating for a lower bulk price on Windows 7 Starter to make Windows 7 more viable.
Without a concession, the companies are now claimed to be reserving Windows 7 for systems based on Intel's upcoming Pine Trail platform, such as tha Atom N450. The smaller, more efficient processor is likely to be both faster and to justify enough o a premium.
Microsoft has been accused of hoping to push the cost of Windows on netbooks back upwards by deciding to limit Windows 7 Starter to a certain range of sizes and speeds, encouraging buyers to opt for the more expensive Home Premium edition instead. Simultaneously, though, the company took an extremely rare loss in the first quarter of 2009 partly attributed to deliberately undercharging for Windows XP in an attempt to force Linux out of the netbook market.