its true the lower versions are a bit pointless ,home basic also does not allow for customizing ,and does not allow aero themes. I believe starter is very limited and will only run a fixed number of programs too . but its designed to be used in low spec PCs.
but windows 7 who,s core started off as Vista is light years ahead of Vista now, the down side is that as Operating systems get smarter and have greater abilities to work with a never ending list of new hardwares and all-singing/dancing softwares some of which are even bigger than the windows 7 intallation, you need much faster higher spec machines , its a bit misleading to customers who are looking for a new machine ,when they hear all about the weird and wonderful things windows 7 can do ,only to find that when they buy a machine with windows 7 its not much better than their last PC.
It is very important to visit forums like this one and ask questions about what kind of PC is wanted and ask for reccomendations .
I see so many laptops for sale these days in the big supermarkets ,at prices about equal to what I normally pay for just the processor. they look great and have windows 7 . but as many buyers find out when they start them up ,its not what they expect .
but its wrong to blame it on windows 7 .or microsoft . in a way society itself is to blame ,its us who want cheaper and cheaper PCs the manufacturers give us that .
I suppose to put it in simple terms ,you get what you pay for , but its very rarely what you wanted.