Microsoft could be facing a backlash against Windows 7, similar to that experienced with Vista, says a research analyst.
Although Vista Home Basic doesn't include the same three-application restriction as Starter, it lacks such features as the Aero user interface. Microsoft has denied the charges, and said it made it plain that Home Basic was missing some of the features touted for Vista's other versions.
According to an economist who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs in the case, Microsoft earned more than $1.5bn on the sales of PCs marked 'Vista Capable'.
Silver, however, noted a difference between Microsoft's Vista Capable problem and the potential issue with Windows 7 Starter. "That's different than buying a netbook with Starter," he said. "As I understand it, [the] Vista Capable [case] was more about a hardware issue."
Even so, Microsoft could end up ticking off some customers when it launches Windows 7. "Starter could be a disappointment for a lot of folks," Silver said, again noting the application limit.
He even questioned Microsoft's motives, wondering if it really wanted Starter to succeed. "They've put a lot of work into Windows 7 on hardware-limited machines," he said. "They'd much rather have people buy [Windows 7] Home Premium." According to Microsoft, Home Premium will be its 'primary' consumer edition of Windows 7.
The company has also aggressively promoted Windows 7 as able to run on hardware not able to handle Vista. Mike Ybarra, general manager for Windows, said the 'premium' editions of Windows 7 were able to run on netbooks with good experiences and good results.
Silver said that Microsoft's using Starter to cover all the netbook bases, and block competitors, primarily Linux, from that market as much as possible. "Microsoft needs a Linux fighter," he said. "Starter gives them a better chance of selling on the lowest-priced netbooks."