Windows 7 Starter Edition 3 App Limit Might Provide an Openning for Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Windows 7 Beta Ultimate Edition has been running fine on my Asus Eee PC 1000HA with 1GB RAM. But, Microsoft charges a lot of money for Ultimate Edition, so it is pushing the idea of netbook manufacturers running the cheaper Windows 7 Starter Edition (W7SE) to keep netbook costs down. But, W7SE has a 3 simultaneous application limit. So, how is that going to work? I have zero desire to install and run W7SE on my netbook since Ultimate Edition runs fine. But ZDNet’s Ed Bott installed it on his and reports back on what he found…

Living with the limits of Windows 7 Starter Edition

He notes a couple of important points:

- One application can run multiple windows instances (e.g., Internet Explorer)
- Windows Explorer (file manager) does not count as an app
- Microsoft provided applets like CMD window and Task Manager do not count either
- Desktop gadgets (yuck) don’t count
- Anti-Virus apps running as a system service don’t get counted as an app either?

OK, fine. But, let’s assume everything else does. What might a typical netbook user want to run at the same time on his or her W7SE netbook? I popped up Task Manager and kept count of what counted as individual apps in it.

- Some people have an Instant Messaging app start at boot time: 1 app
- Firefox browser: 1 app
- Mail app (Thunderbird for me): 1 app

That’s it. You’ve hit the three app limit. What if you want to run an Adobe AIR or some other Twitter app? Well, you can shut down the IM client, I guess. BTW, Adobe AIR apps show up as individual apps in Windows’ Task Manager. AIR doesn’t act as a sandbox type container app to hide its apps from Windows.

What if you need to run a VPN client to access corproate apps? Not sure. I suspect it counts as an app though.

What if you want to fire up Microsoft Word (or OpenOffice.org) to write a report using information from an email message and web page content? Be prepared to shut something down. And, oh yes, if the VPN client counts as an app. Be prepared to do some fancy footwork.

W7SE’s 3 app limit is just a bad idea… even for a netbook which is supposed to be used for lightweight use. But guess what? Even lightweight use means more than 3 apps at a time.

As I said earlier, I’m really liking what I see in Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix on my Acer Aspire One (512MB RAM, 8GB SSD) so far. W7SE might be the misstep that gives UNR some elbow room to slip by for the netbook goal.

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