Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition review

As stripped down as the netbooks it will grace, but if you're given the choice we'd recommend switching to Home Premium instead

PC Pro
22 Oct 2009

Windows 7 Starter Edition is designed to be a stripped-down version of the operating system, available only in 32-bit. It's not actually for sale on its own - instead it will come pre-loaded on selected netbooks.

In return for its reduced feature set, it will be cheaper for netbook manufacturers to buy and help to keep the price of Windows 7-powered netbooks as low as possible – as a rule of thumb, we’d say around £30 cheaper than they would be with Home Premium installed.

So what's missing? The biggest sacrifices from Home Premium come in the multimedia features and the cosmetic fripperies. For example, you can’t stream music from a Starter edition system to other computers on your network, and Windows Media Center has also been removed.

Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition

In terms of the cosmetics, the Aero Glass theme has been stripped out to keep performance acceptable on netbook hardware, there's no taskbar preview, and you can’t even change the desktop background which seems a touch overbearing.

Microsoft has also dropped multiple monitor support, which is an issue for netbooks with VGA or HDMI ports, and while you can access homegroups on a network you won't be able to create your own.

The only good news is that, after announcing that Starter would only allow three applications to run at the same time, Microsoft has since gone back on this and sensibly lifted the restriction.

Although Starter Edition is a perfectly respectable operating system, there's a good chance many people will find it frustrating to use on a regular basis.

If you're buying a netbook and are given the choice at a reasonable price, we recommend you opt for Home Premium; if you don’t, you'll still get the benefits of Windows 7's core improvements, but there's much you'll be missing out on.

Windows 7 versions


Software subcategoryOperating system


Processor requirement1GHz Pentium or equivalent

Operating system support

Other operating system supportN/A

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