Microsoft to offer Windows 7 on USB thumb drives?

Microsoft is reportedly considering offering Windows 7 on USB thumb drives to allow netbook owners to upgrade their machines.

Microsoft to offer Windows 7 on USB thumb drives?

Windows has, until now, only been distributed on DVDs or via download. However, netbooks don’t come with optical drives and downloading an operating system is a frankly painful experience.

The Windows 7 ISO weighs in at 2.3GB, which would take several hours to download on an average broadband connection and potentially do serious damage to a customer’s broadband data cap.

Consequently, the company is exploring alternative means of distributing the OS, including USB flash drives, according to a report on

Microsoft UK was unavailable to comment on the speculation at the time of publication.

Windows 7 could prove an attractive option for netbook owners whose machines are plodding along with Windows Vista. PC Pro’s tests have shown that Windows 7 runs perfectly well on machines with only a single core processor and 1GB of RAM, whereas we have found Vista frustratingly slow on the same spec.

Microsoft has designed Windows 7 Starter especially for the netbook market, which doesn’t include many of the more demanding features, such as Aero Glass and Media Center.

However, we’ve installed Windows 7 Ultimate RC on several netbooks and not experienced any significant performance issues. Microsoft itself is urging customers to upgrade to the more expensive versions on the mini-laptops.

For an in-depth 14-page guide to Windows 7, buy this month’s copy of PC Pro, on sale at newsagents now.

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