What is Windows 7 Starter Edition?

Welcome to Windows for netbooks

Most people know Windows 7 has three primary editions to choose from (Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate), but did you know there's a fourth primary edition, known as Windows 7 Starter?

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

Windows 7 Starter Edition

Only Available on Netbooks

The most important thing to know is that Windows 7 Starter edition is exclusively for use on netbook computers. You can't get it on a standard PC (nor would you want it, in most cases). It may still be offered as an option on the netbook models still available for purchase.

What's Missing in Windows 7 Starter

Windows 7 Starter is a significantly stripped-down version of Windows 7. Here's some of what it's missing, courtesy of a Microsoft blog posting:

  • Aero Glass, meaning you can only use the "Windows Basic" or other opaque themes. It also means you do not get Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek.
  • Personalization features for changing desktop backgrounds, window colors, or sound schemes.
  • The ability to switch between users without having to log off.
  • Multi-monitor support.
  • DVD playback.
  • Windows Media Center for watching recorded TV or other media.
  • Remote Media Streaming for streaming your music, videos, and recorded TV from your home computer.
  • Domain support for business customers.
  • XP Mode for those who want the ability to run older Windows XP programs on Windows 7.

One feature that will be most missed is the ability to change your desktop's appearance. Don't like the background? You'll have to live with what is included. Note that you also can't watch DVDs. But if you can live without those features and want the stability and strong performance of Windows 7, it's an option worth considering.

Upgrade Options

Also, think about upgrading that netbook to a regular version of Windows 7. One thing the Microsoft blogger mentioned is the ability to run a non-Starter version of Windows 7 on a netbook if you can still find a license.

That's a good choice if you have the money to upgrade. First, however, be sure to check out the netbook's system specs and compare it to Windows 7's system requirements. We would recommend upgrading to Windows 7 if you can run it since Windows 7 is a huge improvement over Windows XP. If you can't, many consumers are upgrading to Windows 10 Home. This would be the preferable option as Windows 7's extended support ended in January 2020.

One important misconception some have about Windows 7 Starter is that you can't open more than three programs at once. This was the case when Windows 7 Starter was still in development, but that limitation was dropped. You can have as many open programs as you want (and that your RAM can handle).

Is Windows 7 Starter Edition a Good Option?

Windows 7 Starter is very limited—there's no doubt about that. But, for the main uses of a netbook, which normally revolves around surfing the internet, checking email, and the like, it will do the job just fine.

If you need your operating system to do more, upgrade to a regular version of Windows 7, 10, or consider moving up to a non-netbook laptop. They're coming down a lot in price and offer smaller sizes and more bang for the buck than ever.

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