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Updated! Maximum Hardware Specifications For Small Notebook PCs

For marketing purposes, Microsoft is restricting the following SKUs to certain hardware specifications :

  • Windows 7 Starter
  • Windows 7 Starter for Small Notebook PC
  • Windows 7 Home Basic For Small Notebook PCs (China only)

This is similar in scope to the Microsoft Windows XP Home Ultra Low Cost PC (ULCPC) program. However, Microsoft has made several critical changes to the maximum hardware specifications allowed for Windows 7 Start / Home Basic editions, as well as the Windows XP and Windows Vista Small Notebook PC program.

   1. Hardware limitations have been simplified, with the following key changes :

  • A greatly simplified and universal CPU criterion designed for easy understanding and management.
  • Removal of the graphics and touch limitations.
  • Limiting screen size to a maximum of 10.2 inches (measured diagonally) as the defining boundary between a Small Notebook PC and a full-featured laptop.
  • Expanding storage options.

    2. Windows XP and Windows Vista Small Notebook PC (commonly known as netbook) or Nettop device class hardware requirements will be updated on a calender quarterly cadence until the date of Windows 7 general availability. At that point, they will no longer be updated.


Updated! New Hardware Limitations & Comparison

Key Specifications

Windows XP / Windows Vista

Windows 7 Starter / Home Basic
for Small Notebook PCs

Screen Size

• Not to exceed 12.1"

• Not to exceed 10.2"


• 1 GB RAM

• 1 GB RAM


• 160 GB HDD or 32 GB SDD

• 250 GB HDD or 64 GB SDD


• Less than or equal to DX9

• No limitation


• Resistive touch only

• No limitation


• Single core processors that do not exceed 1 GHz frequency, or
• Intel Atom (N270, N280, 230, Z500, Z510, Z515, Z520, Z530, Z540, Z550), or
• Intel Celeron 220, or
• AMD (MV-40, 1050P, TF-20, Geode LX, Athlon 2650e, Sempron 210U), or
• VIA (C7-M ULV, Nano U1700, U2250, U2300, U2400 or U2500)

Single core processors that :
• do not exceed 2 GHz frequency, and
• have a CPU thermal design power that is less than or equal to 15 W, not including the graphics and chipset.

Update @ August 11, 2009 : We first posted about the new restrictions in Windows 7 Starter & Home Basic SKUs for netbooks in early May. Although Microsoft has yet to release these details publicly, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed some of the restrictions on July 30 :

  • Windows 7 Starter edition would be limited to "low-end computers",
  • Windows 7 Starter edition would only be sold to Microsoft's OEM partners (e.g. Dell, ASUS, Acer, Toshiba, etc.), and
  • Windows 7 Starter edition can only be installed in systems with small screens and running certain processors.

Microsoft will gradually reveal the details we obtained in May as the Windows 7 General Availability date approaches, but of course, we already know what they plan to do. So if you intend to grab one of those "oversized" netbooks with screens larger than 10.2", make sure you do so before Microsoft clamps down on them!


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