If solid state drives (SSDs) are to ultimately replace standard hard disk drives (HDDs) as the default storage option, they're going to have to do it the old fashioned way - by offering a better, or at least comparable, bang for buck.
Because Windows 7 offers better support for SSDs than either Vista or XP, it was thought that Microsoft's upcoming OS might help bolster SSD sales and push the flash-based storage medium further into the mainstream. But this isn't likely to happen, say notebook vendors, who point out that the price gap between SSDs and HDDs is still too large.
SSDs currently check in at about $4-5 per GB, whereas HDDs cost less than $0.50 per GB, and that includes some higher end models. And despite rapid advancements in SSDs, it might be another three years before HDDs are finally dethroned.
That shiny new netbook is light and portable, plays music and movies, and cost less than an iPhone (with service). Problem is: you might be ready to chuck it off a bridge. Running the Intel Atom processor at only 1.60GHz, netbooks are a bit on the clunky side when it comes to actual data processing. No one is going to play World of Warcraft on one of these thin machines, but it sure would be great if OpenOffice, a music player, and Mozilla Firefox could run a little faster.
The answer to the netbook dilemma is: find an alternative operating system. Of course, this is a time-consuming proposition, considering you have to download the OS, burn it to a CD or USB key, load the OS, and then configure it. To find out which OS will actually add pep to your Sony P – or any number of low-cost, Atom-based netbooks – we loaded six different options on the same machine and performed a series of tests – looking at the interface, networking features, the browser and built-in apps, and how much customization you can do and ended up picking a clear winner.
Linux or Windows? Read on to find out which OS is best for your netbook.
The free ride is officially over - sort of. If you installed Windows 7 beta on any of your machines, the next time you fire it up, the OS will initiate a shutdown sequence every 2 hours, a move intended to guide users to the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
"If you're still on the Windows 7 Beta you should certainly look at giving the Windows 7 RC a try!," Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a Windows team blog post.
The good news is that the Windows 7 RC (Release Candidate) is still available for download, it includes several new features and fixes, and will continue to run uninterrupted until June 1, 2010. But you'll have to act fast, as the RC download program comes to a screeching halt on August 15.
Even better, Microsoft has temporarily reduced pricing on retail upgrade versions of Windows 7 Home and Professional to $50 and $100 respectively. The pre-order pricing remains in effect until Saturday, July 11, at which point prices will jump to $120 (Home) and $200 (Professional).
Looking to pave the way for Windows 7, many netbook vendors are hoping to clear out all of their Windows XP-based stock.
When Microsoft announced their Windows 7 upgrade program, they didn’t include Windows XP devices, causing some vendors to believe that their customers aren’t willing to pay a premium for the new OS. There are others that believe that many consumers would prefer to stick with the lower-cost Windows XP for their lightweight netbooks.
Currently, an OEM version of XP runs $25-30, while quotes form Microsoft show that Windows 7 for a netbook would run around $45-55. It’s expected that this confusion may cause some negative publicity for Microsoft in the netbook market.
While for some of us, the pricing for Windows 7 is easy on the wallet thanks to the OEM solution, there are others that aren’t too happy due to the retail prices.
According to a recent study by The NPD Group’s VP of industry analysis Stephen Baker, the mostly free upgrade program for PCs bought on or after June 26, 2009 is extremely commendable, but the retail pricing is a bad idea, especially in today’s economy. “Besides the fact that $119 is a price point that fits nowhere in these economic times, it is still way too much for the software,” stated Baker. “… It is in Microsoft’s best interests to erase all vestiges of Vista from consumers’ homes, and by making the upgrade expensive … Microsoft is creating a large disincentive for consumers to move to a far superior platform with a better user experience.”
So what do you think? Is the pricing for Windows 7 too rough on the pocketbook, or is the pricing just fine the way it is?
While Windows 7, unlike Vista, runs well on netbooks, there are two big problems that must be overcome to make Windows 7 easy to install on netbooks:
Most netbooks lack CD or DVD drives
Netbooks run Windows XP or Linux, neither of which are supported for upgrade installations of Windows 7
As far as problem number one is concerned, there may be a solution: Cnet's Ina Fried reports that Microsoft is mulling over the idea of providing Windows 7 on USB thumbdrives to make upgrading netbooks easier without connecting an external CD or DVD drive. As we demonstrated earlier this year, you can install Windows 7 from a USB key after a bit of finagling. Creating a version of Windows 7 that's USB key-friendly would make the process a lot easier for clean installs.
However, what about Windows XP netbook users who want an easy upgrade? Fried reports that Best Buy's Geek Squad is looking at developing Windows 7 upgrade services.
Windows 7 does include Windows Easy Transfer to move user accounts, email, and data files from Windows Vista or XP systems, but is there a better solution that also works with programs? How about Linux netbook users? Any apps or scripts that can at least get the data over to Windowsland safely? We're looking for better suggestions for making the move from Windows XP or Linux on a netbook or other PC to Windows 7 as painless as possible for non-technical users. Think simple, think reliable, and join us after the jump to pass them along.
Until the introduction of Windows 7, device management was a multi-application nightmare. Want to see a device's hardware configuration? Open Device Manager. Want to browse the contents of a storage device? Open My Computer. Need to manage the settings used by a specific device? Open the appropriate applet in Control Panel (Mouse, Keyboard, Game Controller, and so on). If you have a multifunction device, you would need to open separate applets to manage the printing, faxing, scanning, and file management functions of one device.
In Windows 7, the Devices and Printers applet in Control Panel provides a single entry point to managing single-purpose and multifunction devices. Microsoft considers Devices and Printers so important to system management that you can start Devices and Printers directly from the Start menu. To learn how Devices and Printers will make your life easier, and what you need to do to make it work better for you, join us after the jump.
If you were frustrated by trying to figure out which edition of Windows Vista was the right choice ("hmm...If I use Vista Business, I don't get Windows Media Center, but if I use Vista Home Premium, I don't get image backup..."), Microsoft has done us all a favor by rethinking the feature sets for Windows 7.
Yes, there are still multiple SKUs to consider, but this time, you no longer need to worry about what's left out if you move up from one edition to another. To find out how the different US editions of Windows 7 compare in features, what Microsoft is doing to satisfy EU regulators, and what it will cost you to pre-order a Windows 7 upgrade now compared to waiting until it ships, join us after the jump.
Microsoft's pre-order pricing for Windows 7, in which prices have been temporarily reduced by up to 58 percent, went into effect last Friday and the response has been phenomenal. Perhaps proving that potential customers would rather pay for software when priced the price is right rather than pirate, Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade, discounted to $50, wasted no time in jumping to the top of Amazon.com's bestseller list. Windows 7 Professional Upgrade, discounted to $100, claimed the No. 2 spot.
The surprise pricing was announced last Thursday and stays in effect in the U.S. until July 11, 2009, or "until supplies last." Consumers living in Japan will have until July 5th to take advantage of the reduced pricing, and those in the U.K., France, and Germany will be offered similar pre-order discounts starting on July 15th.
It remains to be seen how consumers will react to normal upgrade pricing once the promotion runs its course.
"The $49 initial price is a nice reward for loyal customers," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Interpret. "But the 'real' upgrade pricing is way off for what the market will likely bear, especially during these economic times."
Participating retailers include (thanks to reader u217946 for the handy list):
How much are you willing to pay to upgrade to Windows 7? Microsoft thinks they know the answer. This week, the gang discusses the Windows 7 pricing announcement, comparing it to previous Windows launches and even the pricing of the other computing OS. Gordon clarifies Intel's new Core i3/i5/i7 branding structure, and Will gives his thoughts on the surprise acquisition of id Software by Zenimax. We also answer a few listener questions, and share the results of our Bing experiment. On top of that, Gordon delivers his weekly rant.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at email@example.com or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by.