I just bought my wife an ultra-barebones mini-ITX PC from my old buddies at Logic Supply. I outfitted this box and its MSI MS-7265 Core 2 Duo mobo with a Core 2 Duo T2300 processor and also purchased a Panasonic slim-line DVD burner from that supplier, and added my own 160 GB 5,400 RPM WD 2.5″ hard disk, and a 2 GB Patriot DDR2-800 240-pin DIMM to complete the system. She’d been using my Asus Eee PC 1000HE notebook, but had decided it was just too slow, even though she only surfs the Web, reads e-mail, and does basic computing stuff.
The new machine isn’t exactly a screamer (it scores a 2.4 on the Windows Experience) but it runs rings around the Eee 1000HE, thanks to a true dual-core CPU, not to mention a faster memory bus. It’s also the first system on which I’ve installed Windows 7 Starter Edition, and I’m starting to see why this is indeed a truly minimalist offering. That said, its lack of support for Windows Aero and other high-end graphics effects often associated with Vista and Windows 7 makes it much better suited for the system’s modest Intel 945 GM graphics, even on my wife’s Dell E228WFP monitor at its native 1,680×1,050 resolution.
I’ve run into some of Starter Edition’s limitations already, though, and expect to run into more:
- No support for Remote Desktop Connections. I like to manage “other machines” on my network from my own desktop by setting up a remote desktop session on those units. Not with Starter Edition: though Remote Assistance can get through, it supports no RDP connections, incoming or outgoing.
- No personalization features for desktop backgrounds, windows colors, sound schemes, and so forth.
- No ability to switch among multiple logins: for User B to log on, User A must log off (or be forcibly logged off).
- No support for multiple monitors.
- No DVD playback.
I’m not sure any of this is a deal-breaker for my wife, except perhaps number 5 (she sometimes likes to watch DVDs while riding the stationary bike that’s next to her PC, but I think I can fix this by installing a third-party DVD playback program instead). It will be interesting to see how this goes, and to learn if she can live with this version, or whether I’ll end up installing Windows 7 Home Premium instead. As with many things Windows, only time will tell! If you’re thinking about installing it on corporate netbooks, however, you may want to think again: Windows 7 Starter Edition’s lack of support for domains (and Active Directory) will indeed be a deal-breaker on many if not most corporate networks.