Windows Enterprise Desktop

Nov 29 2009   11:09PM GMT

Where Windows 7 Starter Falls Down…For Me

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

OK, so I’ve been running Windows 7 Starter on a couple of netbooks and my wife’s mini-ITX Core 2 Duo system for a couple of months now. And while I still like this OS, especially for its slim footprint and modest profile, I’ve discovered a few things I don’t like about it as well — enough so, in fact, that I want to share these items with you, in case you’re thinking about using this OS on a netbook or low-powered PC for yourself or a loved one.

To be fair and positive, Windows 7 Starter is what is says it is: a minimal, low-capability version of the Windows operating system. That said, in working with it on my various systems at home and at work, I’ve found myself wishing for things that it can’t provide. These include the following:

  • Remote Desktop access: Windows 7 starter doesn’t support RDP so you can’t remote into a machine running this OS from another machine on the same (or a different) network. Alas, because that’s my preferred method to manage other machines on my network and requires MBWA (management by walking around) instead, I don’t like this as much as I could.
  • Memory restrictions: I’m not sure if it’s the MSI mini-ITX motherboard I’m using or some combination of that hardware and the Windows 7 Starter OS, but even though I have 4 GB of RAM installed in my wife’s SFF PC, the OS reports that indeed 4 GB is installed, but that only 2 GB is usable. Everything I can find on Windows 7 Starter says it supports 4 GB RAM, but not on this setup. Of course, all the system requirements say that hardware configurations for Windows 7 pre-installed max out at 1 GB RAM (and I happily run 2 GB on both my Dell Mini 9 and Asus 1000HE). Go figure!
  • No DVD playback built in: Sure, you can buy a decent DVD player on the cheap (or find something Open Source for free that works with Windows 7) but it always surprises me each and every time I try to play back a DVD on Windows 7 Starter and get the word that I can’t get there from here.

For me, of course, lack of remote management/access is the real killer and explains why I’ll be upgrading Dina’s system to Windows Home Premium as soon as I find some time (probably over the Christmas holidays). If you can live with those limitations, though, you’ll  find it pretty workable indeed.

PS: My son likes to play games on any free computer he can find these days (he’ll be six in February, so his appetite is still pretty tame). We also just ran into a problem with a cheapo game we got for him at half-price books on Friday: it would have required Windows XP Mode to work on her machine. And of course, Windows XP mode only runs on Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. I can’t really count that against Windows 7 Starter, since it never promised anything close to meaningful VM support in the first place.

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