Will Windows 7 Mean More Expensive Netbooks?

The Industry Standard reports that the introduction of Windows 7 in October could bring a price increase for netbooks as Microsoft will likely ask for more than the $15 it currently charges for manufacturers to install Windows XP. An analyst speaking to the Standard feels that with Windows 7 coming to netbooks we’ll see prices rise and $300 netbooks become a thing of the past. Well Windows based $300 netbooks anyway.

An analyst told The Standard that while Windows 7 Starter will likely fall into the current $15 XP price point, the push will be to get users to upgrade to Professional or Home which will add to the cost. According to the article, the cost of XP on a regular computer runs $50, quite a difference from the discounted netbook price, and we should expect similar differences with Windows 7. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the pricing to OEMs but adding a Home or Pro installation of Windows 7 to a netbook could bump prices significantly.

While it is possible that there will be upward pressure to netbook prices when Windows 7 starts shipping Microsoft has to walk a thin line when it comes to charging for Windows 7 on netbooks and forcing price conscious users into a Starter edition. With the recent launch of a Moblin powered Dell Mini and impressive alternative operating systems like JoliCloud (in private beta) it risks losing some market share to these more consumer friendly Linux installs.

I’m well aware that consumers like to stick with what they know, and traditionally Linux has failed to pass the grandma test; as in can Grandma install a new program on her own. That said, the App directory in Jolicloud, and similar functionality in recent versions of Ubuntu, address some of these issues and could make Linux an actual alternative to non geeks especially if it means saving $50-$100 on a notebook or netbook purchase.

But, don’t think the increased cost of netbooks in the coming months can be solely attributed to the cost of Windows 7. Bigger screens, better graphics and more features will also play into the price. The Standard notes this influence as well citing the current direction of the industry which shows a move towards Ultrathin notebooks that come with more power than netbooks but still offer a small size and portability for around $500.

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