Microsoft says any Windows 7 SKU will be able to run on netbooks, and
that netbook hardware limitations won't affect the functionality of the
new OS, regardless of SKU.
As there's no end in sight to the netbook craze, this is good news for anyone running an Atom based system, or thinking about getting one. Microsoft claims the new OS has a much smaller footprint, and it will offer faster boot and shutdown times, as well as improved battery life thanks to better power management.
Although all Win 7 SKUs will supposedly be less resource hungry than Vista, and more netbook friendly, it will all probably boil down to Microsoft discounts. Redmond currently sells XP licenses for netbooks for as low as $15 a pop, and vendors will obviously go for the cheapest, or should we say most heavily discounted Windows 7 SKU. The netbook market is a heavily contested one, and most products are equally matched and priced, so every penny counts.
So, netbooks will most likely ship with the Aero-less Windows 7 Starter Edition, which means that even if we do see some Ion netbooks in the next few months, all that extra graphics muscle could end up sitting around, doing nothing.