5 Great Reasons to Stay Away from Windows 7 Starter Edition

It has its uses, but they are few

Windows 7 has been a huge hit for Microsoft, as shown by sales figures and customer satisfaction. But not all Windows 7 editions are created equal. One version many people aren't familiar with is Windows 7 Starter Edition, which is installed on many brands of netbooks, those ultra-portable, often underpowered laptops used mainly for things like Web surfing and email.

Although Windows 7 Starter is a solid operating system (OS), it has a number of drawbacks that other, higher-end versions of Windows 7 don't suffer from.

Here are the main ones to be aware of, and how they might impact the enjoyment of your netbook.

1. No DVD Playback. That's right; Windows 7 Starter won't recognize or play back DVDs. This may not be a huge issue for some users, as many netbooks don't include a DVD player. But external DVD players that can plug into a USB port won't even work with Windows 7 Starter, as they will with other versions.

A related issue is that Windows 7 Starter does not include Windows Media Center, which allows you to watch and record television, make and watch slideshows, and edit movies. In other words, it's very limited as a multimedia tool.

2. No 64-Bit Support. Windows 7 Starter runs in 32-bit mode only. What does that mean to you? It means that a lot of the newer programs won't run at all on it, and many of the ones that will run won't run very well. 64-bit computing gives you more built-in compatibility for the future, so your computer won't be outdated as quickly.

Your Windows XP programs are more likely than not to run on it, but even those will be hit-or-miss; and you don't want to wonder whether every new piece of software you're thinking about buying will run on your laptop, do you?

3. No "Aero" Interface. Aero is the translucent interface for Windows 7. It looks great, and is also functional; for instance, Aero Peek can easily give you a view of your desktop background, without leaving your current application.

Windows 7 Starter does without it. Is it a great loss? Not in the grand scheme of things, but it can make you more efficient, and it just looks so darn cool.

4. No Tablet PC Support.​ For those of you who like the Tablet style of computing, which allows you to write on the screen, Windows 7 Starter is a definite no-go. There are netbooks out there that have Tablet capabilities, but you won't get them. Maybe consider an iPad instead.

5. The Desktop Remains the Same. This seems like a minor item, but I bet it will be the No. 1 reason people upgrade from, or stay away from, ​​Windows 7 Starter. The desktop background is locked, with the Windows logo as the background. You can't personalize it at all. No pictures of your kids or pets, or from that Tahiti vacation. People like it when their computers can reflect their personalities; Windows 7 Starter has all the personality of a grain of sand.

It's worth noting again that these limitations don't mean that Windows 7 Starter doesn't work well, or is more insecure or unstable than any other Windows 7 edition. But you should know the facts before you buy, and decide whether it's worth it to you to upgrade before you leave the store, or shortly thereafter if you're dissatisfied with this low-end version.