Netbooks equipped with solid-state drives (SSD) sporting as little as 16GB of storage capacity will be able to comfortably run Windows 7, Microsoft said on Thursday.
The operating system and auxiliary files generated by Windows 7 -- including restore files, log points, hibernation files, and temp files -- will require 8GB, leaving 8GB for applications and user data, Microsoft senior lead program manager Leon Braginski said during a presentation at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC).
"The entire install of Windows 7 will be smaller than Vista," Braginski said. Thus, 16GB is "enough for a good Windows 7 experience."
The first subnotebook computer, or netbook, released last year, the Asus Eee PC 701, came with a 4GB SSD. It ran Linux because Windows Vista could not fit, and because Microsoft refused to license XP to netbook makers at that time.
As netbooks started taking off, Microsoft came around , allowing netbook makers to license Windows XP Home Edition.
Though many netbooks now come with standard hard drives, Microsoft is working on slimming down XP too so it can fit on low-end netbooks with SSDs as small as 2GB, such as the One Laptop Per Child project's XO laptop.
Microsoft is not pushing Windows Vista for netbooks today, in part because its larger footprint, and because larger-capacity SSDs, i.e. with 8 or 16 GB or more, remain pricey.
Gartner Inc. expects the wholesale prices of SSDs to be halved by 2010, when Windows 7 is expected to be released.
Braginski would not say whether Microsoft plans to create a stripped-down version of Windows 7 specifically for netbooks. He did say that Microsoft has no plans to create a special user interface for Windows 7 for netbooks' smaller screens. Windows 7 will also not officially support boot from USB flash drives, Braginski said.