September 24, 2009, 12:00 PM — Windows 7 looms large on the horizon (I look forward to when I can reformat my Vista machine and start over with 7), and netbook users are as anxious as anyone. Will Windows 7 run on your netbook? It all depends on the graphic support chips inside your netbook.
In a chat with Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, he laid out the fastest summation I've heard about Windows 7 and netbooks. “If your netbook has a graphical subsystem, like from NVIDIA, Windows 7 runs fine. If your netbook only has the Intell built in graphics you'll default to Windows 7 Starter Edition.”
Windows 7 inherits much of the graphical interface from Vista, so you need more graphical horsepower and the ability to run Microsoft's DirectX 10. But be careful, because some NVIDIA chips, like the recently released ION, only support DirectX 9 and Windows XP, not Vista or Windows 7's full graphical interface.
Reports from users tell me Windows 7 release candidates ran well on their netbooks. However, several mentioned they turned off the AeroGlass interface because they hate it or feel it sucks too much horsepower.
Higher end netbooks should be fine with Windows 7. Lower end netbooks may be trouble if you want the “full” Windows 7 interface experience. It's better than Vista, but it's still a heavy graphics load on lightweight netbooks.