The downloadable versions of Windows 7 - aimed at netbooks - can be installed directly from a USB storage device.
If you're a netbook user wanting to upgrade to the latest release of Windows, you're probably in the market for an external optical drive. However, Microsoft has opted to remove this requirement with the first version of Windows which can be installed from a USB storage device - no hacking required.
As reported over on Electronista
, the Windows 7 netbook installer allows users to "download Windows 7 directly onto a USB drive on your netbook - no CD or DVD drive necessary.
The downloadable installer - which is available only through Microsoft's own online store
- allows Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate to be installed without the need for an optical drive. For some reason, however, only upgrade versions seem to be available - you will need a netbook which is already running either XP or Vista to install the USB version of Windows 7 legally, although that shouldn't be a challenge
Missing from the list of available editions is Windows 7 Starter Edition, the 'light' version of the operating system which many thought would find its way to replacing XP as the de facto netbook operating system. From this it's clear that Microsoft is hoping netbooks have developed to the point where they can run the full-fat versions of Windows 7 without difficulty, with no need to rely on cut-down versions or the eight year old Windows XP which is currently saturating the market.
The pricing for the downloadble editions is the same as for the standard version, although there is currently no official way to turn a DVD-based version into a USB-based netbook installer.
Do you applaud the move from Microsoft to make installing the OS on netbooks easier, or do you wish that they'd offer the Starter Edition for whose who prefer a lighter operating system on their netbooks? Share your thoughts over in the forums