Windows 7 Starter only comes preinstalled—mostly on netbooks—so you can't buy and install it on your own. It's designed for doing the basics, such as using the Internet, sending e‑mail, and creating documents.
With Windows Anytime Upgrade, you can upgrade to a more advanced edition of Windows 7 over the Internet in a matter of minutes. Which features you add will depend on which edition you decide to purchase. If you upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, you'll get entertainment features like Remote Media Streaming and multiplayer games. With Windows 7 Professional, you'll also get the ability to work easily and securely from anywhere with location-aware printing, Backup and Restore, and other productivity features.
Yes. Starter includes Windows Media Player 12, which can play audio and video in a variety of formats. And with Play To, you can stream music and video to compatible devices and other PCs running Windows 7 on your home network. For the best entertainment experience on your PC, consider upgrading to Windows 7 Home Premium, which includes all the audiovisual goodies of Windows Media Center, such as the ability to watch, pause, and record live TV on your PC.
You can't change desktop backgrounds (wallpapers) or themes on PCs running Windows 7 Starter. You can personalize your PC in other ways—by changing the color of your windows, for example, or adding desktop gadgets. If you want to customize your PC's look with new themes and wallpapers, you'll need to upgrade to another edition of Windows 7.
Yes, you can join and create wired and wireless networks in Windows 7 Starter. You can also join a homegroup to start automatically sharing printers, media, and documents with other PCs running Windows 7 in your house. But you can only create a homegroup in Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate.
Most programs designed for Windows XP work fine in Windows 7 (visit the Windows 7 Compatibility Center for more details). For those that don't, Windows XP Mode, a free download that works with Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate, can run Windows XP programs in a separate window right on your Windows 7 desktop.
There's no set limit to how many programs Windows 7 Starter can open at once. But keep in mind that Starter only supports up to 2 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, which can affect your PC's performance if you're running lots of programs at once. A more advanced edition of Windows 7 that can use more RAM will help your PC run multiple programs more smoothly.
Finding a netbook that's right for you
Going places with your netbook
Which edition has the features you want?
Installing Windows 7 on a netbook
Upgrading Windows 7 on a netbook using Windows Anytime Upgrade
Windows Anytime Upgrade
The easy way to add more features to Windows 7.