Microsoft Offers Windows 7 on USB Drives for Netbooks
Microsoft has developed a solution for porting Windows 7 onto netbooks that lack a DVD
drive: a USB memory stick. The feature was announced during the Windows 7 launch
event in New York City on Oct. 22.
Specifically, netbook users can use Microsoft's newly
revamped online store to download Windows 7 for Netbooks onto a bootable
USB, or burn it onto a DVD.
"For netbook users without DVD drives, the Windows 7 USB/DVD
Download Tool [WUDT] will take an ISO image and create a bootable USB device
that can be used to install Windows 7," Microsoft spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc wrote
in an Oct. 22 entry on The Windows Blog. "The WUDT can also create a Windows
7 installation DVD from the ISO file as well."
The WUDT will work with PCs already running Windows XP or
Vista. However, there are also some caveats for netbook users looking to take
the USB route.
"Please note that in order to boot off of a USB device (or external DVD player), you will need to configure your BIOS to boot off of that device," LeBlanc added in his blog post. "If you're not comfortable making this type of BIOS change I recommend you seek assistance from your favorite 'tech geek.'"
The WUDT plays into Microsoft's strategy to port Windows 7 onto
as many devices as possible. Now that the operating system has been released,
Redmond needs it to be a sizable hit among both consumers and the enterprise in
order to help reverse a declining revenue trend.
Despite the popularity of netbooks, PC sales have been
slumping due to the recession, and weighing down Microsoft's revenues in the
process. On Oct. 23, Microsoft
released earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 that showed a 14
percent decline year-over-year from the same quarter in 2008, with revenues of
During that period, Microsoft's operating income, net income
and diluting earnings per share for the quarter declined 25 percent, 18 percent
and 17 percent, respectively. Microsoft is hopeful, though, that its new
collection of products plus a corporate culture increasingly devoted to
streamlining will ultimately translate into positive earnings in
"Windows division revenue will be in line with overall PC growth," Chris Liddell, Microsoft's chief financial officer, said during an Oct. 23 earnings call. "Our strategies will position us to take advantage of the economic recovery."
Liddell expressed hope in what he termed "good" feedback from corporations with regard to adopting Windows 7. Although 80 percent of all commercial PCs continue to run Windows XP, according to a recent report from research firm Forrester, the support for XP's Service Packs 2 and 3 will end in April 2014.
Long before that point, of course, Microsoft is hoping that people will have made the leap to Windows 7-even if they need a USB device to make that happen.