One of the options that Microsoft has to counter Google Chrome OS is to release a customised version of Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 8 for a few dollars or even free.
After all, Google has said that Chrome will be tightly linked to a Google-based Linux distribution; this should allow Microsoft to do the same without encountering the wrath of the bureaucrats at the European commission.
There is already a version of Windows 7 called Starter Edition which, like Chrome OS initially, will target netbooks. Microsoft removed the restriction that prevented users from running three concurrent applications on it.
But the software company could introduce an even more radical package that would allow only ONE application to run (excluding background processes such as anti-virus applications, wireless and Bluetooth, and system tools like Explorer and Control Panel).
This Internet Edition of Windows 7 would automatically launch IE8 (which can incidentally double as Windows Explorer) at startup and allow users, like for Chrome OS, to surf the web and spend their time online.
Most importantly, this version, which would be available for free, would come with Microsoft's own services installed (as bookmarks) by default. This includes web versions of all its major applications.
A web-based MSN messenger would be like Meebo. Hotmail is already web-tied and Microsoft could get the ideal platform to release a browser-based version of Microsoft Works, coupled with the possibility of using something like Skydrive and a trimmed down version of Office Live Workspace, which would both be free.
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Microsoft could tap in the experience of the developers of NLite or LitePC to customise Windows 7 Starter to make it as efficient as possible. This should prove to be a doodle and a quick way of making Windows 7 work even faster.
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