Windows 7 on a Thumb Drive?

By  |  Friday, June 26, 2009 at 10:33 am

Windows 7 Thumb DriveNetbooks, pretty much by definition, don’t have optical drives. Microsoft is talking up Windows 7 as a great OS for netbooks. Retail versions of Windows, like almost all software, come on optical discs. Problem!

Over at Cnet, Ina Fried is reporting that Microsoft is contemplating the possibility of shipping a version of Windows 7 on a thumb drive. It makes perfect sense if the company hopes to sell upgrades for a meaningful percentage of all those netbooks out there running Windows XP. (Windows 7 will presumably be available as a download–that’s the primary means of distribution for the Release Candidate–but not everyone is going to want to download an entire operating system. And if you spend $100 or more on a piece of software, it’s comforting to have it in physical form.)

USB drives may have gotten remarkably cheap, but they’re still costlier than a DVD disc–even bought in the volume that Microsoft would need them. But Corel sells its new Home Office–a $70 office suite aimed at netbook users–on a thumb drive, so it appears to be economically feasible. (Years ago, Corel was also one of the first companies to distribute software on CD-ROM rather than ludicrously tall stacks of floppy disks–maybe it’s once again figured out the future of software distribution before most of the rest of the world.)

I’m convinced that within two or three years, optical drives of any sort will be the exception, not the rule–even on the nicest notebooks. We’ll do our watching of movies and backing up of data using wireless connectivity and the Internet. We’ll also get our software the same way. (Prediction: At some point stores like Best Buy and Staples will simply do away with their software sections, and it’ll probably happen sooner than you might think.)

For now, though, people still buy plenty of software in stores. I’m betting that there will indeed be a version of Windows 7 delivered on a thumb drive, and that there’s a good chance most software that’s available in physical form at all will be sold on flash devices before too long.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Jason Meserve Says:

    Why does Best Buy have a software section now? About the only time I buy software in the store is tax time and that’s because it’s usually an impulse. Otherwise, it’s all download or ordered online.

  2. Randy Peterman Says:

    I am curious how many devices boot cleanly off of a thumb drive. I don’t have any real experience with it, but maybe someone here can comment on the quality of the experience across different machines.

  3. ediedi Says:

    The disappearance of physical drives is not 2-3 years away, it’s 20-30 years away at best. Download everything? only when everything will be available online and every single consumer will benefit from cheap broadband internet – we are very fram from that globally.

  4. JustCallMeBen Says:

    @ Randy:
    I have a USBstick on which I isntalled a linux-distro and I can boot it anywhere. At least on machines on which I have access to the BIOS 🙂

    Most modern PCs can boot from a USB-drive by default, but some don’t, and then you have to change the boot priority in the BIOS… I fear this won’t be an option for most mainstream user :/

  5. tommyy77 Says:

    well I don’t know about this…. Windows7 on pen drive sounds really odd.

  6. narreh Says:

    I dunno about this either, would cause much issues for Microsoft Support. who’s supposed to support it if there are any installation issues, if the end-user is unable to boot from the device and so on, Microsoft? the manufacturer(OEM)? The end-user?

  7. Apple Jacks Says:

    I remember even a couple years ago some tax and antivirus software came on USB flash drives, giving their users a chance to gain a free USB Drive from their purchase.

  8. ǝıɥɔıɹ Says:

    Wow just wow im getting a new notebook in november how do you think theyy will send the se7en upgrade by disc or download?

  9. ibjasonbme Says:

    I have a thumb drive with Windows 7 Ultimate on it now. I made it myself, it is bootable and installs just fine on all of the netbooks I have tried it on. Fairly simple, just boot from drive as if it was a Cd or DVD then install. I used a Disk to get all the files, then moved them to the Flash drive after making it bootable.


1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Blog Troony » Blog Archive » Windows 7 poderá ser vendido em pen drives Says:

    […] De acordo com o blog Beyond Binary do site CNET, em maio a Microsoft declarou que seu novo sistema operacional seria perfeito para netbooks. Então, para incentivar o upgrade dos usuários que compraram suas máquinas com o Windows XP e até mesmo com Linux, a empresa de Bill Gates teria pensado na venda do sistema já em flash drives, a fim de facilitar na hora da escolha e da instalação, noticiou o site Technologizer. […]