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Microsoft eyes Windows 7 broadband bundles

The company is in talks with telecom providers and others to work out how Netbooks running Windows 7 could be bundled with other hardware and services.

Microsoft's Neil Holloway
Neil Holloway in Brussels. Tom Espiner/ZDNet UK

BRUSSELS--Microsoft plans to use telecomunications companies as a channel to promote Windows 7 for Netbooks.

Speaking to ZDNet UK at Microsoft's Growth and Innovation Day in Brussels on Thursday, Neil Holloway, vice president for business strategy at Microsoft International, said the company was in talks with telecommunications companies and other service providers to work out how Netbooks running Windows 7, currently in beta, could be bundled with other hardware and services, in order to increase market reach.

"Microsoft is working with telcos as a specific channel," said Holloway. "The way that Carphone Warehouse bundles phones, PCs, and laptops is phenomenal. We will do something slightly similar, and make some offer which includes Windows 7 and Windows Live."

Holloway added that "Netbooks are here to stay" and reiterated Microsoft's announcement from February that it is developing a pared-down version of the Windows operating system for use on Netbooks.

Because of their inherent mobility, Netbooks have become a standard offering from most mobile operators, who are keen to extend usage of their 3G networks.

Although the cheap subnotebooks started life as Linux-bearing machines, Windows XP is now the dominant operating system on Netbooks--partly because Microsoft dropped its XP prices to encourage uptake among Netbook manufacturers, and partly because of customers' familiarity with the OS.

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer recently said that the Windows 7 Starter Edition aimed at Netbooks would be made available "at the current Windows XP price point."

See also: Windows 7 to compete with XP in netbook market

Tom Espiner and David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from Brussels and London, respectively.