We have all seen the computer ads offering a laptop system for a very low price but only offering Vista Basic. I have always thought to myself why anyone would even want to use the Basic version since it doesn’t include any of the eye candy that Vista and Windows 7 offer.

I received a phone call last week from one of my ex-neighbors concerning a computer I had built for her about 9 years ago. It was a little AMD unit with 256 mb of RAM using the Windows 98 operating system. We had always joked about how long the system was lasting since she was on the computer for some 10 hours or more a day. Her phone call was to tell me that the computer had finally failed and she was going to buy a new system. I recommended a Toshiba laptop and she found one at Wal-Mart with a 17″ screen for only $348.00. [See here]

After she bought the laptop she brought it over to my good buddy Denny to have him install some stuff on it for her. Denny had sent me a photo of the unit and I asked his opinion about Vista Basic, to which he replied he didn’t care for it. So this is when my interest peaked about how bad, or good, the Basic version is.

I have a few extra hard disks laying around just to test new stuff with so I popped one in my test box, downloaded a copy of Windows 7 Basic, and did a clean install. Basic found all of my hardware without a hitch and I was up and running in about 45 minutes after a few tweaks here and there, installing Microsoft Security Essentials and some updates.

What I was presented with was a non Aero version of Windows 7 which reminded me of Windows XP. Which in itself isn’t that bad since I have a fondness for XP to begin with. XP is like an old friend, or an old pair of shoes that you just feel comfortable with. But the Basic version also has some restriction that XP didn’t. You can not change themes, so you better like the colors that come with Basic, which is a medium gray color. You can change the background but that’s about it. Naturally all of the major tools that come with Ultimate and not included, which depending on what you need, could be a good or bad thing.

Bottom line is that if you just need a limited version of Windows with no bills or whistles, Basic may meet your needs. But if you live in the U.S., Basic is no longer available. You will be getting Starter instead.

Comments welcome.