(Note: please see our updated correction on this story.)
Now here's an oddity: Microsoft's "Windows 7 compatible" sticker that will be affixed to nearly all Windows computers around Windows 7 launch doesn't seem to include current Atom Netbooks.
The reasoning, according to Microsoft's page and an Engadget report, is that these stickers will indicate that the computer in question can run all versions of Windows 7, including 64-bit. Says Mark Relph, Senior Director of the Microsoft Windows Strategy Group: "To be granted the Logo, products are tested to work with all versions of Windows 7 including 64-bit. This is an important change since 64 bit systems are becoming more mainstream." While future Atom processors will be 64-bit capable, current Intel Atom Netbooks with processors such as the Atom N270 can't run 64-bit Windows 7, and are thus off the list for this sticker.
Without a doubt, 64-bit operating systems are the future of mainstream. But to deny any system that can run Windows 7 in a non-64-bit environment a compatibility logo seems like absurdity at best, and a push to make consumers buy more expensive laptops at worst. This could create a scenario where a shopper goes looking for a Netbook, doesn't see a "Windows 7 compatible" sticker, and suddenly gets worried. Fear not, we say.
Microsoft has been in this logjam before with Windows Vista, except back then people were suing because their laptop said "Windows Vista Capable" and yet couldn't run the Aero graphics necessary for certain multimedia software. Microsoft had created a second logo sticker called "Vista Premium Ready" that indicated multimedia-friendliness, but it seemed to be way too confusing for consumers.
Perhaps that's what we're dealing with here as an aftermath: Microsoft being overly cautious not to market full Windows 7 capabilities in a lower-end machine.
Regardless of the reasoning, we're here to tell you that while Intel Atom Netbooks, of which there are many, won't be able to go 64-bit, they can still run Windows 7 just fine. We know, because we've tried. We hope Microsoft puts some kind of Windows 7 label on Netbooks to let people know they won't be stuck in Windows XP-land forever. May we suggest "Windows 7 copacetic?" You can have that one for free, Redmond.
UPDATE: Microsoft has since confirmed that "Windows 7 compatible" is a logo for peripherals only, and not desktops or laptops. Future stickers will address Windows 7 computers. See our updated story.