Microsoft is considering offering Windows 7 on a thumb drive so that netbook owners can more easily upgrade their machines, a source has told CNET UK sister site CNET News.
The move, which is still under consideration, is one of several potential methods being looked at by Microsoft in an attempt to make it convenient to upgrade machines without a CD or DVD drive.
The challenge of getting Windows 7 onto netbooks threatens to cast a shadow over Microsoft's technical work in getting the operating system to run on such mini laptops at all. Its predecessor, Windows Vista, proved ill-suited to netbooks, forcing Microsoft to continue selling Windows XP on such machines.
Although a USB flash drive could offer the simplest way to install Windows 7 on a netbook, there are other options. Buyers with an external drive could hook that up to their netbook. Microsoft also currently sells a downloadable version of Windows, so, in theory, it could do the same with Windows 7, allowing buyers to put the OS on their own thumb drive.