Microsoft wants Windows 8 to have the same system requirements as Windows 7

Giving credit where credit is due, Microsoft has been extremely transparent about its upcoming Windows 8 platform and has been using its Building Windows 8 blog to inform the community about the upcoming changes to the Windows platform.

On that note, Microsoft has penned up a new post about reducing runtime memory in Windows 8. The blog states:

Fundamentals such as memory usage represent a key engineering tenet of Windows 8. In building Windows 8 we set out to significantly reduce the overall runtime memory requirements of the core system. This is always good for everyone and especially in a world where people want to run more and more apps at the same time or run on systems with only 1 or 2GB of memory.

The post talks about how having more RAM in a machine actually reduces battery life of a notebook or tablet; Microsoft says that RAM is constantly consuming power. The more RAM a machine is required to have, the more power it needs, which results in shorter battery life. Thus, the goal is to build machines that don’t need several gigabytes of RAM to help improve battery life performance.

A goal for Microsoft is to have the same system requirements as Windows 7. They state on their blog, “Our goal with Windows 8 from the beginning was to ship with the same system requirements as Windows 7”. They go even further to state that they are on track to meeting this goal.

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Of course MS wants to be able to run Windows 8 on a machine with about the same specs as Windows 7 otherwise they'll be supporting 7 as long, or longer, than they have more or less been forced to support XP.

MS isn't totally brain dead!!

And to those that think Metro is only for touch-screen devices and tablet/slate PCs, think again. I've been running at least one drive (currently, it's both halves of a dual-boot setup) with the Developer Preview - Metro and all. One is a clean *development* setup (other than development tools and the OS itself, the only thing I've installed is Office 2010) - the other side started with Windows 7 Ultimate x64, then I updated the OS, added several applications (including Office 2010 x64) and a few games, than upgraded that (testing scenario from the Install Fair that concludes today) with similar code to the Developer Preview (that specifically supported upgrading from Windows 7, which the normal Developer Preview did not). So far, between the two installations, a grand total of one application broke (upgrade drive) -Windows Defender can't update its definitions (apparent network stack issue). Metro itself works fine. All my other applications work fine. My games, if anything, are at least as solid (or even better behaved with better performance) compared even to 7 + Service Pack 1. And this is on an LGA775 desktop (Celeron E3400 and a mere 3 GB of DDR2 along with AMD's HD5450 notebook GPU in desktop PCIe clothing).

Windows 7 doesn't have a 1024x768 resolution requirement. Windows 8 metro apps are dead if settings are below that. How about fixing that first since several laptop tablets cannot display the resolution needed.

Rohdekill said,
Windows 7 doesn't have a 1024x768 resolution requirement. Windows 8 metro apps are dead if settings are below that. How about fixing that first since several laptop tablets cannot display the resolution needed.

I doubt the touchscreen controllers on those laptops really meet the spec Microsoft is looking for in Windows 8.

Rohdekill said,
Windows 7 doesn't have a 1024x768 resolution requirement. Windows 8 metro apps are dead if settings are below that. How about fixing that first since several laptop tablets cannot display the resolution needed.

1024x600 Netbooks running Metro... Look it up.

Linux run on a machine with 384 mb ram, and have also a nice desktop. So, is it a challange to running an OS on 2 gigs of ram?

Jack@l said,
Linux run on a machine with 384 mb ram, and have also a nice desktop. So, is it a challange to running an OS on 2 gigs of ram?

With 384MB of memory you're only going to get the very basics of a desktop shell, at best, never mind having memory left over to actually do anything. Try something current like GNOME 3 or KDE 4, they can easily take 400-600MB on their own. Any modern operating system with a graphic shell can gobble 384MB without batting an eye.

Jack@l said,
Linux run on a machine with 384 mb ram, and have also a nice desktop. So, is it a challange to running an OS on 2 gigs of ram?

I can run a Linux machine with much less than that. Try Awesome WM or another. 128mb is enough to be honest.

Max Norris said,

With 384MB of memory you're only going to get the very basics of a desktop shell, at best

Depends what you mean by basics. I can run a very functional tiling window manager on less than that. XFCE or LXDE are also better suited to more efficient memory usage.

Max Norris said,

never mind having memory left over to actually do anything. Try something current like GNOME 3 or KDE 4, they can easily take 400-600MB on their own. Any modern operating system with a graphic shell can gobble 384MB without batting an eye.

Except that WIndows 7 uses > 1gb just to run the base OS. That's decidely more than 500mb for Gnome 3.2 or KDE 4.x

And as Microsoft themselves admit, that's a problem for battery life on laptops, tablets and their ilk.

Joey S said,
Depends what you mean by basics. I can run a very functional tiling window manager on less than that. XFCE or LXDE are also better suited to more efficient memory usage.

And don't have near any of the functionality running that other desktops do. Sure, you can run a lightweight with near nothing, but that's exactly what you'll get out of it too. Doesn't have to be Windows, just in general. Compare say KDE 4 vs LXDE's features. Quite a lot of things missing, or go even further with an "ultralight" like AwesomeWM and sure, it takes near nothing, but it provides near zero functionality too aside from a ultra-bareboned launcher and organizing windows. Microsoft isn't likely to sell a new version that's had 99% of its guts ripped out for the sake of running on a computer that was built 10+ years ago.. shoot you probably can't even buy a computer with less than 2 or 3 anymore.

Joey S said,
Except that WIndows 7 uses > 1gb just to run the base OS. That's decidely more than 500mb for Gnome 3.2 or KDE 4.x

Two nits to pick there; first, Windows tends to use free memory, the whole "unused memory is wasted memory" thing.. it gets released when it's needed. And second, I have a couple work machines here (Windows 7) that only have two gigs in them, and they idle at around 400.. if I push the memory and it swaps bits out I've seen it go as low as ~350. The only time I break 1GB is after loading up a few programs.

Joey S said,

Depends what you mean by basics. I can run a very functional tiling window manager on less than that. XFCE or LXDE are also better suited to more efficient memory usage.


Except that WIndows 7 uses > 1gb just to run the base OS. That's decidely more than 500mb for Gnome 3.2 or KDE 4.x

And as Microsoft themselves admit, that's a problem for battery life on laptops, tablets and their ilk.

Really, and when did you make up this number? Ever run Windows 7 on 512mb of RAM? It runs just like XP, and runs faster than any serious Linux with the same level of Window Manager running.

What is funny is Android needs more RAM than Windows 7 for good performance because Dalvik bypasses the Linux memory manager for Apps, and people like yourself are pulling numbers out of their arse about what Windows 7 'needs'.

Jack@l said,
Linux run on a machine with 384 mb ram, and have also a nice desktop. So, is it a challange to running an OS on 2 gigs of ram?

Ironically, freaking Android on less than 512mb is considered a nightmare. Anyone else have a 256mb Original Droid?

Windows 7 works fine on 512mb of RAM, and if you can't get your system to 512mb of RAM, maybe you should consider making it a server, flip out the mainboard, or recycle it.

Windows 7 on 512mb = XP on 512mb
(Which is still faster than any mainstream Linux distro with a modern WM.)

The days of picking on Windows for RAM usage are over. Neither OS X or Linux can compete anymore.

If you want to compare a chopped up and reduced featured version of Linux, then you need to start with Windows 7 Embedded Standard, and build on the same comparable features. I have yet to see a Linux configuration be as light in RAM or space requirements feature for feature, and this isn't even counting the 'inherent' GUI capabilities of Windows 7.

My criticism of W7 is that many components are simplified and are less efficient (take longer to open, take longer to load, etc) compared to the same component in Windows XP.

The simplified issue seems to be take care of - the ribbon interface for Windows Explorer is the way to go for any self-respecting power user.

I hope that Windows 8 addressed performance issues (as visible on low-end systems) as there is nothing stopping them from doing so (3rd party solutions and XP prove that it is simply sloppy coding).

KingCrimson said,
Nice to know I won't have to upgrade my PC! Thanks Redmond!

I know, it's horrible, what are we supposed to use as an excuse to completely upgrade/replace our systems now?

JaredFrost said,

I know, it's horrible, what are we supposed to use as an excuse to completely upgrade/replace our systems now?

Skyrim is just around the corner

smooth3006 said,
just let me be able to shut off metro and ill be happy.

Absolutely, it's possible. Tweak the reg or use the 3rd party app that tweaks it for you (currently available)

Izlude said,
...

The Apps platform underneath the metro experience is called the Windows Runtime. It changes the application paradigm that has plagued windows for so long.

The Windows runtime is a new paradigm which, if it reaches adoption from the developer community that Microsoft are counting on, it will be where MOST average users spend their time, simplifying their day to day tasks beyond what is possible within 'classic windows'.

Turning it off may be possible, but it will be to the detriment of the user. I suggest every user at least try it, instead of looking for ways to immediately disable it.

With Metro/WinRT disabled, you're merely running a highly optimized Windows 7.
If that's the case, why spend on the upgrade in the first place?

smooth3006 said,
just let me be able to shut off metro and ill be happy.

you wont.
specially if they released 2 blog articles mentioned how and why they changed start menu. and they mentioned desktop as they will improve alot of stuff they know they have to fix. if they thought about an option for disabling metro, they wouldn't write it, and just wait for people to find it out in beta or rc. how they can turn it off.
and metro style UI is the future... so i dont think Microsoft will ruin future of Windows and all they have worked specially about metro style App developing, just for people who cant accept the change. yeah it doesn't feel the same, but keep using it for 3 weeks, it feels faster and better, still you can use desktop icons and pinned taskbar. because i bet in Windows 7 you didn't touch much start menu, and its the same. you dont want to touch it much, you dont need to.

so accept it or keep using your current OS. noone will for you to upgrade for some years at least if you use win7. even if you use xp noone will for you, but you only you wont get any support.

dotf said,
With Metro/WinRT disabled, you're merely running a highly optimized Windows 7.
If that's the case, why spend on the upgrade in the first place?

At its core, Windows 7 is little more than a highly optimized Vista, believe it or not.

FrozenEclipse said,

At its core, Windows 7 is little more than a highly optimized Vista, believe it or not.

True, but I wouldn't call it 'little' more...

Windows is just optimized Vista, but the optimizations are rather impressive. From the scheduling changes, the reduction of locks, the dynamic services, and the new SMP technologies.

Windows 7 scaling is something of 'legend' in the OS theory world, as the light overhead in dealing with multiple CPUs/Cores is pushing past theory. (For example in theory NT or Linux can use 100-1000 CPU/Cores, but the overhead in managing the additional CPUs starts to hit a 'reduction' in performance even around 12-16 CPU/Cores that gets exponentially worse. This is why super computer designs are clustered models instead of one system with a massive number of CPUs.

With Windows 7 a performance reduction doesn't start until around 64 CPUs/Cores, and even then doesn't exponentially get slower, as it levels out all the way up to 256 CPU/Cores. (* Reference SMP changes Windows 7 & 2008 Server R2)

This seems 'out' of the normal user's scope, but when using even dual and quad core CPUs, the reduction in overhead bumps Windows 7 performance 10-20% over Vista as well as other OS technologies.

Vista was a new set of brilliant technologies added to NT (with ease because of the NT object model), Windows 7 is them optimized with some new changes that make Windows 7 fast and smooth. (*Reference kernel and UI layer threading optimizations)

Sadly, other OS technologies still haven't caught up to Vista in implementing some of the base technologies that will necessary for future OS designs. (GPU virtualization, GPU preemptive multi-tasking, etc.) *Reference WDDM/WDM 1.0 WDM 1.1, WDM 2.0, XPDM legacy.

The SMP scaling in Windows 7 is something to reach for as well, especially when OSes like OS X are still hitting hard locks that drop it down to resolve queue., So even a 8 or 16 CPU/Core Mac is often running on only 2 of the CPUs, even when using the new multi-core/CPU API stack, as other processes can still lock the system. (*Reference Funnel Locks, Darwin/XNU, OS X)

Nice, So i can still use my old computer.. Waiting till the Samsung tablet (w8) comes to stores..
(Using a old Pentium 4 thing, Still running w7 great..)

I'm actually surprised 8 won't be under seeing how less memory it uses by default and how much quicker it is. Don't get me wrong, remaining the same isn't bad, but I would've thought they'd push for it to be lower. I guess there's still time though.

Panda X said,
I'm actually surprised 8 won't be under seeing how less memory it uses by default and how much quicker it is. Don't get me wrong, remaining the same isn't bad, but I would've thought they'd push for it to be lower. I guess there's still time though.

I think w8 will be even faster.. (I hope even with low specs)

Ramcee said,

I think w8 will be even faster.. (I hope even with low specs)

With the hardware getting newer, in the bigger picture staying the same IS faster

that its really good news, at least on netbooks and old pentium 4... now i hope that they make windows customizable in what desktop their user want to use, because metro UI its good for tablets but not for anything else

nothing new, but its nice a long post by Microsoft about it. explaining about it
Windows 7 i always got 45-49% memory usage when it started.
but in win8 right now im getting 38% memory usage with programs running like IE, Skype and Potplayer.

its amazing how Microsoft team is working in windows 8 and still this is a dev preview so i bet it will improve more and more

McKay said,
Damn, my Windows 7 Laptop uses 1.4GB of RAM just sat on my desktop with nothing running.

Yes and no...

Windows uses RAM based on what is 'available', this is not what is 'needed' to run.

Windows 7 will run just as easily on 512mb of RAM as XP for example with about 30-50% of available RAM used.

Windows is doing two things.

1) If you have a lot of RAM, it will scale what it keeps from paging based on priority, so if you have 2gb or 4gb of RAM, the processes in use will keep more in RAM, until other applications load that have a higher priority and need the RAM.

2) Windows also uses a couple of types of adaptive caching technologies. So instead of leaving RAM 'unused' it will populate a chunk of unused RAM with prefetched data from the Hard Drive based on your usage patterns.

So for example if around 7am you always open your email program, if the computer isn't being used, it will precatch the programs and data need to load your email software. If around 5pm you load a game, it will populate the unused RAM with the Hard Drive data to load the game.

It also follows other patterns, for example if you always open Word and then load Excel and then load Media Player, it will recognize this chain and change all three programs based on when it expects you to use them and together because of your usage patterns.

This is why day one use of Windows 7 is nothing spectacular, as it is running like other OSes, but after a day or two, everything you do will noticeably get faster and faster.

You can see the inverse of this in action if you want to test out how smart Windows is at using your RAM. Find an application you never used or hardly ever use, and open it. Notice that it loads significantly slower than the stuff you use everyday, even if it isn't large. This shows the normal speed of reading from the hard drive without much optimization.


The whole memory 'in use' memory Myth is something that put people off of Vista because like Windows 7, it was allocating unused RAM for caching to speed up the system. So people were like, "wow Vista is using all 2gb of my RAM". When it wasn't really using it to run, it was just using it to make things load faster and be more responsive.

Vista on 512mb was tighter due to the background processes, but Windows 7 on 512mb is much like XP in performance, and oddly sad, faster than Android on 512mb of RAM.

So if you have 8GB of RAM or 16GB of RAM, your 'usage' will show more and more 'in use' as less will paged out, and a lot of the extra RAM will be consumed by the adaptive pre-caching system. (But why have RAM that sits unused? Windows can always dump the cache and use it for anything you need instantly.)

@thenetavenger What's your source on this:

"So for example if around 7am you always open your email program, if the computer isn't being used, it will precatch the programs and data need to load your email software. If around 5pm you load a game, it will populate the unused RAM with the Hard Drive data to load the game."

It seems hard to believe.