Minimum system specs for the operating system look to hold steady
If you can install Windows 7 on your PC, you will be able to install Windows 8 as well. That's a key goal of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is currently crafting the OS -- due for release late next fall.
Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky reports in his Building Windows 8 blog, "Our goal with Windows 8 from the beginning was to ship with the same system requirements as Windows 7."
While Microsoft aims to officially "only" hold steady in terms of minimum required hardware (which includes memory and processor) with the new release, it's also making it clear that its informal goal is to provide a superior memory footprint in Windows 8 versus its current flagship OS.
Mr. Sinofsky shows off a pair of screen grabs taken from Windows 7 (SP1) and Windows 8 machines running at idle after multiple clean reboots. The Windows 8 machine currently has 3 less system processes (9+% less) and has 124 MB (~20 percent) more "Available Memory" on his 1 GB notebook -- the Windows 7 minimum memory requirement.
Windows 7 memory usage Windows 8 memory usage
Windows 7 SP1 (left), Windows 8 test build (right). [Source: Microsoft]
Mr. Sinofsky writes:
It is fun to think about what the "low end" hardware looked like in 2009 and how you can't even find things like 256MB memory modules anymore. We wanted to ensure that people running on Windows 7-era hardware would have the option to easily upgrade their existing machines to Windows 8 and take advantage of the functionality it has to offer. We also expect that many machines that predate the Windows 7 release will run Windows 8 based on the experiences we’ve had with older machines we intentionally keep in our performance test infrastructure.
[Ed.- Sorry Mr. Sinofsky, Newegg says otherwise about 256 MB memory:http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007611%20600006058&IsNodeId=1&name=256MB
... but if you keep delivering such great memory performance you are forgiven.]
The reduction in number of services comes from what Microsoft calls a "start on demand" model. The basic premise here is that the service triggers when a cue is received (e.g. plugging in a USB drive), but then exits the memory space when the cue vanishes (e.g. the drive is unplugged) and a sufficient amount of time elapses.
Microsoft has also turned off, by default, services pertaining to the desktop, for builds aimed at tablets or other mobile devices. Microsoft believes that users will spend the majority of their time in the new Metro UI, interacting with Metro-enabled apps. If they need to use the desktop, appropriate services will start, but until they do, these services won't be taking up RAM.
Windows 8 also creates a new form of memory allocation -- "low priority" memory. Programmers will be able to use this to designate non-essential allocations, safeguarding users from memory shortages.
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