Thursday, June 11, 2009

Windows 7 on Your Old Computer

Hot off the presses: Michael Scalisi wrote a nifty little article for's Business Center dishing the dirty on Windows 7's older hardware support. According to the article, which can be found here, the minimum system requirements for Windows 7 RC are "a 1GHz Processor, 1 GB RAM, and 16GB of free hard disk space." So in true geek fashion, Mr. Scalisi grabbed the nearest almost-there (Intel P3 933MHz processor, 768 MB of RAM, and 80GB hard drive) old PC he could, and went about installing Win7 RC on it.

Surprisingly, aside from a few hardware glitches, it seems that he was successful in Frankenstein-ing together a rather reasonably running box. Sure, there were some driver issues concerning older hardware, but those were quickly remedied by swapping those particular pieces (DVD drive, video card, and network card) for something a little more modern. You're also not going to be rocking Aero at all on a box like this, but if you're just looking at taking a peek at the OS in general, that shouldn't be a problem.

Michael Scalisi ran the machine through some real-world paces, launching a handful of tabs in Chrome, as well as IE 8, while playing some music on Media Player. He says it's a little sluggish, like you'd expect, but not so much so that it's unusable. He calls it "perfectly usable as long as your expectations are appropriately low."

So what does this exercise in geekery prove? Well, for starters it means that Microsoft has rolled back their inappropriately high minimum system requirements to a more reasonable level. The machine that Mr. Scalisi used for his article was built in 2001. It also means that business that have been waiting for all this Vista stuff to blow over and Microsoft to come out with a reasonable replacement for Windows XP might not have to upgrade their hardware after all. Did Microsoft think of this when they started hacking away at Windows 7? Ummm... we think so.

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