When it comes to Windows 7, do you really need a PC with Microsoft's minimum specs? We got five PC users to install the OS on underpowered machines to find out.
When it comes to giving an old PC a new lease of life, Linux has long-been the favoured OS because it's lighter than Windows, it's secure enough to let you sidestep CPU-hogging antivirus programs and it's free.
However, Windows 7 could be about to change this. Think of Windows 7 as Vista after an extended stay at a health farm - trim, buffed and Botoxed. Even netbooks can run it.
In the past it usually made little economic sense to reinstall Windows on an older PC, as buying a new retail copy of Windows would often cost more than the PC was worth. But with Windows 7, Microsoft plans to offer a 3-upgrade-licence 'family pack' of the Home Premium edition for $150 (£92) in the US (UK pricing hasn't been revealed yet).
Based on what Microsoft has already said, users will likely be able to (clean) install Windows 7 on a machine running XP without having to install Vista first.
Also, Windows 7 continues Microsoft's legendary backward compatibility for applications. For instance, I was able to get my 12-year-old copy of Office 97 running on Windows 7 with no hitches.
Microsoft says the minimum specs for Windows 7 are:
- 1GHz CPU
- 1GB of RAM
- 16GB of drive space
- DirectX 9-capable graphics card or integrated chip (true of most releases 2002 and after)
But do you really need a computer with the minimum specs as outlined by Microsoft to run Windows 7?
At another site, The Windows Club, someone claims to have run Windows 7 on a circa-1997, 266MHz Pentium II with 96MB RAM and a 4MB video card.
We decided to see just how low we could go with Windows 7 ourselves. So we asked five users - including yours truly - to successfully run Windows 7 Ultimate RC on a variety of older and underpowered hardware, from a seven-year-old white-box desktop to a Dell netbook. Here's how they got on.
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