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Preview of Vista On Old Hardware 259

Posted by Zonk
from the very-crunchy dept.
Grooves writes "According to tests performed by Ars Technica, Windows Vista will need some coddling on old hardware. As a follow-up to their performance review of Vista Beta 2, Ars tested the latest public builds of Vista on hardware spanning from 2001 to a Thinkpad purchased a few months ago. The results show that Vista is extremely RAM hungry, graphical power is less of an issue unless you want eye candy, and hard drive I/O is critical. Also, their experience with 'in-place upgrades' was abysmal, and mirrored my own experiences."
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Preview of Vista On Old Hardware

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  • I guess I won't be able to run it on my old hardware :-D
    • by minus_273 (174041)
      it wont be
    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:47PM (#16797578)
      How old is your hardware? For the article-imparied, they tried it on a 1.2Ghz Athlon Gateway box that had 512Mb RAM and said "We were extremely impressed with Vista on the five-year-old Gateway".

      They did say more RAM is a good idea and recommended 1Gb.

      So I guess you will be able tyo run it on your old hardware after all.
      • by nexex (256614)
        I tried RC2 on an athlon 1700+ with 768Mb ram. Just sitting at the desktop with nothing open windows was using 40-50% of ram. I would say if you are going to play games on it, 1Gb would be minimum.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by larkost (79011)
          While I don't know anything about how Vista actually uses RAM, it may be that Vista is starting to use the same philosophy that *nix does in this regard: unused RAM is wasted RAM. In the *nix philosophy you keep eveything that you could ever use again in RAM and only release it when something else is going to use it. I am over-simplifying it a bit, but that is not far off the mark.

          So, it could be that the memeory useage you are seeing is not the OS "hogging" memory, but rather that it is simply trying to us
          • by springbox (853816)
            It might be more like Win XP's thinking: "Any unused RAM is wasted RAM, unless it's the last few hundred megabytes. Oh, and have fun swapping. A lot."

            P.S. I usually use Win XP. I wish it had some sort of "swappiness" setting like Linux does.
            • I just kill swap on XP. I have a thinkpad with a gig of ram and it's damn peppy with most of the optional crap turned off. I just have to remember to close and re-start FF every so often (especially before a compile).
              -nB
    • What bugs me more that out of 3 VPN clients that I use (AT&T used by my company, Cisco used by client and OpenVPN used by myself) two either do not work or are not reliable.
  • I am sure there will a few hundred posts pointing this out, but XP seems to do the job just fine for now. Just wait till Microsoft releases Vista SP2 or SP3, if that. What intelligent person would really want that DRM OS on their box anyway?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Scarletdown (886459)
      What intelligent person would really want that DRM OS on their box anyway?


      Sadly, that would be the sheeple who don't know any better, the ones who don't even know what DRM is all about, and don't realize that there are viable choices out there instead of just unquestioningly accepting whatever Redmond tosses their way through the big chain stores like Circuit City, Best Buy, Office Depot, etc.

    • by DerGeist (956018) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:45PM (#16797552)
      Microsoft's worst enemy and toughest competition has always been previous versions of Microsoft products. Word, Excel, and the like haven't changed much in quite some time save for esoteric features 99% of the population doesn't even know about. Same with Windows, lots of people run 2000 and they're just fine. Obviously the adoption of any new Windows OS isn't going to be immediate and overwhelming; it takes time as people purchase new computers with Vista preinstalled and games begin demanding Vista only (just as they began demanding 2000 only, etc.). Windows OSs always creep into popularity rather than gaining overnight ubiquity. I myself didn't like XP and really didn't think I'd ever upgrade (hearing the same "DRM OS" arguments being lobbied today), but eventually I found myself liking it more and more and finally moved over entirely. It's great; I like the stability and performance it provides versus previous versions. It took some time, however, before my PCs were up to the challenge. I feel the same will gradually be true of Vista and the hardware requirements we're all so worried about will, again, fade. Microsoft likely put high requirements on purpose to ensure the operating system has a decent lifecycle. Like buying a shirt that's too big for a child since they'll "grow into it" anyway.
      • Microsoft likely put high requirements on purpose to ensure the operating system has a decent lifecycle. Like buying a shirt that's too big for a child since they'll "grow into it" anyway.

        Because, as we all know, Microsoft wouldn't want their OS to perform too well on that new hardware near the end of its lifecycle.

    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      I am sure there will a few hundred posts pointing this out, but XP seems to do the job just fine for now.

      Post all you like about good XP is, I just don't see any reason to upgrade my Windows 2000 boxes. Do I really want WGA anyway?

      • by abigor (540274)
        Exactly. I have a dual boot Gentoo/Windows 2000 laptop, and it works just great. I've barely ever even used XP.
    • To hell with that. Wait till the crackers get ahold of it and remove all that activation and other bullshit.

      • Yeah, whatever. If they really wanted to, they could create a near-perfect activation that would be un-"fixable".

        How? PKI service running that feeds the kernel specific information gleaned only by username, user_privatekey and MS_publickey. You could turn on or off certain kernel functions with the appropriate kernel calls and responses.
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      You're wrong. For most people, XP simply doesn't do the job. 9x does.
    • by westlake (615356)
      What intelligent person would really want that DRM OS on their box anyway?

      The person who doesn't share the Geek's obsession with DRM. The person who expects media play and PC gaming to "just work" out the box. The person who is in the market for a new and more capable OEM system. The person who likes the look and feel of the new OS and its backwards compatability with his existing software library.

      The person who gave Microsoft 95% of the home PC market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Iron Condor (964856)

      I am sure there will a few hundred posts pointing this out, but XP seems to do the job just fine for now. Just wait till Microsoft releases Vista SP2 or SP3, if that. What intelligent person would really want that DRM OS on their box anyway?

      Here's how it's going to happen: Our IT folks at work will hear that Vista is supposedly better at keeping viruses and trojans and such at bay than XP. Which doesn't really mean a lot, given XPs performance. So I'm very much inclined to believe MS when they say Vista

    • by evilviper (135110)
      but XP seems to do the job just fine for now.

      And 2000 does the job better...

      What intelligent person would really want that DRM OS on their box anyway?

      What intelligent person would really want an OS that phones home, anyways?
  • by Headcase88 (828620) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:34PM (#16797366) Journal
    The OS keeps the hardware so busy it doesn't have time to run any viruses. (Or anything else for that matter).
  • by Locutus (9039) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:36PM (#16797420)
    Don't know about you people but besides a handful of geeks, nobody installs new versions of MS Windows on old computers. It gets preloaded by OEMs who have financial strings requiring them to do so. So it does not matter if Vista sucks, doesn't work on old hardware or fails when upgrading over previous versions. It'll show up on new machines and those customers will use it no matter how bad or good it really is.

    On one way, all these "features" making it difficult on older hardware are probably crumbs thrown to the OEMs so they'll sell more new computers preloaded with the "new" MS Windows. Funny how that works.

    Only getting off the treadmill breaks this loop. IMO.

    LoB
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by msobkow (48369)

      Personally I don't see Vista as a viable upgrade. It's not buying anything for existing hardware that already performs it's required functions.

      But there will be people who insist on installing an upgrade on older hardware, then complain about how slow it is. The same has been true with every release of Windows since WFW.

      An existing developer box could be recommissioned as a standard desktop, but doing development under Vista will require substantial upgrades. Some tools already require 2GB or more p

    • by jfengel (409917)
      The main target for installing Vista on old computers is in offices where they don't want to pay to upgrade the hardware, but want to keep a uniform OS environment for simplicity's sake. They buy the upgrade in bulk, so it's not quite as expensive a proposition as it sounds.

      There will also be some home users who will want the new games available only for Vista, or perhaps want the security promises MS is making.

      There's another brand-new market for Windows in its non-OEM form: Apple Intel computers. Obvious
      • Bingo. Corporations with MS support contracts and yearly fees do commonly upgrade existing machines. The university that I go to upgraded >1000 machines of various vintage (ranging from PII/233 boxes to 3.0 GHz Pentium 4s) to Windows XP Professional from Windows 2000 two years ago.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg (145172)
      Only getting off the treadmill breaks this loop.

      But all my lights go out when I do that.

      KFG
    • by Foofoobar (318279)
      Don't know about you people but besides a handful of geeks, nobody installs new versions of MS Windows on old computers. It gets preloaded by OEMs
      And so those thousands of boxes sold at Costco, Walmart and other retail outlets are all just bought by geeks? I seriously doubt it. But this time around, I think those people who DO purchase their copy over the counter are going to be returning alot of those boxes.
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:39PM (#16797452) Homepage
    To summarize,

    "The new version of windows requires more RAM than the last version, and despite MS promises to the contrary, never do an upgrade"

    It would be news if this *wasn't* true for a new version of Windows.

  • So will RAM prices (DDR and DDR2) fall as Xmas passes or go up as people relaise they need more for Vista?
  • Disk-intensive operations in Explorer were very slow in the Vista RC1 release on my 2003-era (with no GPU) hardware. Deleting a folder that used to take 5 seconds now takes about a minute. I saw similar results for unzipping (with Explorer) and copying folders. I don't know whether it's the new pane-of-glass-sliding-across-the-window progress UI, or whether some optimizations were turned off for RC1.
    Also, if you're upgrading, keep in mind you need 10.7 GB free disk space to upgrade from Windows XP. In the e
    • I just picked up a "spare" thinkpad T21 (PIII 800MHz, 384MB RAM)

      I booted Puppy Linux [puppylinux.org], and after about 5 minutes figuring out where Puppy stores the WEP key, had that box on line. It's rocket fast and requires no tweaking. I was blown away with how well I could open word and excel documents from OWA.

      New OS' from Redmond always need more CPU and RAM. Interestingly, I was also recently shocked at how usable Tiger was on a G3 233 with 256MB RAM. DARN usable. Try that with a current MS OS and hardware built
      • by Petersko (564140)
        " just picked up a "spare" thinkpad T21 (PIII 800MHz, 384MB RAM). I booted Puppy Linux [puppylinux.org], and after about 5 minutes figuring out where Puppy stores the WEP key, had that box on line. It's rocket fast and requires no tweaking. I was blown away with how well I could open word and excel documents from OWA. New OS' from Redmond always need more CPU and RAM. Interestingly, I was also recently shocked at how usable Tiger was on a G3 233 with 256MB RAM. DARN usable. Try that with a current MS OS and
      • Hmm, XP is actually pretty responsive on my late 90s dual pII 333 with 512mb ram. Usable? that would mean I have an actual use for XP, which I don't, but it was definitely usable for some mail and web browsing and even office (2k) seemed pretty workable. Of course any cpu/gpu intensive gaming is out of the question
      • by rthille (8526)
        Interesting comment about Tiger. I recently had one of my Crucial 512MB SO-DIMMS go bad in my 400MHz pismo (G3) laptop. I definitely noticed the difference in responsiveness and usability between 512MB and 1GB while I was waiting for the replacement memory. Of course, it's Safari. I would only panic when running Safari...
    • Re:Vista RC1 is slow (Score:4, Informative)

      by Hijacked Public (999535) on Friday November 10, 2006 @04:32PM (#16798202)
      RC2 isn't any better. You didn't mention how much memory you have, you pretty much need 1GB to do anything useful. Speed wise, Vista seems to be much better off without Aero running as it seems to be doing quite a bit of stuff outside the GPU that results in a bigger system memory footprint.

      I had RC1, then RC2 running on a 3.2Ghz Pentium machine with 512MB. Apps like Adobe Lightroom (Beta 4) and Photoshop CS2 were slow enough to make me give up trying to use them.

      My interest in Vista stems mostly from having attended a photographer's summit put on by Microsoft early this year. They were seeking input from pros about the features we'd like to see in Windows and there are actually a few things in Vista that were brought up there, even though the bulk of it was more of a pitch about where they are better than OSX. They still have a long long way to go though.
    • by loraksus (171574)
      I experienced the same problem.
      This is a screenshot I took on one of the occassions where file operations would just seem to stall for no reason at all.

      And it actually took 3 minutes to finish deleting 9mb [vehiclehitech.com]
  • Wasn't there an article here in the last couple of weeks pointing out that the Vista EULA wouldn't allow benchmarking? Or am I imagining things in my dotage?
    • by Shados (741919)
      Most Microsoft EULA's don't allow benchmarking, but unless you have a lot of visibility, they rarely call anyone up on it. You can see SQL Server benchmarks everywhere, yet these are what Microsoft is the most anal about.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday November 10, 2006 @03:53PM (#16797672)
    What I'd like to know is what in the hell is going on with the Aero theme that it is so absurdly demanding on the hardware.

    I guess I don't understand the intricacies of what's going on because I see no reason whatsoever for a GUI to be more damanding than any contemporary PC game. The only excuse I see is sloppy and inefficient programming. It really leaves me with the impression that one of the big goals of Vista is to promote hardware sales.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919)
      Please note I do not know the details of the -implementation- of Aero, so the following is just the theory behind the concept:

      The idea is, by making the UI hardware accelerated, you shift the burden of the UI from the cpu to the video card, which would be almost idle at that time, thus getting -better- performance overall (since GPUs are more efficient, and, again, was idle). Now, if you're hitting the GPU anyway, you have a lot of spare cycles, so might as well add eye candy, its "free" so to speak, sin
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by realmolo (574068)
      It's not more demanding than contemporary games, really

      But remember, the GUI has to work with every other part of the system. It can't be "optimized" in the same way as a game, because it's not really a standalone application.

      Or are we all forgetting that OS X's GUI was fairly sluggish until they switched to Intel machines with real graphics cards? The Intel Macs should run Vista pretty well.
      • by tb3 (313150)
        That's utter crap.
        OS X 10.4 ran perfectly well on my G3 500Mhz, with 16MB of VRAM. It runs even better on my Dual G4 450 Mhz, with a Radeon 9000 with 128 MB of VRAM.
        OS X has always looked better than Windows. No painting delays, no shearing, no remnants of other windows left behind on the screen.
        • by pherthyl (445706)
          I have to second this. I don't use mac's (the UI annoys me), but they really got the performance of their GUI right. At work I once had an old 500Mhz G3, (running 10.3 or something) and the UI performance was great. Resizing windows was a bit choppy, but everything else worked very smoothly. Now if I run Vista on my laptop from last year (AMD64 3200, 1GB RAM, ATI Xpress200m), it is not as smooth as that ancient iBook. I can guarantee you every component in my laptop is far far faster than anything in t
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by stanleypane (729903)
          Yes, utter crap indeed.

          I support a small graphics design team that upgraded to OS X 10.2 a few years back. At that time, the fastest machine we had was a Dual 500MHz G4. I know, I know, talk about holding back on hardware upgrades. Like I said, I support, I don't purchase or recommend.

          Regardless, OS X has always had a very fluid GUI on older hardware. We even had some old G3's at the time that we used for various tasks (just don't let them go to sleep.. they'll sleep forever). These ran OS X just fine
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I was running XGL/Compiz on Linux, and it ran quite smoothly on my AMD64 3200+ with Radeon x550. I disable it because half the time it wouldn't start up, most likely due to bad ATI drivers. Anyway, speed being the issue, it was very fast. According to a comment here [wordpress.com] the specs are very low, at P3 1GH and 512 MB of memory with a weak GForce Card.
      • by Trixter (9555)
        "But remember, the GUI has to work with every other part of the system. It can't be "optimized" in the same way as a game, because it's not really a standalone application."

        That is the most absurd thing I've read this entire thread. Just because it's not a standalone application doesn't mean it "can't" be optimized. Usually system libraries are the *first* things to be optimized because they get so much use.
    • by Ruie (30480)

      What I'd like to know is what in the hell is going on with the Aero theme that it is so absurdly demanding on the hardware.

      I guess I don't understand the intricacies of what's going on because I see no reason whatsoever for a GUI to be more damanding than any contemporary PC game. The only excuse I see is sloppy and inefficient programming. It really leaves me with the impression that one of the big goals of Vista is to promote hardware sales.

      Well, the big difference is that a game has a (relatively) sm

    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Moving the cube around in Compiz reminded me of Half Life/Counter-Strike levels where one could see world while awaiting resurrection.

      Back in 2001 on Dell Latitude, panning was not too bad, but it was much better on my desktop at home. When I played with Compiz recently, I couldn't help but wonder how cool it was, and what the hell was going on with mshaft.

      I, TOO, feel they are doing this on purpose to drive hardware sales. After all, Compiz worked on a 128 MB Radeon (fglrx) it tested, and I've read somewhe
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday November 10, 2006 @04:10PM (#16797894) Homepage Journal
    And does anyone have a copy on punch cards they could dupe for me? I had the early release candidate all ported over to the UNIVAC standard 90-column cards and ready to go, but during the last inventory I spilled coffee on one of the DLL batches, jumped up in surprise, and accidentally knocked over crate #47,128.

    Will someone please bring me a new rip of Vista right away, or at the very least a large rake?
    • by alexhs (877055)
      Please submit an Ask Slashdot entry and you won't ever be lacking dupes. If it's less than 16 777 216 crates, Slashdot will handle it just fine.
  • I installed the Release Candidates on a Sempron 2200+ with 512MB RAM. The system would have been fine for simple office/parent use. All the hardware worked right away, including the budget VIA chipsets and a generic PCI gigabit card. Vista really does need a gig of RAM, though, with only 512 it was constantly accessing the pagefile.

    Really, the memory requirement is important, the others less so. Any Intel or AMD CPU from the last four or five years will run Vista well.
  • My summary:

    Vista will run on older hardware but you're not going to get any of the cool UI features unless you have a newer video card and lots of RAM. There are some kinks that are still in Vista at this time. When installing Vista always do a clean install.

    Personally, I'm getting not getting Vista. I'm hoping that XP drops in price when Vista comes out. I'll recommend XP to my friends who are still on 95/98/ME/2K and want to keep their hardware.

  • by Jahz (831343)
    Half a dozen Microsoft Engineers, marketeers and QA people held big technical talk at my university a few weeks ago. They did not hide the fact that Vista was designed for the future, not the past. First of all, nearly all of the new visual fluff will disable itself on hardware older than probably around 3 years old. If you get your old laptops and aging 5+ year old machines to run Vista, it will revert to the same old XP UI. I'm not sure about any non-fluff features... they probably disable depending on
  • More like Garish Ass!

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.

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