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APC on Windows 7: "We bust the low-spect myths!"

Michael Brown   July 22 2009 05:58:32 AM
That's one of of the headlines on the cover page of the August 2009 edition of Australian Personal Computer (APC) magazine.

Sadly, you won't find this story on the APC web site, but I'll quote as much as I can here without getting sued!

Now, this publication has some very pro-Microsoft contributors.  One column, the author of which who shall remain nameless, is a running Microsoft PR piece of which even the Guardian's "Microsoft" Jack Schofield would be proud.  (They have good coverage of other platforms - take a bow Ashton Mills on Linux - which is why I buy it).  In general though, APC has been banging the Windows 7 for quite some time now.  None more so than publication's Editor, Tony Sarno, who called Windows 7 "the real successor to XP".  Here's what he had to say as recently as his June 2009 editorial:

I've never seen anything like the favourable reaction that Windows 7 is getting from beta testers...Win 7 works beautifully in beta, runs on low-power machines and has a far more refined UI than Vista... you can put [Windows 7] RC1 to good use by using it to revive aging XP hardware.  Stick it on any old non-essential PC with 1GB or even 512MB of RAM and you'll be surprised at how zippy the new OS is...

Praise indeed.  So, I was somewhat surprised to see that in the current edition, he's changed his tune:

Windows 7 looks the goods, but there is at least one myth about the new OS that needs to be debunked: that it will work on lesser hardware than Vista.  Even I fell for this initially, suggesting ... [see above] ... that a Windows 7 Beta download could be used to review an old machine, a role once owned by Linux...But after some thorough testing of Windows 7 RC (which is pretty much the finished product), it's clear that Windows 7 needs at least 2GB of RAM to be happy.  Wasn't that Vista's minimum requirement for comfortable operation as well?

Basically, it seems that all those "beta testers" - Microsoft astroturfers, maybe? - were actually feeding him a load of rubbish, which he then dutifully parrotted in the pages of APC.  Only when his staff did some proper testing for themselves did they find the truth: Windows 7's resource requirements are pretty much the same as Vista's.  Marvellous.  Let's give the guy his due though: it's not too often that you see a computer journalist admitting that he's been talking out of his arse (although that's all most of them are actually capable of doing).

So, here's what we're looking for Windows 7:

  • 2GB of RAM (Microsoft says 1 GB) for the 32-bit version, and 4GB+ (Microsoft says 2 GB) for the 64-bit version
  • 1.6GHz processor (MIcrosoft says 1GHz).  That's not too bad, I guess.
  • 20GB hard drive space (Microsoft says 16GB) for the 32-bit version, and 40GB+ (Microsoft says 20GB) for the 64-bit version.  You can kiss that netbook solid state drive good bye!!

APC test Windows 7 out on a number of machines, giving each a mark out of ten for how well it runs.  A circa 2003 Thinkpad with 512MB of RAM and a 1.6GHz P4 processor gets only 1/10!  Only machines with a Core 2 Duo processor, 2.00GHz or more, get scores higher than 5/10.

Netbooks aren't covered.  APC ducks that one by saying that they're waiting to test those on the Windows 7 Starter Edition.  Hmm....

The Windows 7: Hardware section of the magazine puts it quite well:

there's good news and bad news ...the bad news is that they [Windows 7 requirements] are actually very similar to Vista's.  The good news is that since Vista's launch in January 2007, PC technology has caught up, and new budget PCs will run it with a reasonable level of performance

In other words, Microsoft has done what it's always done, going right back to the release of the original Windows NT in the early 'Nineties: it's produced slow, bloated software and then waited for customers to buy hardware that's fast enough to run it.  To add insult to injury, many of those suckers people are going to end up paying for this one twice!  For surely, Windows 7 is little more than a service pack for Vista.  Even the early, cheap Amazon deals that you could get in the U.S. and U.K. were overcharging for it, IMHO.  And those deals are all gone now, of course.  They were never available at all here in rip-off Australia.

I highly recommend that you really buy the mag and look for yourself; that' if you're down this neck of the woods.


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