Windows System Hardware Requirements Since 1990: More Power, Less Bucks
For some added perspective on Windows Vista's minimum hardware specs, here's a look at Microsoft's stated requirements, along with hardware prices, for each major Windows release since 1990's Windows 3.0.
The publication Thursday of Windows Vista's minimum hardware specs is only the last in a long series of requirement postings by Microsoft. To show some perspective, TechWeb compiled the Redmond, Wash. developer's stated reqs for each major Windows release since 1990's Windows 3.0.
Caveat: Microsoft is notorious for understating system requirements to pitch Windows to the greatest number, even when that minimum hardware has difficulty actually running the OS. JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox characterized the habit this way on his blog. "You could run Windows on the minimum requirements, but you wouldn't want to."
As an additional comparison, average prices for desktop computer -- monitor included -- and portable PCs have been noted for all releases except Windows 3.0. (Data provided by IDC.)
While these "average" prices don't spec out systems identical to Microsoft's minimum requirements, they are a good indicator of what users paid for machines to run each OS.
It's easy to notice that as Windows' requirements got steeper, prices plummeted. A desktop able to run Windows XP (and probably at least parts of Vista), for example, costs only 42 percent of the price of a computer likely running Windows 95 eleven years ago. (Today's average notebook costs 45 percent of 1995's.) And that's not even factoring in the rate of inflation.
Here are the major releases for Windows, their release dates, and system requirements. Many of the trivia tidbits were gleaned from Wikipedia.
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