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Windows OS System Requirements from 1990 to 2006

May 23, 2006 by  

There’s an interesting article over at TechWeb regarding the changes in Windows system requirements for every major releases of the operating system.

It seems like yesterday (at least for me :) ) that we only needed a computer with at least 386DX and 4MB memory to run Windows 95. Apparently Windows 3.0 (released May 1990) required 640K conventionally memory to run!

But of course, it’s not unusual for Microsoft to understate system requirements even when the minimum hardware has difficulty running the OS. Typically we do not want to run Windows on computers with the minimum hardware requirements.

As Windows’ demands more computing power, hardware prices continue to plummet. Contrary to what we may think, a desktop able to run Windows XP for example cost only 42 percent of the price of a computer running Windows 95 eleven years ago.

Fast forward to 2006, Windows Vista will require at least 1GB memory to run, 1 GHz 32bit or 64bit processor, not to mention a powerful graphic processor to fully support the Aero interface.

But we won’t be spending more money to get those stuff as compare to what we would have paid a year ago.

 

Windows 3.0 – May 1990

286 or faster processor

640K conventional memory (additional 256K extended memory recommended)

Hard disk drive

Hercules, CGA, EGA, VGA, or 8514/A graphics card (EGA or higher resolution recommended)

MS-DOS 3.1 or later

Mouse optional

[Tidbit: First Windows to be pre-installed on PC hard drives, by Zenith Data Systems and Dell.]

 

Windows 95 – August 1995

386DX or faster processor (486 recommended)

4MB memory (8MB recommended)

35-55MB hard disk space

3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive

VGA or higher resolution (256-color SVGA recommended)

Average desktop PC price: $1,926

Average notebook price: $2,819

[Tidbits: 3.5-inch floppy version came on 13 disks; Brian Eno composed the Windows 95 start-up sound.]

 

Windows NT 4.0 – August 1996

Pentium or faster processor

16MB of memory (32 MB recommended)

110MB hard disk space

CD-ROM drive

VGA or higher-resolution display adapter

Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

Average desktop PC price: $1,988

Average notebook price: $2,997

[Tidbit: Holds the record for most service packs -- 6, plus a post-SP "Roll-up" -- delivered for a Windows OS.]

 

Windows 98 – June 1998

486DX 66MHz or faster processor (Pentium recommended)

16MB memory (24MB recommended)

120-355MB hard disk space

3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive

VGA or higher resolution (16-bit or 24-bit color SVGA recommended)

Average desktop PC price: $1,619

Average notebook price: $2,395

[Tidbit: Crashed catastrophically -- complete with infamous "Blue Screen of Death" -- during April 1998 COMDEX presentation by Bill Gates, who quipped "That must be why we're not shipping Windows 98 yet."]

 

Windows 2000 – February 2000

133MHz or faster Pentium-compatible

64MB of memory

650MB free hard disk space

CD-ROM or DVD drive

VGA or higher resolution monitor

Keyboard required

Average desktop PC price: $1,306

Average notebook price: $2,167

[Tidbit: First Microsoft OS to make it through development and release without a code name.

 

Windows Millennium - September 2000

Pentium 150MHz processor or better

32MB memory

320MB free hard disk space

CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive

3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive

Video adapter and monitor that support VGA or higher resolution

Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

Sound card

Speakers or headphones

Average desktop PC price: $1,306

Average notebook price: $2,167

[Tidbit: Usually considered the "dog" of Windows, Millennium's moniker of ME was said to stand for " Moron Edition," "Migraine Edition," "Malfeasance Edition," and "Many Errors."]

 

Windows XP – October 2001

Pentium 233MHz processor or faster (300MHz is recommended)

64MB of memory (128MB recommended)

1.5GB free hard disk space

CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive

Video adapter and monitor with Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher resolution

Keyboard and a Microsoft Mouse or some other compatible pointing device

Sound card

Speakers or headphones

Average desktop PC price: $1,163

Average notebook price: $1,876

[Tidbits: First Microsoft OS to require "activation;" metamorphosed into more variations than any other OS, including Home, Professional, Tablet PC, Media Center , N (specifically for the European market, sans Windows Media Player), Starter, and Professional x64.]

 

Windows Vista – ??

[Premium Ready]

1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor

1GB of memory

Graphics processor that runs Windows Aero

128MB of graphics memory

15GB free hard disk space

DVD-ROM drive

Audio output capability

Internet access capability

Average desktop PC price (2005 data): $801\

Average notebook price (2005 data): $1,256

[Tidbits: Longest development track of any Windows OS: first announced in July 2001, prior to XP release; first Microsoft OS to be named in lawsuit before it launched.]

 

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