Microsoft Versus
Dissecting Microsoft | Directory

Microsoft Windows and Linux Hardware Requirements

Microsoft Vista's Hardware Requirements

Initial reports indicated that Microsoft Windows Vista (Longhorn), Microsoft's next major operating system scheduled for release in 2007, had exceedingly high minimum hardware requirements. However, they've dropped many of Vista's features. So far Microsoft indicates the minimum requirements for Windows Vista correlate with many PCs being sold today. It appears the new Aero Glass user interface will require the highest end video hardware available. 64 MB (128+ MB recommended) RAM on a high bandwidth AGP 8X or PCI Express 16-lane bus is required for the full "Aero Glass Experience."

For "suitable CPUs" see the following:

One Microsoft Windows Vista beta tester reported "there are about 47+ process running. It uses about 150mb more ram then XP. And it takes an extra 8 seconds to start." (source no longer available and web archive missing: That's with no applications running, only the operating system. Microsoft Windows Vista is obviously much less efficient than Microsoft Windows XP. The loss in efficiency is at least partly due to new graphics. The value of the trade-off between graphics and performance will be determined by each user. It remains to be seen if Windows Vista without Aero Glass is more efficient than Windows XP.

Average Microsoft Vista Hardware Requirements (Microsoft Recommends)

(Foley, Mary Jo. "Longhorn to Steal Limelight at WinHEC." Microsoft Watch 30 Apr 2004)

Microsoft Windows Vista's hardware needs may be so high that many people will not be willing to make the investment for the upgrade. In 2004, Credit Suisse First Boston predicts "there is some risk that PC sales will slow down materially in calendar 2006 in front of Longhorn that we are now modeling as a 2007 event. We fear that heavy hardware requirements for Longhorn will discourage buying." ("Microsoft's Longhorn May Discourage PC Buying." Forbes 18 Aug 2004)

Windows XP 64-Bit Edition

The 64-bit version of Windows XP has a minimum requirement of 1 GB RAM. Microsoft® usually recommends double the minimum, although for now there's no recommended amount. From past experience, having twice of what Microsoft recommends is necessary for typical use. Therefore 4 GB of RAM may be necessary to properly run WinXP 64-Bit Edition.

Linux Hardware Requirements

Typical minimum requirements for a Linux distribution:

See also:

High Hardware Minimums Mean High Entry Barrier

Setting up a web server based on Microsoft products requires a significant investment. Even creating just one personal web server is expensive before including the cost of bandwidth. Windows NT and Windows 2000 are no longer available for purchase. Microsoft only provides Windows Server 2003, as the license for Windows XP prevents its use as a server. At a minimum the "Web Edition" must be purchased for $399. This requires at least a Pentium III 550 MHz with 512 MB of RAM and a 3 GB hard disk for reasonable speed. Our dynamic web site will require a database, in this case SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition for $4,999 for one processor. The total minimum cost for setting up a Microsoft web server for dynamic content is $5,398 for software plus at least a few hundred dollars for hardware.

For comparison we'll consider the bare minimum cost for setting up a web server for dynamic content from all available sources. Free, practical, software includes the Linux, FreeBSD, or OpenBSD operating system, Apache's httpd web server, the PHP scripting language, and the MySQL database. We can also choose from free content management systems that run on this platform. For the cheapest hardware we can use a single Pentium II processor with 64MB of RAM and less than 1 GB hard disk drive. The total minimum cost for setting up a non-Microsoft web server for dynamic content is $0 for software plus a few hundred dollars for hardware. The hardware could be less powerful, and therefore cheaper, than the minimum required for Microsoft software.

$6,000 is a high price for an individual to set up a small server, especially when a server could be set up for a few hundred dollars with other options. Microsoft provides a much higher barrier to entry than many other options.
Copyright © 2004-2007 Matthew Schwartz