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One screenshot is worth a thousand words, in this case.  (Source: The Windows Club forums)
Hacker is eager to push the new OS onto a Pentium system next

Microsoft recently released a tool that suggests to users whether or not to upgrade to Windows 7, Microsoft's hot new OS.  However, it appears that the actual hardware requirements may be much lower than Microsoft's suggestions if you have enough determination.

A user on The Windows Club's forum has cooked up the ultimate low-end Windows 7 setup.  The user who goes by "hackerman1" has managed to squeeze a working, bootable Windows 7 install onto a machine with a blazing fast 266 MHz Pentium II processor, a whopping 96 MB of SDRAM memory, and a high-tech 4 MB video card. 

The enthusiast first used 128 MB of RAM, then pushed the total down to 96 MB.  A subsequent push for 64 MB proved too much -- Windows 7 needs at least 96 MB to function properly.

Not to be content, the user is now working on a new setup, trying to install Windows 7 on a Pentium I machine featuring a 166 MHz CPU paired with a 1 MB graphics card.  He's also considered trying to make the new fancy graphics wrapping -- Aero -- work on the Pentium II setup. 

Don't expect a quick install, though -- a Pentium III-based system install took 17 continuous hours, and the Pentium II install likely took much, much more.  The Pentium III based system boots in a mere 17 minutes.

While perhaps not very practical, hackerman1's quest/obsession with putting Microsoft's newest on some rather outdated hardware provides a nice illustration of the new OS's smaller footprint.  The new OS is reported to have consolidated processes, lowered memory requirements, and reduced install size from Windows Vista, allowing it to be installed on netbooks and other non-Vista-ready machines.

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Article has a misleading title
By mikefarinha on 6/23/2009 11:56:16 AM , Rating: 5
It should read:

Masochist Squeezes Windows 7 Onto Pentium II System
Looks to Further inflict Even More Self-Pain on Pentium System

RE: Article has a misleading title
By TSS on 6/23/2009 12:29:06 PM , Rating: 4
i agree. this news isn't really special. i'll bet i can squeeze vista on any 40486 SX with enough HDD space. it'll just take a decade or 4 to boot up.

but it'll still "work".

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Jackattak on 6/23/2009 12:32:20 PM , Rating: 2
You couldn't put an HD on a 40486SX with enough space to on it to install Vista. I think the biggest HDD you'd be able to get the board to recognize would be like 400MB.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By nidomus on 6/23/2009 1:05:22 PM , Rating: 2
I had a 486DX2 66mhz. It came with an 852mb hard drive, which I upgraded to a 4gb a couple years later, no problems.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By omnicronx on 6/23/2009 1:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
Hes somewhat right.. Older machines had a limit of 528M, but that was a bios limitation, not a CPU limitation. You had a DX which was the fastest and last 486 model, but I had one of the original 486's and it did have the hard limit, not that it mattered to me, my HD was only 100M =D.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Proxes on 6/23/2009 1:40:35 PM , Rating: 3
You might want to check your 486 history.

All 486's are either SX or DX from the 25 on up to the 100.

The DX4s were the "fastest and last" as you put it. The DX2/66 was one of the first realesed by Intel. Only 486 I had was the DX/33 which I bought in '92.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By dondino on 6/23/2009 10:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
Intel stopped with 486's at 100mhz. The fastest 486DX was by AMD @ 133Mhz. Arguably between the speed of an Intel Pentium 66 and 75.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Ammohunt on 6/24/2009 2:24:21 PM , Rating: 2
Thats only half correct AMD put out a 486DX-80 which ran at multiples of 40mhz which at the time the intels only ran at 33 mhz i.e. 486DX-66; 33mhzx2 Those particular AMD 486's were the faster.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By dondino on 6/25/2009 12:17:36 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure where I've stated any false info. True, the DX2 maximum with AMD was a DX2-80. However, they made DX4 variants to 120Mhz, the Am486. Their Am5x86 (also pin compatible with Intel 486 processors) was made at a max of 133mhz, making it the fastest commercially available 486 ever, on par with a Pentium 75.

By winterspan on 6/28/2009 10:16:10 PM , Rating: 2
486? How OLD are you guys?? :)

RE: Article has a misleading title
By omnicronx on 6/23/2009 1:31:27 PM , Rating: 2
P.S Unless you had a later version of Windows 95 , you also were not using a 4GB drive as FAT32 did not come along until the second service release of Windows 95 and the update only came as an OEM release, so you would have had to buy a new 486 machine in 1996 =P. Not saying it didnt happen, but I just really doubt it..

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Motley on 6/23/2009 3:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
He said "a couple of years later". Also, you can use FAT16 on a 4GB drive by having two partitions and a really large cluster size, four partitions and a reasonable cluster size, or using an advanced driver like stacker at the time (Which did compression, but ALSO used very large cluster sizes, and could mark clusters as being partially full as well negating most of the drawbacks from the large cluster size).

By killerb255 on 6/24/2009 12:42:43 PM , Rating: 2
In my case, our old family computer that was bought in 1994 had the following:
AST Advantage (I wonder what ever happened to that company?)
486 DX/2 50 MHz
4 MB RAM (fast-page, if I remember correctly)
14.4 modem
480 MB hard drive
Windows 3.1

In the end, it was upgraded to:

486 DX/4 100 MHz
56 K v90 modem
6.4 GB hard drive (my first lesson in FAT32)
Windows 98 and...
...a 2x2x16 Memorex CD burner!!!! Woot!!! w. NTI CD burning software!!!

So yes, a board/BIOS capable of running a 486 can use larger hard drives (I'm sure it wouldn't know what to do with the 32 GB cap, though...).

Retired it in 1999 (too long, of course) and built a machine with a Celeron 333 MHz w. 128 MB of RAM (everything else above the same).

By FITCamaro on 6/23/2009 1:52:20 PM , Rating: 2
Had a Packard Bell with the same CPU. 8MB RAM, 1MB video memory, 700 something MB hard drive. Ran Windows 3.11 and later Windows 95 on it.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Samus on 6/24/2009 8:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
40486SX? it's 80486 if you want to be technical.

and if i remember correctly (and i have a bomb ass memory) ATA-1 IDE (before EIDE) was capable of addressing 137GB, but common BIOS limitations only allowed for 8.5GB which could be fixed by simply putting in a decent controller. this is where promise and siig made their names, while adaptec mostly stuck to SCSI controllers.

so far, all microsoft OS's can be installed within an 8.5GB space.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By omglol on 6/24/2009 10:08:28 AM , Rating: 2
(and i have a bomb ass memory)

Also known as

fyi: everyone here can internets

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Motley on 6/23/2009 3:11:43 PM , Rating: 3
That was only a limitation of IDE drives. SCSI drives didn't have that problem (since the SCSI cards came with their own BIOS).

By MrPoletski on 6/24/2009 3:57:47 AM , Rating: 2
It'll recognise a HDD controller AIB and you should be able to get a 486 on a PCI mobo, therefore you could have huge disk sizes.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By omnicronx on 6/23/2009 1:15:53 PM , Rating: 5
I think the point of the article is that 7 is much lighter than Vista. Windows 7 works perfectly fine on two of my old P3's with only 256M of RAM, meanwhile doing that with Vista would only happen in my dreams.

I think it is pretty special when a new OS that is 15 years older than the hardware being used works at all. Heck Windows 2000 required at least 64M of RAM, so getting 7 to work with only 96 is huge.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By thornburg on 6/23/2009 1:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
Heck Windows 2000 required at least 64M of RAM, so getting 7 to work with only 96 is huge.

Win2K will boot with 32MB. I've done it. It's slower than molasses, but it will boot.

Actually, even MS says 32MB is enough:

By threepac3 on 6/23/2009 3:04:31 PM , Rating: 2
You can run XP with 32MB of RAM as well.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Ammohunt on 6/24/2009 2:30:04 PM , Rating: 2
I sucessfully got Win95 to run on a AMD 386DX-40 with 32MB of RAM. It was interesting you could watch the system draw the dialog boxes on screen.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By marvdmartian on 6/23/2009 4:22:14 PM , Rating: 3
While your point is valid, I think the true question to be asked isn't "can it be done", but rather, "should it be done"??
The Pentium III based system boots in a mere 17 minutes.

It's like saying you can download an HD movie with AOL dial up service. Sure, it can be done, but doing it with cable, dsl or FiOS will do it so much better, right?

It does make me wonder what the boot time for this system was, though!

By MonkeyPaw on 6/23/2009 5:50:54 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, it didn't take anywhere near 17 hours to install 7 or Vista on my old P3 machine with 512mb of RAM. I'd say it took somewhere between 1-2 hours. I didn't think to time it!

I think it is pretty special when a new OS that is 15 years older than the hardware being used works at all. Heck Windows 2000 required at least 64M of RAM, so getting 7 to work with only 96 is huge.

Yeah, yet MS gets so much trouble when something old can't work anymore on MS's new OS. It looks like Pentium II has outlived PowerPC!

RE: Article has a misleading title
By AntiM on 6/23/09, Rating: 0
By invidious on 6/23/2009 1:11:58 PM , Rating: 5
The only time he would have to spend would be trimming the OS, then you set it and forget it.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Donkeyshins on 6/23/2009 1:23:41 PM , Rating: 2
How about a Corvette LS1 into a BMW E30 (325)?

RE: Article has a misleading title
By FITCamaro on 6/23/2009 1:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
LS series engines fit in a lot of things. Saw a dynograph of a LS7 in a RX7 putting out just shy of 500 rwhp with just headers and a tune. Ridiculous power to weight ratio.

Think some people actually put LS motors in Ford Probes too.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By Spuke on 6/23/2009 2:26:52 PM , Rating: 3
Mallet put a twin-turbo LS7 in a Solstice. He he. Video's on Youtube somewhere.

By RubberJohnny on 6/23/2009 10:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
Ok for a drag car but it would handle like crap. RX-7s are designed with a perfect 50-50 weight balance when the original wankel is fitted, imagine what a LS would do to that!

RE: Article has a misleading title
By mmntech on 6/23/2009 2:35:10 PM , Rating: 1
Jet engine in a Beetle? Sorry, couldn't resist.

By MrBungle123 on 6/23/2009 4:23:08 PM , Rating: 3
Squeezing a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 Corvette engine into a 1974 Chevy Vega.

you can fit anything into anything as long as you have enough cubic dollars.

RE: Article has a misleading title
By greylica on 6/23/2009 6:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
7 , deserves 7 :)

RE: Article has a misleading title
By kwicken on 6/23/2009 11:05:23 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if it were installed on one of these high speed SSDs or Flash Drives/Memory Cards and the computer booted off of that, would it work just fine until you tried to do any thing with it? Maybe by then it's user beware. Then again you might void the warranty on the Pentium I/II system.

The ultimate abuse would be to shoehorn it into an 80386/80486 or may even an 80286 based system.

Netbook w/ Atom CPU boots Win7 in ~20 seconds
By irev210 on 6/23/2009 12:08:13 PM , Rating: 5
I just installed windows7 on my netbook. From the second I push the power button until it boots and i launch/load internet explorer takes 31 seconds.

To shutdown Win7 takes 4 seconds.

We have come a long way.

(asus 1000HE with OCZ vertex 30GB SSD and 2GB of ram)

By EasyC on 6/23/2009 12:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
I too have windows 7 on my netbook. (Asus 1000HEB)... it runs better than xp lol. It fully boots into login screen in about 15-17 seconds.

RE: Netbook w/ Atom CPU boots Win7 in ~20 seconds
By Mitch101 on 6/23/2009 12:26:46 PM , Rating: 2
If you close IE then reopen it how quick is it then? Still 31 seconds?

I think the 2 gigs of ram is the key without the ram it has to do a ton of disk thrashing.

By monomer on 6/23/2009 3:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
I installed Win 7 on my old Athlon 64 3500+ desktop, which only has 1 GB of ram, and it actually still runs pretty snappy. Using Firefox with multiple tabs open will start to thrash on the hard disk after a while, but IE 8 runs really well, and only takes a few seconds to load.

By RubberJohnny on 6/23/2009 10:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
Did you not notice he also has an SSD...

RE: Netbook w/ Atom CPU boots Win7 in ~20 seconds
By kattanna on 6/23/2009 12:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
OCZ vertex 30GB SSD

and thats the KEY piece making that happen.

i got windows 7 installed on one on my quad core system, and those drives are amazingly fast.

i use another for a couple games i play.. LOL just awwesome

By ertomas on 6/23/2009 6:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
I installed it on my acer netbook that has a 160gb 5400rpm sata HDD and it runs great. And that's only with 1gb RAM.

By petrosy on 6/23/2009 9:57:53 PM , Rating: 1
That is pretty good. I have ubuntu 9.04 on an old celeron running webserver and Mythtv Backend with MYSQL on regular SATA drive with 1.5gb ram.

Boot time under 30 secs.... talk to the hand B****s!

I have had this system running for sometime now. Let see if you still have ~20 sec boot time after a few months.

And to the guy putting Win7 on a P2.... you need to get out more!

how about....
By Souka on 6/23/2009 12:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
How abotu a Pentium 60 system?

RE: how about....
By Fox5 on 6/23/2009 12:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe, the processor speed probably isn't the limitation, more so having enough hard disk space to do the install and having enough memory to feed the requirements of the system.

Still, it's nice that Microsoft is finally accomplishing something Linux did years ago, having their modern OS scale well enough to work on even ancient hardware. There's a lot of 9x machines out there still that need an upgrade, and even XP has enough security vulnerabilities to make upgrading a parent's computer to Vista/7 a good idea if the hardware can handle it.

RE: how about....
By mikefarinha on 6/23/2009 4:37:19 PM , Rating: 4
If someone is still using a Win9x system then security isn't really a concern to them.

This reminds me....
By mikecel79 on 6/23/2009 12:50:09 PM , Rating: 5
When my friend had a 386SX/16 with 4MB of memory. He insisted that because he had 4MB of RAM he'd be able to run Windows 95 just fine. I tried explaining that the CPU would barely be able to keep up but he said "Nonsense. I can run anything with 4MB of RAM."

After installing it and waiting 15 minutes or so to boot up he proclaimed victory until he had to wait another 5 minutes for the Start Menu to come up. After 30 or so minutes or this he asked if he added more RAM would it be faster. My other friend (who had been laughing most of the time) said

"No you'll just be able to run more stuff slow."

I love "tinkering"
By ajfink on 6/23/2009 11:56:54 AM , Rating: 2
This makes me want to try and get the beta on my 1.4Ghz Tualatin-based Celeron machine. Comparatively, it's a hotrod when next to what this guy got it on.

Kudos to him, that's fun.

RE: I love "tinkering"
By StevoLincolnite on 6/23/2009 7:33:12 PM , Rating: 2
I've got it set-up and running on my network storage box which is: Dual Tualatin Pentium 3 running at 1.4ghz, 768mb of ram and a PCI Radeon x1550, runs pretty snappy! I chucked in a 4gb readyboost, and Aero works flawlessly.

Vista brought that machine to it's knee's because of the lack of memory (Using 3x 256mb SDRAM 150mhz sticks).

Kudos to Microsoft for the better performing OS! :)

I once installed Win98 SE....
By Golgatha on 6/23/2009 12:20:41 PM , Rating: 2
I once installed Win98 SE on a 486 66Mhz machine, and I thought that was bad (it was). I was trying to provide a no-cost computer to my grandma, but the machine was so slow with Win98 SE on there that it was almost unusable.

RE: I once installed Win98 SE....
By Tsuwamono on 6/23/2009 12:48:14 PM , Rating: 2
Really? I've had my 486 running Windows 98 SE ever since it came out. But then I had 16mb ram so that may have helped greatly.

By HostileEffect on 6/23/2009 12:00:15 PM , Rating: 3
All the more reason to dust off your old UT99 server.

Older System
By inighthawki on 6/23/2009 12:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
I know this isn't quite as old as a pentium 2, but if anyones interested, i've installed win7 on an old athlon xp 2400 with 512MB of ram and it runs great, almost like XP. Microsoft has really done a good job lowering the requirements for windows 7, i am very impressed because vista on that same setup i know wouldve been slightly sluggish...

By EasyC on 6/23/2009 12:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
Why.... just why?

I managed to install an x86 version of Vista on my Via Nano carputer with only 2gb's of ram and no page file. Vista uses a measly 400mb of ram while running due to my tweaking and runs flawless, aero and all. While thats not as impressive as Win7 on a PII, but still....

So Rad...
By Jackattak on 6/23/2009 12:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
Kudos to this kid. Looks as though Win7 will shape up nicely.

By Indianapolis on 6/23/2009 1:00:01 PM , Rating: 2
How do we know this guy is actually a Tinkerer? I worked too hard for my T+ cert to have every other guy with an old computer claim to be a Tinkerer.

Kind Of Senseless
By mindless1 on 6/23/2009 4:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
People have done this for years, I recall putting Win98 Lite on a 486 with either 4 or 8MB of memory, and as noted with the Win7 and PII combo, it was not a system useful for anything.

On the other hand, contrasting it with Vista pretty much misses the point, because XP exists! XP will run with less than half that much memory, and not take over a dozen minutes to boot.

The ideal netbook is inexpensive and durable, will be expected to be fit with a high performance (with next-gen SSD controllers) but limited capacity (to keep price low) SSD soon enough.

Whether Vista can run within the amount of DRAM main system memory in a netbook is not the problem since DRAM memory is so inexpensive. The problem is the continual I/O to the *disk* subsystem and the larger installed footprint on a limited capacity SSD.

On the topic of pushing limits and shrinking things, I have managed to fit an XP w/SP3 and lite Office 2K3 install plus other basic things like Firefox and other small footprint apps onto a 2GB flash card, with plenty of room to spare. Come to think of it IIRC the install was under 1GB total besides a pagefile.

While it's not such a big deal for the OS to take up 3 or more times the space on a larger mechanical HDD, it will be on a low cost limited capacity SSD.

Quite interesting
By sprockkets on 6/23/2009 4:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
The whole bootup time of Windows has often baffled me. Our old P2 300mhz machine from Gateway arrived with 64MB of ram, and took a reasonable amount of time to boot win98 (delivered 1 day before its launch).

Then, an old Monorail all in one computer, with maxed out ram of 64mb of ram on a 5x86 AMD CPU, could boot win98 in about a quarter of the time it took that Gateway to boot, even though the Gateway had more than twice the clock speed. It shut down instantly too, while the Gateway never did.

Heck, this computer, a Dell 700m, boots Vista and 7 just as fast as it does XP. Though on other systems, it takes much longer to boot Vista than XP.

To be sure, a newer computer will still encode videos faster whether it takes longer to boot or not, but still, makes you wonder...

By Nyu on 6/23/2009 10:39:37 PM , Rating: 2
17h for a P3? I don't think so. I vlited a install for a P3-700 Mhz, 300 mb ram, 20gb disk laptop. It took 2-3 hours at most, and it was perfectly usable. Boot didn't take longer than 2-3 minutes and I could surf the net was just fine, albeit minor lockups and now and then while caching.

I forgot, who cares?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 6/24/2009 8:05:34 AM , Rating: 2
Not me, surely. Now if he put a 427 GM Motor into a Miata, THAT would be something.

The reason why this works
By Mistoffeles on 6/26/2009 4:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
This is only because MS finally learned something: Monolithic kernels are obsolete. Put as little as you possibly can into the kernel, and load everything else later.

This is what enables Win7 to actually load on a P-II (or even a 486 or 386), but you will not be able to load it on a 286 like some user suggested because Win7 requires a 32-bit processor (of course you aren't going to get 64-bit Win7 onto a P-II). It is quite possible that you won't be able to run it on a 386SX either, but that's just a guess.

Unfortunately, unlike Linux, you won't be able to DO much with Win7 on a P-II, whereas you could easily make that box useful (smart router, web server, DNS server, file server, etc.) running Linux or a similar OS that isn't bogged down by the requirement of running a full GUI at all times.

I'm actually surprised that this hasn't been mentioned before in the comments (or if it has, I missed it), unless of course it was edited out for some reason.

By Zaphod Beeblebrox on 6/26/2009 4:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
see above.

By piroroadkill on 6/24/2009 5:43:16 AM , Rating: 1
I have no doubt the limitation was more the speed of the old, shitty hard drive and the amount of RAM.

If you give windows 96MB it's going to swap all day long.

A Pentium III with enough RAM to prevent swapping would perform usably, I'd wager

By Souka on 6/23/2009 2:22:18 PM , Rating: 3
Welp three issues with Crysis...

1. Video card
--I'm pretty sure this P2 system has an AGP slot...and I know Crysis will run on a ATI x1950pro AGP maybe that'll work.

2. HD Space - does the host machine have enough free space to install the game?

3. Main memory... Crysis will probably do a memory check... I suspect 96mb ram will cause it to not load.

My $.02

By Alpha4 on 6/23/2009 6:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
The novelty of that joke hasn't worn off for me! I bet your comment was modded down by bitter users whose own systems can't run Crysis. ;)

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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