Print 33 comment(s) - last by priusone.. on Nov 2 at 10:29 AM

Minimum system specs for the operating system look to hold steady

If you can install Windows 7 on your PC, you will be able to install Windows 8 as well.  That's a key goal of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is currently crafting the OS -- due for release late next fall.

Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky reports in his Building Windows 8 blog, "Our goal with Windows 8 from the beginning was to ship with the same system requirements as Windows 7."

While Microsoft aims to officially "only" hold steady in terms of minimum required hardware (which includes memory and processor) with the new release, it's also making it clear that its informal goal is to provide a superior memory footprint in Windows 8 versus its current flagship OS.

Mr. Sinofsky shows off a pair of screen grabs taken from Windows 7 (SP1) and Windows 8 machines running at idle after multiple clean reboots.  The Windows 8 machine currently has 3 less system processes (9+% less) and has 124 MB (~20 percent) more "Available Memory" on his 1 GB notebook -- the Windows 7 minimum memory requirement.

Windows 7 memory usage Windows 8 memory usage
Windows 7 SP1 (left), Windows 8 test build (right). [Source: Microsoft]

Mr. Sinofsky writes:

It is fun to think about what the "low end" hardware looked like in 2009 and how you can't even find things like 256MB memory modules anymore. We wanted to ensure that people running on Windows 7-era hardware would have the option to easily upgrade their existing machines to Windows 8 and take advantage of the functionality it has to offer. We also expect that many machines that predate the Windows 7 release will run Windows 8 based on the experiences we’ve had with older machines we intentionally keep in our performance test infrastructure.

[Ed.- Sorry Mr. Sinofsky, Newegg says otherwise about 256 MB memory:
... but if you keep delivering such great memory performance you are forgiven.

The reduction in number of services comes from what Microsoft calls a "start on demand" model.  The basic premise here is that the service triggers when a cue is received (e.g. plugging in a USB drive), but then exits the memory space when the cue vanishes (e.g. the drive is unplugged) and a sufficient amount of time elapses.

Microsoft has also turned off, by default, services pertaining to the desktop, for builds aimed at tablets or other mobile devices.  Microsoft believes that users will spend the majority of their time in the new Metro UI, interacting with Metro-enabled apps.  If they need to use the desktop, appropriate services will start, but until they do, these services won't be taking up RAM.

Windows 8 also creates a new form of memory allocation -- "low priority" memory.  Programmers will be able to use this to designate non-essential allocations, safeguarding users from memory shortages.

Microsoft points out that while memory may play a second fiddle to processor and screen power usage on mobile devices, it still can have a significant impact on battery life.  Writes Mr. Sinofsky:

Something that might not be obvious is that minimizing memory usage on low-power platforms can prolong battery life. Huh? In any PC, RAM is constantly consuming power. If an OS uses a lot of memory, it can force device manufacturers to include more physical RAM. The more RAM you have on board, the more power it uses, the less battery life you get. Having additional RAM on a tablet device can, in some instances, shave days off the amount of time the tablet can sit on your coffee table looking off but staying fresh and up to date.

The memory usage that the Windows team is pulling is particularly impressive, when you consider that the clean install of Windows 7 tested does not include a running copy of Microsoft's Windows Defender anti-malware application.  The Windows 8 clean install -- which uses less memory -- does include this running app.

States the blog:

NOTE: For Windows 8, a clean install also contains the extended Windows Defender technology, which, for the first time incorporates complete antimalware functionality – also optimized for memory and resource use per Jason’s blog about protecting you from malware. (This functionality does not exist on a clean install of Windows 7 where we would recommend that you add security software).

This development is definitely bad news for antivirus manufacturers like McAfee and Symantec Corp. (SYMC).  While their products have come a long way from their bloated forms of yore, it seems unlikely that they will be able to keep pace with Windows Defender in terms of footprint.  While the most cautious consumers may still pick them up for the potential of added protection via quicker malware definitions updates, many consumers will likely opt to solely rely on Microsoft's free protection.

At least one major A/V firm may have seen the writing on the wall.  Intel Corp. (INTC) subsidiary McAfee heavily promoted its new hardware-level permissions defense at IDF 2011, which will be incorporated on a hardware level.  Given that Microsoft is increasingly offering protections that meet or beat veteran security software vendors' offerings, others will likely follow in suit, either looking deliver hardware-enabled protections or defenses in unique third party programs, such as browsers.

Returning to the topic of memory use, it should be interesting to see what kinds of low-end systems that enthusiasts are able to squeeze Windows 8 onto.  Windows 7 was installed and run on some torturously dated hardware -- but by the looks of it Windows 8 may be destined for even greater feats.

A "Developer Preview" build of Windows 8 is currently available to the general public, and topped 500,000 downloads within a day of going live.

Source: Building Windows 8

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By symbiosys on 10/12/2011 8:38:34 AM , Rating: 3
This is purely a reply to the Windows Defender software.

I think it's absolutely brilliant. Low footprint, no silly popup's letting you know about every packet leaving your computer and it doesn't take 10 hours to load up.

I can see Windows Defender quickly taking over most A/V software solutions out there, simply because Microsoft has more money to throw at it, plus they can bundle it with their OS, plus it's actually on par, if not better than most normal A/V's.

RE: Antivirus
By Kaldor on 10/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Antivirus
By Breathless on 10/12/2011 8:57:59 AM , Rating: 3
You are both mentioning Windows Defender, but not Security Essentials? Why? They are barely even comparable. Security Essentials is far better.

RE: Antivirus
By Steve1981 on 10/12/2011 9:46:13 AM , Rating: 2
You are both mentioning Windows Defender, but not Security Essentials? Why? They are barely even comparable. Security Essentials is far better.

It sounds from the article as though Security Essentials will be incorporated into Windows Defender in Windows 8.

NOTE: For Windows 8, a clean install also contains the extended Windows Defender technology, which, for the first time incorporates complete antimalware functionality

RE: Antivirus
By B3an on 10/12/2011 12:14:26 PM , Rating: 1
They're still using the Windows Defender name but are now using features from Security Essentials. This has been known for some time.

Already 3rd party anti-virus companies are trying to make MS's attempt look bad in order to sell there junk.

RE: Antivirus
By kleinma on 10/12/2011 2:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
The only AV product that has been better than MSE at clearing certain types of infections is the TDSSKiller utility from Kaspersky which can kill certain rootkit infections in the MBR and device drivers that MSE can't seem to get rid of yet.

When I get someones badly infected system, I do a few things:

1) Run the MSSS (Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper) which is a live CD/USB drive version of MSE, so you can scan an infected machine even if it has other AV or the virus has crippled the system to where you can not get an AV installed or safemode won't boot, etc..

2) Once I can get into Windows properly, I run Malwarebytes to find and remove additional infections and reg keys.

3) Run TDSSKiller to remove any rootkits that neither AV programs could find/get rid of

Sometimes the order this is done varies depending on the state of the machine when I get it, but other than some manual settings I may have to change back that were altered by the infection, these 3 utilities tend to get the job done everytime. And I clean out maybe 4-5 virus filled machines a week here.

RE: Antivirus
By borismkv on 10/12/2011 7:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
Combofix. Virus gone. Tada.

RE: Antivirus
By Master Kenobi on 10/13/2011 9:04:30 AM , Rating: 2
Combofix is a very nifty tool I've used on many occasions.

RE: Antivirus
By borismkv on 10/12/2011 11:00:46 AM , Rating: 5
I haven't had a virus in about 10 years. I use the best anti-virus out there. A brain.

RE: Antivirus
By Taft12 on 10/12/2011 12:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
Now that I'm done bowing to your eliteness, your brain won't save you from the zero-day exploits in flash and web browsers. Those have been served up from ads on huge legitimate sites like Yahoo too.

RE: Antivirus
By GuinnessKMF on 10/12/2011 12:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
Your first mistake was going to yahoo.

There are also plenty of ways to stay insulated from virus' if you really care to, if you don't need flash, don't install it, ad blockers go a long way to prevent "legitimate sites" from serving you that crap, enabling flash only when you need it. Same for things like PDF Reader. You can even run a virtual machine to insulate yourself from problems.

RE: Antivirus
By TakinYourPoints on 10/12/2011 2:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Those are quite a few hoops for your average person to jump through compared to just running good AV software. The option to block Flash in a web browser as a protection feature would be nice, but again that's asking a lot for normal people to manage when they expect things to just work. The benefits of toggling it off and on would be lost on so many people since it is so inconvenient.

Running good AV software really seems like the better solution. ESET NOD32 here, don't mind paying a little for it.

RE: Antivirus
By borismkv on 10/12/2011 7:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Heh. Seems my brain has protected me from 10 years worth of zero-day exploits in flash and web browsers quite well, actually.

RE: Antivirus
By priusone on 11/2/2011 10:29:32 AM , Rating: 2
Now how do we go about replicating that brain and installing it into the the idiots of the world. You know, the buddy who won't stay off of pron sites and wants you to fix his computer which somehow seems to slow down only a few days after you wipe it clean.

The problem is, if a simpleton asked which AV software you use, and you say none, they may feel that they don't need to run any. "But you said that you don't use any, so why did I get the virus." Well, see above paragraph for the answer.

RE: Antivirus
By cjohnson2136 on 10/12/2011 3:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
Except that doesn't allows help. Accidents can happen. My mom got a virus because she typed wrong. She typed and it landed her on a page with a virus. So just because you have never had a virus does not mean everyone should do that.

RE: Antivirus
By Synastar on 10/13/2011 9:57:49 AM , Rating: 3
If you're not running any scans, how would you actually know?

RE: Antivirus
By MrTeal on 10/12/2011 11:22:00 AM , Rating: 2
I can count on one hand the amount of viruses me my wife have had on one hand in the last 2 years.

How many viruses have you and your wife had on the other hand?

RE: Antivirus
By Mitch101 on 10/12/2011 12:20:24 PM , Rating: 3
Lets leave this to computer viruses nothing more.

RE: Antivirus
By Paj on 10/12/2011 12:21:40 PM , Rating: 3
Remember, herpes lasts forever

RE: Antivirus
By Kaldor on 10/12/2011 1:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
Hah, nice play on words... :)

Seriously though. Those that say blah blah blah I never get a virus, etc. Great good for you where you live in a world where you control every little option in your web browser. You are the minority.

The average user is my wife who looks at Facebook, email, message boards, YouTube, you know, normal web browsing habits. These are the people that AV software needs to be written for. Those people that click on everything and install anything cant be helped. "You cant fix stupid" is a term I use for those people.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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