Thursday, October 13, 2011

Windows XP System Requirements

The following stated hardware requirements by Microsoft are the absolute minimum to install Windows XP Professional and also applies to the Windows XP Home version. Microsoft also includes some hardware recommendations above the absolute minimum to make Windows XP Pro. or XP Home perform on an acceptable level.

No. Really, they’re serious!

With these minimum system requirements for Windows XP in mind I will add comments and recommendations gathered from real world experience as a PC Technician. Of course, my comments will be colored by my admittedly sarcastic and jaded attitude toward Microsoft’s overly optimistic projections.

XP Pro System Requirements:
PC with 300 megahertz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system);* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended 28 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features) 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space* Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor CD-ROM or DVD drive Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

More XP System Requirements:

Additional Items or Services Required to Use Certain Windows XP Features.

For Internet access:
Some Internet functionality may require Internet access, a Microsoft.NET Passport account, and payment of a separate fee to a service provider; local and/or long-distance telephone toll charges may apply. 14.4 kilobits per second (Kbps) or higher-speed modem

Huh? What do they mean “Some Internet functionality may require Internet access”? Seriously, how can you have Internet functionality with out Internet access?

Microsoft.NET Passport account? I have used a dial-up Internet connection for over 10 years and have never needed a Microsoft.NET Passport account. Can you say, Microsoft proprietary protocol?

It would be difficult to find a modem slower than 56 kbps these days.

For networking:

Network adapter appropriate for the type of local-area, wide-area, wireless, or home network you wish to connect to, and access to an appropriate network infrastructure; access to third-party networks may require additional charges.

For instant messaging, voice and videoconferencing, and application sharing, both parties need:

Microsoft.NET Passport account and Internet access or Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server instant messaging account and network access (some configurations may require download of additional components)

OK, enough is enough. Since when do you need a Microsoft.Net Passport account to use ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, AOL, IRC or any other instant messaging clients? MSN only!

For voice and videoconferencing, both parties also need:
33.6 Kbps or higher-speed modem, or a network connection Microphone and sound card with speakers or headset

For videoconferencing, both parties also need:
Video conferencing camera Windows XP

If you intend to use videoconferencing a Broadband connection is strongly recommended.

For application sharing, both parties also need:
33.6 Kbps or higher-speed modem, or a network connection Windows XP

For remote assistance:
Both parties must be running Windows XP and be connected by a network

For remote desktop:
A Windows 95 or later-based computer, and the two machines must be connected by a network

Tip: Windows XP Professional remote desktop software can be installed on Windows 9x with the the Widows XP Pro. install CD.

For sound:
Sound card and speakers or headphones
For DVD video playback:

DVD drive and DVD decoder card or DVD decoder software 8 MB of video RAM

Tip: Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home do not come with DVD decoder software installed. You can get a DVD decoder by down loading a free one from Roxio or by installing a DVD media player like WinDVD or nVDVD. Once a windows DVD decoder is installed, DVD content can be played with most media players including Windows Media Player.

For Windows Movie Maker:
Video capture feature requires appropriate digital or analog video capture device 400 MHz or higher processor for digital video camera capture Actual requirements will vary based on your system configuration and the applications and features you choose to install. Additional available hard disk space may be required if you are installing over a network.

Disclaimer: Having hardware meeting these requirements does not mean that the PC will perform to your satisfaction.

Test system:

Having read these requirements I decided to do an experiment with an old IBM PC I had laying around. The PC consisted of an Intel Pentium 350Mhz CPU, Intel motherboard and 128 Mg. of compatible RAM. Also included a working Super VGA card with 4 Megabytes of video RAM and a 12x CD-ROM that supported booting from a CD. I finished the system off with a 5400 RPM, 1.2GB hard drive (1.5GB drive was not available).

I used the Windows XP Pro default install method allowing the install application to determine what was best for the system it detected. The results were beyond disappointing to brink of laughable. I fell asleep after an hour waiting for the install process to finish so I don’t really know how long it took. After rebooting 2 or 3 times to get all hardware drivers installed and configured correctly I was ready to use the system.

The first thing you notice after the Windows desktop loads is the video. I had only the very basic features. Screen resolution was limited to 640 x 480 16 bit or 800 x 600 256 color. Most of the GUI features like icon and menu animations and font shadowing were greyed out (disabled). Windows XP’s famous GUI interface wasn’t very gooey was it?

A quick check of the hard disk properties showed the clean Windows XP Pro. Install had eaten up just under 1GB of disk space leaving about 350MB free. That is not enough space to install Microsoft Office or much of anything else.

Executing any program or utility caused a mind numbing wait while watching the black and white hourglass spinning jerkily for several minutes. It quickly became obvious that very few people would have the patience to use such a slow system. Did I mention that it took upwards of 5 minutes to boot?

System Requirements XP Wrap-up:

Windows XP hardware requirements might be high but it makes up for it in ease of use. The biggest advantage Microsoft Windows XP operating system has over the competition is hardware detection and compatibility. Windows XP has the ability to detect hardware and install usable drivers with few problems. This is a big bonus for technicians and users alike and keeps Microsoft the “Top Dog” in the Desktop Operating System race.

The “auto hardware driver installation” ability also keeps the Linux Operating System in a slowly gaining but “not ready for prime time” position. I feel it is worth mentioning that the developers of the Linux Debian core are making great strides forward in this area.

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