Windows XP, Our New Favorite Legacy Operating System

John Gruber gloats that Windows XP does not fare well in a comparison against OS X:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Have you ever tried to run Windows XP on these so called minimum requirements? Gives one a new appreciation of pain.

For comparison, here are the VMs with three different memory configurations. Each one was set up the same way: booted, launch IE7, navigate to four different sites in each tab. Task manager is visible so you can see the memory summary.




I found out the hard way that you’ll see a big variance if you load the tabs simultaneously. Evidently this puts a lot of pressure on memory. Let each tab load to completion, then open the next tab.

See my article on Task Manager for a summary of how to interpret the taskman Performance tab:

The most relevant figure, as always, is the Commit Charge. If Commit Charge Total is regularly exceeding the Physical Memory Total, you’re in trouble.

“What’s conspicuously missing from this comparison is any mention of the fact that Windows XP was originally released in October 2001”

Which is one of the major reasons why I switched to a Mac late last year. Why use an operating system that, when it finally sees a major upgrade in 2007 (we all hope), will still not be on par with Mac OS X as it stands today? Or as it stood a year ago. I personally keep Windows around because I make money developing .NET apps, but that’s it. Microsoft’s inability to ship its operating system, which is the company’s bread and butter, is a sad indicator on the health of the company.

was there a point to this post? if there was, i missed it. sounds like defensive MacOS envy.

if you’re working at a job where developers are expected to work on machines with less than 1 gigabyte of memory, it’s definitely time to start looking for a new job.

I agree that people should not have such machines as their primary boxes, but I think developers could get a little insight into every once in a while running their software on configurations that are a little less cutting edge. It can be illuminating, for example, to see that your product takes 15 … 20 … 25 seconds to load on a 512KB machine running a couple of apps, unlike the 7 seconds it takes on your 2GB, mucho-MHz computer. For example.

You know, it seems all developers see is what mac can do and how it will so affect windows. It seems people have not really done the math so let me do it now and its very simple. Mac is not taking anything (not market share) away from windows. Windows doesnt make hardware, they make software. The companies going to loose (if even windows will run efficiently on mac machines) will be the Dells and hp’s and the what nots. In fact windows will gain, people who buy macs with windows will be buying windows which is $$$ in MS pocket. MS will make more sales with mac’s move in MS space. Secondly, if mac is so good, why the hell are they trying hard to plug windows into it. Mmmmmmmmmm beats me! Yeah, it does. They even had to borrow office from windows and now they want to put winodws into mac and still say mac is better. lol. Let me laugh at that. When business men work, they are not looking forward to flashy screens (like mac has placed itself) but rather a tool that gets the job done. We dont need two tools of the same task function to do the same job. Its like using sql server and mysql at the same time, mmm for what. So the main reason why mac is placing windows as it next marketing campign is because windows has something to offer the mac world that mac itself cannot offer.

"# 233 MHz processor

64 MB of RAM (128 MB recommended)"

Well, depends on what you want to do. Surfing (which doesn’t use muc memory and CPU) works fine.

Writing texts with Word, the minimum requirements seem to be 800Mhz and 512Mb RAM, everything below that makes Word on XP unusable. Shame that some years ago all laptop vendors sold XP machines with 128Mb RAM. Upgrading them to 512Mb makes them usable for a small amount of money.


Was Windows Server 2003 not a major release?

Until Microsoft’s competitors truly understand that the most important goals of an operating system are to raise user productivity and lower the total cost of ownership, it won’t have much to fear.

Shhhh. We don’t Apple to realize that glitz is just that - glitz.

You know what - I have users that hate animations, transitions, ect. After the 103rd time of seeing it, they realize that it’s nothing more that a productivity drain.

Server 2003 isn’t a desktop OS so it doesn’t really count :slight_smile: But yes it is a major release.

@Jeff Perrin: I laugh at people who hold OS X in such high regard that they immediately slag off Vista as an unworthy opponent as a desktop OS. Open your eyes buddy. Apple can’t even get the basics right - one buttoned mouse (LOL), mouse acceleration setting is insane (useless unless you get an app like USB overdrive… just to use a mouse… come on!), trash (stores things in one folder, renames files (thanks a lot), can’t restore files to the place you deleted them from), dialogs with no OK/Cancel buttons (thanks for saving the change i didn’t want to make!), i could go on…

Windows XP is a great OS. It runs on fumes in terms of todays hardware, and despite what Apple fan boys might think, it is a solid, stable OS that has lasted us very well for 5 years and probably will for at least another 2 years for a lot of people.

Meanwhile, Apples major revisions of OS X would amount to double the cost of Windows XP Professional. And people think Microsoft is greedy? Nice one.


Mouse performance is the OS X showstopper for me. Utterly unusable, even with the $#$#%# USB Overdrive. What a farce. I cannot use OS X as it currently stands, as much as I’ve wanted to. My Mac is gathering dust

It’s a shame that the Vista team seems to have forgotten that, as well. Despite the fact that I work for the company, I still can’t be made to drink that Kool-Aid. I haven’t tried it yet, so maybe I’m wrong, but the sheer level of “fluff” that has been added to the presentation layer in an effort to modernize the OS strikes me as insane.

I suspect that I’ll probably be running XP SP2 with all the fancy graphical effects turned off (and running GeOShell instead of Explorer) until Vista goes through at least one Service Pack cycle of its own. :frowning:

What Microsoft gets is that its major operating system income stems from companies and common (inexperienced) users, who favor low transition costs and backward compatibility more than anything else. Animations, spiffy colors, and other “cool” features that might appeal to some “high-end” users, won’t grow its market share significantly. No sane business would invest in a new operating system and new hardware for those silly reasons.

Until Microsoft’s competitors truly understand that the most important goals of an operating system are to raise user productivity and lower the total cost of ownership, it won’t have much to fear.

What’s the difference between OS X and Vista?
Microsoft employees are excited about OS X…

What’s conspicuously missing from this comparison is any mention of the fact that Windows XP was
originally released in October 2001.

Yeah, that may be because that comparison was between OS X and Vista?

“What’s conspicuously missing from this comparison is any mention of the fact that Windows XP was originally released in October 2001”

What’s wrong with comparing the latest Microsoft operating system* to the latest Apple operating system? Until Vista is actually released, it’s as good as vaporware.

*Since the “Daring Fireball” post (and this one) is nominally about Boot Camp, something primarily for desktop usage, we can leave server operating systems such as Windows Server 2003 out.

I nick-named XP “Walt Disney Windows”, and always switch back to classic settings and theme on new installs. I guess Vista will be “Pixar Windows”…

Seems to me like there is more religion than anything else in these endless max/win discussions. I suspect that in the majority of cases, people don’t have the choice - either because the company/customer dictates, or because required software only runs on one or the other.

To my mind, arguing over this just sidetracks us from the main point, which is that we are still miles away from anything that is really intuitive and user-friendly, and which doesn’t oblige the user to ‘think’ like a computer.

“Pixar Windows”…

That’s really funny. It’s like “Steve Gates”, or “Bill Jobs”.

Question: Wasn’t OS X released before XP? I kinda remember thinking that XP’s default UI (Which I despise) was a rip-off of the “Lickable” Mac UI.

Windows… MAC OS X…
I think that linux’s better… for any of the two platforms… and have a low cost Eye Candy!

Just had to comment. As far as I am concerned I am quite very productive doing Java development on XP Professional OS. It has not crashed on me, shown a BSOD and I have not shut down my machine in a month. All I do is Hibernate my development machine when I am done for the day. At idle after a month, I have seen XP only take up 250 MB of memory. With Eclipse, Tomcat and a database running along with a few explorer and browser windows, a Trillian and Google talk clients running, I use around 640 MB of memory and the machine is still brutally fast.

Mac OS X in my opinion is also a very nice OS but yes it is ahead in terms of fit and polish with respect to XP. But that is no problem because all I need to do on my machine is Java development, and JDKs are released a lot quicker on Windows platforms than they are on an OS X machine. I surf, listen to music, and do an occasional bit of gaming and thats it. XP Pro fits the bill perfectly.

Enter Vista…why anyone in their right mind would upgrade to that, I will not understand. The only thing I can see worth appealing is to hardcore gamers who are already looking forward to what eye candy in games DirectX 10 will bring. I am a gamer, but I am not THAT interested. I am of the opinion that Vista will be maybe worth upgrading to once it has at least a Service Pack under its belt. I have tested the Betas and I am ashamed to see such a large and resourceful company like Microsoft spew this kind of crap after 5 years of development work on it. That said, unless Vista makes its resource requirements just a little more than XP, I dont think it is worth buying at all…after all just because hardware is getting faster is no excuse to write crappy, buggy, useless code that does nothing other than draw fancy heavy UIs across the screen. I would rather spend my CPU and GPU cycles on much more productive things thank you very much.