Microsoft uses less memory on Windows 8

October 11, 2011

In a bid to attract tablet makers to the operating system, Bill Karagounis, the group program manager of the Windows Performance team, gave the details of these memory improvements in a blog post this week and suggested that the enhancements should result in improved battery life.

Karagounis said that a version of Windows 8 will only require around 200MB of RAM, around half of what is required for Windows 7, and said that the OS will allow users to boot select services, with the rest to be activated on-demand. The operating system will prioritise memory usage for certain applications and will allow for ‘memory combining’. The result of these improvements is that the operating system should have the same system requirements as Windows 7.

The company has removed 13 different services and has changed various other programs from an automatic to manual boot. Memory prioritisation will enable users to set certain applications as ‘low priority’, meaning that this RAM can be freed up if necessary, while ‘memory combining’ will essentially consolidate core, but low-level, components into a group to reduce the overall memory footprint. This function should also free-up duplicate RAM content, a move that could save tens to hundreds of megabytes, according to Karagounis.

As an example of how much memory Windows 8 could save, Karagounis tested a three-year old netbook that was recently shown at Microsoft’s Build conference. Testing the device running Windows 7 and 8 (both with 1GB of RAM), Karagounis booted and rebooted both systems several times, and left the device in idle for a period. The result saw the netbook use 404MB, when running Windows 7, but just 281MB when running Windows 8.

Windows 8 is to become available in two variants – one for desktop PCs and one for tablets (Metro). To date, traditional tablet operating systems, like Android and iOS, have used less memory and have had fewer features than Windows-based systems.


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