Saturday, September 19, 2009

Upgrade and Dispose or Reduce and Reuse?

Microsoft has come out with another new OS, Windows 7. Since Vista turned out to be about as popular as Windows ME was, the software giant has followed the same path with Windows 7 as it did going from ME to XP. Windows 7 isn't really much more than a fixed version of Vista with some of the annoyances missing and new ones included.

One thing is for certain, the XP operating system that most people prefer is dead in the water and you can't even upgrade from XP to 7. I was a fan of XP from the beginning but then I had more disposable income to upgrade my system to meet XPs requirements. In today's economy though I am not in the same position I was then.

Also since then my values have changed. I was oblivious in the past to the environmental impact that all these hardware upgrades were causing worldwide in the form of e-waste. The carcasses and entrails of our old equipment polluted our landfills first, and then as local regulations tightened, were shipped to third world countries and dumped on the poorest of the poor.

Microsoft illustrates that neither it nor the big computer manufactures have changed their attitudes much in regards to their core business principals. Sure there are new initiatives announced every day by them but their hearts are still only on the bottom line. Keeping us enslaved to the Upgrade and Dispose mentality that lines their pockets is truly the only green initiative that they believe in.

Form what they are saying the minimum system requirements to run Windows 7 will be more modest that Vista. That is great news for computer refurbishers who have to work with the older hardware from peoples previous Windows upgrades right? Lets look at the facts. At minimum you will need:
  • 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) / 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
    The requirements recommended by Microsoft are insufficient; these are minimums, which means your experience will be minimal. If you load Windows 7 on a PC that does not have enough processing power, operating memory, hard drive space and the right combination of video and sound cards Windows 7 will work, but at a much lower capability than its optimum performance.

    These are fairly high end requirements for those of us who shelled out the money for a new PC less than 5 years ago. I just got my desktop upgraded to 512 MB of RAM to run XP comfortably.

    Then there is the cost of the OS, Were talking $200.00 for the Starter Edition. Add to that the cost of licensing Microsoft Office. Also add an anti virus program license annually, to protect your Windows system form the inevitable malware that it will be infected with if you don't. Theses are all considerable costs in addition to whatever hardware you have to invest in to do things the 'Microsoft Way'.

    I'm writing this post from my laptop which used to have Windows Vista on it. Even with a Pentium Dual-Core processor and 1 Gb of RAM it was running like a limp turtle when running more than three applications and Vista. Now its running Mac Pup (a lightweight Linux distro). I'm currently only using 200 MB of memory and I have applications running in two other desktops. The entire OS is running in RAM so it is FAST.

    Even the requirements for running a typical full fledged version of Linux are not prohibitive:
    • Processor: Intel—Pentium 1-4 or Xeon; AMD—Duron, Athlon, Athlon XP, Athlon MP, Athlon 64, Sempron or Opteron
    • Memory: 256 MB
    • Hard disk: 500 MB for minimal system; 3 GB recommended for standard system
    • Sound and graphics cards: Supports most modern sound and graphics cards
      At Computers for Charity we advocate the use of Open Source software as an alternative to the commercial bloatware that will be discontinued in a few years and force you to upgrade your whole system. We may not be able to provide you with a system capable of running the latest Microsoft OS, but why would we want to?

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      1 comment:

      1. Great post. I am still running Windows XP and have absolutely no plans on upgrading it but I do have plans on reducing my need of it.


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