IS YOUR COMPUTER READY TO RUN WINDOWS ?
by Alan Zisman (c) 1992. Originally published in INPUT, April 1992
When Windows 3.0 was released in the summer of 1990,
it at a wide range of personal computers. Windows, we were told, could
be run on any IBM-compatible computer with a 286 or later processor, 1
meg of memory, a hard drive, and a graphics monitor. A mouse is
Windows can be loaded onto a machine meeting these
can even be loaded onto an XT with 640k memory. But saying Windows will
"run" on those machines is somewhat of an exaggeration. Walk, maybe.
And the whole point of Windows is to run Windows
PageMaker, PerForm Pro, what have you. Many of these applications will
not even install on a minimum-requirement Windows computer. If they
they will run so slowly as to be unusable.
Any graphical environment like Windows will be slower
than a text-based
environment like DOS... it's always easier to manipulate an 80x25
screen than a 640x480 pixel graphics screen. So Windows applications
be as fast as their non-Windows equivalents. So what do you need to
make Windows a usable environment?
Processor-- Windows really can run acceptably on a 10
mhz or faster
286, and even better on a faster, more powerful processor. But
of your processor, it will only be usable with enough memory, and an
hard drive and video system. (Note Windows 3.1, due this spring is
to be significantly faster than version 3.0).
Note that Windows itself, doesn't make any use of a math co-processor.
Memory-- Despite Microsoft's claims, 1 meg of memory
is not really usable
for a Windows computer. 2 meg is really a bare minimum, with 4 meg a
more acceptable amount. This will let you dedicate 512k-1 meg for a
cache, and still leave enough memory to run Windows and useful
Hard drive-- Windows 3.0 uses 6 megs, (Windows 3.1
will take more).
Most Windows applications seem to require 4-6 megs or more. (A full
of Word for Windows v.2.0 takes about 15 megs). You could install
on that old 20 meg hard drive, but there wouldn't be much room for
else. As well, Windows writes applications to disk if there isn't
memory, so you'll need to have free space on your disk. Because of the
number of times Windows reads and writes from your disk, disk speed
Windows' speed. (Having enough memory for a reasonable sized disk cache
helps in this regards). The moral-- bigger and faster is better. Don't
buy anything smaller than 60 meg or slower than 28 msecs.
Video display-- Windows will run on CGA, but only in
black and white,
as it needs the best resolution it can get. It will run fine (and
in Hercules monochrome, but will lack the cute 3-D shadows and effects.
Consider upgrading to VGA (or super VGA), and consider colour, even for
everyday tasks like word processing or spreadsheets (besides, you won't
be able to tell the red cards from the black in Solitaire on a
screen). Video card technology is changing rapidly, with big
in capability and price coming about in response to the demands that
has placed on computer displays.
Warning-- OS2 v.2.0, which is also due for a Spring
release, may make
even more demands on your hardware. It will definitely require a 386
or better) processor, and is rumoured to require a minimum of 8 megs of
memory, and over 12 meg of hard drive space. As computer applications
more sophisticated, more capable hardware will continue to be required.
Summary-- a Windows-capable computer should have at
least 2-4 meg memory,
a 60 meg fast hard drive, and preferably a VGA colour monitor. Windows
performance will be better with more than this minimum. With the price
of computer hardware plummeting, it's probably cheaper and easier to
a new 386SX or above than to try to upgrade an older computer.