Ever since the very first version of Windows launched, technology has changed and improved by leaps and bounds. Today we’re looking at the history of Windows system requirements which by itself, helps to show how technology has changed. We’ll start with Windows 1.0 and work our way up to Windows Vista. As you can imagine, the changes that have occurred are pretty drastic. Take a look:
Windows 1.0 was released on November 20, 1985.
- CGA/Hercules/EGA (or compatible)
- MS-DOS 2.0
- 256 KB Ram
- 2 double-sided disk drives or a hard drive
Windows 2.1 was officially released on May 27, 1988.
Interesting Fact: Versions of 2.10 were released so that the Intel 286 Processor could be taken advantage of.
- MS-DOS version 3.0 or later
- 512 K RAM
- One floppy-disk and one hard disk
- Graphics adapter card
- Microsoft mouse is optional
Versions of Windows 3.1 were released between 1992 and 1994.
Interesting fact: What was different with this version of Windows was that if a user was running a different DOS operating system other than MS DOS, the installer would fail and the user would not be able to install Windows.
- MS-DOS 3.1 or later
- Intel 80286 (or higher) processor
- 1 MB or more of memory (640K conventional and 256K extended)
- 6.5 MB of free disk space (9 MB is recommended)
Windows 95 was released on August 24, 1995.
Interesting Fact: The graphical user interface was one of the biggest improvements with this operating system. In fact, the general format and structure of the GUI is still used in Windows today.
- Intel 80386 DX CPU
- 4 MB of system RAM
- 50 MB hard drive space
Windows 98 was released on June 25, 1998
Interesting Fact: Windows 98 was the first operating system to use the Windows Driver Model.
- 486DX-2/66 MHz or higher processor (Pentium processor recommended
- 16 MB of RAM (24MB recommended)
- At least 500 MB of space available on HDD
- VGA or higher resolution monitor
- CD-ROM or DVD-Rom drive
- Microsoft Mouse or pointing device
Windows 2000 was released on February 17, 2000. There were three different versions of Windows 200 and each had different requirements.
Interesting Fact: Microsoft advertised Windows 2000 as “a standard in reliability.” With this version, new features like Windows Desktop Update, Internet Explorer 5 and Outlook Express were introduced. There were also many improvements made to Windows Explorer.
Windows 2000 Professional
- 133 MHz or higher Pentium-compatible CPU
- 32 MB of RAM (64 MB recommended)
- 700 megabytes hard disk space (2 GB recommended)
Windows 2000 Server/Advanced Server
- 133 MHz CPU
- 256 MB of RAM minimum
- 2 GB hard disk space
Windows Me was released on September 24, 2000
Interesting Fact: Windows Me wasn’t around for very long, only about a year and then it was replaced with Windows XP
- 150 MHz Pentium Processor
- 320 MB hard drive space
- 32 MB RAM
*Note: This was the last version of Windows to include a real-mode MS-DOS subsystem even though access to it was restricted.
Windows XP launched on October 25, 2001.
Interesting Fact: It was the first consumer oriented operating system produced by Microsoft to be built on the Windows NT kernel and architecture. Below are the minimum requirements for XP Home and Professional (not the recommended).
- 233 MHz processor
- 63 MB RAM
- 1.5 GB free hard disk space
- Super VGA video adapter and monitor
- CD-ROM drive or DVD drive
Windows Vista launched to the public on January 30, 2007. Below are the “Vista Capable” requirements as well as the “Vista Premium Ready” requirements.
Interesting Fact: one of the things Vista is criticized most for is system requirements.
- 800 MHz processor
- 512 MB RAM
- 32 MB Graphics memory
- 20 GB hard disk capacity
- 15 GB free hard disk space
Vista Premium Ready
- 1.0 GHz processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 128 MB Graphics memory
- 40 GB hard disk capacity
- 15 GB free hard disk space
Wrapping it up…
It really is amazing to go back and look at how the system requirements have progressed over time. To think that Windows 1.0 only required 256 KB of RAM while the latest operating system, Vista, requires 1 GB of RAM is crazy! It leaves us wondering, what will the system requirements be for the next Windows operating system?