Like all computers, netbooks have internal RAM (random access memory). Over the years, as RAM prices have declined steadily, however operating systems and programs have gotten more bloated (they have higher RAM requirements to support those glittery, new features), desktops and laptops are now have gigabytes of RAM. Even so, it’s a bit weird to see a low-end computer stuffed with 4 GB of RAM, because usually, it hardly uses more than 2GB. When you are considering about netbooks, you may be surprised that a few models only have 512 KB of RAM. You may ask, “Won’t the netbook run as slow as thick molasses in the end of December?”
Actually, no, both Linux and Windows XP can easily run on 512 Kb of RAM and still have satisfactory performance – if you don’t have many files or programs open at once or run a memory-intensive program, like editing a 50 MB image in Photoshop CS3. That said, 1 GB of memory will give you better performance and you don’t have to worry so much about curbing the multitasking. Netbook makers offer 512 KB of RAM in cheaper netbooks and 1 or 2 GB in standard models. Most netbooks can only support 2 GB of RAM. It is not caused by technology limitation, Microsoft’s licensing agreement stipulates that makers can’t sell netbooks that run Windows XP, with more than 2 GB of RAM.
Choose netbook with at least 1 GB of RAM, or if you are stuck with 512 KB, make sure it is possible to upgrade the memory some time in the future. Also make sure your RAM is the DDR2-800 type to get better performance.
Windows Vista hasn’t been a smashing success Microsoft expected it to be. Since Windows Vista was introduced in 2007, a lot of computer users expressed their satisfaction with Windows XP (especially Service Pack 2) by choosing not to migrate. And with the sales of desktop and laptop (which come pre-installed with Windows Vista) down, Microsoft hasn’t been able to create as big of a dent in the user base as it thought it would.
Vista requires more computing horsepower and memory than previous Windows versions, and it is where Microsoft made a poor assumption. Up until now, computer components have evolved very predictably – latest computers have faster processors, bigger hard drives, better graphic cards and more memory than earlier generations. Microsoft assumed that the Moore’s Law would continue, and that PCs would eventually and naturally beef up to meet Windows Vista’s demands. Unfortunately, the emergence of netbooks in the end of 2007 flipped this assumption on its head – underpowered, no-frills laptops are selling like hot cakes. For many consumers, internet access and better portability have taken priority over computer performance. Because basic netbooks have only one gigabyte or less of memory and relatively low-performance processors, Windows Vista isn’t the best OS to use. A few netbook users have attempted installing Vista on their midget notebooks and were disappointed at the performance and speed. That’s why most netbook users still use Windows XP as their favorite operating system. (Cost factor is one of the reasons, as copies of Windows XP have a cheaper licensing fee than Windows Vista.)
Although certain manufacturers do use Vista Home after various system settings, netbooks can be fine-tuned to accommodate Vista. If you are a hardy soul, bound and determined to run Windows Vista on your netbook, then follow these tips to make your life easier:
Upgrade your RAM to at least 2GB. A 512K of RAM may give you plenty of excruciating experiences in Vista, and 1GB is better, but can be slow in a few occasions.
Make sure there is enough storage space. Windows Vista is big, and it is not recommended to install it on a low-capacity SSD.
Download vLite at http://www[dot]vlite[dot]net, it is a free utility that creates a stripped-down version Windows Vista. You need to have a legal copy of Vista; as it needs a Vista installation disc to extract the “lite-Vista”.
You should get an external DVD player to install Vista. It may be possible to install Vista from a USB flash drive or an SD memory card, but the optical drive is always the easiest route.
You need new drivers for your netbook hardware. Check the availability of Vista-compatible drivers for all of your hardware before deciding to install Vista.
Search popular search engines for your netbook model and Windows Vista (for example, search for “MSI Wind Vista”) to read about other netbooks owners who may have successfully installed Windows Vista.
Or, better yet, skip the above steps, sell your old XP netbook, and find a new one with Vista preinstalled.
Because Netbooks first introduced at the end of 2007, you’d think the little notebooks would be running the cutting-edge, greatest, latest OS. But guess what? The most favored Netbook operating system is the venerable Windows XP (especially Windows XP Home), which was first came out in October 2001. In the past few years, Microsoft has tried its best to supplant the dated operating system, but has not had much success. Even though the company has ceased mainstream support for Windows XP, it will continue providing free security updates until 2014. Microsoft’s marketing problem is obvious, XP just works. It’s easy to use, predictable, reliable, supports all kinds of hardware programs and devices, and is as convenient as an old sweater. Six months after the release of Windows Vista, sixty-three percent of PCs connected to the web are still running Windows XP – compare that to a meager twenty-four percent for Windows Vista, with the remainder split up evenly between Mac and Linux. Windows 7 has a better chance to replace XP or even Vista, in the next few years. Aside from overall consumer popularity, Windows XP is well suited for underpowered Netbooks. Even a 1st generation Netbook with just 512 Kb of RAM and a 900 MHz CPU can run Windows XP and many Windows applications reasonably well. Netbooks with more RAM and a faster CPU are even better. Surely, aside from a dinkier screen, you should expect Windows XP to run on a Netbook just like it does on a normal desktop or laptop – and that means almost all the Windows programs work with acceptable stability.
At first, the fame of Linux in Netbooks took many by surprise – certainly, including Microsoft. When mini-laptops were first introduced, they exclusively ran lite flavors of Linux OS. Manufacturers provided instructions for putting in Windows XP if the user happened to own a spare copy, but a buyer could not purchase an off-the-shelf mini-laptop with the Microsoft OS installed.
Then all of a sudden, Windows XP Netbooks became available in many stores – for the equal price as Linux Netbooks. This was strange because Linux was free and did not need any manufacturer licensing fees, like Windows did. Some industry experts (and naturally, conspiracy theorists) thought Microsoft recognized a looming threat to its hegemony. The stories go that the Redmond executives started offering computer manufacturers some very attractive incentives and licensing deals if they sold Netbooks with Windows XP Home edition installed. And in just a few months, Windows XP Netbooks were outselling their Linux counterparts by a wide margin of 9 to 1. Some suggested Microsoft was only making about $15 from a Netbook that uses XP – just compare that to around $55 each time a notebook with Windows Vista is sold. Nobody knows what had happened, but even that’s true, it’s unlikely that Linux community will sue Microsoft.