Would A Lightweight Microsoft Windows Version For Older Hardware Be A Good Idea?

Okay, so today’s post isn’t as much of an analyze of Windows 8 features, instead it is more of me just throwing around an idea and getting community feedback.

Don’t take it too seriously, I’m not suggesting MS waste tons of money on this if it was too expensive, just curious if something like the idea I propose below could be done cheaply and give MS a good way to “give back” to the community.

Without further ado:

Okay, so recently I decided I wanted a machine that I could dedicate completely to my two-and-a-half year old for games and other stuff that just keeps her entertained. I know, why does a two-year old need a laptop? For one, because her dad is a stay-at-home parent who works full-time online, and having a PC that she can use next to me keeps her entertained. For another, I don’t really like letting her use my machine because it is tied to many work-related documents.

So I dusted off my older IBM Thinkpad (Pentium 4 with only 512MB of RAM), deciding this would be a great machine for her. I ordered a new battery for only $20 on eBay (generic one) and that’s about it, though I may eventually upgrade the RAM to at least 1GB. Okay, so what about the operating system?

Initially I wanted to use Windows XP, but honestly it just feels, and looks, so OUTDATED. Sure, you can customize its look with skins and such, but programs that allow this are resource hogs. A Pentium 4 needs to be minimalistic.

Recently becoming impressed by Ubuntu Linux I decided to look down that route instead. I came across an Ubuntu derivative called “Lubuntu” that I quickly decided was right for this machine. Essentially, Lubuntu has all the great driver and app support from Ubuntu but uses a much more simplified desktop shell that looks more like Windows, actually.

Unlike Windows XP it looks and feels more modern, and has better support for many of today’s web standards (though XP isn’t TOO bad here).

This got me thinking, is Microsoft missing out on potential market here, even if it isn’t a high profit one? In the third world they push localized versions of Windows 7 (and soon Windows 8), but honestly, wouldn’t an enterprising company like Microsoft do good to have a re-certification program?

Imagine a system where you can deliver your old PC as a recyclable (tax write-off) and MS than takes it off your hands, re-certifies it, and puts on a customized lightweight OS. From there it goes to education markets, low-income homes, and third-world nations.

Windows XP would be the basis of this plan, basically just modernizing some of its elements and taking out unnecessary processes to speed it up, perhaps call it “Windows LEGACY EDITION” or something?

You have to consider costs here, but if it was donate-based than I doubt it would cost MS much but it would do them wonders when it came to positive publicity if they were pretty much giving these away to educational purposes or selling them VERY cheaply to families that can’t afford modern PCs.

If you are just emailing, web browsing, and playing basic games- Lubuntu works blazingly quick. I was actually surprised at how well it performs, in fact I could EASILY use it as a productivity machine now. Could Microsoft do the same thing with Windows if they based it on the aging XP platform? Would it be worth the additional needed update support and other resources that would be involved?

Is this a silly idea that wouldn’t be any use to MS, either from $$$ or charity perspective?

Or could it have merit and give MS a way to better compete against lightweight Linux distros like Puppy Linux and Lubuntu?

Share your thoughts below.

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