On the Building Windows 8 blog, Steve Sinofsky posted that Windows 8 uses less memory than Windows 7.
He said that from the beginning, Microsoft has had a goal to make Windows 8 have the same system requirements as Windows 7. This is taking it a step further.
To test the memory usage in each operating system, Microsoft ran a basic scan with task manager on a basic machine with 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM.
Windows 7 was using 404 megabytes (MB) of RAM while Windows 8 was using 281 MB. That’s about a 100 MB difference!
I have definitely noticed a difference between the two operating systems as well. When I’m using Windows 7 on my netbook, that has 1 (GB) of RAM, I can usually run a big program, (iTunes, Spotify, Skype, etc.) and also have a couple light web pages open as well. (Google, CNN, etc.) Anything other than that, and my computer would crash.
On the other hand, when I’m using Windows 8 Developer preview on the same netbook, I can run a couple big programs and a few webpages that take up a fair portion of memory (Google Docs, iCloud, Facebook, Pandora, etc.) with no problem.
I can also usually run a Metro app at the same time as these! Of course Windows 8 does slow down and crash sometimes, but I don’t think that is because of lack of memory. Windows 8 is a developer preview after all.
Sinofsky also made an interesting point, “Something that might not be obvious is that minimizing memory usage on low-power platforms can prolong battery life. Huh? In any PC, RAM is constantly consuming power. If an OS uses a lot of memory, it can force device manufacturers to include more physical RAM.
The more RAM you have on board, the more power it uses, the less battery life you get. Having additional RAM on a tablet device can, in some instances, shave days off the amount of time the tablet can sit on your coffee table looking off but staying fresh and up to date.”
How many times have you put your phone or tablet down somewhere and only to come back a few days later to find it completely out of battery? (Ok, you probably don’t leave your phone anywhere for more than an hour at a time, I know I don’t, but let’s just say you did.) If you didn’t turn your device completely off, it was probably still connected to the internet, still receiving and sometimes even sending out data. This drains battery faster than almost anything else.
When I’m on a train ride and there’s no internet access, I’m going to probably watch a movie or TV show that I already have downloaded. If I keep the WiFi on, that shaves a whole hour of battery life off. So I always turn it off. Any little thing helps. This principle will apply to memory usage. If I can use less memory, it will give me more battery life.
I think that Microsoft is taking a big step by reducing the memory usage in Windows 8. One of the reasons that Windows Vista was such a big flop was because it used a lot of system resources such as memory. Vista was released in 2007 which coincidentally was also the year that netbooks became popular.
A lot of netbooks at the time didn’t have the 1 GB of memory that Vista required to run, so they stayed with XP. If Microsoft continues in the direction of using less and less system resources with each release, I think that you will see Windows on more and more devices in the future.