Windows 7 - a friend to elderly and infirm computers
Some people have waaaaaaaay too much time on their hands. Like Vince for example, who'll disappear from the BW office every lunchtime to measure his fibre intake through stool analysis. Or there's this guy - Michael Scalisi - who spends his days retro-fitting new operating systems into old computers, just for the sheer unadulterated hell of it.
He's discovered something rather cool/interesting/not at all interesting regarding Microsoft's spanky new Windows 7 OS that's currently available for pre-release download; you don't need a spanky new PC to use it. In fact Scalisi installed Windows 7 on a machine dating back to 2001, with an Intel P3 933 MHz processor, 768 MB of RAM, and an 80GB hard disk. Aside from some technical issues regarding the install, the nine year-old PC wasn't too grouchy towards its friend from the future:
Watching videos on YouTube was as choppy as you'd expect, but the rest of my Web browsing experience was decent. I opened up five tabs in Chrome and one in Internet Explorer 8. I launched Windows Media Player and played a song. I switched between applications and found that, although switching from one window to the next took a couple seconds, it didn’t leave me gnashing me teeth. Opening the task manager, I could see that Windows 7 was only using about 600MB of the 768MB I had installed. It was playing nicely and being respectful of the memory it had available.
It was perfectly usable as long as your expectations are appropriately low.
The point Scalisi makes is that this is a far better situation than you'd find yourself in with Apple; the new Snow Leopard OSX will only be supported on Intel CPUs, so Apple machines older than four years won't entertain it. With some technical know-how and the right drivers, then it's possible to salvage life from elderly PCs put out to pasture years ago.
That said, when Scalisi talks about having low expectations, they really are:
The time between pressing the power button and having a desktop was a respectable 110 seconds.
Nearly two minutes? That's not respectable, that's glacial. Buy a Mac, for crying out loud.