Running Windows 7 RC on a netbook

Microsoft, in attempting to drum up excitement for Windows 7, has been leaking releases every few weeks. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Windows 7, Build 7100, which is said to be the release candidate, is now available. It can already be downloaded from most BitTorrent sites. Will you, however, want to download it if you have a netbook?

I recently spent a good deal of time looking at the earlier betas of Windows 7 on a Dell Mini 9 netbook. The Mini 9 is an excellent small computer, and I've been very pleased with it and its native Ubuntu 8.04 Linux desktop operating system.

With the Windows 7 betas it was a different story. I found, in short, that Windows 7 required too much RAM and other system resources to run well on typical 2008 netbooks.

Like many such netbooks, the Dell Mini 9 is powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom 270 Diamondville CPU and has a gigabyte of RAM and an 8GB SSD (solid state drives). The display is not quite nine-inches-8.9-inches with the graphics pushed by the Diamondville's built-in 945GSE graphics.

The CPU is fast enough, but 1GB is not enough RAM by half for Windows 7 to show well. In addition, the 945GSE graphics are really not powerful enough for Windows 7's Aero interface. You can squeeze Windows 7 easily enough even into 8GBs of disk space, but there's precious little room left for data and applications.

That said, I did find that this latest build did fix some of the other problems I encountered with Windows 7. In particular, the networking troubles have vanished in this release. I also found in general that it was more stable.

Even so, Build 7100 made it even clearer to me that on a real netbook, a low-end, inexpensive system, Windows 7 is simply too much operating system for these small computers.

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