I’ve heard, but not had the chance to test, that Windows 7 runs just wonderfully on low-end netbook computers. (In fact, Windows 7 honcho Steven Sinofsky claims to run Windows 7 on a 1 GHz Atom-based netbook with just 1 GB of RAM.) Today, I installed the Windows 7 Beta on what I thought would be a roughly comparable machine, an 800 MHz Celeron-based Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) with 1 GB of RAM. The results were, shall we say, less than satisfactory.

I haven’t watched Windows redraw the screen this slowly since the time I tried to install Windows 3 on my wife’s 14 MHz IBM PC back in the early 1990s. It actually comes up with Aero glass enabled, which is really funny when you think about it, not so funny when you try to actually open windows and do stuff. It’s not just dog slow. It’s completely unusable. When you type into a text box, you have to wait for the text you’re typing to render and catch up with you. It’s slowwwww.

This machine originally “ran” Windows Vista, and indeed it has a Windows Vista sticker on it as if sporting such a thing would make it true. But Windows Vista always ran horribly on this thing, as bad as Windows 7 does now in fact. What does run well on this machine—wait for it—is Windows XP. In fact, it runs XP just fine.

So. The moral here, if there is one, is that Windows 7 may really run better on lower-end hardware than does Vista. (I will still need to test that before I believe it.) But it is not magic and does not suddenly make near-obsolete hardware relevant again. Sorry.

BTW, here’s what it looks like, in all its 1024 x 600 splendor (resized to fit the blog).

Back to XP SP3…