Short term XP memory
Stuff your PC fast - Crucial
Surprise, surprise, Crucial Technology, the memory retailing arm of Micron, has jumped into the Great-How-Much Memory Does Windows XP Need Debate? It points users towards 256MB.
XP seems to be about creating up-sell opportunities for everyone in the PC business, but caveat aside, we think it's worth running through Crucial's arguments.
The short answer is you can run it on 64MB very happily as long as you've got rid of a lot of the stuff you don't want, and you know how to do this. If you want the full video editing XPerience, or you feel memory is soooo cheap so what the hell, stuff your box with RAM.
But as 128MB has been a fairly standard PC spec for a year, and as 128MB is fine to run XP for most standard users who own a standard specced PC, the whole question is a bit academic.
As an interesting aside, Crucial is telling users to stuff their box with memory before they upgrade to XP in case Microsoft's product activation causes problems down the line.
During the activation process, Windows XP analyses the hardware installed on the system and uses a mathematical formula to create a numerical code known as a "hardware hash." This hardware hash is then matched to the unique product code on each copy of Windows XP.
If you then attempt to install the same copy of Windows XP on another computer, the software will recognise that the hardware is different, and it won't install. You'll have to call Microsoft and convince them that you aren't a software pirate before it'll let you install the same copy of the software on more than one machine.
Crucial avoids suggesting straight out that a simple memory upgrade after installing XP will balls things up for you, but it sows a seed of uncertainty.
"What we do know is that a RAM upgrade alone shouldn't make it necessary for you to re-activate your software. But what will happen if you upgrade your RAM and install a new video card and a new cable modem all within the same month? We don't know for sure, but you may have to call Microsoft in order to get your PC working again."
Anyway, back to the memory specs.
Microsoft says 64MB is the minimum Crucial Technology suggests this might not be enough, but concedes you will be able to boot your machine if its all you've got.
"If all you want to do is turn your computer on, 64MB will allow Windows XP to boot. Actually using your system to accomplish something is another story."
According to Crucial, XP's speech recognition won't work with less than 128MB, and if you've got multiple users your machine will run like a dog.
Microsoft recommends 128MB Crucial Technology suggests this may not be enough if you want to enjoy all the fun of XP Movie Maker and edit digital video. "Crucial recommends at least 256MB for anyone editing digital video. And if you spend a lot of time editing photos, video, and music, you might want to consider 512MB or more."
As Windows Messenger can now send real-time video and voice it's also gong to need a bit more RAM. That is if you're fed up with simple text.
So why would 256MB RAM might be a good place to start? Crucial's main point here is that history shows Microsoft always gets it wrong when it gives RAM recommendations. Plus you're spending more money on memory.