The End Of A Nice Little Earner


Trends are finite. As the economist Sir Alex Cairncross had it:

A trend is a trend is a trend

The question is: Will it bend?

Will it alter its course

Through some unforeseen force

And come to a premature end?


Now, it seems, one of the bed-rock trends of the Wintel Age – the ever-expanding size of the PC OS – is ending.

The phenomenon mandated ever-faster processors and ever-larger amounts of DRAM per PC box.


Win95, Win98 and Vista required significant jumps in DRAM content but Win7 was the break-point  – it had the same DRAM requirement as its predecessor OS.


And, according to analysts IHS-iSuppli, Microsoft has said that Win8 will not have hardware requirements that will exceed those of Win7.


So, after a 25 year run of average annual growth of 48% for the DRAM content of a PC, the growth has started to slip. It was 38% in 2009, 25% in 2010 and is expected to be 30% this year and 35% next year.


After 2012, the average annual increase is not expected to exceed 35%, say the analysts.


OS size, of course, isn’t the sole determinant of the size of the DRAM content of a PC. While the OS may not require more DRAM, usage practices like launching simultaneous applications and streaming memory intensive video files will need more memory.


But it’s the end of an era. And the end of an earner.



  1. Is the fact that there are no viruses on Linux due to them all being written by Linux users?
    If only someone at Microsoft could programme, they would be able to retaliate.
    p.s. When someone brings out an “Instant On” PC I shall be at the front of the queue to by it.

  2. Now, Now, [Anonymous] I’m in enough trouble already

  3. Thanks for the encouragemet Robert. Like you I’ve had to re-install XP several times and I’m really glad to hear that with Ubuntu this will be a thing of the past

  4. About a year ago I also upgraded my main family computer to Ubuntu, Apart from all the stupidity of separately finding / downloading all the different multimedia codacs, I have had no problems, at all. I told the kids that this is the new look latest Windows and they just suck’ed it up.
    I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the reliability and no viruses. It was getting so bad that I was reinstalling XP about every other month. I even had an XP image disk made with all the required software / config files but even then it was a pain.

  5. I installed Ubuntu 11.4 today, Terry, just too late to take your advice about using the LTS release. I took the plunge and installed it as a replacement for XP rather than alongside it. Haven’t had much time with it yet but it boots in 66 secs on a 1.2GHz Pentium M ULV 753 in a five year-old Fujitsu Lifebook – seemingly much quicker than XP – though I never measured the XP boot-time. Nice clean look. Seems to attach to my home WiFi network much quicker than XP ever did. So far very impressed and very many thanks indeed for the suggestion.

  6. Hope you enjoy Ubuntu David, I’d suggest to go for the LTS release rather than the latest version which has some memory leaks.
    Initially when I changed over I was banging my head on the keyboard for a week or two so I won’t pretend it’s plain sailing but having got over that I wouldn’t go back. Especially it’s nice to know that the machine can be restored anytime easily and for free and that viruses are something that happens to other people.

  7. @ David : Why did you put ‘oxy’ on the front of your perfectly accurate description of IT personnel ?

  8. Wise words, george, IT support is an oxymoron.

  9. Support??? Are there IT departments that actually give support? Wait until I tell my IT guys this! I can hear their laughter now.

  10. Thought not. But do give it a go.

  11. Chance would be a fine thing, Mike, my IT department won’t support anything not supplied by them and what they supply is 6lb crap from the likes of Dell so I’ve had to buy my own PCs and live unsupported.

  12. @ Terry : that rather depends on what you are trying to do with your computer. Mine has datasets of >10Gbyte so the smaller the RAM the more it is sitting swapping out to disc and doing no productive work whatsoever.
    @David : I hope you aren’t expecting your IT department to support that 🙂 But let us know how you got on with it.

  13. That certainly makes the point. Keith, thanks.

  14. Thank you Terry, that does it for me. I’m kicking Windows off my Fujitsu Lifebook and replacing it with Ubuntu.

  15. My Ubuntu laptop boots in 30 seconds and runs happily on a 1.5GHz single core and 1G of RAM.

  16. David, in case you’re wondering why Vista/Win7 eats up so much memory and resources, read this entertaining article:

  17. Thank you, Keith, very interesting.

  18. Where do these analysts get their data from? Maybe they haven’t noticed that for some time now the major PC manufacturers have been shipping PCs with Windows 7 64 bit???
    I recently installed this OS on a machine that previously had Vista 32 bit, and memory required just to boot up went from 6-700Mb (Vista) to 2Gb!

  19. Great, looks like my PC will continue to take 5+ minutes to boot up!

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