Are operating systems losing their bloat?

Posted by Trent Nouveau

It seems as if PC operating systems are losing their historic bloat as companies like Microsoft work to streamline endless lines of code.

According to IHS principal analyst Mike Howard, the tendency amongst recent and emerging operating systems is to "run leaner."

Are operating systems losing their bloat?The move to eschew unecessary digital torsion is obviously a new trend for Redmond, whose various iterations of its flagship Windows operating system traditionally demanded increased computing resources and memory.

For example, significant jumps in DRAM content occurred with the release of Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows Vista.

While a dramatic bump in DRAM content did not materialize for Windows XP during delivery of the OS in 2001, DRAM content did rise during the two years after XP's debut.

"This pattern stopped with Windows 7 which had the same DRAM requirements as its predecessor, Windows Vista," Howard told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

"From Windows 7's release in 2009 until a year later, DRAM content growth per PC actually dropped 13% - auguring the kind of lower expansion rates likely to be seen in the years to come."

As expected, the "lean" trail blazed by Windows 7 will be adopted by its long-awaited successor, the ARM-friendly Windows 8, which is slated for release during the second half of 2012. 

"Already, Microsoft has made clear in early comments that Windows 8 will not have hardware requirements - including those related to DRAM and memory - that will exceed those of Windows 7," said Howard.

Nonetheless, the IHS analyst believes additional memory will be required for a number of demanding tasks executed in a Windows environment.

"[Although] a new OS no longer requires an automatic increase in hardware requirements, what PC users do with operating systems - launching simultaneous applications, streaming memory intensive video files, for instance - is sure to translate into demand for ever-greater amounts of memory.

"As the appetite for digital data swells continually among consumers, so too will the memory requirements needed to feed the ravening beast. And though the operating system may no longer be the primary driver for memory growth, the constant craving to do more, in less time, is certain to continue," he added.