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How Microsoft Reduces Memory Use in Windows 8

For the second time in Windows history, a new release of Windows will not increase its memory system requirements, but rather it will remain the same or even go down. Windows 7 required a minimum of 1 GB, the same as Windows Vista, which also asked for 1 GB. Windows 8 is likely to stay at that level or even drop slightly as the OS apparently is much more considerate when acquiring available memory resources.

Microsoft recently provided a bit more detail on how it was able to decrease the memory consumption in Windows 8 - which is, apparently about 40 percent more efficient than Windows 7, at least according to the Build demonstration, which showed a Windows 8 system occupying 281MB in 29 processes and a Windows 7 system 404MB in 32 processes.

Microsoft's Bill Karagounis recently noted five separate approaches that Microsoft took to reduce memory consumption in the OS. Besides the general recoding of memory allocation, Microsoft is now combining redundant memory data sets and throws out duplicates. Should an application try to register duplicate memory content, it will get a "private copy", but not affect the actual live memory. The company also decreased the number of services that are started by default. There are more services that are only started on demand, such as plug and play, Windows Update and the user mode driver framework. there are several new services in Windows 8, but only two are started automatically, Karagounis said. Additionally, Windows is more picky about giving memory priority to applications. For example, an anti-virus file checker does not receive the same priority as an office application running in the foreground.

The company believes that more improvements are possible and it has good reasons to squeeze every bit of memory efficiency out of the OS: Memory that isn't required by the OS does not consume power and increase battery life as a result, Microsoft argues. This will allow Microsoft to run Windows 8 on a greater range of devices, even those that typically did not work well with Windows in the past - such as tablets.

  • stratplaya
    I already love the fast boot times of 7. This sounds like it will be even better.
  • kawininjazx
    Yes, cut down 200mb of memory usage, it's not like you can't get 16GB of RAM for $150 or anything.

  • bourgeoisdude
    KawiNinjaZXYes, cut down 200mb of memory usage, it's not like you can't get 16GB of RAM for $150 or anything.
    What about for tablets? Or even smartphones? Or, maybe it's too much to ask to have optimized memory usage so we can use that extra RAM for other programs?
  • Don't really care, Windows 7 will still be my preferred OS of choice. This shift towards unifying the phone OS with desktop is a mistake in my opinion. The desktop is, and should, be treated differently with respect to functionality. What translates well on a phone OS doesn't mean it will translate well to the desktop, which from everything I've seen, is the case with Windows 8. Here's hoping they go back to their Windows 7 roots with Windows 9.
  • NapoleonDK
    Good. Now just make it mind-bendingly fast. Lower memory consumption for the OS is great, but I would like to see how the differences affect larger applications like CAD/DAW/Games and photo and video editing. Will Premier use less ram? Ableton? Crysis?

    I'm really hoping to see something FAST, something NEW. Give us access to DWM so clever designers can integrate wicked custom interfaces at the Windows level. Give us amazing SSD integration and optimization for crazy SPEED!
  • Shape
    I'm starting to loooove Windows 8.
  • @KawiNinjaZX
    Last time I checked, there was a performance drop-off after 6GB. I'm not sure how much worse it gets when scaled to 16GB, but it's noticeable between 4 and 8GB.
  • halcyon
    This is very good news. Its nice to see the focus on efficiency and performance.
  • AbdullahG
    Looks to be a solid OS. With my first build coming next year after school ends, I hope to use Win8 as an OS if it does arrive within that time period.
  • K2N hater
    That's a great deal. Should make x86 tablets more viable. Hope they don't forget Win7 install may take over 10 times as much disk space as XP/XP64.