Mary Jo’s comments about the system requirements for longhorn have been stirring up quite the discussion about the “average” Longhorn machine would be. Robert picked this up with some insightful commentary on it as well. And I figured I’d toss in my own two cents.
First off, Robert’s totally right about the developer machines here. Longhorn’s being developed for the most part on 3gHz or lesser machines – my test machine’s a year old hand-me-down 2gHz P4 (no HT) with 700M of RAM. Longhorn works just fine on it.
And it’s important to realize that we’ve barely started performance tuning on Longhorn. There are WAY too many processes running on the system, and far too many things going on behind the scenes that suck down performance. When we’re done, things will look very different to the way they look today.
Now, on a vaguely related historical note:
One of the reasons that Windows 3.x was so successful is directly related to the development lead for Windows at the time. The dev lead, Phil Barrett, insisted that the dev team for Windows 3.x run on the machines that the Windows team’s customers were running. At the time, the cutting edge machines were 33 MHz 486 boxes, the doublespeed machines (66MHz machines) were just hitting the market. Many Microsoft developers had these machines (we tend to get new development machines every two years or so).
But Phil REQUIRED that his developers run on 386/20’s. With 1M or 2M of RAM. At the same time, most developers were running 486/33 boxes with 4 or 8M of RAM. But, because the expected customers of Windows 3.x were running were 386/20’s, that’s just what the Windows development team ran. His logic was that if the developers were forced to run the same machines that their customers ran on, then they’d make darned sure that the system ran just fine – it forced them to feel their customers pain and ensured that they’d make the system as small and as fast as possible.
In many ways, we’re still doing this today in Longhorn, but instead of looking at the machines our customers are running today, we’re running on the machines that the vast majority of our customers will be running 18 months from now. Today, without even trying, if I go to Dell.com, I can find a Dell Dimension 2400, with a 2.6gHz P4 processor, 40G hard disk, a 48x CDROM and a 48X CDRW drive, and 128M of RAM for $599. That’s almost comparable to my test system (I’ve got a bit more disk space and RAM).
18 months from now, what will be the $500 computer?