Windows: Time to Go on a Diet

Windows: Time to Go on a Diet

Summary: Microsoft Windows needs a diet.Obesity seems to be a pretty universal theme in our culture today.


Microsoft Windows needs a diet.

Obesity seems to be a pretty universal theme in our culture today. We’re eating too many fatty and sugar-laced foods and our waistlines – and our health – are suffering as a collective result. I’ve even heard many doctors and dieticians describe the obesity and diabetes problem as an epidemic. We’re not bothering to step on the scale from week to week and looking at product labels and watching how this lifestyle is affecting our health. On a personal level, I finally decided to stop the insanity last year, and went on a mission to eat healthier and lose weight. Since October of 2007, I’ve already lost 45 pounds. I’ve still got a long ways to go, but I’m feeling much more sprightly and energetic for it, and my doctor is very pleased with my bloodwork and vitals. You’d be surprised what eliminating High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and other processed sugars, eating whole grains, eating more veggies, and introducing tofu and other low-fat proteins into your diet can do for you, along with walking and regular exercise.

I wish, however, I could say the same thing for Windows. If last week’s 165-page email debacle could be boiled down to anything, is that Microsoft’s 10-year hardware eating binge has finally caught up to it. With every Windows release, we’ve seen a geometric increase in the amount of hardware required to support good performance of the OS and greatly added software complexity with questionable improvement in actual usability and base functionality. This in turn has led to vastly increased total cost of ownership in the x86 WinTel platform for both consumers and the enterprise. Just how much bloat the PC platform has had to balloon itself to support consecutive releases of Windows for the past 10 years has been utterly staggering, if you look at the raw numbers.

Before the RTM of Windows Vista release in January of 2007 I started work on a small spreadsheet called the “Windows Hardware Requirement Envelope” (link: Adobe PDF file), which I pet named the “Winbloatagraph”. This is simply a chart of minimum and recommended hardware requirements for desktop versions of Windows, from 1995 to 2007.

I haven’t bothered to dust it off and tweak it for Vista SP1, or to break it down or extract similar charts for “corporate” versions or the server derivatives. I based the data on this chart from information gleaned from Microsoft’s web site at the time, and from practical experience as a systems integrator over the course of my professional work supporting desktop systems in large corporate environments. I think someone who had access to the official specs could probably make a more accurate assessment, and it would also be interesting to see the difference between consumer versions, corporate versions, and server versions, and their relative impact on things like hardware cost, software cost, support costs and infrastructure costs, but I believe the end result is the same – the WinTel platform is out of control.

Combine this with a slowing economy and the overall corporate desire to reduce desktop support cost, increase density in the datacenter, and the push towards virtualization of commoditized/utility computing infrastructure (as well as desktop virtualization) and renewed interest in Mainframes and mainframe-derived technology such as water-cooled datacenters, this should serve as a big warning sign for the folks at Redmond.

I haven’t bothered to put together a “Winbloatagraph” equivalent for Linux versions, but I suspect that that numbers would be dramatically different.

How is your enterprise combating Windows bloat? I’d like to hear your feedback.

Topics: Hardware, Data Centers, Operating Systems, Software, Storage, Virtualization, Windows


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • abandoning Windows

    I don't mind Windows, but you're right, it needs to be trimmed, a lot. Maybe the stripped-down Windows project will help.
    • Trimming

      The thing is, trimming Windows down will yield benefits for thin-client computing and datacenter optimization as well. Buying bigger and nastier servers with giant amounts of processor and RAM all clustered up with virtual servers and virtual desktops running is just going to drive up the amount of SAN disk needed, along with accompanied infrastructure costs (rackspace, A/C, power, etc). If anything, the virtualization push should drive Windows for higher density on more powerful hardware, not the other way around.
      • No bloat....

        ... can be tremendous. For instance I do consulting for a company that does low power embedded systems and the performance of a 40MHz processor that does not have to prat around around doing bloatware tasks is impressive. The 240MHz version is blindingly fast. Most of the time our PCs do nothing productive.

        Normal office work I suppose..... ;-)
    • Quality software takes up space

      With the amount of development effort that has gone into creating the quality experience that users are now benefiting from, can you really expect Windows to stay tiny?

      Sure, Windows 95 was much smaller, but the focus back then was establishing the smoothest multi-tasking operating system and a multi-media platform which brought the internet to life. All of that was managed so well that, as a bonus, Microsoft were even able to create and throw in a web browser for free.

      The users came flocking, desperate to escape the lock-in of Netscape at that time.

      With the massive advancements continuing, it was necessary to release a new version 3 years later, in the form of Windows 98. Consumer demand then pushed Microsoft to raise the bar even higher, and they delivered the goods with Windows 98 SE.

      Windows Millenium then ushered in advancements for the new century and again, Microsoft did not disappoint.

      Still not content, Microsoft delivered Windows XP to the baying crowds in what was then the best selling operating system in history.

      And this leads us to the present day. Consumer demand again forced computer suppliers to provide the future today, and they in turn knew that there was only one company that could deliver.

      In the face of a concerted effort by the communists to have people turning back the clock, the wise consumers were not fooled, and only Windows Vista would suffice.

      We can now but dream whilst united we look forward to the launch of Windows 7. It's going to be a long and painful wait in anticipation of something even better than Vista, but you can be sure of one thing, Microsoft will once again not disappoint.
      • Holy brainwashing Batman

        So, are you following in the footsteps of our beloved Mike Cox? It is a pretty decent attempt, maybe 5.6 or at most a 7. Your in need of a MS Rep and regular dining eXPerience, with some extra MS jargon thrown in for good measure to get better scoring.

        [i]Windows Millenium then ushered in advancements for the new century and again, Microsoft did not disappoint.[/i]

        I have to say that line was priceless.
      • OMG...You Brainless Piss Ants

        Windows Millenium then ushered in advancements for the new century and again, Microsoft did not disappoint.

        Windows Me was Microsoft's biggest blunder up until Vista. To praise as anything but a waste of time and effort...and a boon to those who, like me, did support and spent hours *upgrading* to Windows 98 from that POS.

        Be smart people...well, try anyway.
        • It was satire, silly...

      • RE: Quality software takes up space..


        Have you [b]been drinking the Redmond Kool-Aid?????[/b]

        Like me, M$ (Malware Society) [b]NEEDS[/b] to go on a [b]DIET!!!!!![/b]

        I have done what windows hasn't - [b]LOST weight[/b] over the past 15 years.
      • Windows ME advancements ? ? ? ?

        Did you ever try it ? That was the only 100% flop they had.
        And Netscape lock-in ? ? ?
        The term that springs to mind: " Progaganda-ministerium " (The Nazis had that).
        I do not mind people being in favour of Windows. That is a free choice. But this lot. You ARE joking I take it ?
      • 9.5- Nicely understated

        Almost worthy of Mike Cox, but you neglected to credit your Rep.
  • ...

    [B]"We?re eating too many fatty and sugar-laced foods and our waistlines ? and our health ? are suffering as a collective result."[/B]

    Speak for yourself! At least there are some of us that figured out the key to a long and healthy life a looong time ago. And it's not like we are taught at a young age what is good for us and what isn't. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
  • Linux does have less bloat, but

    [i]I haven???t bothered to put together a ???Winbloatagraph??? equivalent for Linux versions, but I suspect that that numbers would be dramatically different.[/i]

    ... a few notable people have noticed that Gnome and KDE have been getting a little "chunky around the middle". KDE 4.0 is trying to address some of these issues and has slimmed down a considerable amount, but it's not a full featured DE as of yet. When KDE 4.1 comes out some time in July it should be very usable. :)
  • RE: Windows: Time to Go on a Diet

    A simple reason for this: There seem to be people in charge
    who rate # of features more important than simplicity. My
    two cents.
  • One day we'll look back and laugh ....

    It is amazing how predictable these development cycles
    are. First you start off with a good idea then you bog
    it down with bells and whistles of questionable value.
    FINALLY comes the realization the the original intent
    was somehow lost. Out of all this comes clarity of
    purpose and focus.
    Maybe computer OSes will be again manageable!
  • Untangling IE from the kernel ...

    would be a good place to start the trimming.

    I also wonder why Media Player is even present on a server; were system admins complaining that they couldn't watch youtube on their servers? Frankly, I don't want these twin attack vectors installed in my data center in the first place.

    While I'm venting, getting rid of Active-X and VBA would be a great second step.

    As always, just my $0.02 USD and your opinion may differ.

    • IE has never been a part of the Windows kernel

      Nor is media player, or ActiveX.

      The fact that you work in a data center and hold these beliefs is saddening.
      • Subject was truncated.....

        It should have said "IE has never been a part of the Windows kernel"
      • Kernal or not

        You can't remove those useless appendages. Go ahead, go through the remove software sequence, and those zombies are still there.
        • You are babbling now

          And you misspelled 'kernel'.

          Quit while you're ahead.
          • Misspelling equates to babbling?

            If you know of a way to uninstall IE and WMP, please share it. I don't pretend to your level of technical expertise. My so-called experts have thrown up their hands.