One of Microsoft's stated goals for Windows 8 is for it to run on any system capable of running Windows 7, which at a minimum will require the its resource usage to remain the same as its predecessor's. Today on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft's Bill Karagounis details how the company has worked not just to maintain memory usage relative to Windows 7, but to reduce it, with an eye toward making it run acceptably on ARM-based tablets that lack the beefy processors and multi-gigabyte RAM banks of today's PCs.

One improvement to the memory manager allows it to search for duplicated items in memory, and to unload all but a single copy to save space (the Windows installer and image deployment tools for enterprises do something similar to reduce the size of the install media, keeping one copy of a given file and a record of everywhere that file needs to go on the hard drive rather than, say, five copies of the same file). Another allows developers to designate certain parts of programs and processes as "low priority," meaning that when the OS needs more memory it can maintain system responsiveness by removing those less-important bits from RAM first.

The OS's other major memory-saving trick comes not from reprogramming major programs and services, but changing how and when they run. Many services in Windows 8 - Windows Update, the Plug and Play service, and others - run only when they're needed, while in Windows 7 they run in the background more or less constantly. By changing some traditional Windows services to run only when triggered and making many new-to-Windows 8 services behave the same way, the OS can save RAM without actually shedding features.

For more, Microsoft's blog post is as always more exhaustive and detailed than what we've reported here - it's linked below for your convenience.

Source: Building Windows 8 Blog

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  • rs2 - Saturday, October 8, 2011 - link

    My next build is going to have 24 GB of RAM. Windows can use as much as it wants.
  • darunium - Saturday, October 8, 2011 - link

    I for one look forward to goals like this, whether they attain it or not I like to see that it is a value. I'm tired of MS Office programs having their core functionalities hamstrung in preformance by the haphazard implementation of additional capabilities. I'm very happy with the new office designs and all of these additions, but I can't help but feel that a huge performance sacrifice is being paid even in the underlying work because of shoddy integration of code. Why is VBA so slow in excel? Why does the suite tax so much of my memory and CPU usage, even when the bulk of their operation is identical to what they did ten years ago? Obviously their demands can reasonably increase, but that they have stayed on par with the huge increase in memory and processing power tells me that they are just doing what they can get away with.

    We already have the functionality we need, it is not the time for getting new fancy things out quickly, rather it is the time - both in OS and Productivity Software development - to take time and put out both evolutionary and revolutionary advances *with good practices in mind.*

    A great case-in-point example (one of many), I'm a research scientist and have often used LyX, a word processing software that has great integration with equation editing tools to allow rapid typing and formatting of equations, to put together teaching documents. MS Word 2010 however brought a *huge* advance in typing equation quickly and intuitively into documents, absolutely revolutionary. They took heavily from LyX and LaTeX and improved on it, I was won over rapidly no matter how hard I resisted. But then I got a document past its fourth page of equations, and *wow*, it slowed down to a crawl, even when closing everything and opening the document later. Testing this out a few times, I found that it matters how many equations are within 1 page of your current cursor, so if you type a lot of equations you're done. I begrudgingly switched back to LyX. (not to badmouth lyx at all, I'm deeply appreciative for the software, and for those that prefer its very different approach to document formatting - 'write what you mean' versus 'write what you see' - it is a great alternative to Word, I just personally prefer the latter case.
  • Nihility - Saturday, October 8, 2011 - link

    I love the word equation editor in 2007/2010 but yea, it's buggy as hell. I've lost multiple documents to unrecoverable crashes. These documents were only a few pages long.
    When I got Office 2010 I was really hoping they'd address at least that issue, but they did not.

    I share your pain.
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  • firefueled - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Everyone is moving to 8GB now. I, with 4GB, could't care less about how much Windows is using right now.
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I never even looked at that bar on the left when I saw the image before.

    My eyes always, always go to the amount committed. Aggressively paging stuff to get your physical memory used down isn't exactly a solution.

    Then again, reading the building windows 8 blog, it looks like they are doing some actual work to cut down RAM use. But this title image is EXTREMELY misleading.
  • windows - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Early tests with the developer preview edition Windows 8 show that it uses a lot less memory than Windows 7. Microsoft's <a href=" 8 </a> is aiming to minimize a PC's memory usage through efficient design, allowing it to run on hardware originally designed for Windows 7..

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