Breathe New Life into Your Old PC — with Windows 7

Refreshing a 2-Year-Old Ultramobile PC (UMPC)

Who: Ivan Golubev, Windows and SQL database administrator

What: "Samsung Q1 ultramobile PC (released in May 2007), which I bought a year ago for business trips. I wasn't the first owner."

Specs: 900MHz 'Dothan' Celeron CPU, 512MB PC3200 RAM, 40GB hard drive (4,200 rpm), Intel 915GMS on-board graphics

Performance: "Windows 7 worked wonderfully on it, very smooth and fast. I ran Office 2007, SQL Management Studio and some administrative tools. The boot-up time was about 50 to 60 seconds, mostly because of the slow hard drive, but wake-up from hibernation worked fast (20 to 30 seconds). To my surprise, Aero worked pretty nice without causing slowdowns. No driver problems, no apps that didn't run."

Windows Experience Index: Not available (Golubev sold the Q1 without recording the score)

Comparison to other OSes: "I had Windows XP Tablet edition on it before, and I must say that Windows 7 looked and worked much better, especially with its touch interface. Windows 7 also ran faster than XP."

Recommend Windows 7? "Yes. It's nicer than Vista, faster than XP -- almost a dream OS."

Tip: "Google 'Windows 7 USB installation' and prepare a 4GB or greater flash drive to install on a UMPC."

Running on a Modern but Underpowered Netbook

Who: Christian Puzder, lawyer-turned-product manager for Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minn.

What: Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook, released Sept. 2008

Specs: 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU (hyperthreaded), 2GB RAM, 8GB solid-state drive, Intel 945 Express graphics chip

Windows Experience Index: 3.5

Performance: "The Mini came with XP, which ran like a dog. It was just horrible. I tried Dell's version of Ubuntu, which I didn't like very much. When I installed the Windows 7 beta, it took less than half an hour. It was dead easy. I remember installing Windows 3.11 and having to load 26 floppy disks.

"I mostly use the Mini to browse the Web, e-mail and use Web apps like Windows Live. Everything runs really well. I am amazed at how well Windows 7 scales down to lower hardware. I'm running full Aero with the Intel chipset. I did have to find and install the Vista drivers since the Win7 beta didn't have them. But there's no ghosting on the screen, no latency."

Would you recommend Windows 7? "I already showed it to a bunch of die-hard Mac people at my company. They went out and bought netbooks, some of them to run Windows 7."

Tips:

  1. "Windows 7 took up 7 out of 8 GB on my SSD. I'd get a larger drive."

  2. "The Mini doesn't have a DVD drive [from which to install Windows 7], so I hooked it up via USB to my Xbox 360's external drive. The Mini saw it straight away in BIOS."

Have your own tale to tell of Windows 7 on low-end hardware? Share it in the reader comments.

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