Windows 8 forum

General discussion

Can I install Windows 8 and revitalize my old machine?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 7, 2012 9:02 AM PDT

Can I install Windows 8 and revitalize my old machine?

With so many expectations associated with Windows 8 and the unexpected
affordability of its price tag, options abound for its implementation.
Microsoft has made no secret of its wish to have one system to rule
them all, but if that is the case, we really need Windows 8 to
displace the XP systems out there. So, here is my question...I have a
2.8Ghz, Pentium 4 with 1.5GB of RAM and a 80GB hard drive. It has a
very good sound card and basic video card. I really want to do
something with it, such as turning it into a jukebox or a basic PC for
my son, but I really have to replace the OS. Can I install Windows 8
and revitalize my machine and, if so, what else do I need and what
should I expect? I am sure there are many other people out there
wondering the same thing. Can you help? Thanks.

- Submitted by: Steve D.
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New Windows OS
by Doh_1 / September 7, 2012 10:21 AM PDT

Okay, I'd say first thing to do is to make sure that there are drivers for Windows 8 for your system devices and peripherals, etc. If there's a Microsoft Windows 8 compatibility wizard like they had for Windows 7, then download and run it. If not, then use the Windows 7 compability wizard, I have a feeling that they're probably pretty close.

For Windows 7, they recommended a minimum of 2GB of memory, so if you're aiming for Windows 8 I'd upgrade the amount of memory to 4GB if you can. Memory is cheap, so that won't cost much and will make the difference between a dog and a system that might run okay. Also, I found that I couldn't install Window 7 on my Windows XP passed the Microsoft Windows 7 compatibility tester, but when I went to the Dell website, they didn't have drivers for Windows 7 for it. Which was a bummer...I could have gotten around it by putting in a graphics card and a sound card that did have Windows 7 drivers, but I took that as a message. I re-installed Windows XP on the system, and it runs really well now, having gotten rid of about 8 years of cruft. So be careful before committing to Windows 8 that the system is compatible with it, and that you have enough memory and the right drivers.

One thing to consider is doing what I did, re-installing Windows XP, which really helped bring my desktop system back to life. You could also pick a Linux distribution, and your son could learn about Linux and how to use it as a desktop system. A lot of good learning to do there, and the apps, most of them free, are out there that will make a Linux system useful as a desktop. I'd still add memory, again, because memory is cheap, if you can. That, along with adding an SSD are a couple of the best performance kicks that you can get for a computer. Adding an SSD in this case, is most likely not a good move, since SSD's are not well-supported until you get to Windows 7, and we're talking about what you should do if you can't install Windows 7 or 8.

Anyways, those are my thoughts about it. Remember that as time goes on, new OS's may seem to get faster, but they don't get faster on older hardware, they get faster because the hardware that they're distributed on is newer and faster. In fact, the reverse is true, newer OS's are bigger and slower on older hardware, that's just life.

Have fun with it, in any case. You might add some memory and go the Linux route, or maybe you can wedge Windows 7 or Windows 8 on the computer, but don't expect either to "revitalize" old hardware. The best revitalization would come from either one of the smaller Linux distributions or a re-installation of Windows XP, in my opinion.

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@Doh_1 ...
by quitless / September 14, 2012 12:21 PM PDT
In reply to: New Windows OS

<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">I would like to reload XP, too. Can you advise? Just have a feeling the 7 or 8 would be too messy. Once XP reloaded then my only risk of any programs not working would be MS Office 10 Suite. Thanks. - Bob

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I'd consider installing W7
by cabowabo / September 14, 2012 7:43 PM PDT
In reply to: @Doh_1 ...

I never thought I'd upgrade from XP Pro to W7 on my laptop, but I did and I'm really glad. It was super easy and I didn't need to install ANY drivers, as they were all included within W7.

When my HDD crashed, I bought a new solid state drive and installed W7 Pro and I am so amazed at my "new" ThinkPad. It is a pleasure to use again. The boot and shutdown/sleep times are really quick. After 5 years, XP had just become a real pain.

XP is now 10 years old and is at the end of the MS support cycle. Go ahead and make the switch to W7, you won't be disappointed.

I'm keeping this laptop another 2 or 3 years.

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Something to Remember
by Hforman / September 26, 2012 2:34 PM PDT
In reply to: @Doh_1 ...

There is NO UPGRADE PATH from Windows XP to Windows 7! I'd like to hear from someone who was able to do that. When people say to "upgrade" from XP to Win 7 (or 8), they mean you wipe out your hard disk and start from scratch. I think DOH_1 was suggesting that you byte the bullet and wipe off your HD and then do a clean install or XP. Here are the challenges, as mentioned:

1) DRIVERS: big issue. Do you have all of the drivers for XP for your hardware? Do you have the same for the other suggested OSes? I would not start any rewipe unless I had all that on removable media (preferably a media whose "drive" doesn't rely on drivers. Maybe put the drivers on DVD/CD AND on a jump drive. Some systems will not come up just by installing the OS (XP, Win7, Win8) because a specific driver is missing. For example, Dell PERC controllers. You may need a floppy after you hit F6 during the early stages of the install. I suggest you have another PC available in case you missed a driver that is critical so you can download.

2) Other software: OK, you have XP-versioned software. If it is fairly current, it might work on Windows 7 and XP. If it isn't (you should check system requirements), you may have to install it in XP mode, if you can. Do you have all of your product keys, activation numbers, serial numbers? Hopefully, not sitting in an email somewhere. Write everything down.

3) Have you backed up your data? When you format the drive everything goes bye-bye. Including your Documents folder.

4) As for MS Office Suite, it is the same as any other software. You will be reinstalling it from scratch so you will need the product key and the media.

You will not see any benefit of reloading XP on top of your old XP. So, the system drive will need to be wiped and, along with that, your registry, user IDs and settings. Note that if you have Office on a second drive/partition, it will still be there but it will be all messed up because the registry entries for it will be gone. Please remember that the registry needs to be gone otherwise you won't see much in the way of performance benefit.

5) For a test of whatever OS you are going to install, try a dual boot or use a virtual machine. Don't just wipe the disk and hope you have everything you need to reinstall.

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Win 8 on p4
by valadare / September 14, 2012 11:05 PM PDT
In reply to: New Windows OS

Well..if have a Pentium 4 original XP..2 gb system can run windows 7...I am not sure about win 8....but I don't believe you can more than 2 gb system memory.

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You would not be able to intall windows 8 in old Pentium 4
by nolimills / September 15, 2012 8:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Win 8 on p4

I have my old dell Pentium 4 2.4 HT with 2 GB RAM. I used this old Dell laptop just for Beta Testing. I have this machine running 32 bits Windows 7 Ultimate now. It ran better now with win 7 than when it had the XP. When MS release the developer preview of win 8, I was able to install it in this old computer, But when they release the consumer preview and the release preview I was not able to install it in this old machine. I even try to install the 90 days trial of the enterprise edition but no luck. I would suggest to you to use another HD and then try to install win8 in it. If it works then your old computer is capable of running win 8.

I bought an SSD and installed it to my new Desktop with quad core phenom II X4 processor and installs win 7 in it. Then I partition my old 500 GB HDD and I install win8 in one of the partition. I have my newer machine now dual boot on Win7 and Win8. I am writing this comment using win8 in my newer machine and I love using win8.

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Install Windows7/8 on Fujitsu Laptop running XP?
by Applejax / September 23, 2012 1:24 PM PDT
In reply to: New Windows OS

Is the Fujitsu Laptop N6010 able to install windows 7 or 8?

Jack Peterson

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Yes, but it's a good time to think outside the circle
by maysa999 / September 7, 2012 10:29 AM PDT

Hi there,

Short answer - Yes - it will run well enough, assuming there's no really weird hardware in the computer, but...

I ran the Windows 8 RTM (ie the release version) for a solid week. I really tried to like it but I don't. Metro may be good on tablets but for me it's a major step back on 99.9% of all windows computers - that is, regular computers. Sure you add ClassicShell, but it still feels like a kludge. It looks like Windows 7 with the "pretty" turned off to gain speed.

What you should at least try is Linux - try Ubuntu for example. You can try it running on a USB stick, and it costs you nothing. It feels a little more like Apple OS X, which is no surprise given their common ancestry .

It's FREE!
- Almost all the programs you could ever want are FREE!
- Runs great on old hardware (and even better on new hardware)
- Really easy app store, heaps of apps
- Almost all the software you might ever need is available

- Doesn't run Windows programs, although look for WINE - it will allow very many Windows apps to run in Linux if you really need it
- You don't get to check for virus' and malware all the time, so you need to find something productive to do Happy

I've been using windows since back in the old Windows 2 days, around 1988, so I'm not easily swayed. But Windows 8 has finally done it. I hope I don't sound too biased - I just think it's a good time to look around Happy


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Windoze 2?
by LostValley / September 7, 2012 10:55 AM PDT

Hi Scott,

Was that version just prior to 31 +/- floppies for installation? Began working with computers in 1979 at Atari and bought first home unit in 1988 and cannot recall a version 2. You don't sound biased, more like someone who wonders when all the bells and whistles became more important than ability to compute.

Peace bro

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Win2 existed, but it wasn't much
by daddywalter / September 7, 2012 11:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Windoze 2?

LostValley, I remember trying Windows 2 on an old machine many years ago, it was mirror less just a task switched rather than a multitasker as the Windows 3.x series was.

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Early Win ...
by blaineclrk / September 8, 2012 6:32 AM PDT

Ahh the good ole days when you hit the start button, waited just a few seconds for the C:\> prompt, popped in a 9" floppy (yes, a 9" floppy!) and loaded your program, did your work and saved your work and popped the 9"er out for another 9"er with another program or to save you previous work and do your next task. That's actually when Windows flew fast without having to toss it out the window and watching it fly to the ground!

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Start button?
by janitorman / September 14, 2012 12:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Early Win ...

I think you're thinking of Progman. There was no start button until Win 95. (So Windows 8 is going back to pre-Win95 days)

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Memory Always Lets You Down
by briesmith / September 14, 2012 6:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Early Win ...

I think you mean 8".

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by mach37 / September 15, 2012 6:23 PM PDT

I think Early Win REALLY meant 5-1/4" floppies on the original IBM PC. 8" floppies were common before that. I started with an Osborne 1 (CP/M) and 5-1/4" floppies. I used to think 10 MB hard drives were the nuts. I bought Windows 1.0, and immediately tossed it out - ext r e m e l y slow on the 8088 processor. Windows 3 ran good on the 80286 and 80386.

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Windows 3, 3.1 , 95, 98 etc.
by davidaharon / September 15, 2012 2:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Early Win ...

I remember Window 3 and 3.1 you could load both of them after you ran DOS which was the boss .Then came IBM's O/S 2 war with Gates Windows 95 O/S 2 version 3 stank! so Bill Gates quietly took 6 months to avoid the mistakes of IBM and lo and behold Windows 95 was born! Backward compatible with DOS 6 programs [Word Perfect 4.5, Lotus 123 and dBASE III plus] You even get into DOS 5 or 6 to fix or tweak the memory and format diskettes from the C: prompt ... you could even compress your files on your 33 meg hard drive you typed all commands from C:prompt including C: format C:/S or fdisk for amazing results.

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Think that was 3.0
by TerryMZM / September 8, 2012 6:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Windoze 2?

I remember a version of Windows just before 3.1. I seem to remember it was version 3.0. There was another version before that. I think that was just Windows. I don't remember any 2.0 at all. Then again I was too busy trying to get around all the mistakes in the assorted DOS versions to pay much attention to the pretty pictures guys. There was a strange thing in DOS 5 called Shell. This might be what some are thinking was Windows 2?

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Ahh, nostalgia
by maysa999 / September 8, 2012 8:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Think that was 3.0

Without wanting to derail this thread, I'll clear up some nostalgia:

Win 2.0 came in 283 and 386 variants - 1988
Win 3.0 was in 1990
Win 3.1 (when it started to be useful as the real operating system) was in 1992
In 1993 both 3.11 for Workgroups and NT came out. I joined the beta test team for NT early 1993 and never went back to 16 bit windows again Happy

I still had all the install disks for these until the Brisbane floods last year look out my office Sad

Ahh the memories...


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Win 1.0
by Herk11 / September 14, 2012 12:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Windoze 2?

Oh yea, there was a 2.0 & 2.1.. there was a GUI that looked pretty much like the Apple interface... you got to use expanded (emm386.exe) & extended memory & 'smart drive' disk caching... it really did not add a lot to DOS 6.2 except the graphical interface.. you still had to go in/out of DOS a lot of times... but driver install was trickey, you really had to manage memory & IRQ's... then again, I had a whooping 80 'megabyte' hard disk & knew every file in the OS...

I'm not a fan of windows 95 or 98 or Vista, XP worked pretty well & Windows 7 seems to have all the kinks out.. there is no reason for 8 - that I can see, unless you have a tablet...
I'd suggest a re-install of XP- you know all the hardware works... I still have a P-4 XP machine as I could not find drivers for 2 scanners & a printer in Windows 7... get more memory or get a new PC that comes with windows 7 free, some real bargains today... do hope this helps...

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I'm Going to Have to Disagree a Bit
by Hforman / September 8, 2012 2:15 PM PDT

If your system says that it is going to come with and need Windows XP, where do you get off thinking it has enough hardware to run Windows 8? I don't think an old pentium class machine can run much of Windows 7. Look at the basic requirements for Windows 7 or 8. Only 1.5 GB a ram? It might run, but that is why they give you MINIMUM requirements. Minimum doesn't say that it will run WELL.

Note that I'm only disagreeing with the "short" answer.

My box here came with Windows XP and it's little sticker says that it is compatible with VISTA. NO WAY am I going to try to run anything beyond that. With more of the modern OSes, there are different flavors. For example, the word "Ultimate".

Microsoft has software you can run that will tell you if you are ready for Windows 7 (or 8). It may not say that you can't run, but it will tell you what features you are going to have to do without.

MY SUGGESTION: Try one of the release candidates. See how it works. See if it loads at all (make sure you dual boot or have an easy way to go back). Remember that you cannot UPGRADE to Windows 7 from XP. You have to do a clean install. I suspect that Win 8 won't be an upgrade from XP either. (Does anyone know for sure cuz I didn't look it up).

OK, I have this lap...uh.. I mean NetBook. One of the computers that Microsoft HATES! I don't know if anyone read what Microsoft said about NetBooks but they didn't like them. Why? Well one reason could be that, at the time they were in hot demand, they basically ran XP at a time when Microsoft was transitioning from VISTA to Windows 7. So, to an OS provider that is constantly looking to ADD new features and progress along a specific upgrade path, new computers coming out with XP was not something they embraced. Finally, some netbooks came out with a Windows "Sampler" OS. Again, not something Microsoft would want. Their expectations were "expected". I mean, what company would want you to go back to their older products when your whole support architecture is on the newer product.

They must hate us at work (OK, I have heard that Microsoft isn't too happy) because we have all over out 100,000 computers on XP as a standard with Windows Server 2003 as a standard. They do NOT intend, in these economic times to move up to a newer OS. They might let Windows 7 drift in as new PCs are bought (there is a lock on buying anything IT related). In fact, they gave some brand new Windows 7 machines to some of the technical people in IT. So far, they can't make them work too well. They don't run some of the really old mainframe software. Also, I noticed that new ones come with IE 9. Our apps have just been converted so that IE 8 might run so some users are getting that next week. Should be interesting with some compatibility issues with old apps. We had to replace a whole system that we were going to put up on Windows Server 2008 R2 because this new OS did not support Frontpage extentions.

I can see that this discussion will probably drift off to discussions about how much people hate the "Metro" (whatever they want to call the interface these days) interface vs those people yelling "get over it! It is the way of the future". Sorry guys, any OS that is really geared to using your finger to wipe a screen isn't going to get my vote. It also seems to be failing at work because everyone wanted iPads until they tried to use them with a mouse and a keyboard while sitting at their desk. Great for the people who MUST move about but, I tested a few things and noted that even an hour or two of trying to poke at my screen is very tiring and a mouse is so much easier.

Did you know that Microsoft's "Metro-style" website does not work on my computer at work? I'm running XP and the latest web browser that I can, IE 7). Nope. I click on the tiles, get a menu, move the mouse and the menu goes away. I have to use Firefox in order to access Microsoft's site. Work's great.

Sorry if I digressed a bit.

My point is, you need to look up the requirements for the OS and remember that these are MINIMUM requirements and not what is needed to make the computer run WELL. Windows OSes only get bigger, more powerful and with more features. I would never assume something is going to work on an old machine unless:

1. I compared the requirements for the old machine with the requirements for the new OS. If you are close, I would give it a miss because it may not run very well, if at all.

2. I tested the machine running the new OS in one of its "free" non-production customer preview-type of releases (NOW is the time to do that before they are gone and you have to pay)

3. I had some way of making sure all of the old hardware is supported by new drivers (no 5.25" floppies, I suspect).

4. I evaluated how I currently use the computer. Will you have to use a mouse or can you reach the computer screen (assuming it is a TOUCH screen) to swipe your finger.

5. I tested a plan on how to reinstall of of my software and have checked if the software will run under Windows 8 anyway. Anyone know if there will be a 32-bit version of Windows 8 or will it all be 64-bit? You might have an issue there if your hardware is not 64-bit compatible.

I tried to install Winows 8 as a VMware 4.1 virtual machine at work. Well, it didn't work. You need VMware ESXi 5.1 with patches.

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Checked the OP's specs with Win8 in VMWare Workstation 9
by maysa999 / September 8, 2012 10:44 PM PDT

Hi again,

Yeah I got rid of my Win8 partition after giving up, but I still have Win8 in a virtual machine on VMWare WS9. I scaled back the hardware to match the OP specs and yup, it works okay. Win7 also works okay in the same space. OS X also worked okay, sort of. Ubuntu easily worked the most satisfactorily. Again, I assume reasonably standard hardware...

I rolled out our department from XP to Win7 a little while ago. Many people would not accept change, complained about everything - until they went to use a machine I had not yet rolled out. Man, then they remembered how slow XP was. How quickly we become used to "better"...

I saw (for the first time in quite a while) an MS Zune HD. It's interface looked like the Windows Phone 7/7.5 to me. All tiles and all. These have both been market failures. Don't flame me, I'm just talking economics here - technically I don't mind either. Now MS want to thrust that interface on the PC space. I think it's been thoroughly rejected already. How many touch screens are out there in the Windows 7 PC space, really.

Viva la difference Happy

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That Was a Really Good Idea
by Hforman / September 9, 2012 3:57 AM PDT

I didn't think about testing performance in a VM. The only VMware I have access to is at work and that is ESXi 4.1 U3. Win8 is not supposed to be supported until ESXi 5.1 with some patches and we just don't have access to that. My boss has been testing it on one of his machines but he hasn't said anything. We are pretty locked in to XP right now since the mainframe and other IBM software doesn't work on Win 7 very well. I'm nervous because one of the execs just got a Win7 64-bit machine and it came with IE 9 and there are apps that don't work above IE 7 just yet. (Many have been converted to IE 8). By the way, Win 7 (right out of the box runs a bit slow on startup and this guy's laptop has an SSD in it with 4 GB RAM.

If Win 8 has reporting to Microsoft, that could be interesting as we have to logon every time our computer accesses the Internet, unless they whitelist the site.

As I mentioned before, the only way to tell how an OS is going to run is to go out there and test it. There are the other concerns though. Making sure his software will run on Windows 8, how to get from XP to Win 8 (not an upgrade?).

What I'm thinking of doing at least at work is to run the pre-installation test to see if any of the features (like Aero) will drop out when you install version 8. Some of our machines are of the Windowss 2000 variety and running XP now.

Great idea using a VM!


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Metro in Windows 8 ?
by pe1mmk / September 14, 2012 7:45 PM PDT

I agree with Scott.

If you have a tablet or a touch-screen pc Windows 8 with Metro works, if you like it is up to you, its my taste on a tablet, but Android is too.

For a regular pc in my office or my mini laptop on the road, Windows 8 is a step back, its in one word annoying, with the ever changing screens from Metro to the GUI of Windows and reverse it drives me crazy. I never know where I am in Windows 8, have to check many times. Windows 7 does not have this disadvantage.

No to me Microsoft still does not know where the future of the OS lies. Linux is a mature alternative today, really worth checking out. There is more choice today, more than ever, take advantage of this is my advise.


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by Batman / September 25, 2012 6:36 PM PDT

I've heard so many people say they do not like 8.
I installed it on my almost 2 yr old lap top. I like 8. I ran into two problems with 8:
1. My all-in-one printer's software doesnt work. Big surprise. The printer works; dont have a landline, so no clue if the fax works, but, the scanner didn't.
Bought a new printer, the lying HP rep said it was 8 compatible. Returned. Will buy one when they're designed for win 8.
2. didn't work. I was told that 8 wasn't out, therefore....
Ya, whatever. Logos (bible software) works, and so do a bunch of downloaded games I have. So, whats up with slow poke
My several year old camera worked. Needed to figure it out; but, it worked. Probably is the hugest learning curve needed on 8, but, its an OS, and basically, theyre all the same. Just everything gets rearranged to confuse us. lol.

Overall, I liked 8. I don't understand why others dont. Other than the learning curve.

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Yes but no
by LostValley / September 7, 2012 10:49 AM PDT

Any new OS will have 'new and improved' functionality, features and Micro$not or worse tracking. Win8 is not bad overall as long as you strip unnecessary items if/when they bother you or cause too much resource allocation. Good luck and 'learn your OS.'

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Boat Anchor
by fishnet555 / September 7, 2012 11:11 AM PDT

Sorry my friend your machine is dated and would be hard pressed to handle Windows 8
Better to stay with your current O/S.

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Um.. Do you even know the System Requirments for Windows 8..
by Wolfie2k5 / September 8, 2012 1:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Boat Anchor

Windows 8 has the same general system requirements as Windows 7.

128 MB video.

Nothing the OP mentioned suggested he's missing anything in that department.

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Short Headline Answer: Yes
by Flirkann / September 7, 2012 11:17 AM PDT

Somewhat longer answer:
One of the biggest revitalising boosts you could give that machine would be a full and clean reinstall of the operating system, followed up by a RAM upgrade - aim for 4GB or more if you can.
While the hardware is older, it's certainly capable of running Windows7/8 - so go for it.

A newer video card wouldn't go astray - it doesn't have to be top end, just better than basic and capable of running Aero if desired/needed (although, turning this off would save on system resources)

And if that hard drive is PATA (which has an 40/80 conductor ribbon cable) you will also see a boost by switching to a SATA boot hard drive if the motherboard supports it.

Once installed, reviewing a couple of the performance tweaking guides that are available (of which, there should be several about these forums) would be highly recommended to get that bit more of that machines potential available for use.

Good Luck, Flirkann

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No More Aero
by briesmith / September 14, 2012 6:36 PM PDT

WIn 8 = no more Aero (as I read the pre-publicity).
Standard video cards are great; low demands, no special drivers, low heat output etc. If you're not gaming, composing music, painting/drawing, it should be fine.

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After all these upgrades...
by obersturmfuhrer / September 15, 2012 2:26 AM PDT

I think some responses have gone off the path a bit, I don't think the OP was looking to see if Win7/8 would meet the basic requirements but rather would work WELL on his current setup.

After he spends money on upgrading RAM, video card, and SSD drive, he'll be in the price range to afford a low-grade (but nonetheless much more powerful) modern laptop ($300-400).

I'd recommend taking the cash and getting a new laptop or medium grade PC desktop build...

If money is an issue, I'd simply do as many others have reommended; format, re-install and streamline. (do not install bloatware/spyware/malware, keep close eye on that)

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Don't use Windows 8 for anything!
by TerryMZM / September 7, 2012 11:19 AM PDT

Do not use Windows 8 for anything, especially if you are trying to revitalize an older computer. It is a resource HOG! In trying to be everything to everybody, Micro$oft has once again succeeded in being nothing to nobody.
I'm not sure if Windows 8 will run with only 1.5 GB of RAM, seem to remember seeing it needed something like 4 gigs to run.
If it was my computer, I'd bring the memory up to at least 4 GB, even if I had to flash the ROM to get there, and use Linux. If you insist on a new version of Windoze, tryout Windows 7 Home Premium. The Micro$oft Tax isn't as steep as it is for the Pro edition, and with some freebie add-ons you can make it look very much like the Windows Classic we are all familiar with.
I have a question for you. Are you presently running XP on this machine? If you are, then just get your memory up to around 4 GB and go. Unless you have in mind getting some new program that requires Windows 7 or 8, everything you have will be very happy with the additional memory.

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