Good news. Windows 7 won't, apparently, require the quadrupling of memory and processor that Vista unofficially asked for. But will the new minimum be enough to also run XP inside 7 Professional ?

The published minimum requirements are said to be 1GB RAM, 16GB of disk space, and a 1GHz processor, and support for DirectX 9, which, fascinatingly is about what was asked for when Vista launched.

Vista's were claimed as 1GB of RAM, 16GB hard disk and a single core processor of the Pentium 4 generation, but this turned out to be extremely optimistic mere doubling of what XP needed. Vista actually needs 2GB of RAM and a dual-core to achieve happiness. Running the basic version was said to need 512MG of RAM, also very tight.

Whether users choose to believe them or not is in theory academic given that the lowest spec on a new PC or laptop exceeds even Vista's minimum requirement quite comfortably. What matters more is how it performs, which is to say how fast it boots, closes down and runs apps without special acceleration.

And here's the rub. Users, especially business users, are still tied to XP, hence the ability of Windows 7 to run XP in an emulated mode. That is the target market - XP users unwilling to touch Vista after years of bad press. But in order to do that successfully, Microsoft recommends upping that minimum spec to 2GB of RAM with more disk and Intel-VT/AMD-V enabled in the CPU. You also need the Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate versions of 7, which will involve considerable added expense.

Microsoft sees Windows XP mode as a small business feature, as it says on its website , and I suppose that is a logical position. Why would anyone upgrade their PC to Windows 7 only to spend their lives pootling around in XP?