Minimum System Requirements is a mostly self explanatory term. This term refers to the minimum specifications a computer needs to run a given software program.

Unfortunately this number is often just a filthy lie. Many times this number will represent the minimum system that they were able to get the program to start up on, not the minimum system that can actually use the program in any real fashion.

Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that most unaware PC users tend to have a dozen useless system tray and spyware programs running at all times, which tend to eat up most of that 32MB of RAM before the program in question can even get to it (but I just got this computer from Gateway a few years ago, it cost $2000 and I am still paying for it, it should run everything).

A good real world thing to do is to be sure and have at least double the system that the box requires, this is usually enough for most programs, except Age of Empires II which will have speed problems no matter how fast of a computer you have.

A smart consumer should also be aware of the different versions of Microsoft Windows, not all of them are compatible with each other.

Minimum system requirements can be widely off, but they can be widely off in either direction. Often these system requirements do not reflect the absolute minimum that the program can run on, but rather the minimum that technical support will offer support on.

When I was working technical support, we listed our minimum system requirements for Netscape 4.5 as being 32 Megs. Occasionally, someone would call in who managed to install it on half of that. We would normally give a normal level of support for this, but if the normal fixes wouldn't work, we would assume that it was due to the lack of RAM, and we would tell the customer that we couldn't proceed past that point.

Depending on the level of diligence and honesty of the technician, people might get shuffled away quite quickly for a very slight lack of system power. In other words, system requirements often became just another excuse for technicians to dismiss their customers.

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