Why does the System Properties page round the memory size?

During Windows 95 beta testing, people ran the System Properties page and complained about "missing memory".

The Windows 95 System Properties page reports the amount of memory available to Windows as system memory, which is not necessarily the same as the amount of memory installed in your computer.

For example, you may have an old DOS device driver that allocates a large amount of memory for itself, which prevents Windows 95 from using it. Or you may have a dreaded UMA machine, where your so-called 8MB of memory is actually being divided between main system memory and video memory. So if you have an 8MB UMA machine and you're running at 800x600 8bpp, you actually have only 7.5MB of memory, since the other half-meg got eaten by the video card.

When we displayed the actual amount of memory available to Windows, we got lots of bug reports from people asking, "I paid for 8MB of memory, where is it?"

So Windows 95 takes the actual amount of memory and rounds it up to the nearest multiple of four megabytes and displays that.

Comments (3)
  1. quanta says:

    Actually, why was that memory info in every "About X…" dialog box anyway? By rounding up 4MB, it’s not a particularily useful dialog anyway.

    UMA: I miss typing dos=high in my config.sys…

  2. I always thought it was a throwback to the days when Windows was a glorified shell over DOS, and you /needed/ a quick way to tell if you were low on resources. (Didn’t some windows versions also list free GDI resources?)

  3. quanta says:

    No, I don’t recall ever seeing GDI. It would have helped too. People didn’t understand that having 200 icons on screen results in one running out of (GDI) memory, "but About Windows says I have 8MB free!"

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