This Is What Windows 11 Looks Like Running On Just 176MB Of RAM

hero windows 11 mini ram
Windows 11's minimum system requirements, according to Microsoft, include a UEFI system with a supported processor, 64GB of available disk space, a compatible DirectX 12-capable graphics processor, and at least 4GB of memory. Four gigabytes isn't a lot of RAM these days, and a lot of techy types would probably sneer at a paltry 4GB of memory even on a smartphone.

Despite that, it's possible, it turns out, to boot Windows 11—sort of—on a system that has just 176MB of memory available for the operating system. We know this because YouTube channel NTDEV, who has done all sorts of wacky things with Windows in the past (like booting Windows 7 on 32MB of RAM, or Windows XP from an ext3 disk), has successfully trimmed down Windows 11 to be able to launch in just 176MB.

You can see the feat for yourself in the video above, where NTDEV proves in several ways that the achievement is legitimate, and also talks a bit—well, writes a bit, in a Notepad window—about how it was achieved. If you're short on time, we can explain that NTDEV is also the creator of "tiny11", a customized version of Windows 11 that strips out almost everything to get the system running smoothly in 2GB of RAM.

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The vast majority of Windows 11's drivers and services have been ripped out or disabled.

The main difference between that project and this one is that tiny11 is still mostly-functional as a Windows 11 install, and this project mostly isn't. Sure, it boots to a Windows 11 graphical desktop, and you can even multitask, a little bit, but due to the extreme lack of supporting services and drivers, the overwhelming majority of software is not going to work on this system, to say nothing of installing new hardware.

There's a lot that can be said about software optimization. It's true that modern software is often developed with the mindset that optimization is less important given the multi-GHz, multi-gigabyte, multi-core, and solid-state status of our typical systems these days. Likewise, it's crazy that a Windows system needs four entire gigabytes of memory just to start up. Still, this is probably taking things a few steps too far.