Programmers are getting lazier and lazier. Long time ago if you needed a function that takes 2 lines of code, you'd write it yourself. Or copy it from a library and insert the source in your code.
Nowadays they include a 100 MB library just to use a single function from it. Do that 10 times, by each of 200 programmers, and you get a slow brontosaurus of an app. Moore's Law curve for CPUs looks very flat compared to the Slug's Law for software development, which is killing performance.
Though, some would say that brakes are more important than engine. In which case we have very safe software. Speed won't kill us.
You seem to be very new to code development. Significant (large) libraries (if the developers are not *****s) are never linked statically, but dynamically (which increases the speed requirements for processors, because dynamic linking is always slower than static assembly, when only the necessary blocks from libraries are connected).
The problem is not in this in a bunch of different versions, what M$ has been calling "DLL Hell" for a long time, and this is already the fault of both M$ and software development companies that cannot come to a common unification of key libraries. Therefore, the system often contains the same libraries, but different versions due to the fault of stupid and lazy software creators. Usually, their "stupidity" is directly dependent on the salary - the lower it is, the less incentive they have to write high-quality code. A small salary is a direct correlation with the qualifications of the developer. Unless, of course, if he does not work in a concentration camp, at gunpoint (this happens in the world and quite often, even in the 21st century).
What was the point again?
Windows 11 still requires at least 8GB Ram to run optimally
I'll stick with Windows XP
500MB Installer / 4GB Ram and a 3 second boot time on Nehalem
500MB is the full install / nothing gimped / nothing missing!
XP in the matter of available memory completely merges W7 at 4GB. Especially when combined with an SSD.
TRIM does not work on XP, there is no GPT support, outside of WS2003, which means that disks are larger than 2TB, there is a disgusting TCP and SMB stack that cannot work properly with 1Gb / s + connections (which is especially bad for wi-fi connections - you are there never get more than 11-12MB/s) and there is a hard limit on GDI/system resources, and programs cannot allocate more than 2GB of memory to themselves, which just leads to a crash.
The only thing that XP completely kills all versions, starting with Vista - the speed of work without a swap file and the latency of the system. This is the only version of M$ that is completely ready for real-time applications. You will never get, even on W7, such low latency and such smooth playback of audio-video content without glitches.
As proven many times by professional reviews. Not a single modern laptop under W10/11 passes the system latency test for real-time applications. XP passes these tests. That is why it OS was so loved by sound engineers.
Why wouldn't you just use Ubuntu then if you don't believe you're missing any features? Still matches your hardware requirements and actively updated. Btw, please consider not using the term gimped.. quite offensive to the disabled community. Just a thought. Obviously you are free to say whatever you want.
Because Ubuntu is a piece of s**t that needs to be cut all night long in order to at least bring it to the level of XP from 2001 by usability and stability. Even version 18 LTS from 2018 could no longer work properly on 4Gb - it crashes on startup where W10 normally works. And the new versions are even worse. And the amount of business software (especially well-written) under Linux compared to Windows is at least 1:10000. Therefore, Linux is still 2-3% of the world's population, despite its "freeware".
....but using something as old as XP seems like a bit of a security risk.
As professional security tests have shown, it is now possible to get into an exploit in XP with the chances 100 times less than under W11. Simply because the developers of exploits and trojans have long forgotten about it...
Who does not want increased telemetry, you can simply install LTSC 1809. By blocking all unnecessary services and updates. But even in corporate versions (not officially available to ordinary customers), M$, as professional tests have proven, brazenly lies with the level of telemetry. That is, additional work is required to block it on routers and other, independent equipment.
Who needs speed - LTSB 2016. It's even faster than LTSC 1809.
LTSC 2021 is already a collection of useless garbage, including the integrated Edge and even more insanity with the UI than in 1809. More memory and CPU usage, which is clearly visible from the moment it was installed compared to 1809, not to mention LTSB 2016.
I recently had a relative's laptop optimized after they said it was making a lot of noise.
Disabled all update services and the vile telemetry part (especially destroyed all Google services and the like), which included earlier, disabled all useless services. In chrome and firefox, set up a banner and script cutters and explained how to use them correctly - an introductory course for a young fighter. Now they have a laptop on YouTube when playing video - it is almost silent. I can't hear it from the meter. Everything works very fast under Zen+.
Unfortunately, the immoral M$, even though you people are paying her for the OS, is blatantly and illegally putting ads in there. Illegal because they have an overwhelming market share and illegally use it with the connivance of corrupt authorities in the US and other countries. If the antimonopolists of all countries worked in accordance with the law and strictly, they would have long ago forced M$ to remove telemetry and all advertising in paid OS and software. But alas, the world is a dirty and corrupt cesspool...