To @Tams point, to say Windows memory management is complex is a major understatement compared to any other mainstream OS including mobile OS such as Android or IOS.
Going all the way back to Windows 2000, but increasing/accelerating with each new version of Windows including subsequent feature updates to Windows 10, and adding a new dimension with Windows 11, the OS has a far more active and dynamic method.
To perhaps oversimplify, what most of us were taught and Mac OS and various Linux distros (with one notable exception) is that the OS and its libraries, and then apps that you launch fill up active RAM and then when it gets “full” it starts swapping out to disk (aka the swap file we all are used too).
Windows, starting with Windows 2000 will do two major things which is to proactively write some stuff to disk to free up some RAM even if it’s not technically full. Prior to Windows 10, this swapping was done primarily through programmed routines and if/then subroutines in software. Starting with the first major feature update to Windows 10 Pro, MS started using AI and machine learning which attempted to watch what the user actually did and then adjust the criteria of when/what accordingly.
And then now with Windows 11 it gets considerably more “speculative” for lack of a better term and also much more active, almost constantly swapping stuff between RAM and disk, regardless of what is happening at the moment.
The original intent of all this was a good one, which was to improve perceived user responsiveness (aka reducing the appearance of the various loading messages/graphics).
And I’d argue that’s been a good approach, especially considering how “stuffed” Windows can get as the OS as well as various libraries used by apps get loaded, coupled with the still, relatively speaking low amount of RAM in most users’ system. We’ve seen it estimated that in aggregate in the total user base, the amount of RAM just reached the 4GB level around the introduction of Windows 11.
Now you can make a solid argument that this is somewhat of a chicken and egg scenario with MS reluctant to raise RAM requirements on OEMs and thus the OEMS continuing to “low ball” RAM especially in consumer level systems.
And as an aside, with Windows 11, MS borrowed a page from Apple by embracing SSD as the “default” now in systems with their orders of magnitude faster read/write speeds compared to conventional spinning drives. And thus the nearly constant now, read/write behavior people have observed. And it has the unfortunate side affect on users that still have systems with spinning drives of making them feel significantly sluggish.
So TLDR, we think that for a significant segment of the user base (definitely not those here) MS has made the assumption that the performance gains that would come with specifying higher minimum RAM would not be worth the higher costs that would go with systems.
I am not totally endorsing that view, but I’m not dismissing it entirely either. And when you add in the fact that MS has and continues to be completely freaked out by the rapid rise of Chromebooks which of course are lower spec (and thus lower cost). And thus you also see things like the new education only Surface Laptop which is low spec (4GB RAM) and lower cost.
2nd TLDR, for the user likely to buy this system, they are more likely to buy at a $599 price point with 4GB RAM than a $699 price point to accommodate 8GB RAM.
OTOH if I was in sales and were actually able to get a buyer to actually consult with me, I’d have no problem with “upselling them” to the Surface Go config with 8GB RAM and 128 GB SSD with keyboard, for only $50 more. Unfortunately, the opportunity to do that continues to diminish with more and more purchases occurring online.
PS: For those that were wondering if in the new home here if I would still occasionally get up on my soapbox and/or wax voluminous, this post should put that question to rest