Q: Has Microsoft decided how much hardware we’ll need to run Vista yet? I am planning on buying a new machine soon and want to try to make sure what I buy isn’t obsolete by the time Vista comes out. — Todd
A: As we inch slowly towards the launch of the longawaited revamping of the Windows operating system called Vista, the details of what the final release will look like as well as the system requirements are starting to firm up.
Microsoft has posted minimum hardware requirements for what it’s calling a Windows Vista “Capable” PC, which means a PC that can run the basics of the new operating system:
• A processor running at 800MHz or higher
• 512 MB of system memory (RAM)
• A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable
In order to run all of the new features of Windows Vista, the minimum requirements are somewhat higher. Microsoft’s specifications for a Windows Vista “Premium Ready” PC, which will be capable of taking advantage of all of the new graphics features includes:
• 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) or higher processor
• 1 GB of system memory (RAM)
• Support for DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum), Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel
• 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space
• DVD-ROM Drive
• Audio output
• Internet access
As you are shopping for your new system, you will likely start to see most PCs with either the Windows Vista Capable or Premium Ready stickers on them.
Be very careful, however, in assuming that the sticker means you are completely covered. We are dealing with an operating system that is still “in the oven,” and the biggest challenges that you will face have nothing to do with your hardware or the new version of Windows.
Your biggest challenge will be getting all of your existing programs and peripherals (printers, scanners, network devices, digital camera or just about anything that is plugged into your computer) set up and working within the new operating system.
The responsibility for making these items work in Vista will fall to each of the manufacturers, and if history teaches us anything about this process, it will take some time for everyone to catch up once Vista is released.
Those curious about their existing computer’s capabilities of running Vista will need to determine whether they have all of the technical mumbo jumbo listed above. This is being made a lot easier by some resources being posted by Microsoft at their “Get Ready” site: www.microsoft.com/ windowsvista/getready.
By clicking on the “Evaluate your current PC” link, you can download a program that will scan your existing hardware and software to give you a report on whether your system is capable of running Vista. It will also give you an assessment of potential issues with your installed software and hardware and provide a task list for the upgrade process.
Unless you’re very technical and have multiple computers, my advice is to sit back and relax during the launch of Vista so a couple million guinea pigs can blaze the trail of compatibility for you.