Microsoft Finally Spells Out Vista's Hardware Specs - InformationWeek

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5/18/2006
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Microsoft Finally Spells Out Vista's Hardware Specs

A new section of the Vista Web site, dubbed "Get Ready," outlines two programs that spell out what it will take to really run the new operating system.

Microsoft on Thursday released details of the hardware requirements for its upcoming Windows Vista, ending months of speculation about what it will take to really run the new operating system.

A new section of the Vista Web site, dubbed "Get Ready," outlines two separate programs -- a first for Microsoft with an operating system -- that spell out what's needed for a computer to handle Vista.

Dubbed "Vista Capable" and "Vista Premium Ready," the pair flesh out requirements for machine components needed to minimally run the OS and to handle Vista's advanced features, respectively.

Vista Capable PCs will require a "modern" processor running at 800MHz or faster, 512MB of memory, and a graphics processor capable of handling DirectX 9. Last month, Microsoft unveiled the Vista Capable details, and launched a marketing program complete with stickers to be slapped on PCs sold this year.

Vista Premium Ready, however, compiles a much more ambitious shopping list. According to Get Ready, a Premium Ready machine must have a 32- or 64-bit processor running at least as fast as 1GHz, 1GB of RAM, 128MB of graphics memory, a 40GB hard drive (with 15GB free), and a DVD-ROM drive. Additional RAM on the graphics card may be necessary to run the Vista Aero interface in high resolutions and/or on multiple monitors.

These requirements are in line with earlier analysts' estimates. In a report where Gartner claimed half of corporate PCs won't be able to run Vista as-is, its researchers said 1GB would be required.

Clearly, one of the drivers for releasing Vista's system requirements -- even before the OS goes into mass beta testing next week -- is its delay into January 2007. The hold-up, analyst have said, will cut into anticipated PC sales in the fourth quarter, a time when hardware makers were hoping to capitalize on Vista's release.

"Customers now have the information they need to get a great Windows XP-based PC today that will deliver rich Windows Vista experiences tomorrow," said Mike Sievert, vice president of Windows product management, in a statement.

Microsoft also released a beta version of a new tool called "Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor" that when run on a Windows XP system scans the PC, cranks out a report on its current components and how they stack up against Vista's needs, and recommends which Vista you should buy.

Michael Cherry, an analyst with Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, ran the tool on several systems and was disappointed in the results.

"I'm no more comfortable today after running it than before that these machines will run the versions of Vista that I want to run," said Cherry.

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