Although Vista isn’t expected to go on sale until next year, Microsoft has thoughtfully announced the minimum requirements for the new OS so you’ll have plenty of time to save for the necessary upgrades.
Just to muddy the waters and confuse the public, Microsoft seems to be adopting an Xbox 360 approach to Vista PC marketing compliance. So just as the games console was made available in a gimp version minus bells and whistles, which the cynic might argue was purely to reap the profit from selling all the upgrades to actually get an Xbox 360 that was worth having, there are two different versions of a Vista ready PC. First there will be a ‘Vista capable’ machine which meets that set of minimum requirements, and will indeed be able to run the new OS. Well, maybe run isn’t the right word: limp along is a better one. To run, to fly, you’ll want a ‘Windows Vista Premium Ready PC’ instead. Or at least you will if you expect to be able to take advantage of the much touted Aero UI and other high-end functionality.
With a battle cry of ‘get ready for Vista now’ Microsoft has made available a new Vista Upgrade Advisor which will interrogate your PC and make you cry like a baby as it reveals how pitiful it is. Or at least it would if you could get it. The tool is has mysteriously become ‘unavailable for download’ as I write, with no indication of why it has been pulled or when it will be back. Intriguingly, queries to both the Microsoft Press Room and my clutch of faithful insiders have gone unanswered. Which means they either don’t know or don’t want me to know?
Not that it really matters as I already know that my PC will meet the minimum requirements of an 800MHz processor, 512MB of system memory, a DirectX 9.0 capable graphics card, a DVD drive and at least 15GB of free space on a 20GB hard drive (capable of running the OS, just don’t expect to run anything else if 20GB is all you have). Perhaps if Microsoft has pulled the tool to replace it with an ‘Honest John, Here’s What You’ll Really Need Advisor’ it will be worth the wait. That would come clean and throw up a huge disclaimer before starting which admitted ‘these recommendations are minimum requirements only, to actually be able to use Windows Vista in anything but steam driven mode you’ll need more, much more – of everything’. I’m not even referring to the ludicrous minimum storage and memory requirements, both of which need to be at least doubled. Nope, I’m talking about the little things missed off the list which will be needed to make Vista run faster than a stoned snail and exploit the true power of the new Aero UI.
To make life a little easier I’ve put together the following list of Microsoft requirements for an Aero enriched Vista experience, along with the REAL requirements for the non-numpty user in parenthesis:
- 1GHz Intel compatible processor (2.5GHz Intel compatible P4, Core Solo or Duo processor)
- 1GB RAM (2GB RAM)
- DirectX 9 capable Aero2 compatible graphics with 128MB memory (DirectX 9 capable Aero2 compatible graphics with 256MB memory)
- 40GB HD with 15GB free space (180GB HD with 50GB free space)
The above is, remember, a minimum requirement list. So I’ve not gone into detail about how you’ll also have to chase hardware manufacturers for updated drivers to get your printer, monitor, network etc to operate properly. If the hardware is really old, and regardless of the fact that it works just fine and dandy right now, you might have no alternative but to go buy a new model. Actually, that’s not true, there is another alternative for the Windows OS user: don’t upgrade to Vista at all, stick with XP for at least a year until bugs have been squished and drivers properly tested.