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Microsoft announces requirements for Windows Vista Capable" and "Windows Vista Premium Ready" PCs

Microsoft today laid out the groundwork for what constitutes a "Windows Vista Capable" and "Windows Vista Premium Ready" PC. The actual final specifications for Microsoft's next generation operating system have been speculated on for the past few months, but as we inch closer to the Beta 2 build of Vista, things are starting to become clear.

Vista will run on just about any modern computer released in the past few years. An 800MHz processor coupled with 512MB of RAM is the bare minimum for running Vista. You won't get all of the fancy graphical enhancements and you most likely won't have a very pleasant experience performance wise either. For me, it's bad enough running a Windows XP system with a lot of windows open that is "crippled" with just 512MB of RAM (between Photoshop, FireFox and its memory leaks and the countless other programs I run), so I couldn't imagine limping around on Vista with only 512MB.

To be qualified as a Vista Premium Ready PC, a 1GHz x86 or x86-64 processor is required along with at least 1GB of RAM. In order to run the Aero Glass user interface in all its glory, you'll need a DirectX 9-class graphics card which supports the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). Microsoft goes further and stipulates these requirements for running Aero Glass on Vista:

  • Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
  • 32 bits per pixel
  • 64 MB of graphics memory to support a single monitor less than 1,310,720 pixels
  • 128 MB of graphics memory to support a single monitor at resolutions from 1,310,720 to 2,304,000 pixels
  • 256 MB of graphics memory to support a single monitor at resolutions higher than 2,304,000 pixels
  • Meets graphics memory bandwidth requirements, as assessed by Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor running on Windows XP

Representatives from Dell, Gateway, Lenovo and Toshiba have all made statements in regards to their overwhelming support for Windows Vista and their steadfast commitment to delivering Windows Vista Premium Ready PCs to consumers. Here's a statement from Dell:

“Dell is focused on designing systems today that will enhance the effectiveness of the features of Microsoft® Windows Vista tomorrow,” said John Medica, senior vice president of the Product Group at Dell. “We are working closely with Microsoft to ensure the best user experience on currently shipping performance desktops, workstations and notebooks, and customers can be confident that their high-performance Dell configuration can make the most of the next-generation capabilities of Microsoft Windows Vista.”

For consumers who would like to know if their current system has what it takes to run Windows Vista, you can go to Microsoft's Windows Vista “Get Ready” website and run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. And also keep in mind that these are Microsoft's minimum requirements for compliance with Windows Vista. Running a system with the bare minimum is far from optimum for such a new operating system. I wouldn't be surprised if a 2.0GHz and 2GB of RAM is the true “sweet spot" for Vista, as industry insiders have already claimed.

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Thumb drive in Vista
By TxT on 5/18/2006 5:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
I heard that Visa can also utilize your Memory Stick (thumbdrive) for caching and pagefile. Since these drive have faster throughput than your average hard drives, that should help with the limited RAM issue.

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By PrinceGaz on 5/18/2006 6:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
Portable flash drives are actually quite a bit slower than modern hard-drives, they do have quicker access times but less sustained speed so you'd be better off sticking to a hard-drive for the pagefile (preferably one that isn't used frequently by the O/S or applications).

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By rmaharaj on 5/18/2006 6:20:08 PM , Rating: 4
... these drive have faster throughput than your average hard drives...

Because USB has so much more throughput than SATA 3.0Gb/s.

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By TomZ on 5/18/2006 8:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
OK, I'll go out on a limb and say that, the feature that lets Vista use a flash drive as extra memory is really stupid. I can't imagine any system benefit to that, unless your main HDD was 99.9% full.

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By theprodigalrebel on 5/18/2006 9:51:26 PM , Rating: 2
I remember a review somewhere where the guy used a Gigabyte iRAM drive (is that what it was called? Uses upto 4 DDR memory sticks to act as a hard drive...) for his pagefile...was it ExtremeTech or just some forum, I can't recall.

I don't think its a selling point. It's just something that's possible and supported. I'm all for features that appeal to a tiny minority of the market! Atleast the option's there...

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By outsider on 5/18/2006 11:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
the IRam is awesome. In a video I saw WinXP booted in less than 3secs.

The specs are very normal. I hope it will increase productivity.

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By Wwhat on 5/18/2006 11:33:42 PM , Rating: 2
XP always starts in 3 seconds, assuming you didn't update it with the minimum of 45 securityfixes yet.

RE: Thumb drive in Vista
By johnsonx on 5/22/2006 3:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
No, it has nothing to do with cache or pagefile, and has little to do with memory utilization. It's for prefetch, now called SuperFetch. Windows (and Linux too for that matter) lays out a memory image of your commonly used programs, and stores that image on the hard drive. This memory image can be loaded more quickly than loading the original program from scratch. Vista can store this image on a flash drive, which should read faster than the same image from your hard drive.

I'm sure someone will want to correct me on the mundane details, but the above is basically how it works. Again, it's got nothing to do with cache or pagefile (although I suppose one could argue that pre-fetch is a form of caching).

By AppaYipYip on 5/18/06, Rating: 0
By CU on 5/18/2006 4:52:31 PM , Rating: 1
Actually I think XP is far better than Tiger. My Powerbook is way less stable than my overclocked PC. I would love to have Vista when it comes out, but I suspect I will wait awhile.

By smilingcrow on 5/18/2006 4:53:34 PM , Rating: 2
YippaClapTrap stated: 'OS X has blown Microsloth out of the water for years, and Vista is already getting owned by Tiger. Microsloth excells at releasing outdated, inferior products that somehow become the defacto standard. uggghhhh'

AppaYipYip by name, YappaYawnYawn by nature.

By Garreye on 5/19/2006 11:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
Part of the reason windows become the "defacto standard" is because it works all hardware . I bet if OSX had to support all the hardware that windows does it would be just as buggy, if not more and it would take Apple a lot longer to release there OS each time.

By Nekrik on 5/18/2006 4:54:10 PM , Rating: 2
What a Joke. To some the OSX you tout so loudly is just as crappy as you percieve Windows to be. Some think OS X is a joke, basically an OS made for inepts and those easily decieved by marketing hype. I can't say I agree %100, but I think there some considerable value there everytime I think of the slashdot posts made the day before the Intel announcements.

By mpeny on 5/18/2006 5:03:54 PM , Rating: 1
Right.... since you know OS X is so innovative using a kernel from an established OS. Next thing you know they will add right click function. O h wait, they just did last year.
So innovative.

By Snuffalufagus on 5/18/2006 6:38:20 PM , Rating: 1
nothing original, but I thought it fit.

Steve: "what's that?"
apple dev: "a mouse"
Steve "why's it got that extra button?"
dev: "it opens up this menu so I can do more than click, drag, and drop"
Steve "hmmm, seems pretty confusing to me. I don't think our uers would get it... what's that?"
dev: "it's a three button mouse..."

But Whyyyyy?
By faiakes on 5/18/2006 5:18:07 PM , Rating: 2
OK, so why should i spend my hard earn money to get another 1GB of RAM to maintain my current level of performance in 3D-Games?

Plus the cost of Vista itself.

Is it worth it?

P.S. Mind you, I'll probably switch to Vista just to play Crysis, when it comes out :-)

RE: But Whyyyyy?
By mpeny on 5/18/2006 5:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
Don't bother. Switch OS when you are ready to a total upgrade. No matter what MS tells you the change over to Windows Vista will not be quick.
It will take consumers 1-3 years to switch. Hardcore gamer will likely take 6-18 months.

RE: But Whyyyyy?
By toyota on 5/18/2006 8:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. Mind you, I'll probably switch to Vista just to play Crysis, when it comes out
you wont need Vista to play Crysis. it can be played in dx9 on xp.

RE: But Whyyyyy?
By faiakes on 5/19/2006 12:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but what's the point of missing out on the DX10 eye candy?

Hefty requirements
By DCU1976 on 5/18/2006 4:06:43 PM , Rating: 2
WOW, those hardware requirements are pretty hefty, I know of some 3D games that require less.

RE: Hefty requirements
By Master Kenobi on 5/18/2006 4:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
Turn off Aeroglass and the custom fade visualizations, and the requirements drop.

RE: Hefty requirements
By NobleAtreides on 5/18/2006 4:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah! And those HW requirements are just to draw up the 3D-BSOD! jk..

I'm looking forward to vista, although, I am totally disconnecting all my secondary drives, my ethernet, and getting a new primary HDD before even opening the shrink wrap off the Pizda box :p

xp crippled?
By OrSin on 5/18/2006 4:18:25 PM , Rating: 4
512 of ram is enough for anyone doing work in XP.. TO say its cripple is just stupid. 95% of all user only use IE, word and outlook. If thye have all 3 open with 5122MB of ram the system will stll run fine, even with 3 year CPU's.

I hope this site doesn't strat turning in a Tom's. They will inflating any to get a buzz.

I also see no reason to get a new OS that hogs your resource so you can run a program that can already run on XP. I guess when vista only program start comeing out i jump on board. Most early use will get it to brag like the guy they send $2K system to play $50 game. Braggin about a PC is like brag about sex with fat girl. Even if its good its best to keep it to yourself.

RE: xp crippled?
By Master Kenobi on 5/18/06, Rating: 0
RE: xp crippled?
By Quasmo on 5/18/2006 9:23:24 PM , Rating: 2
I guess they're trying to be like OSX where if you have less than a gig of ram you are severely limited to open ANY programs.

By peternelson on 5/19/2006 1:57:36 AM , Rating: 2

I'm confident my machine will be ok to run Vista.

But what I'd *really* like to do is run Vista in a virtual machine using hardware virtualisation and the Xen 3 hypervisor so that several instances of linux are also running as the machine's *main* OS.

Is this likely under a 64 bit VT capable processor with say 4GB ram? Or 8GB?

Even if it can will I have to sacrifice the Aeroglass graphics in order to do so? Or can I flip between virtual machines without conflicting the graphics driver or having crawling screen updates?

I don't think the Microsoft upgrader tool will answer these questions, and as always the official hardware requirements are well under what is required in practice to actually do any worthwhile work on the OS. I'd agree 2GB is a sensible minimum amount for Vista-alone usage.

RE: Virtualised?
By Nekrik on 5/19/2006 2:58:07 AM , Rating: 2
I have read up on Xen but have not run it myself yet. I would imagine that you would have to sacrifice the Aeroglass interface as none of the VM/VT solutions out there offer true 3D support (that I know of), either from an emulated or virtualized device, via a 'pass-through' driver, or by giving direct control to the second OS.

I do think Vista will run well enough under virtualization, screen updates should not crawl along, but it won't be on par with dedicated hardware.

RE: Virtualised?
By InternetGeek on 5/19/2006 6:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
VM/VT solutions out there offer true 3D support (that I know of), either from an emulated or virtualized device, via a 'pass-through' driver, or by giving direct control to the second OS.

Actually, it is GPU makers who have to provide support for this. It is a hardware requirement.

Am I boring
By littlebitstrouds on 5/19/2006 2:57:51 PM , Rating: 3
Am I the only person that turns off all the visualizations and just runs windows XP bare? I mean I have a grey start bar still but I personally don't care what it looks like. Just run. I'll be doing it with Vista too if I even upgrade.

RE: Am I boring
By wingless on 5/20/2006 9:21:44 PM , Rating: 2
I do the same and 2GB in XP feels damn fast because of it. Unfortunately Vista will make my 2GB seem like XP with 256mb, but an OS that will push hardware to become faster was needed. Now I can justify my move to Dual or possibly Quad Core in 2007....Quad Core will be necessary just to run Vista slow.

Software catches up or exceeds hardware every now and then.

I will never own a computer that is considered "fast" because of this...

By vorgusa on 5/18/2006 3:38:07 PM , Rating: 2
Now if they could only get it out on time

RE: vista
By dice1111 on 5/18/2006 3:41:07 PM , Rating: 1
Now if I could only afford a new computer in time...

Review the upgrade advisor
By InternetGeek on 5/18/2006 5:02:51 PM , Rating: 2
There should be a review of the Upgrade advisor. It evaluates your computer against a set of criteria that look either too simplistic (always been provided), too broad or overlapping.

By KenGoding on 5/19/2006 11:45:34 AM , Rating: 2
Vista will run on just about any modern computer released in the past few years

They're STILL selling computers with 256 RAM, so people will "save" money. I'm not liking this statement.

By SmartWarthog on 5/26/2006 4:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
Ridiculous... fancy colors and flashy graphics aren't an excuse for heavy software.
MenuetOS and XFCE are proof of this.

Why Bother?
By faiakes on 5/18/06, Rating: 0
RE: Why Bother?
By Master Kenobi on 5/18/2006 4:15:27 PM , Rating: 1
The answer to this is yes. Vista on many levels is a fairly big leap, larger than the leap we took from 2K to XP, which wasn't too much. The Vista leap will not likely be "as" big as the 98/ME leap to 2K, but it will be similar. My machine is already fairly cutting edge packing in 4GB of DDR2-800 Ram so there won't be any noticeable slowdown. At work we put 2Gb of ram per laptop or desktop as a standard, so we won't have any trouble with Vista there either. But I do know we are going to disable Aeroglass at work, since some of our systems lack the graphics to handle it, no big deal since Aeroglass is not necessary to take advantage of the new backend features.

By mickeymouse9 on 5/19/06, Rating: 0
Looks like I'm in luck :D
By Crescent13 on 5/18/06, Rating: -1
RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By Brandon Hill on 5/18/06, Rating: -1
RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By jkostans on 5/18/2006 4:03:06 PM , Rating: 4
Braggy McBrag Brag

RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By thecoolnessrune on 5/18/2006 5:04:25 PM , Rating: 5
QFT. That screamed "Look at my awesome rig! I've been waiting for another excuse to list its specs!"

RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By Sunday Ironfoot on 5/18/06, Rating: -1
RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By ProviaFan on 5/18/2006 7:52:12 PM , Rating: 2
<joke>I'm more holy than the rest of thou all, so I'm not going to brag about my insane workstation, but I shalt tell you, it kicketh the crap out of all of thine!</joke>

Seriously, I'm a bit worried with the graphics recommendations, given that my Geforce 6600 has only 128MB of RAM. Yeah, it's supposedly enough to run a monitor at 1600x1200, but what if I wanted to have lots of applications open at once? Or what if I wanted to hook up another smaller monitor besides?

RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By Inkjammer on 5/19/2006 8:42:53 AM , Rating: 2
I've got an eVGA 7900GTX. I'm wondering how the OS will perform natively on a DX9 -vs- DX10 card. We've got nothing to compare it to, but I kind of wonder if it'd make my card look like a piece of crap on the OS compared to pure DX10 cards.

I keep hearing promises of "performance" but as we all know developers will irk out any and all performance they can, so... heh heh, bad framerates will probably not improve.

RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By proamerica on 5/21/06, Rating: -1
RE: Looks like I'm in luck :D
By OvErHeAtInG on 5/23/2006 8:12:43 PM , Rating: 2
The OS graphics use DX9 render path. A DX9 card will show all of the effects.

Here's what I'm wondering, is my card going to run in 3D mode all the time with the fan cranked up... :/

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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