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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).

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