Vista System Requirements, Upgrade Advisor

    May 18, 2006

Microsoft has announced the base minimum system requirements to run Windows Vista.

They are:

  • Processor (CPU) – 800 MHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • System Memory (RAM) – 512 MB
  • Graphics capability – SVGA (800600)
  • Hard Drive – 20 GB
  • Hard Drive Free Space – 15 GB
  • Optical Drive – CD-ROM drive (can be external)

However, these requirements are only for Vista Home Basic. You’ll need a little more power for Vista Premium:

  • CPU – 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • RAM – 1 GB
  • A graphics processor that runs Windows Aero
  • 128 MB of graphics memory
  • 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space
  • DVD-ROM Drive
  • Audio output capability
  • Internet access capability

Computers that meet the first list can get a Windows Vista Capable sticker, while those good for the second list can get a Windows Vista Premium Ready sticker.

The actual full Aero requirements are:

DirectX 9 class graphics processor that

  • Supports a WDDM Driver
  • Supports Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
  • Supports 32 bits per pixel

Adequate graphics memory

  • 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

Microsoft has released a program designed to advise users in which version of Windows they need, called the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor Beta.

Here’s the intro screen:

And here’s the main screen:

Now, the program starts off with Vista Home Basic, and checking any single check box moves you up to Vista Home Premium or Vista Business. The options are:

  • Strengthen Security (Included with all editions of Windows Vista)
    I want to protect my PC from malicious software like worms, viruses and spyware. I would like to know when my PC is vulnerable to attacks and how to make it safe again. Learn more
  • Search and Organize (Included with all editions of Windows Vista)
    I would like to instantly find what I need on my computer. I’d also like to quickly search my computer from almost anywhere in Windows Vista. Learn more
  • Elegant User Experience with Windows Aero
    I’d like to see my information in realistic and dynamic new ways. I would like a smoother, more stable desktop experience with a modern look and feel. Learn more
  • Work Anywhere
    I’d like to more easily detect and connect to WiFi hotspots. I would like to use Windows Tablet PC features like digital ink, touch and handwriting recognition. I want to edit and share documents whether or not I am physically connected to a network. Learn more
  • Watch and Record TV
    I want to record and watch TV on my PC or through connected devices and TVs throughout my home. Learn more
  • Premium Photo, Music and Movie Experiences
    I want to enjoy and share my pictures, music and movies throughout my home with Windows Media Center. I want to burn music and movies to DVD. Learn more
  • Connect to Corporate or Campus Networks
    I’ll need to connect my computer to my company or school network. I’d like to remotely access and control my computer from a different location through another computer. I want to ensure that I have network backup for my PC. Learn more

  • Simplify My Business
    I’d like to have integrated faxing and scanning capabilities. I want to protect the data on my PC in the event that it is lost or stolen, by taking advantage of advanced encryption. I need tools that make it easy for me to set up and use my PC even if I don’t have IT staff. Learn more

The first two, security and search, are checked by default and cannot be turned off, presumably to remind you what Vista Basic does have. All of them activate the suggestion at the bottom for Vista Home Premium, except the last two, which suggest Vista Business. Accordingly, if you choose any one option from the middle four Premium options, and any one of the last two Business options, you get recommended Vista Ultimate.

So, what wonderful suggestions does the program have for me? Well, they don’t like that I don’t have 15 gigabytes of free space (easily solved). Since I have a TV tuner and TV-out, I’m fine for the premium entertainment experiences and recording TV. I’m golden for everything else, including Aero (thanks to my ATI Mobility Radeon X300).

Next, it talks about drivers, listing your system devices that already have Vista drivers you’ll need to install, the ones that don’t need new drivers, and the ones with no drivers Microsoft is aware of. My SigmaTel C-Major Audio integrated sound controller has a Vista driver update, but my Dell AIO 922 printer, Mobile Intel 915GM Express Processor, Intel Wireless Connection Agent Miniport, and Intel 82801FBM Ultra ATA Storage Controllers don’t have known Vista drivers.

Devices with drivers that come with the Vista installation, requiring you to do absolutely nothing:

  • HP DeskJet 600
  • Broadcom 440x 10/100 Integrated Controller
  • Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection
  • Intel(R) 82801FB/FBM USB Controller
  • OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller
  • SDA Standard Compliant SD Card Controller
  • Ricoh R/RL/5C476(II) or Compatible CardBus (PCMCIA) Controller
  • Conexant D110 MDC V.92 Modem

Obviously, unless you have the exact same Dell Inspiron 6000 I have, you’re experiences will be different, but if you’re reading this and recognize some familiar hardware, you can worry jus that much less.

Check out the full Vista Get Ready site and the press release.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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