Windows Vista

By now most of you know that Windows Vista is on its way, due early next year. This next version of Windows will be prettier than earlier versions, and the hardware requirements are pretty steep, but a lot of what Microsoft intended to include will be missing. Is it still worth the upgrade?

Windows Vista is currently expected to be released in two stages, a first for Microsoft. In November 2006 they will release the business versions of Vista, followed by the consumer versions in January 2007. That choice was made because PC manufacturers would not be able to finalize testing and ramp up tech support before the Christmas rush.

Vista will arrive in five versions: Business and Enterprise for commercial users, and Home Premium, Ultimate, and Home Basic for home users. All except Home Basic, which is intended for inexpensive PCs, will come with the new "Aero" user interface. Aero features 3D graphics, partially transparent windows and menus, thumbnail images of running programs and saved documents, and the like. All five versions will have 32-bit and 64-bit editions, to take advantage of today's 64-bit processors. Most of our clients will probably end up with Vista Business or Vista Home Premium. Unfortunately the upcoming "Windows Vista logo" program will apply stickers to all PCs that can run Vista Basic or above...but that doesn't mean it will support Vista Ultimate.

Vista will also bring new security model, which in its current form is reportedly rather intrusive compared to Windows XP, asking users for an administrative password to change most system settings.

As we went to press Microsoft announced the minimum system requirements for Vista:

Logo (retail sticker): "Vista Capable PC" "Vista Premium Ready PC"
Windows Version Vista Basic Vista Home Premium or above
CPU 800 MHz 1.0 GHz (32- or 64-bit)
RAM Memory 512 MB 1.0 GB
Video Card DirectX 9 capable DirectX 9 capable
64 MB video memory (more for 1280x1024
or higher resolutions)
Pixel Shader 2.0 hardware support
32-bit color (for your video size)
fast video card (an Upgrade Advisor program
for Windows XP will test graphics speed)
Hard Drive   40 GB drive
at least 15 GB free space
DVD-ROM Drive   Required (may be external)

So the requirements for anything but the Basic version are actually pretty hefty. Even today not all new PCs include a DVD-ROM drive or 1 GB of RAM, for example (fortunately they are relatively inexpensive add-ons). However, PCs that do not meet the "premium" requirements can still run Windows Vista, though without Aero or other features).

ITS will of course cover Vista in more depth as we get closer to release date. For now, we have not seen a compelling reason for businesses to plan to upgrade on Day 1.

May 2006

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