Vista Specs: You Have What It Takes?

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-05-17

Microsoft wants PC owners to be ready for Vista.

To that end, the software giant will unveil May 18 a campaign designed to help people ensure their PCs can run the forthcoming operating system.

The effort, which comes ahead of the annual WinHec (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) that in 2006 kicks off in Seattle on May 22, will include the unveiling of a Get Ready Web site, which play host to an application that can assess PCs' readiness for the OS upgrade.

Microsoft will also unveil of a set of minimum PC hardware specifications for systems being upgraded—some of which call for 1GHz processors and 1GB of memory allotments for certain machines—persons familiar with the plan said.

Given that it's long been expected to require more powerful PC hardware than Windows XP, Vista's hardware requirements have been hotly anticipated by many consumers and business IT managers as they plan to upgrade to the OS, due in early 2007, or as they evaluate the purchase of new systems.

Microsoft has communicated a large part of the hardware requirement information in advance. But the May 18 announcement is expected to make it official.

Would another Vista delay matter? Click here to read more.

For those who wish to take advantage of all of Vista's new features and run a full-blown version of the forthcoming OS, a so-called Premium Ready PC will require at least a 1GHz processor, 1GB of main memory and 128MB of graphics memory, along with a graphics processor that meets numerous requirements, those familiar with the plan said.

To be sure, Vista will run on most PCs produced in the last several years. So-called Vista Capable PCs, Microsoft is expected to say, will require an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and a DirectX9 capable graphics processor, the sources said.

Most recent PCs meet Vista Capable requirements. But in order for Vista to display its most advanced features, namely its three-dimensional Aero interface, a PC must meet Microsoft's Premium Ready guidelines, the sources said.

Next Page: Premium Ready guidelines.

Premium Ready guidelines will call for a 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM and 128MB of dedicated graphics memory.

But, having met those, a PC's graphics processor must also adhere to DirectX9, WDDM (the Windows display driver model format for writing drivers) along with supporting Pixel Shader 2.0 and offering a color depth of 32 bits per pixel, in addition to a minimum bandwidth requirement, the sources said.

Microsoft is expected to say that 128MB of graphics memory will be capable of serving a display with up to 1.9 million pixels, a resolution of up to 1200 by 1600 pixels.

It's expected to say that higher resolutions will call for another step up in memory, an allotment of 256MB or more.

The requirements mirror several suggestions made by Gartner Group, which said in a March 28 report that Vista would require at least 1GB of memory to show its full colors.

Read the full story on Vista Specs: You Have What It Takes?