Microsoft Details Vista Requirements

With Windows Vista Beta 2 set to make its public debut at WinHEC next week, Microsoft on Thursday finally detailed the hardware specifications required to run the new operating system. The Redmond company also launched a "Get Ready" program to help consumers prepare for the upgrade.

Claiming that Windows Vista is the first operating system to scale based on the capabilities of the computer it's running on, Microsoft has broken down hardware requirements into two categories: Vista Capable PCs and Vista Premium Ready PCs.

"Capable" systems will largely cover current systems running Windows XP, and serve as the bare minimum for upgrading to Windows Vista. PCs that fall under this category must have an 800MHz or faster processor and 512MB of RAM. A DirectX 9 capable video card is also required, and a 20GB hard drive.

But consumers looking to take full advantage of Windows Vista, including its new advanced user interface called Aero, will need more powerful hardware. A 1GHz processor, 40GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM are required at the base level, as well as a modern DirectX 9 graphics card with at least 128MB of video RAM. 256MB of video memory is required for higher resolutions.

These "Premium Ready" PCs must also include a DVD drive, audio output and Internet access. Microsoft recommends that any user currently planning to purchase a new PC make sure it has the Premium Ready designation. Manufacturers such as Dell, Gateway, Lenovo and Toshiba plan to add the Vista Ready branding to their systems.

“Customers have many options and choices to make when it comes to buying a PC today. A wide range of form factors, price points and new technologies figure into their decisions,” said Mike Sievert, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management and Marketing. “With that in mind, Microsoft and OEMs are making it easier to prepare for the arrival of Windows Vista."

Microsoft also rolled out a new "Get Ready" Web site to aid customers interested in running Windows Vista. There, users can download a beta of the Vista Upgrade Advisor that helps determine which edition of Vista is needed and whether any hardware upgrades will be required.

Microsoft plans to enhance the Upgrade Advisor tool with additional functionality before the official launch of Windows Vista in January.

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