Even though Windows Vista won't be available until next year, Microsoft is working with hardware partners to prepare customers for its release. Starting next month, PCs with stickers saying "Windows Vista Capable" will be in stores, letting customers know what hardware can be upgraded to Vista once it is available, the company said on Friday.
Microsoft and industry partners co-developed what the company calls the Windows Vista Capable PC programme to identify machines currently running Windows XP that have the requirements to upgrade to Vista.
To receive a sticker, the PCs must pass certification requirements for the Designed for Windows XP logo. They must also meet hardware criteria that makes them capable of performing well if running Windows Vista, Microsoft said. Those requirements are a modern CPU, at least 512MB of memory and a DirectX 9.0-class graphics processor.
At a minimum, the requirements of Windows Vista Capable PCs will allow customers to run Windows Vista Home Basic, Microsoft said. However, they do not represent the minimum hardware requirements for higher-end versions of Vista, requirements Microsoft said it will provide in the future as the scheme expands.
Joe Wilcox, analyst with Jupiter Research, stressed the importance for customers of the distinction between PCs "capable" of running Vista and those that are actually "ready" to do so.
"A system that will run Windows Vista may not be capable of using all of its features," he said. For example, Wilcox said a machine branded Windows Vista Capable that is a high-end Media Center PC with superior graphics capabilities will be ready for even the most feature-intensive versions of Vista. But if it's a low-cost PC and it has a Capable sticker on it, it will probably run the features of Home Basic but not anything else, he said.
Wilcox added that the Windows Vista Capable programme was developed before Microsoft announced Vista's delay, and that the company may have wanted to put it off, but could not because the scheme was already in motion.