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Windows Vista by Bill Husted

Put Windows Vista on radar screen
Published on: 06/04/06

More than once I've stood in line at midnight just for the privilege of buying the latest version of Windows.

Back in the early days of Windows, each new release was an event. So plenty of folks were around for company as I waited for the store to open its doors. Then we surged forward, credit cards in hand.

I think of it as the Charge of the Nerd Brigade.

My guess is that all of us will be a little calmer when Microsoft Vista, the replacement for Windows XP, is finally released. The latest word on release dates is that it will be available to large business customers in November and to home users in January 2007.

While Vista won't be a door-busting event for many of you, it's still important. Like it or not, most of us will be using Vista sooner or later.

The big question for home users is this: Will your computer run Vista?

If a Gartner Research survey is accurate, many of you should worry. That survey said half of the nation's PCs are not ready for Vista.

When I've written about Vista in the past, I've said that Microsoft was vague about the requirements needed to run it. Things are a lot clearer now.

Now that Microsoft has been more forthcoming with information, I can tell you, fairly exactly, what your computer will need to run Windows Vista. Microsoft speaks in terms of minimum requirements and premium PCs. What I'll do is take those two sets of requirements and offer my own set of requirements that often exceed what Microsoft specifies. I promise you that you don't want to just scrape by.

If, after reading this, you are still uncertain whether your PC will work with Vista, there's a way to check.

You can download what Microsoft calls the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor beta. The "beta" part of the name means that it isn't the final version of the program. So Microsoft warns that you'll need to check back later for the finished product. But — based on the e-mails I get — many of you are worried about the upgrade. The beta version should flag any obvious problems.

It can be downloaded at

OK, that's the latest information.

Now take a deep breath and listen for a moment.

Vista is going to be a nice upgrade from Windows XP. Security will be better and the screen will be a lot prettier.

But it is not a life-or-death matter. Windows XP will not magically stop working when Vista is released.

My best advice to you is to be aware of the Vista requirements, especially if you buy a new PC. But if you are smart — and I know you are — then you'll let Vista hit the market for a month or so before you buy it.

Let someone else find any hidden problems. And let the computer tech support lines get over the initial rush of questions. Then buy Vista.

I will not be standing in a line at midnight on the release day to buy Vista. You shouldn't be either.

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