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Windows Vista Capable Machines Coming 340

An anonymous reader writes "PC World's Techlog has a short piece talking about the upcoming emergence of 'Windows Vista Capable' PCs." From the article: "The Vista Capable designation doesn't promise that a PC will provide a great Vista experience, or even that it'll support all Vista features or features...just that it'll be able to run Windows Vista Home Basic in some not-very-well-defined-but-apparently-adequate way. At the moment, there are still new PCs on store shelves that don't meet the Vista Capable guidelines--for instance, low-end systems still sport 256MB of RAM in some cases. Wonder if that means that that A) we'll see some cheap systems that still have XP even after Vista ships; or B) the specs on even the cheapest machines will be beefed up; or C) we'll see machines that have Vista preloaded but which don't qualify as Vista capable?"
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Windows Vista Capable Machines Coming

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  • by sjg (957424) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:04AM (#15045247) Homepage
    I think everyone is reading too far into the whole "vista compatible hardware" racket. It will work on current hardware, it may not work well. So it's in exactly the same boat as every other major software product released in the past 10 years.
  • by Myen (734499) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:07AM (#15045253)
    It's the same as the "Designed for Windows 98/Me/2000/XP" sticker.

    It's a sticker. Probably shiny.
  • by RonnyJ (651856) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:10AM (#15045261)
    Wonder if that means that that A) we'll see some cheap systems that still have XP even after Vista ships; or B) the specs on even the cheapest machines will be beefed up; or C) we'll see machines that have Vista preloaded but which don't qualify as Vista capable?

    There's nearly a year to go before Vista's release to consumers - so I'm pretty sure that pretty much all low-end machines with Vista will be 'Vista Capable' then (i.e. usually adding an extra 256mb RAM).

  • I bet for b) and c). I think sellers will want to promote "what is hot", so I don't see them selling XP even if it is better for a given hardware. MS licence allows to sell an older version (up to 2 back versions), but this will be used only for very specific needs. Since I predict there will be apps that won't get together well with Vista, maybe the sellers will sell both systems for a time.
  • ho please stop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrAfFiT (802657) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:15AM (#15045277) Homepage
    Everybody was whining because software companies underestimated the required specs of their software. Now that they provide more realistic specs at the risk of overestimating them, we're taking them litteraly ?
    On another side, take also in account that Vista will probably have a lifespan comparable to XP, something like 5-6 years. Every computer will be easily capable of running all the GUI eye-candy in the years following the release. It's a good idea to leave some room for improvement IMHO.
  • The first time this happened was with regular windows and windows 95... all the machines they put it on were too slow to run it and more than 1 application at a time. That's what they're gonna do for sure. They'll sell you a machine woefully underpowered for the OS, period. No one cares, no one will refund your money, thanks and have a nice day :)
  • To be fair, though (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nowhere.elysium (924845) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:23AM (#15045294)
    is it like this is going to directly bother any of us (other than in a support role)? i'm pretty sure that most of us tend to build our own machines, and aren't all that interested in getting vista anyway, much less as soon as it's released. as far as i'm concerned, they can continue selling underpowered machines for all i care. it keeps work coming my way, when people phone up saying 'my computer's too slow!'. yeah, it's boring work, but so what? money is money.
  • Hardware Sales (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:23AM (#15045295)
    Microsoft has to bump up the specs every year because they get most of their new OS sales from new PC hardware. Plain and simple. If Vista didn't require beefed up specs they couldn't spur hardware sales. Everyone knows this, or at least it should be blatantly obvious to everyone.

    Having said that though, compared to the launch of Windows XP, there is better hardware at reasonable prices this time around. It would be silly not to recommend having better hardware when it is reasonably priced.

    Even still, I know for a fact that a desktop Linux distro runs better on 256MB of RAM than Windows XP does. If Vista is going to bump up requirements to over 512MB simply to get things running out of the box - then Linux has a better performance advantage as a basic desktop PC over Vista IMHO.
  • Re:Missing Option (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kasperd (592156) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:26AM (#15045307) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft blames the lack of sales on Open Source Operating Systems.

    Would be interesting, but I doubt that is going to happen. It could be interpreted as admitting open source software is better than Windows. Microsoft don't want to do that. I think they'd rather put the blame on unauthorized copies.
  • MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:29AM (#15045313)
    That's spot on.

    I know people who have 1.5Ghz processors and 256MB of RAM who complain that Windows XP runs slow on it - and these are "Windows XP ready" machines.

    The machine will run fast enough to get the OS working at a barely reasonable pace, but over time the user will get frustrated with the speed of the system enough to want to upgrade.
  • Bah, whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786) <> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:30AM (#15045316) Homepage
    I have several instances of Windows XP runing in VMWare with only 128 MB of RAM, despite the "minimum" amount of 256 to be compatable.

    These numbers are just to give the ideal out of box experience, so people will be happy with their purchase.

    With some of the effects turned down I am positive Vista would run fine on these 256 MB machines.
  • Definition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zaguar (881743) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:32AM (#15045321)
    What is Vista-Compatible? Is it the same as the "XP-Compatible" 300 MHz Pentium 2 Processor with 128 MB ram? It will install, but not do much else?

    I assume that Vista has a Win2K mode, that cuts away all the Aero Glass crap and lets me work. Is that was this "Vista-Compatible" certification is? ie. It runs the low quality mode, but not the Toys-R-Us look? In that case, pretty much every machine with 256MB ram and a Pentium 4/ AMD Socket A proc will work

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:33AM (#15045324) Journal
    Lets face it. Vista ain't out yet. Won't be for consumers for another year. That is if no further delays happen.

    So by then we will have seen the fading out of of 256mb machines and gone to 512mb. (Even the cheapest Dell now has that already) Wich is happily the recommended minimum. In fact many Dells already come with 1 gig as do a lot of "cheapo" white brand PC's.

    As for CPU. Well thanks to the move to Dual core's in 1 year I think single core machines will be rare. Why go single when a dual costs only 10 bucks extra?

    The only real problem may be with the 3D card needed for the new gui. Except that I have been led to believe that it is optional and you can still use the old gui wich does not require a 3D card.

    So basically, any halfway decent machine will do but as always you need lots of ram.

    So what else is new? This has been true for opensource as well. You are not going to run KDE with all the options on a 486 with 16mb memory.

    What I want is a sticker that says wether the hardware is DRM ready. That is the thing I am intrested in for Windows Vista.

    Not in the way MS/Intel/etc wants. Just so I know wich products to avoid like the plague.

    A nice shiny sticker "Big Brother Ready" so we can let them rot on the shops shelves.

  • by Kilz (741999) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:34AM (#15045329)
    C) we'll see machines that have Vista preloaded but which don't qualify as Vista capable?"
    IMHO we will see a lot of them in stors like Buest Buy. It will be a good scam to sell and/or install the needed parts to make it work right. If this is done I see a jump the shark moment for Windows.
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:54AM (#15045371) Journal
    The first computer that I ran XP on was a 200MHz Pentium Pro with 128 megabytes of RAM. (The Pentium Pro was actually better than some of the early Pentium IIs for XP because the MMX instructions.) XP ran as well as anything did on that computer. And XP was a huge improvement over Windows 98.

    Having been raised on Apple IIe's, C64s, 8086s, 286s, 386s, and 486s, I have trouble thinking of anything super-1GHz as 'slow.' Of course, that's not to say I didn't just spend $200 for 1 Gigabyte of memory for my Turion laptop which was "running like a dog" with just 256 Megabytes. (Firefox, I'm holding you responsible.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:59AM (#15045383)
    1. vista is basically xp with a pretty face

    Have you been paying attention? Much of the code that has been with Win32 since NT4 is being rewritten; things like the networking modules and much of the driver framework will run in user mode (rather than kernel mode), which, for Windows, is quite a leap and a bound. I (like most) am not a huge fan of MS' software designs (particularly Windows), but what you said is wildly inaccurate.
  • No worries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FishandChips (695645) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:03AM (#15045393) Journal
    There's no point worrying about this. After Vista is released, users will form a consensus about what you need to run it and that will form the basis of 1001 tech articles around the net.

    In the meantime, the "official" sources all have vested interests and aren't to be trusted. There is, after all, a big difference between the specs on which Vista will work in theory and those on which it will work without giving the user an ulcer, quite aside from being able to turn on every feature.

    I'm more interested in knowing how much the Vista versions are going to cost.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:07AM (#15045402) Homepage
    ...looking at current prices, the difference between 256mb and 512mb ram is about 14$ retail. By the time Vista is released, this'll be in the 10$ range. Hint: The low-low-end machines are always underpowered. Always have been, always will be. And with that said, I don't know how it compares to Vista yet but Windows 2000 does everything I want it to. I'm considering moving to XP SP3 when it's out (sometime after Vista) just for staying reasonably current, I'd rather go with the stable OS than the latest. The rest of you may be betatesters for Vista, I don't care. I already got all the hardware to run Vista and presumably the Windows version after that (except for the lack of DRM) but I choose not to.
  • Re:Au contraire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zaguar (881743) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:11AM (#15045411)
    Obviously you'd never pay duke nukem forever on a rig like that

    Well, with respect, I don't think that anything will ever play Duke Nukem Forever.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:18AM (#15045429)
    Vista being so long coming also means that BIOS is still in the Vista plan, which means the hardware will CHANGE AGAIN in about a year to eliminate the old BIOS that's been around for decades.

    Don't think I'll upgrade until the dust settles.
  • by caffeination (947825) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:24AM (#15045444)
    What? What? Don't know what *nix you're running, but Linux and BSD distros all come secure. The hard part is setting up your network hardware, but after that, you're safe. This is exactly the sort of thing you're talking about, so you've basically proved yourself wrong.
  • by Bushcat (615449) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:28AM (#15045457)
    Yes, you're correct. Following through shows "suitable CPU" means

    Intel: vistasolutions/index.htm []

    AMD: []

    VIA: []

    My problem is with the consistently mediocre reporting, when just a little bit more effort would get to primary sources, rather than this persistent blog banality culture.

  • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:50AM (#15045504) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I disagree. The interface is not entirely useless, in that they've used it as an opportunity to fix many of the things wrong with the old Windows UI. The outstanding key issue is resolution dependence - with Vista, a 12pt font should finally be a 12pt font, not "whatever 12pt is at 72dpi, in pixels, no matter what your real display res is". And don't suggest setting "large fonts" or worse setting the font res option to your actual display res - as the rest of the UI is all statically laid out, it chokes rather badly.

    A 3D UI also makes doing interesting things with window management easier, or in fact practical.

    IMO this is an opportunity for MS to do a lot right, and certainly isn't useless.
  • by gameforge (965493) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:51AM (#15045511) Journal
    Honestly, I didn't start using XP until after SP2 came out. I probably won't buy Vista until I get a 64-bit chip. Just because it doesn't run on every existing system the day it hits the shelves doesn't mean a whole lot; certainly two years after it's released people will have had time to upgrade.

    I can't imagine what kind of 3D GUI they're going to have that won't work with a less-than-$100 Radeon. I find it difficult to believe they're going to be using vertex shaders and curved surfaces a whole lot; app screens don't take hundreds of megs of video memory (remember when video memory was a luxury?) either. I remember before Win95 came out (they were calling it Windows 4.0) and I had a 386SX/16 w/ 4MB RAM. I had to buy a new computer to upgrade.

    Another point: I'm seeing a lot of people who seem to think that Vista is XP with a 3D GUI; that's not so!

    Vista moves a lot of OS software out of kernel space (where it will crash the whole machine if it dies) and into user space. For instance, the networking and driver interfaces. This is good for security, but helps a lot with stability too. In theory, you won't have to reboot if you install a driver, as I understand it.

    I use Gentoo and XP. XP is a LOT more stable than Win2k and NT4 were; Vista will be that much better.

    I'm not crazy about the way MS designs software (Windows in particular), but they're rewriting a lot of code that has been with Win32 since NT4 (and even Win95 and older). That doesn't mean it will work; but it's a far cry from being XP with a new GUI. Also, Windows XP isn't 64-bit (unless you get the 64-bit version with less-than-Linux driver support - basically XP recompiled to support 64-bit), whereas Vista will probably do some things that 32-bit windows couldn't do, if you have a 64-bit chip.
  • by jbengt (874751) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:00AM (#15045546)
    The reason laptops don't typically come with high end graphics cards is that that would severely limit battery life. As a frequent commuter and infrequent gamer, I appreciate my 4-5 hours of battery life. I do need a modestly good graphics card to do CAD on my laptop, but I would regret being forced to get the latest and greatest graphics card just to see eye-candy, and I wonder how that would compete with resources I actually need.
  • by arnorhs (650507) <> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:11AM (#15045591) Homepage
    The difference is that your operating system should be as lightweight as possible so you can run more programs... If XP was like a huge game with my processor on 100% activity, how would I run photoshop? .. well I wouldn't
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by H8X55 (650339) < minus pi> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:22AM (#15045628) Homepage Journal
    Then why do others have no problems w/ far less horsepower? Case in point, my first XP box was a book, actually a Toshiba Satellite 1735 w/ a *blistering* 700MHz Celeron Processor and a whopping 192MB of RAM. Really slow hard drive, also, but I never considered it *slow*. It's probably slow by today's standards (I got rid of it two years ago when work bought me a nice new shiny centrino)but I think it would still get the job done (which at the time was office apps, Internet, webmail, DVDs, etc).

    I think there's something wrong w/ your people's machines other than not enough processor power or RAM. There could be virus, crap software, spyware issues running amuck, taking up RAM and precious processor cycles.
  • The problem is that a lot of people (cheap people) have no issues dealing with mediocre performance. I had some "person of inferior upbringing" buy the cheapest computer I had (1.6ghz AMD, 256mb, 40gb), the cheapest burner I had (BenQ - bleh), and then started copying every movie under the sun. He came back a week later complaining that it took very long to burn DVDs, something like 40 minutes on an 8x burner. I told him he has too little system RAM for what he's doing, he agreed and went back home to his shacklet in the country. He didn't buy more RAM, so I guess the extra 30 minutes for each disc wasn't worth a 20$ upgrade.

    We have to realize that today's PC's are many times faster than they were in 1998, which was the year everyone and their mother bought a new PC to get on the burgeoning Internet. Even if you trash 3/4 of that performance, they still think the new shitty PC is better than the old one even if it lags 3 seconds when you click anything. They also think it's normal for the screen to freeze for 20 seconds after closing any app or game. I even had people twiddle with my PC and complain it was too snappy, indeed it was "faster than their brain could handle". Mind you I have a bleeding-edge CPU with 4gb RAM and raid stripes all over... hell I could probably host 4-5 virtual servers that run better than the average cheap PC.
  • Re:Hardware Sales (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:03PM (#15045774) Journal
    You can get a reasonably responsive BASH shell on a 386sx with 8 megs of RAM. And a highly usable system it will be. TeX typesetting, the vi editor, sed, awk, compilers, etc. You are sitting on a machine that is more powerful than a classic UNIX machine that would host 10-20 users simultaneously.

    People have a really poor perspective on computers these days. I think it in part is due to an infestation of framebuffers.
  • It will change.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:13PM (#15045808) soon as the big box vendors just say to hell with it and pick one major Linux distro and start offering it on a joe homeowner/small business desktop. Dell is on the record saying he would do it, (we just had this article a week or so ago), IF the "community" would just indicate a clear cut winner in the distro wars and make sure all the major software for it was easy and worked as advertised with no console hoop jumping. He just doesn't want to be forced to even try to "support" 698 flavors of linux, and I don't blame him one bit..or byte. And if Dell starts doing that, it will have an *amazing* effect on the hardware peripheral vendors, no more redheaded stepchild action for the linux drivers. All the "community" has to do is give an indication of working as a community, not a squabbling chaotic mess.

        My guess, and it isn't a stretch, is that ubuntu will get the nod. I am not a fan of ubuntu, but it has enough oomph behind it to make sure it works if Dell actually gave them a contract to be an OEM vendor for them. Redhat gave up on the joe homeowner market, they don't even want your money for even a limited support model,so they are out, they just don't care and don't want it. Suse is a possibility and the serious dark horse in the race, partly because they have some cash and skull sweat to throw at it. Mandriva is collapsing, they are out, gone. You don't even see 1% of the fanboy posts like they used to have two years ago. Linspire or Xandros might get it, but I doubt it, too expensive, limited enthusiast communities, and ubuntu grabbed mindshare with the free cd giveaways and instant organized infrastructure. what will need to change though is the upgrade every few months deal, people DO NOT want to do that. incremental upgrades of this or that app, but NOT this geek fixation on upgrading. People want to settle in and just use what they have for several years, not several *months* or even *weeks*.

    Now what WOULD be interesting is if Dell shipped XP or Vista installed, but included the Knoppix DVD, especially if it had been marginally tweaked to be just a tad less obscure and had more docs with it that came up on first boot. That might be an interesting transition model.
  • by samkass (174571) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:28PM (#15045869) Homepage Journal
    You're making pretty definitive statements there, which I doubt will turn out to be true. While the betas may require a dedicated graphics card, there are a LOT of integrated graphics chip machines out there. Microsoft will probably end up finding it profitable to add such support, so will probably do it. Once they release the minimum hardware specs for Vista, which they haven't done yet, we'll know more.

    Incidentally, the latest integrated Intel graphics ARE DirectX 9 capable, which may or may not satisfy the "DirectX 9 capable graphics processor" requirement in the Vista Capable program (I haven't seen any definitive word either way.)
  • pwned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kronocide (209440) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @01:10PM (#15046019) Homepage Journal
    The latest Slackware distro is guaranteed to run on a 486 with 4MB of RAM. :-D
  • Vista capable? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oglueck (235089) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @02:53PM (#15046402) Homepage
    Wasn't an OS meant to MANAGE resources, not to CONSUME them?
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @03:36PM (#15046528)
    Users buy what they want & I do too.

    I personally think the Gates-Ballmer team has taken on so much in attempting to own the whole ball game, that they can't deliver on reasonably fast quality upgrades with speed, and are becoming the sluggish giant that some other notable corporations have become.

    By biting off too much, Microsoft can't even get out a decent OS upgrade once a year or once every other year. They are quite simply dead in the water for the better part of 5 years. The sooner they break the OS division off as a separate corporation, the sooner everyone will be better off.

    Apple took a long term strategy 8 years back or so, and has simply taken the lead in usability and quality and speed of updates.
  • by Glonoinha (587375) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @03:57PM (#15046584) Journal
    If only there was another operating system out there, one that would let them continue to use their machine in the same fashion they have been using it since they bought it ... like maybe a way to continue using WinXP after Vista comes out.

    Naw, that won't work - you are right, all those people are screwed.
    The day Vista comes out and their machines up and die because WinXP ceases to exist, I bet they are all going to run out and buy new computers.

    Just curious, do you know even a single person that had a machine running Windows 2000 (or Win98, or WinME) go out and buy a boxed version of WinXP at CompUSA (paying $200 of their own money, not warez edition,) take it home and install it on their fully operational computer? Not leet haxors (or anybody that reads /.) - just regular ol' dudes, they kind that would buy a Dell 3000 series desktop in the first place. No? Me either.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @04:14PM (#15046653)
    You are right on the money with this is exactly why word and excel boot 3-4 times faster than OO calc and writer. The windows api has specific allocation hooks to the word.exe and excel.exe that are not available to the uncircumsized OSS devs at OpenOffice. You will notice that if you alow the OO preload in taskbar then you will boot writer.exe and calc.exe about as quick as the MS office apps. Just make sure you have atleast 512 meg of ram to use the OpenOffice pre-loader. But if you do not alow either to pre-load then it does not make any difference to the MS apps, therefore the MS apps have pre-allocated space withing the OS stack load that are not available to non MS apps.

    The samething applies to IE and Firefox..if you use the Firefox preloader it boots just as fast as IE..but because IE has the same api allocation hooks you need more ram to use the Firefox pre-loader!

  • by anubi (640541) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:38PM (#15047502) Journal
    The other one is heat.

    Yeh... I can see it. Millions of PC's out there. Just like SUV's, each requiring yet more and more power.

    Oil seems to be headed for $70 / barrel.

    We burn Oil to get Electricity.

    We use electricity not only to run the computer, but now have to use even more to get the heat out of the offices.

    Global warming seems to be a proven fact, even though its exact causes are still under much debate.

    But I can tell you it takes much more energy to COOL an office than to WARM it.

    This summer may be a real looloo on the power grid, if last winter's unusual warmth is any indication of future thermal trends.

    I am wondering if all this extra power, just to animate thingies on a screen, is really worth it. For some, yes - I can see gamers appreciating the extra speed on realtime play, but for most business use, acting as terminal mode to fill forms?

    I think now would be a good time to invest in energy stocks and energy-sector mutual funds. We have millions of fuel-guzzling SUV's in our motor fleet, and upcoming office complexes full of power-guzzling computers with even more power-guzzling air conditioning units coming online.

    And we have no way of domestically producing the energy to run it all.

    On top of that, many the people selling us energy don't like us.

    Not only that, we live in a society where executives, sports stars, and movie idols are worth far more than technical people and engineers. As long as the Saudis keep our gas tanks full, who cares?

    Its not a scenario I am comfortable with.

    I understand air conditioning units need about two watts of power for each watt of heat released in an office building.... meaning if you put a 100 watt light bulb in a box, the air conditioner power needed to keep the temperature stable in that box will draw about 200 watts steady-state, making total power draw about 300 watts to run the 100 watt bulb.

    ( I am not confident of the above ratio I mentioned... I would appreciate it if another slashdotter who is more skilled in HVAC has more accurate info. )

    For one computer, or one SUV, its not a big thing... but for millions of 'em?

  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nurgled (63197) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:46AM (#15048978)

    It's always been my experience that you need more than 128MB RAM to run Windows XP. It uses a fair chunk of your 128MB RAM before you even do anything, and as soon as you try to run any non-trivial app it'll decend into a big swap-fest. This is made worse by the fact that the manufacturers that will sell people Windows XP machines with far too little RAM are the sort to also bundle a really slow, noisy disk. The main problem with these cheap machines isn't any one skimp but that they've skimped on everything, so all of the performance problems multiply together to create a big suck-fest.

The program isn't debugged until the last user is dead.