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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 hyperstation ( 185147 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:37AM (#15045334)
    will they run OS X?
  • Or hopefully.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 2phar ( 137027 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:39AM (#15045339)
    D) we'll see Vista capable machines that don't have Vista preloaded
  • Good news, everyone! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Godji ( 957148 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:48AM (#15045352) Homepage
    I see three things resulting from this, and all three are good:

    1. Old machines that won't run Vista well will be phased out with dramatically lowered prices. So if you're looking for a cheap average computer that runs any OS beside Vista, you'll have a lot of cheap options.

    2. Because of the whole Aero interface noise (the toughest part of Vista in terms of system requirements), we're finally going to see mainstream laptop manufacturers putting reasonable videocards in laptops. As it currently stands, it's extremely difficult to find a reasonable laptop with a reasonable (= can play Half-life 2 just fine or better) video card in a sane price range. Right now if you want a good (not even the best) video card, you have to buy a high-end laptop which will cost you a lot, at least in Europe.

    3. Behind the ubercool Aero, Vista sounds like XP with a few bugs fixed. Many people with less than high-end computers will be disappointed because they won't be able to run Aero, and will see little reason to upgrade to Vista. Now I finally have a "n00b-obvious" good argument to convinve them to swtich to Linux :). With a little luck Xgl or something similar will be a fact within an year or so, when Vista is out. And that thing will allow an ubercool desktop experience on significantly less spectacular video hardware.

    This last sentence requires a clarification: Whether Linux's desktop will be able to look better than Vista's will remain to be seen. Probably not at first. I've seen Vista screenshots, and it does look amazingly beautiful, for the most part. The lower requirements, however, are there: Xgl runs beautifully on a 32mb laptop videocard (GF4), while Aero won't, judging from what I've read around the Internet.
  • How about D... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:17AM (#15045426) Homepage
    ...we'll see machines that are billed as "Vista-capable" but don't give a very good experience?

    We don't need benchmarks for speed. We need published, reliable benchmarks to serve as good, real-world guidelines about how much RAM the average user really needs to buy.

    System requirements are depressingly unreliable, because it's one place where a company can sweep its underperformance under the rug. It's a soft requirement. Everyone will know whether Vista ships late. Everyone will know whether Vista has the feature they said it would have. But nobody will know whether some round of testing or tightening didn't get done, or whether engineering warned management that the goal for the system requirements can't be met and the requirements need to be bumped up. With the PC vendors pushing for a way to hit low price points for the entry systems...

    For me, the timeline has been depressingly similar, over about two decades, in both the PC and the Mac world, whenever a new OS is introduced:

    --The stated system RAM requirement is X, the entry-level systems are equipped with X, the midline systems are equipped with 2X. I buy 2X, but all my "I'm-not-a-computer-genius" friends who buy a machine at Best Buy and come to me for advice bought X.

    --If you only have X, the system will, in fact, boot and very basic functions like displaying directories in the shell or running trivial programs like Wordpad seem OK. Typical purchased software (Office, Photoshop Elements, etc). seem to run sorta OK, but as soon as you see what they are like on a system with 2X you realize that X was actually underpowered from the word go.

    --You can't tell your friends, "no big deal, buy another X RAM chip, it's only $49.95" unless you plan to go with them to buy it and plan to go to their house and install it for them.

    --Even if the system works adequately, about eight months after it is released an automatic patch that is billed as "recommended for ALL systems" will, without clear notification, increase the RAM footprint by about 15% of X, which is just enough to push the systems that used to work sorta-kinda-OK into dogs, and the systems with 2X, which really did work OK, into systems that work noticeably slowly. Nothing that you can't fix if you're willing to spend a week or so tuning...

    --All the advice articles saying admiringly that the system "loves RAM" and that it will work like a charm if you have 4X in.

    --About a year after release, all the add-on software that runs under the OS starts to get point updates, which, unannounced, suddenly require more RAM. If you bought your system with 4X, or have upgraded to 4X, you don't even notice. If you bought even a midline system, you suddenly notice the upgrade has made an application that used to work fine dog-slow.

    --About two years into release is your last good opportunity to throw RAM at the problem. If you miss the opportunity, by the time you are in the three to four year period you will find that RAM technology has moved forward, nobody quite remembers what kind of RAM your system needed, or how much you can add ,or whether a slot billed as requiring Y MHz will work properly with a new stick marked 1.5Y MHz. After you put it in your machine will start to crash twice a day, and it will take several days of swapping RAM to figure out whether the new RAM was bad, or you needed to buy RAM that was an identical match for the old RAM, or you needed to remove and throw out the old RAM, or whether the empty RAM slot you put the new RAM into is unreliable or has gotten dirty from being left unfilled... and have to start dodging pointed questions from the RAM vendor who keeps asking whether you opened the package while wearing a wrist strap in a clean room, and when your lab last tested your wrist strap.
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:06AM (#15045576)
    I really do believe that the release of Vista will mark a big turning point for Microsoft - that point in time will be marked as the point where Microsoft either fully secured their place in the OS market or began their decline.

    Personally, I think this marks the beginning of the end for Microsoft - at least from the point of view of regular OS releases. I've been a Windows user right since 3.x days (fortunately Linux is now my prime OS) but each time I've upgraded to a new MS OS, I have seen less and less reason to do that upgrade in the first place - I've only used XP for the past year now (used Windows 2000 before) and only really used XP because it came on a new PC I bought and I discovered I could ditch the terrible Windows XP UI for the classic Windows 2000 one. But I can't say i've noticed much difference with using it - I found Windows 2000 pretty stable for general desktop use and XP is no different.

    From the perspective of Joe Average, I don't see he has any reason to upgrade to Vista. The PC games market is quite clearly slowing down as games producers focus more on consoles and it's not going to be for around 2 years after Vista is released that we'll see "Vista only" games. You only need to look at the rise in Internet gaming to see that the future of PC games is a subscription model where gamers will be paying once for a game that will be something they will play possibly for several years - as opposed to buying a new game every few weeks or so. And if there's only a small Vista user base, games and apps producers will continue to support XP.

    I'm sure that businesses will upgrade slowly (because of the licensing lock-in MS has with them) but those of us in IT have all seen the adoption of new OSes by businesses slow down also. Because Vista will end up breaking a lot of existing apps, the business migration is bound to be very slow.

    I'm sure MS know all of this - which is why the marketing around Vista seems to be a lot more now than for any other OS they've released. But I really do think that this time, they're going to have real trouble getting this on the same number of desktops as they did with XP.

  • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:29AM (#15045667)
    W2K added USB support. XP added more slowness, annoying colors, annoying popups everytime you stick a CD in the drive, and popups for the Windows installer everytime you run some apps.

    I use W2K, XP, and OS X. OS X has some pretty graphics effects -- the translucency and all -- and OS X has its advocates, but I don't see it doing anything that makes me dissatisfied with my XP screen displays. Aero is supposed to be ultra-cool, but I will believe it when I see it that it applications can have new features under it.

    Just as we are at the point where an 800 MHz Celeron will be adequate for most people besides gamers, I am thinking that we are at the point that XP, OS X are adequate for user displays. Is there some "killer app" that has some functionality that requires in some way what Aero has to offer?

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:53AM (#15045748)

    Easy. 256MB configurations will quickly go the way of the Dodo bird. Retail competes on sticker price for the cheapest thing on the shelf. Some morons come along and buy that cheapest thing, the less moronic allow themselves to be "up sold" into something less incapacitated, while the super moronic hang around to get "up sold" to the highest margin piece of crap displayed on the shelves for exactly that purpose (anyone here like to part with $2k? I've got some *really* **awesome** 24 gauge zipcord looking for a good home).

    Just imagine when you go across with the street with your 256MB price check and the oversexed 22 year old slick working there starts giving you the hairy eyeball about "Vista compatible".

    Haven't you ever heard the retail lingo "oh, those guys, we get a lot of people in here after dealing with those guys"? That's the sound of retailers driving their own (who don't fall in line) into extinction.

    Any store continuing to sell 256MB configurations in the Vista epoch is going to be portrayed by every slick-haired commissioned sales droid within a five mile radius as the fat kid with the black hairs growing out of his pimple.

  • speculations (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cg0def ( 845906 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:03PM (#15045771)
    what will happen is that the specs of the lowest end pcs will be beefed up ( not by a lot ) and also sp1 for vista will probably fix some of the memory overhead that everybody is talking about. I really don't know where you guys get your information from since there has yet to come out an RC for Vista. Beta build might very well still have debuging stuff enabled and that will most definitely eat up huge chunks of memory. Anyway, those of you that remember the pre XP days will also recall that 128mb ram was standard on lowend PC at that time and now it's 256 and up. So going up to 512 is a no brainer. Also sata drives are pretty much standard on any level for the IBM compatible PC. I also seem to reacall that Intel promiced a Vista compatible onboard video solution by the time Vista comes out and I'm sure that others will follow the trend. ( and I am talkign about a gpu that can handle Aero ) Yes the price of the really lowend PCs might go up a little but I really doubt that most people would even feel the difference. After all OEMs are capable of getting MUCH better deals than any consumer can.
  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:17PM (#15045822) Journal
    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,

    Is it, really? It's good for system stability. But it's easier for malevolent code to 'break into' user-level execution space than into kernel space. Do we really want malware out there that can 'on the fly' replace the networking functionality without crashing the machine? You want to run the PATRIOT-act compliant TCP/IP stack dynamically, whenever the ActiveX on a government web page tells your OS to?

  • by Craig Ringer ( 302899 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:31PM (#15045879) Homepage Journal
    Why would anyone care about this? The moment you get a new OS installed (be it Windows or Linux), the first thing you do is tweak Control Panel-type settings to adjust fonts, etc. Sure, on Linux and X, fonts can sometimes be a pain but Windows is pretty good with maintaining a standard look with fonts afterwards. I can't recall one time when I've worried about "dpi" settings on Windows.

    Then you either have a low-resolution monitor, very good eyesight, or don't work on the computer that much (and since you're on slashdot, like myself, we can discount the last option). A 120dpi display with an OS displaying fonts on it as if it were 72dpi gets REALLY annoying, as fonts and other on-screen elements are displayed at slightly over HALF their intended size. This is made especially bad when some batbrain web designer decides that 9pt looks good and is readable in high-res gloss print, so it must on screen too...

    Trust me, the normal user should care about this one. Many of the users at my work do, as few have perfect vision. My workplace is not particularly unusual, though it does have more 40-50 year old people than many. I had one visually impaired girl at work who I had to move onto a Linux desktop solely so I could get her a display that had fonts big enough for her to work on. The only alternatives for win32 were clumsy screen magnification schemes, or setting the display resolution to 640x480 on her 21" display (making most apps essentially unusable by lack of screen real-estate).

    Large fonts on Windows is badly broken (many apps' UIs break significantly, and even the Windows UI falls apart in many places - badly scaled buttons and icons, dialog buttons that stick off the edge of the dialog, etc). For a user working on a 130dpi laptop display like mine, this is indescribably bad. Even with good vision you're still squinting to see what the heck is going on sometimes, and some of the users at work look at my laptop under Windows and say "how can you read that!". On a laptop or other LCD display, it's not like lowering the resolution (a pathetic workaround anyway) is a viable option.

    So, yes, it does matter. If you like to work comfortably with text for long periods on a modern display, want crisp and smooth but readable text on your high-res CRT, or use an ultra-high-res display device, Windows' handling of resolution is an incredible pain. Just to make things more fun, if you _do_ tell it a correction factor, it applies it to printer output too (since it's all done via GDI) so your printed documents come out the wrong godamm sizes.

    <i>Again, why does a normal user care about this? The Explorer look and feel has it's problems, sure, but is it not the case that most people have got used to it's limitations and are now fairly happy with the 2D UI and way of working? We're constantly being told that Windows users don't like change - which is why they don't use Linux or OpenOffice - so why are they going to jump to use a new 3D UI and have to learn from the beginning again?</i>

    I don't like the dramatic user-visible changes in the UI. I do think, however, that the underlying mechanism change to a GPU-based composited UI brings real benefits in terms of window redraws, handling blocked windows, and many other things. It also lets you do smarter previewing in alt-tab and other touches that don't dramatically re-work the UI, just enhance it. Of course, that doesn't mean MS will go that way.

    <i>I agree but the two examples you've given are minor reasons for upgrading to Vista, if they are reasons at all, and this is my point. Apart from focusing more on security and stability, MS have probably reached an endpoint with features on Windows.</i>

    In the core operating system as visible to an end user at home, probably so. They have a LONG way to go in security and stability, as well as driver safety, OS maintainance, network administration, general transparent network integration, ease of use and convenience, out-of-the-box util
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:40PM (#15045919)
    The "Windows Vista Capable" machines were not available yet!

    Seriously, does anyone here know anybody who plans to buy a new computer just for the joy of running Microsoft's latest and most bloated version of Windows?

    Everyone who has a computer with XP on it already will keep using it. Anyone who upgrades just to line Microsoft's pockets is a fool.
  • by cephalien ( 529516 ) <> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @01:26PM (#15046077)
    No matter how you look at this, it's a mix of a lot of different factors.

    Functionally, 'Vista-approved' machines probably means that Vista will have all the drivers to make this fully functional -- in other words, that some goon at MS actually tested this configuration (or one very similar to it) and made sure that it would all work.

    As far as to what 'level' it will work, I was under the impression that the 'basic' version wouldn't even have Aero. Even if Grandma goes to WalMart and buys a machine that is 'Vista-approved' but not beefy enough to handle that 3d goodness, either she'll be getting Basic or (hopefully) the OS will be smart enough to offer recommendations for appropriate levels of eye candy. The point is that Grandma isn't going to care either way if she doesn't have swishy dialog boxes and shiny translucent things - as long as her email opens (no matter whether it takes one second or ten), she's happy.

    Mid-range computer users are going to be smart enough to ask and to look for a machine that will _run_ Aero if they want that, and the power folks are going to go out and build a machine that will surpass these requirements /anyway/.

    So in essence, this is more hype over nothing.
  • Re:What we'll see (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hannah E. Davis ( 870669 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @01:30PM (#15046095) Journal
    You know... a lot of us don't actually want it to be used by the majority of people. Oh, it would be nice, but the major appeal of Linux around here is that it caters to the nerdy minority a lot more than Windows does. It fills a niche, and a lot of us are happy with it doing just that.

    Also... I hate to say it, but doing a Google search usually IS the best way to get a Linux box configured. I have Linux on my laptop (it's a Dell, so I had to go through multiple distros to even get something sorta working -- eventually settled on FC4), and when I was setting up the few things that didn't work perfectly out of the box, I just did a couple of really quick Google searches, copied/pasted a few lines from somebody else's config file, and installed some packages containing the necessary drivers.. and then everything worked perfectly. Maybe it's still more than you would want to do to get a computer up and running, but meh, it made me feel smart and let me learn a bit more about my computer than I would have by mindlessly clicking through a Windows install, and I just happen to like that kind of thing.

    I still use Windows, though, and I may end up getting Vista when it comes out -- my Windows box is my gaming box, so the system requirements shouldn't be a problem, and MS will likely force my hand when games start coming out that only run in Vista. I just hope that we'll see some decent backwards compatibility -- there are already too many really awesome old games that I can't play, and sometimes even emulators aren't enough.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:00PM (#15046796)
    Does Microsoft really have to downgrade Vista to run on more, older machines? That reminds me of the late, but never lamented, Windows 2.0 286 being sold in the days of the 80386 processor's arrival.

    Think about it?

    1: It hard to be compatable with a wider variety of less capable machines and still provide the best performance on the latest+greatest hardware. It's also very expensive to maintain multiple, incompatible versions (e.g. 32- and 64-bit versions).

    2: How many people with older machines are going to pop out another $200-$300 to run Vista slowly on their existing h/w, have to load it and activate it themselves, and break compatability with existing programs -- when for $600 you'll be able to have a faster machine with enough memory, a bigger harddrive, 64-bit processor, AND Vista preloaded?

    3: Why is Microsoft worried if you can't run Vista on less capable machines? I don't think they are. You're still going to XP from them anyway. They get you coming or going.

    Intel finally loves Microsoft again because, for the first time in years, people are going to really have to buy new hardware, mostly with Intel processors and chip-sets, to run the newest killer application.

    I doubt that a 32-bit Vista will survive long, given that it ever see the light of day anyway. And if it does, it will be crippled compared to a 64-bit version. I expect most 64-bit processors probably meet the minimum Vista requirement, and those are the people who will be running it.

    Will 32-bit systems even still be being sold at the time of this latest slip to January 2007? Will even single core processors be common in new machines?

  • by dcam ( 615646 ) <david&uberconcept,com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:44PM (#15047325) Homepage
    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'm with you. I moved to XP largely because I bought a laptop that came with XP. I can only think of 3 features that are improvements in XP over 2000:
    1. You can lock the start bar so you don't accidentally drag it somewhere.
    2. kind of tab completion on the command line
    3. the automatic photo viewer thing for pictures, letting you scroll through them.

    The number of things that XP has introduced that are worse than 2000 (which fortunately you can turn off with the right regsitry hacks):
    1. GUI
    2. search dog
    3. autoplay

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