Windows Vista Upgrade
Microsoft's next desktop operating system"To Vista Upgrade or not to Upgrade, that is the question"
- Windows users the world overWindows Vista is the long awaited "Longhorn" version of Microsoft's desktop operating system. It was released in December to corporate licensing customers and finally made its consumer debut January 30, 2007.
Versions of Vista
For now, if you are buying any new computers, make sure they are not only Vista capable right out of the box, but see if you can't get a free "express" upgrade to a version of Vista (essentially 4 for U.S. buyers) when it is available; but NOT Vista Home Basic - go for Home Premium or above.
For a Vista version comparison, see Microsoft's comparison chart.
KEY POINT: Vista Capable or "compatibility" is NOT enough! You are going to want to be able to run the "Aero" interface. Vista without Aero looks about like Windows XP. In order to get all the cool features of Vista, you need Aero - and Aero requires more RAM and a better video card.
The difference as categorized and logo'd by Microsoft is "Windows Vista Capable" vs. "Windows Vista Premium Ready" PC's. You want the "PREMIUM" Ready PC. For a complete description, see Microsoft's GetReady page.
Read this special note about the Express Vista Upgrade!
Vista is now out, but that doesn't mean every new PC comes with it installed. If the PC does NOT come with Vista, most big box stores (which I do NOT recommend buying from) are offering Windows Media Center with a free or near free Express Upgrade to Vista.
Great to get the Vista upgrade, but...
Upgrading an operating system is NEVER as solid, clean, and reliable as a clean install (to a formatted hard drive). Not only due current problems and debris get carried over to the new operating system in an upgrade, but the upgrade does not eliminate all unneeded files and registry entries used by the previous one.
Some will argue that current Microsoft OS upgrades are great at replacing all OS files, and that may be. But there is always the likelihood of malware, user error with other software, or just previous poorly written software that can make the upgrade less than perfect.
And in the meantime, unless your new PC came with XP Pro installed, you're stuck with Windows Media Center - not the most desireable operating system by my experience and standards.
For the best performance out of your hardware, you want a clean install of whatever operating system you are using. I can only imagine that with a resource hungry Windows Vista, that will be as important as ever.
If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, and are in the market for a new PC, why not wait until Vista is pre-installed on the computer?
How about a Vista Upgrade for my current PC?
If your hardware is Vista Premium Ready (see above), then buy a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium or above. But as I previously stated, an upgrade over the top of your current Windows version will save you a bunch of time; yet potentially leave you with a system that has lesser performance or stability than you would like.
What about the hardware? First let me say that the minimum supported system requirements are a joke. You don't even want to think about a Vista upgrade if that's what you have. Here's my minimum:
- Processor: Pentium 4 2.4Ghz, No Celerons
- RAM: 1GB RAM, 1.5GB RAM if you have video integrated on the motherboard
- Video: 256MB Graphics card, 512 is Better. nVidia or ATI chipset. Originally it was said that integrated video won't run Aero, but Intel's will - IF you have enough RAM (1.5GB)
- Hard Drive: 40GB minimum, PLEASE let it be 7200rpm or faster. (If I ruled the world, nothing slower would be manufactered. Slower drives are a waste of natural resources!)
- Optical Disk: DVD Rom required. New DVD +/-RW are so cheap you might as well get one.
- Broadband internet: Behind a hardware firewall
- Sound Card
HALT! Read this before upgradingIf you are considering a Vista upgrade, here are two things you need to do FIRST.
Obtain Vista ready drivers for your hardware. Typically most troublesome are video and audio drivers. And while Vista will likely support most network cards, you definitely don't want to be caught with an upgraded computer with no internet connection to obtain a 5 MB (or 35 MB!)driver you may need!
Special note for nVidia users: nVidia is my personal favorite, but so many users are getting BETA level software without all of the features their new video card promised that there is even a website dedicated to a Class Action Lawsuit against them.
Again - Drivers are EVERYTHING!
Verify that all important software applications you use are compatible with Vista or can be run in a compatible mode. Adobe Acrobat must be upgraded to version 8 for Vista, and while the Reader is a free upgrade, if you have a standard or premium Acrobat version, the upgrade is NOT free.
Run the Microsoft Vista Upgrade Advisor.
A word to the wise is sufficient!
Keep reading for more on Windows Vista
How To Transfer Programs From XP To Vista
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