Microsoft® does it again and releases a new operating system. I will try to remove some of the mystery about Vista® and what you should know as far as new computer purchases or upgrading a current system. You have several options when it comes to Microsoft Windows Vista® , Purchase a new PC -Upgrade your existing computer – A Clean Install. Let’s take a look at each scenario.

Purchase a New PC
This is probably the easiest as far as compatibility. When you purchase a new PC from a major manufacturer it will more than likely come preinstalled and all of the hardware is compatible with Vista®. The thing to look for is if all of your software will be compatible with your new Vista® Operating System.  The best bet is to visit the software manufacturer’s website and find out if your version of their software has been tested with Vista® and is compatible. They may offer a patch or update that will resolve compatibility issues or offer a discounted upgrade to a version that is compatible. But make sure that you can run the software after the upgrade or you may want to wait.

Upgrade your existing computer
This will probably be the most common scenario.  I recommend that you run the Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft®.  This utility will give you an idea about the compatibility of all installed hardware and software. There may be some software that needs to be removed before you can upgrade as well, the Upgrade Advisor will point that out. You need to consider if your computer will be able to run Vista®.  Here are the minimum requirements for Home: 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor 512 MB of system memory – 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space – Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory – DVD-ROM drive (Vista comes on DVD but you can order CD’s) – Audio Output – Internet access (fees may apply) The Home Premium / Business / Ultimate versions of Vista ® require the following in addition, 1 GB of system memory – 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space – Support for DirectX 9 graphics with: WDDM Driver – 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum) – Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware – 32 bits per pixel. Additionally with  Home Premium & Ultimate a TV tuner card is required for TV functionality (compatible remote control optional).

A Clean Install
Finally a clean install is another option. This means to install on a clean formatted hard drive with no information on it, but there are additional considerations. My experience has been by running the Upgrade Advisor a system is shown to be compatible, and after performing the clean install some of the hardware was detected as an unknown device. The reason for this is compatible drivers for some hardware is not included on the install CD/DVD. Sometimes the hardware has drivers that you can download and install but sometimes there are no drivers for Vista®. Not to worry, you can normally use a Windows XP® driver. These are installed in a compatibility mode but normally run fine. There are several ways to install the drivers but the easiest is to install the driver normally and if it does not work the first time the second install will prompt you to install the driver with “optimal settings” this will trick the OS into accepting the driver. An alternate version of a clean install would be to install XP® with all of the correct drivers then Upgrade to Vista®. This will allow the Installer to determine the mode the drivers need to run in and replace the drivers that the installer has for Vista®.  Of course, you will need a valid licensed copy or XP® for this upgrade to work.

When you are upgrading a current system, Microsoft® offers various upgrade paths. But you must be running Windows 2000® or Windows XP® and meet the minimum hardware requirements.


If you would like a question answered or would like more information on a current issue or topic, feel free to email me at Stay Tuned for more on Vista® and other Technology related information