No Vista, but 'Vista Capable' Stickers Instead

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Even though Windows Vista won't be available until next year, Microsoft will work with hardware partners to prepare customers for its release. Starting next month, PCs with stickers saying "Windows Vista Capable" will be in stores, letting customers know what hardware can be upgraded to that operating system once it is available, the company said today.

Microsoft and industry partners co-developed what the company calls the Windows Vista Capable PC program to identify machines that currently run Windows XP but have the requirements to upgrade to Vista. Microsoft announced earlier this month that consumer versions of Vista wouldn't be ready until January.

To receive a sticker, the PCs must pass certification requirements for the Designed for Windows XP logo. They also must meet hardware criteria that make them capable of performing well if running Windows Vista, Microsoft said. Those requirements are a modern CPU, at least 512MB of memory, and a DirectX 9-class graphics processor.

Ready or Really Able?

At a minimum, the requirements met by Windows Vista Capable PCs will allow customers to run Windows Vista Home Basic, according to Microsoft. However, they do not represent the minimum hardware requirements for higher-end versions of Vista, requirements Microsoft says it will provide in the future as the program expands.

Joe Wilcox, analyst with Jupiter Research, stresses the importance for customers of the distinction between PCs "capable" of running Vista and those that are actually "ready" to do so.

"A system that will run Windows Vista may not be capable of using all of its features," he points out. For example, a machine branded "Windows Vista Capable" that is a high-end Media Center PC with superior graphics capabilities will be ready for even the most feature-intensive versions of Vista, Wilcox explains. But if it's a low-cost PC and it has a "Capable" sticker on it, "it will probably run the features of Home Basic but not anything else," he warns.

Wilcox adds that the Windows Vista Capable program was developed before Microsoft announced Vista's delay, and that the company may have wanted to put off the program once the delay was announced, but could not because the program already was in motion, with certified PCs ready to go to the stores.

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