Posted by: kurtsh | January 31, 2007

COMMENTARY: What do I REALLY need to install Windows Vista?

Here you go:

  1. DVD drive
  2. 1GB RAM
  3. 4GB storage 
  4. 1Ghz CPU
  5. …and if you want something that looks different visually from Windows XP:
    32MB video adapter.

That’s it.  Seriously.

"But Kurt!  What about Mr. TV/Radio/Blog expert that says I need 2GB RAM, 128MB video adapter, and a 2.3Ghz processor?"

They’re straight up WRONG.  They’ve likely installed Windows Vista once and it was a Beta or Release Candidate build when they did it, which wasn’t optimized for overall speed, optimal memory usage, or graphics performance.

That’s right.  I said it.  I’m calling them either inexperienced or purposefully deceptive to draw more attention to themselves knowing that "negative reporting" draws more viewers than "positive reporting".  It’s like a political election, with the candidates being supposed-IT-experts running for the office of advertising profitability.  I’m simply getting tired of people that are talking out of their butts claiming that Windows Vista requires some demonic transformation of your PC’s hardware in order to operate sufficiently or to "take fully advantage of the OS".  It doesn’t.  It just DOESN’T

Take my Toshiba Tecra M4:  It’s a 1GB RAM, 2.0Ghz CPU, with 64MB VRAM and I’ve installed Windows Vista on it.  Sound familiar?  It should:  It’s the exact same configuration I used for Windows XP and it’s probably really close to what you have.  Even with Antivirus, MSN Instant messenger, Windows Defender, and all the trimmings, the thing never eclipses 300MB RAM used leaving the other 700MB for applications.  With Word 2007, Excel 2007, Powerpoint 2007, Outlook 2007 and a few Internet Explorer windows open, I eat up 400MB leaving 300MB of RAM free.

It’s what I’m using RIGHT NOW to type up this blog entry.

"But Kurt!  What about the fancy user interface?  And the fancy next generation applications?  Won’t I need all that speed & memory for all of that?"

For the last time:  NO.  Those applications run on a built in set of interfaces called .NET 3.0, which are a set of APIs that allow applications to take advantage of software already in the OS to get things done… like rendering 3D graphics, or sending/receiving communications from other computers, or creating AI decision trees for certain tasks – i.e. if the disc is 90% full, clear out the browser cache, otherwise defrag.

Because much of today’s existing applications have their programming incorporated into the OS, many next generation applications will require LESS memory since the OS already has the core technology in it to do the same tasks.

As for the graphical interface, if you install Windows Vista on a 16-32MB video adapter, you’ll get virtually everything a 64MB video adapter would provide you except:

  1. No Flip3D.  You won’t get any fancy 3D technology.  Oh boo hoo.
  2. No "glass" effects, i.e. alpha blending.  The title bars on applications will not look opaque & transparent and instead of have normal-looking, solid backgrounds.
  3. No monstrous 3D rendered games like Gears of War for Windows Vista.  But then again, you’d already have a fan cooled 128MB nVidea/ATI video adapter if you’ve been playing Quake 4 or Counterstrike competitively.  More to the point:  Everything that worked before in Windows XP with this level of Video RAM, should work just fine in Windows Vista barring compatibility issues.

Wait.  That’s it?  Yup.  That’s it.  That’s the ding you take with a 16-32MB video adapter.  You can still leverage Windows Vista applications, you can still get the best security available for Windows operating systems, you can still take advantage of all of the hardware you’ve already purchased… you can virtually get all the benefits of Windows Vista.  If you have less video memory, you’re likely not doing anything drastic on your laptop or PC and/or are looking to buy a new one anyway.

Bottom line:  YES, you can install and run Windows Vista on your existing hardware and take advantage of most, if not all, of its benefits.  I’d bet a Vegas marker on it.


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