Preparing for the Next Generation of Windows

    Windows Vista,formerly referenced as project LongHorn,is now out in the first round of public beta testing.It is planned to be released sometime in the 2nd half of 2006.Without doubt,Windows Vista will be the best desktop operating system yet from Microsoft.From a security point of view,it is being using Windows 2003 Server edition with service pack 2 as its base.This means that you will have all of the security and stability of a true server operating system on your desktop.From the user interface point of view,it will use translucence and other effects to be able to display more information on the desktop in an obtrusive manner.    

    So let's say you are thinking about replacing several PC's in your company in the next six months.What do you need to purchase to ensure that you will be able to take advantage of this new operating system if you should choose to upgrade the operating system on these PC's later.    

    There are three main components that you consider to achieve good performance for Windows Vista:CPU,RAM and GPU.Microsoft says that pc hardware needs to have a "modern CPU". Intel lists several Intel® Pentium 4’s on its web site, some with hyper-threading (HT technology) and dual cores. It also lists the Intel Celeron® D processor as being sufficient for Vista. See for more information .  

    In terms of RAM,Microsoft says you need a minimum of 512MB. We have found that each major new operating system requires double the quantity of RAM of the previous one. For instance Windows 98 ran fine with 128MB.Windows 2000 runs fine with 256MB.Windows XP Pro runs good with 512MB. So our guess is,to be on the safe side,request 1GB of RAM.Fotunately,RAM is inexpensive and in most cases can be easily added.       

    The big requirement you need to pay attention to is the Graphics Processor Unit(GPU) that is associated with the video ouput. As mentioned,Windows Vista offers significant improvements to the graphics interface. To take advantage of these advances in the graphics user experience, the processor will need to support the "Windows Vista Display Driver Model."    

    Intel’s 945G Express Chipset includes the Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950 and is targeted to support the Windows Vista Display Driver Model. ATI Technologies lists several GPU’s that will support Windows Vista on its web site including Radeon Xpress 200, Radeon X300 Series, and Radeon 9500 Series. See technology/ windowsvista/ index.html. See For the listing of nVIDIA GPU’s that support the new Microsoft OS. The bottom line is that you need to pay special attention to the video specifications on the pc you are considering purchasing.    

    So what about all of your current pc's?Should you upgrade them to Windows Vista ? If you have pc's that are two three years old today,they will most likely need to be replaced in the next couple of years so you probably will not want to upgrade them.Remember, all things considered ,Windows XP Pro SP2 is a very good desktop operating system.If you are fully protected with up-to-date anti-virus,anti-spyware,and anti-spam software,XP Pro will serve you well for many years to come.