Hardware and Software Issues
Hardware and Software Issues Vista comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The 32-bit release supports x86 processors of 800MHz or better. The 64-bit version supports Advanced Micro Devices Athlon 64 and Opteron and Intels EM64T (Extended Memory 64 Technology) processors. (The 64-bit chips will also run the 32-bit version of Windows.) eWEEK Labs tested Vista on a variety of machines, including a Lenovo ThinkPad T41 with 1.5GB of RAM and a 1.6MHz processor, and a single-processor Opteron-based desktop system with 2GB of RAM. We tested the 32-bit version of Vista on the laptop and the 64-bit version on the desktop.Vista's new ReadyBoost feature, which makes use of flash memory from sources such as USB drives, should offer a performance boost to memory-poor machines. We're withholding our judgment regarding ReadyBoost's true usefulness, however, until we conduct performance tests with the first OEM-blessed Vista-ready machines we get our hands on. But the concept is certainly promising. As far as graphics are concerned, little of Vistas new functionality actually depends on the gaming-level graphics required to earn Microsoft's Vista Capable or Vista Premium designations. Vistas interface steps down rather smoothly from the bells-and-whistles Aero Glass to the rather similar-looking but 3-D-free Aero to the Windows 2000-style Classic interface. For more on Vista-readiness, click here. Overall, w'eve found that Vista works fairly well with applications designed for earlier versions of Windows, but, as with every operating system upgrade, there are classes of applications that require lower-level access to Windows workings. For these applications, such as Cisco's VPN client or any sort of anti-virus software, you'll need to check with your vendor for a Vista-compatible version. Advanced Technologies Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on our tests of Vista, both of the RTM (released to manufacturing) code and of the many builds leading up to it, we can report that a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and pretty much any graphics adapter can perform acceptably under Vista, but we consider each of these to be bare minimum requirements. For older, less resource-rich machines, either XP or one of the popular Linux distributions would be a better bet for lengthening these machines' lives.