Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Can your computer run Windows Vista?

There’s been a lot of misinformation about what hardware Windows Vista will require when it is released. Because it introduces a new display system called Aero, which needs a system with a powerful graphics card and lots of memory, some commentators have said that only the latest machines with high-end hardware will be able to cope with it, however, Aero is optional and isn’t even included in the basic version of Vista (Home Basic). Without Areo enabled, Vista will only make modest demands on hardware and will run on machines that are a few years old.
Microsoft have released a beta of their Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor, which you can use to scan your system to see how likely it is that your computer will be able to run the new operating system. It checks things like how much hard disk space you have, how fast your processor is and what hardware you have, and then lets you know if this will be sufficient. You can also select what sorts of things you’ll be using Vista for to allow it to better suggest which version of Vista to buy, which is a nice touch.
My machine, a 2 1/2 year-old Toshiba Satellite Pro, would not be able to run Vista as-is, but this is mostly because Vista needs 15 GB of free hard disk space and it only has a 20 GB hard disk. Presumably fitting a new hard disk with a higher capacity would solve this problem. It also may have driver issues since it identified four devices where Vista may not have drivers for it – these were my Epson C42 printer, my laptop screen, my sound card, my wifi card and my Belkin Bluetooth dongle, none of which use drivers signed by Microsoft. My RS232-USB converter would work with a driver update. It also suggests that Windows Vista Home Premium is most-suited to my needs, which is good as it’s the second-cheapest version.
If you’re considering upgrading to Vista when it finally comes out, it may be well worth your while running this tool. I imagine it will be updated as time goes on (and more Vista-ready drivers become available) so if your computer doesn’t score well now then try again in a couple of months. As it is, I’m intent on replacing this laptop before Vista arrives so this isn’t so useful to me, but it may be useful if I ever decide to sell this machine as it being Vista-capable may be a good selling point.


  1. I have had no luck with the upgrade advisor. Good game, Microsoft. 😛

  2. The upgrade advisor website is failing to render properly on my computer. I’m guessing that’s not a good sign?
    I’m also guessing that it runs from within windows rather than from a boot-disk? In which case I wouldn’t be able to run it anyway.
    The fact that I know my ancient PC isn’t capable of running Vista is irrelevent – I want Microsoft to tell me this!

  3. It renders okay in Firefox 1.5 and IE7, the two browsers I have to hand.
    And yes, you do need to be running Windows XP (or Vista, but then if you’re running Vista already you probably don’t need the tool). You also need the .Net framework as well, I believe.

  4. Doubt Vista would run on my C640. Perhaps it’s time to switch to Kubuntu 😀

  5. Hmm. If you take away Aero from Vista, what are you actually left with? A promise that it’ll be more secure than the last decade of Windows (well, after a couple of Service Packs) and the ability to run Office for Vista.
    Not that I’m cynical, or anything…

  6. I believe that, for marketing considerations Microsoft can’t release any product that would not run on most PCs, even if it’s not the basic system or basic release. I think that there will be some updates and corrections about the Aero issue soon from Microsoft officials. I can’t imagine Microsoft sacrificing all those potential customers who are interested in running all features Vista offers, with their average-power PCs.

  7. after 200 oathes of patches, and service pak 2 no less on XP,pro.. which was the promise of new vistas then, and it just crashed. Why in the name of reason, would you spend more time, money, patients, tears , time, indegestion, irrational screaming fits, just to end up on the same road, windows 95 glorified. For crips sake, NT 4 was better than this, blue screen of death included