James forwarded this article on to me a few weeks back, and it's been sat gathering a bit of dust in my inbox, but now is the time to respond. The article was found on the AppleInsider website (what were you doing on there James...?) and opens with "Four out of five computers within the workplace are not adequately equipped to make the jump to Microsoft's Vista operating system based on the software maker's stated requirements, one study shows".
I find this hard to believe.
The study did cover 145,000 machines, so not a small study, but still, I think there are a few flaws in the study. Let's take a look at the first paragraph, "79.9 percent of business machines do not match the recommended requirements for "premium-ready PCs". So, 80% of business machines do not reach the requirements for a "premium-ready" PC. OK, that's fine. But is "Premium", the minimum? No. When James and I presented at a trade show event a few weeks back, we highlighted that a Premium PC would give you a great experience:
It's important to note that these are not the minimum specifications to run Vista. These are what is required to give a great experience. 1GHz processor - how long ago were these around? My home machine, which has an AMD Athlon, 1.6 GHz, is the same machine I had before I left home to move to University. In 2001. I had an AMD Duron before that, which ran at 1.3GHz. In 1999. Vista will run on these machines. 1GB of System memory - admittedly, most PC's now will ship with 1GB, but older machines will not, hence this is a Premium PC, and not a 'Capable' PC. The graphics memory - 128mb. Is this such an issue for the small and medium businesses? If not, why test against it? Who's to say that, for example, 60% of the 80% that are 'Ill equipped' are 'Ill equipped' because they don't have an Aero-Capable graphics card? Something that will not impact their daily use of the majority of the Vista features to run their businesses.
40GB Hard Disk? Yes, it's a recommended minimum specification, but, Vista will install on smaller. I have an 100GB disk in my laptop, but it's split into quite a few partitions, and I have installed Vista on 2 of them:
Local Disk C and Local Disk D both have Vista installations on them, and a lot of other content too, hence the remaining disk space is lower - its clear to see that Vista will install on a machine that has a smaller hard drive than 40GB - this is a recommended minimum, not a minimum, and hence, perhaps should not have been included in the study.
DVD-ROM drive - did they test against this? Who knows. If so, they shouldn't have. DVD isn't the only way to deploy now. I've lost count of the number of times I've deployed via USB Stick, and now, using the new and improved Windows Deployment Services, available natively on Longhorn Server, or as a new role in the Service Pack 2 update for Windows Server 2003. DVD isn't the only way.
Audio? Not a biggie. Internet - fair enough, to activate, unless you are using KMS internally.
So, I've picked a few holes in their study (or at least I think I have!), but what about the minimum specification:
800mhz Processor will run Vista. Admittedly, the faster the processor, the better the experience, but if you have an 800mhz processor, should you be labeled as having a machine which is 'Ill Equipped"?
512MB RAM - OK, this may be a little more difficult as even today most laptops as a maximum will have 2GB RAM, and a few 4GB, so the memory thing may be a little more of an issue, but the important thing to note is that you can still have a good experience with Vista on 512MB Ram. Again, does this justify the machine being branded as being 'Ill Equipped'? I think not.
What if you do have 512MB and you want to push a little more ooomph into your system, buy a 2GB USB stick for about $10 and use the ReadyBoost technology to boost the performance of your system. Trust me, you will notice the difference.
So, that's a good experience, and obviously, according to the article, a good experience = 'Ill Equipped', but I disagree.
The definitive way to see if your machines are unsuitable (sounds far nicer than Ill equipped!) is to use a free tool we have called the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool. In a nutshell, "The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment solution Accelerator is an inventory, assessment, and reporting tool that will find computers on a network and determine if they are ready to run the Windows Vista™ operating system."
Like a popular brand of varnish, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you an inventory of all your hardware, even networked hardware, assesses them against different criteria, and produces a report that will include:
After collecting information about the computers on the network, the wizard compares the hardware and devices of each computer against the Windows Vista system requirements and assesses the readiness of each computer for Windows Vista. The readiness assessment includes determining the following for each computer:
All that, within a free tool. Surprisingly, it won't say "Machine A is 'Ill equipped'. If you want to test your home PC to see if it can run Vista, you can download the free Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.
So, in summary, I think the study isn't the most accurate representation of Vista adoption and hardware. Yes, Vista requires a bit more ooomph than XP, but for a good experience, which includes all the search functionality, mobility features, security and backup, the requirements are not much greater. As long as you remember that for a good experience, you need the specs shown above, you won't go far wrong. If you are buying a new PC, don't worry - your hardware will support Vista.
I'll leave you to raise your own opinions on the article, but in my opinion, I don't believe the situation is half as bad as this suggests...
Good post Matt. My machine is one graphics card model short of being compatible but I can still run Vista Business Edition on it... just...
It is usually my ATI graphics card that crashes mine (three times during one telephone call!) but there are certain elements of my machine that just don't work anymore now that Vista is onboard such as my CD drive and my bluetooth/wireless driver - not sure what is the cause of this but I've found ways round it. This should be base level compatibility and should not be because of my ATI card.
What I would like to see from you, or James, or the Vista team is how many people have rolled Vista back to XP SP2 now that Microsoft has granted downgrade rights. I assume the change in licensing has come about because too many people aren't sitting comfortably with Vista?
I have Vista Ultimate at home which as a 'dual' user suits me very well but we are still not rolling out Vista to the majority of our clients. This is because many IT Manager clients are rolling back themselves if they have to buy a pre-installed copy of Vista on new hardware. The positive feedback about it from Vista users has not been overwhelming.
Vista is great for early adopters, Vista will be great when SP2 comes out for the majority, and XP SP2 will be just fine for anyone else. :)
I've got Vista installed on an old 500MHz PIII computer with 576MB of RAM ,TNT2 Pro 16MB AGP display an IBM 37GB SCSI Harddisk and it works mostly though it has much more HDD activity for Virtual Memory.
Completely agree with your comments around base level compatibility - hopefully now, these problems aren't occurring - manufacturers are now getting on top of the driver issues - my new Dell D630 wasn't missing any drivers, and that was in an x64 installation - do you think this would have been the case 1 year ago? Definately not.
In terms of people rolling back to XP, we accept, many people have. Alot of this rollback is due to application compatibility, and in many cases, using tools that Microsoft provide, there are ways around this problem. Now that more and more drivers are available, I don't see this too much of an issue, but we need to ensure that we are getting the positive messages out around Vista, and the accompanying tools to ease migration. Alot of companies will roll back on the advice of a partner - this isn't good enough - our Partners need to be pushing the latest technology and accompanying tools in order to ensure a company can utilise the excellent security, usability and mobility features in Vista.
Give it a little more time, and Vista will be accepted as the OS of choice, and not just because XP is going, but because people will start to overcome the App Compat issues, and see the benefits, both from a user, and a cost-saving perspective, of migrating to Vista.