Microsoft has identified the minimum operating requirements for PC’s that might run Microsoft’s future Operating system ‘Windows Vista’ due out next January (2007).

“A ‘Vista Capable’ PC will require at least an 800MHz processor, 512MB of system memory, a DirectX 9 capable graphics card, a 40GB hard drive with at least 15GB of free space, a DVD drive, and audio and internet capabilities.
The only extra requirements for a ‘Vista Premium Ready’ PC are a 1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor, 1GB of Ram and a graphics card with 128MB of onboard memory capable of supporting Windows Aero2.”
Several beta testers have indicated that these requirements for even the Premium Ready levels are currently not enough to prevent the OS from operating ‘sluggishly’.

If history is a lesson, it will probably be necessary to read between the lines of these guidelines. Typically the minimum levels Microsoft has recommended in the past, would work with a stripped down machine and system, and were more useful for technology enthusiasts that were interested in trying it as an experiment, ‘just to see if it could be done.’ Therefore, these minimum recommendations will probably not be for everyone.
For the higher end recommendations, it has been typical for users to at least consider doubling up on memory and processor per the MS recommendations.
So if MS is recommending 512MB, users probably will need at least 1GB, If MS is recommending at least 1.32Ghz, then shoot for 2.6GHz. If the video card needs 128mb of on board memory, better bet that you’ll need and want 256 or better.

don’t get me wrong, people get lucky and sometimes can cram something into an old machine. I ran office 2000 on a 6 year old laptop with 16mb of ram, running a 1994 version of Windows. Strange things can be done, but don’t bet your job, business, education or career on it. Better safe than sorry, and from what I’ve seen of the new OS, you’ll probably be much happier if you upgrade when the time comes.

Side Note. Vista is due out in January 2007. Preloaded machines from Xmas won’t have the new OS unless a MS Christmas miracle occurs. Therefore, many of the retailers are probably going to go thin on PC/laptop inventory through Christmas expecting a big reset in the spring of 2007. I wouldn’t expect to many bundling options in January or February that make good bargains. However, once all those unsold and returned machines from Christmas get refurbed and put back on the market in February and March of 2007, there could be some interesting hard ware options that will show up.

Microsoft surprises with Vista hardware specs –