Over the years that Windows Vista has been in development, I've been asked one question more than any other about this next-generation OS: What hardware will it require? Microsoft has always been pretty vague about the requirements. A few years back, it specified that Vista systems would require a DirectX 9.0-compliant video card to provide the best experience--that is, to use Vista's Aero Glass UI--but since then, I've heard nothing. I eventually wrote my own guide to buying a Vista-compliant PC, "Buying a Windows Vista PC Today," which you can find at the URL below.

But this week, Microsoft finally, if quietly, revealed its own requirements and recommendations.

According to a page on the Microsoft Web site, "There is no reason to wait till Microsoft launches Windows Vista before you deploy PCs." The company then lays out the following guidelines for what constitutes a Vista-capable PC:

- A "modern" Intel, AMD, or VIA Technologies CPU

- 512MB of RAM or more

- A DirectX 9-class 3D graphics card

Such a system will provide what Microsoft calls a "good" experience with Vista, though it might not provide you with the high-end Aero Glass UI. For a better experience, the company recommends a graphics processor that supports the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) technology. Such systems will enjoy "enhanced graphics stability, multi-application performance, and monitor hot-plugging" when compared to Windows XP, Microsoft says. For the best experience, Microsoft recommends DirectX 9-class graphics hardware that supports WDDM and Pixel Shader 2.0 technologies, and 64-256MB of dedicated video RAM, depending on screen resolution. (For resolutions up to 1280 x 1024, 64MB of video RAM is appropriate; 128MB is fine for resolutions of 1920 x 1200 or less; and 256MB is required for higher resolution displays.)

Links

Buying a Windows Vista PC Today (Connected Home)

Windows Vista Capable PC Hardware Guidelines (Microsoft)