A. Microsoft provides the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool, which gathers information about machines on your network (without the use of agents) to give both a detailed Microsoft Excel spreadsheet showing machine readiness and a summary Microsoft Word document. The tool performs a real-time query on computers that are connected, so offline machines won't be included in the report. The assessment tool can find a list of computers by querying Active Directory (AD) or using the Computer Browser Service.

After the assessment runs, the tool provides a list of all machines that should be upgraded to Vista and which level of Vista support will be experienced. "Windows Vista Capable" identifies a computer that is able to run Vista but will most likely not support the Aero interface. "Windows Vista Premium Ready" specifies a computer that should run Vista with high performance, including support for Aero. The tool doesn't identify the exact state of Aero support (e.g., Glass support), nor does it identify support for BitLocker Drive encryption.

You can find the assessment software at Windows Vista Hardware Assessment. The wizard-based installation process requires Microsoft Office 2007 to be installed and can't be installed on a 64-bit OS. SQL Server 2005 Express Edition is also required and is downloaded and installed automatically as part of the installation process.