Getting ready for Vista: Decide which desktop hardware needs upgrading

* Preparation tips for Vista

If you're going to seriously look at upgrading your desktop systems to Windows Vista, then you should start looking at what your hardware upgrade needs might be.

In an article in TG Daily, reporter Wolfgang Gruener notes: "You might have to upgrade several components such as your graphics card, your mass storage devices and your system memory." He notes that RAM, in particular, may need to be increased to see any sort of reasonable performance with the new system. Two gigabytes of RAM isn't too much, evidently. Yet today's average desktop PC (according to Samsung) only boasts 620M bytes of memory. What do your desktops have?

Now you may not be looking forward to all of the multimedia features due in the new operating system. You may even want to find ways to remove or at least severely restrict them. But there are new features that you will want such as the caching technology called "super fetch." This, according to Microsoft Windows chief Jim Allchin, is "the idea that we can look at what's going on in a system and in a much smarter, semantic, heuristic way, determine what you're going to need again in the future." It's a look-ahead technology that promises faster loading and better performance but will require gobs and gobs of RAM and big chunks of fast storage space.

Every Windows upgrade seems to require big new chunks of hardware, and Vista won't be any different. Start now to inventory what you have and then decide what can be upgraded and what needs to be replaced. Do it before upgrading the operating system to forestall as much as possible those phone calls from users complaining about how slow the new operating system is.

Use an automated inventory system to help you. If you don't already have one, check back on what we said about ScriptLogic's Desktop Authority and see if that won't help. But even if you have to go from machine to machine, you'll be better off than if you wait for your phone to start ringing.

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Microsoft's new Vista client operating system will be out before you know it, so you need to start thinking about a migration plan now. Check out our new "Countdown to Vista" research center, featuring up-to-the minute reviews of the latest beta versions of Microsoft Vista, written by Network World Lab Alliance tester Tom Henderson.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.