Can Your PC Really Handle Vista?

Microsoft's Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor

The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor 1.0 was designed to help determine whether or not it makes sense to install Windows Vista on an existing machine. The software can be downloaded here and takes only a few seconds to install on a Windows XP or Vista machine. That's right: You can also use it on Vista Basic to check whether it makes sense to step up to Home Premium or Ultimate. You need a current .net framework (version 1.1 or higher) to execute it on Windows XP, though, which the installer tells you before deploying the msi package.

Once executed, the Upgrade Advisor requires a simple click for it to start up. The process took approximately three minutes on our test systems and it didn't finish much quicker on a high-end PC, either. When the advisor is done it will display a results page with a concrete recommendation for a Vista edition that works best on your system.

We first tried Upgrade Advisor on an Athlon 64 X2 4800+ socket 939 system with 2 GB of memory and an ATI Radeon X850XT graphics card, because it recommended Vista Business instead of a better equipped version. The reason obviously is the graphics card, which does not support some of the latest graphics features such as Shader Model 3. This, we believe, still shouldn't be a reason to refrain from recommending Vista Home Premium or Ultimate. In the end, users might appreciate the Media Center and other goodies.

The information you receive is still valuable, as the Upgrade Advisor tells you about devices it cannot collect data for, programs that might not work with Vista and unsolved system requirement issues (see screenshot below). On the very top of the page it tells you what you can do with Vista. Overall, the advisor is a valuable tool, because it indicates possible shortcomings of your system.

In the case of a socket 939 Athlon 64 X2 4800+ with ATI Radeon X850X graphics, the upgrade advisor recommends an upgrade, because this graphics card does not support Shader Model 2 (DirectX 9.0c). Yet it's certainly fast enough.