Jim Allchin answers a range of reader questions, and Windows Vista requirements

Over the weekend, CNET published their Thursday discussion with Jim Allchin, the co-president of the platform products and services division. Interestingly, they brought along a number of questions submitted by CNET readers.

A number of people asked about requirements for Windows Vista, and if it will run on today’s PCs, especially when considering the graphics requirements. Jim said…

“We gave general requirements earlier, and this is going to take me a little bit longer to explain. The general requirements we say are 512 megs of memory or up. And I can’t remember the actual processor level. And that we would run in scale the functions of the operating system based on the power that was there. My general view is the more memory, the better. I would say that’s independent of Windows Vista. XP runs better that way and Vista will continue run better. Processor performance isn’t as much as an issue on any of these systems.

“Today’s product that you’re buying, in general, has sufficient processing power. We are pushing the graphics on these systems, and we haven’t finalized exactly how low a system will be able to have the Glass effect on. Hopefully within a few months, we’ll be able to say exactly how low. But if you have gaming systems today, those types of gaming systems will certainly run all of the Vista system on it. The concept: We’re going to try to scale the features to the system that’s there. So if you’re buying the system today and you have a reasonable amount of memory, then Vista will run on it. If you add more, you’ll just get more capabilities.”

You can learn more about the general PC hardware requirements for Windows Vista, see more info for enterprises and the very striking, still-in-process Windows Vista Home Page. I particularly like the layout of the Windows Vista Wiki which clearly outlines the hardware requirements. Most of the popular configurations we see today on general purpose PCs meet the minimum bar, which as noted on the wiki includes…

  • CPU: Intel x86-compatible 32-bit or x64-compatible 64-bit microprocessor (Dual Core systems will be supported)
  • Motherboard: ACPI-compatible firmware is required
  • Memory: At least 512 megabytes
  • Graphics Card: A DirectX 9–compatible GPU that is capable of supporting Windows Vista, with 64 MB of graphics memory
  • Hard Drive space: At least 1.5 gigabytes

A somewhat lower bar than originally reported in the press