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April 1, 2006

Microsoft launches bare minimum “Vista Capable” program

Posted by David Hunter at 10:29 AM ET.

Last week, Microsoft launched its “Vista Capable” program and very shortly qualifying PCs will start appearing in stores with a logo-ed sticker that says both “Designed for Windows XP” and “Windows Vista Capable.” The requirements for the program are summarized here:

Windows Vista Capable PCs need to pass the current certification requirements for Designed for Windows XP logo. In addition, these PCs need the following combination of essential PC hardware for good overall Windows Vista performance:

• CPU — PC systems should have a modern CPU.

• RAM — PC systems should have 512MB of memory or more.

• GPU — PC systems should have a DirectX 9 class graphics processor.

This program was planned before the recent Vista schedule slip and seems like rather cold comfort for customers planning to buy a PC in hopes of upgrading to Vista later because it only itemizes the bare minimum hardware required to run some version of Vista and provides no guarantee that Vista will actually ever run on the hardware. Ina Fried explained earlier this month at CNET:

And lest it lose any sales in the months ahead of Vista’s launch, Microsoft plans in about a month to kick off a campaign that will allow PC makers to sell PCs with a “Vista-capable” label.

One of the challenges Microsoft is confronting with Vista is that some machines will be capable of running Vista but will lack the memory and graphics horsepower to show off its most visible improvements.

That creates some marketing challenges for the software maker. For instance, some machines will be able to run Vista and thus be eligible to be sold over the next few months as “Vista-capable.” But because they lack the necessary graphics driver software, they will never be able to be sold pre-loaded with Vista, nor do they qualify for Microsoft’s basic or premium Vista logos.

The premium and basic (actually “standard”) Vista certifications are a completely different hardware logo program (gory details here) that’s actually indicative of the ability to run Vista and what level of the new Vista features (particularly the new Aero graphical user “experience”) will be realized. Frankly, buying “Vista Capable” hardware could well be a problem for unwary consumers. Most of any problems will reflect back on the PC vendor, but Microsoft will undoubtedly catch its share of the flak too.

Mary Jo Foley and Joe Wilcox have more details and commentary.

Filed under General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows Vista

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3 Responses to “Microsoft launches bare minimum “Vista Capable” program”

  1. In the runup to WinHEC, Vista details revealed -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Also paving the way was the anticlimactic public release of hardware requirements to run Vista, sort of. The caveat is because Microsoft is persisting with the pointless lowest common denominator “Vista Capable” program which aside from 512MB of memory, covers just about any current PC and only guarantees minimal compatibility as we have discussed previously. If you want to experience the spiffy new Vista Aero interface, you’ll need more – at the “Premium” level, 1 GB of memory and a variety of graphics features that preclude many current PCs with integrated graphics on the motherboard. If you would prefer get the information straight, without a PR intermediary, head on over to Windows Logo Program Requirements V. 3.0 for all the gory details including the “Basic” logo level which didn’t make the press release. Presumably this will be all clear to consumers, both business and personal. [...]

  2. Microsoft sued 0ver “Vista Capable” marketing -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] A year ago I observed that Microsoft’s “Vista Capable” logo program for PC’s could be a problem for unwary consumers, but now it has turned into a legal problem for Microsoft as Todd Bishop reports at the Seattle PI: A lawsuit alleges that Microsoft Corp. engaged in deceptive practices by letting PC makers promote computers as “Windows Vista Capable” even if they couldn’t run the new operating system’s “signature” features. [...]

  3. Vista Capable stickers even bit Microsoft employees | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Microsoft was sued last April over its ill-conceived Windows Vista Capable program and now the fruits of legal discovery are coming out with likely more amusing revelations than Microsoft would like: Quoting extensively from internal Microsoft Corp. e-mails, plaintiffs’ lawyers argued Friday that the company knowingly misled consumers by allowing PC makers to emblazon “Windows Vista Capable” stickers on PCs that could run only the most bare-bones version of the operating system.… [...]

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