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.