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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Microsoft reveals Vista checklist
Bill Gates, AFP/Getty
Microsoft boss Bill Gates has given regular previews of Vista
Microsoft has revealed how powerful computers must be to run Vista - the new version of its Windows operating system.

It has given advice on the basic specifications to run the software as well as the higher capabilities needed to get the most out of it.

Also available is a downloadable tool that lets people know if the PC they own now will run the system.

Microsoft has said that Vista will go on widespread release in January 2007.

Spec check

Vista, formerly known as Longhorn, is Microsoft's long awaited update to the Windows family of operating systems and makes some big changes to the way that the software works.

Typically every release of Windows kicks off a round of PC buying as companies and consumers buy machines that can make the most of the novel features included in the new version.

Microsoft has released "minimum" and "recommended" specifications for Vista.

The minimum means that the operating system will run but some new features will be disabled. Recommended means that this is what is needed to get the most basic configuration of the whole package working.

For instance one of the big changes in Vista is the graphical look of the interface itself - dubbed Aero. In Vista the familiar boxes, windows and icons on the desktop are modelled as 3D objects - just like in many computer games.

Vista Business
Vista Enterprise
Vista Home Basic
Vista Home Premium
Vista Ultimate
Vista Starter
Only those machines with a graphics card that has a significant amount of memory will be able to use this 3D display.

Other big changes in Vista include the way it handles sound and networking with other machines.

Microsoft has also prepared a Vista "Get Ready" website that can help people work out if their PC can run Vista unaltered, if they need to upgrade their main memory or graphics card, or if they need a whole new computer.

Also available is a software download called the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor that can check a PC and advise about the action needed to run the new version of Windows.

The situation is also complicated by the fact that Microsoft is set to release Vista in six separate versions. Three will be aimed at home users, two at companies and one for emerging markets.

Many PC makers are already selling machines that they label as "Vista ready".

There is no information yet about the abilities of Intel-based Apple Mac computers and whether they will be able to run Vista.

Minimum Recommended
Processor 800MHz 1GHz 32 or 64 bit
System Memory 512MB 1GB
Graphics card DirectX 9 capable Runs Windows Aero
Graphics Memory - - 128MB
Free space on Hard Drive 15GB 15GB
Source: Microsoft

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