Realistically, your PC should have a 1 GHz or faster processor, more than 1 gigabyte of memory and 60 or more gigabytes of free drive space.
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T e c h n o f i l e
Vista available to consumers Jan.30; Amazon taking orders now

Sept. 10, 2006

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, The Post-Standard

   Windows Vista is finally on the way. Microsoft is expected to start selling its new operating system on Jan. 30, 2007.
   As I reported in my Technofile blog on Aug. 29, Microsoft has given Amazon.com permission to take orders for Vista far ahead of the release date. You can order Vista from Amazon here. Orders will be filled Jan. 30.
   Vista is available in eight versions -- four full versions and four upgrades -- with prices starting at $99.95 for an upgrade from Windows XP Home to Vista Home Basic. The most expensive version is Vista Ultimate, designed for Windows game players and high-tech junkies; it's $399 for the full version.
   Vista has no "Pro" version the way XP does. In Vista, "Pro" level is called "Business." Here are full prices and upgrades:
   - Windows Vista Home Basic, $199/$99.95
   - Windows Vista Home Premium, $239/$159
   - Windows Vista Business, $299/$199
   - Windows Vista Ultimate, $399/$259
   Vista, which used to be called Longhorn, is about five years late. Microsoft took out some of the advanced features it had planned to add in order to get it done by January.
   Vista is expected to be safer than Windows XP in many ways, but it's still subject to Windows viruses and worms. Vista-specific viruses appeared on the Internet while Vista was still being developed. A sign of coming trouble for Vista users is a report that Vista, even before its official launch, already has more viruses and worms than Apple's Mac OS X, which has been available for years.
   The release date of Jan. 30 is bad news for PC manufacturers who had hoped to take advantage of the holiday shopping season to sell Windows Vista PCs. Unconfirmed reports say some PC makers will offer Vista upgrade coupons to anyone who buys a PC before Christmas.
   The loss of holiday sales of PCs pre-installed with Vista is more than a matter of dollars and cents. Many home PCs won't be able to be upgraded to Vista because they're not fast enough or don't have enough disk space and memory. Owners of these PCs have no choice but to buy a new computer if they want to run Vista.
   Realistically, your PC should have a 1 GHz or faster processor, more than 1 gigabyte of memory and 60 or more gigabytes of free drive space -- much more than that would help -- in order to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista. If your PC originally came with Windows 98, Windows 98SE or Windows ME and you have not added memory or disk space since buying it, you won't be able to upgrade it.
   This dilemma -- the fact that many current Windows users will be forced to buy a new PC to run Vista -- gives Apple Computer a chance to sell more OS X Macintosh models to "crossover" buyers -- those who decide to leave Windows for a safer, virus- and spyware-free computing experience. But that's just one of many alternatives if you'd rather not buy a new Windows PC. I'll describe all of them next week.
   Next week: What you can do if you don't want to be roped into buying a new Vista PC.