Fun with Vista's magic 8-ball

Last week, Microsoft released a test version of its "Upgrade Advisor," a downloadable tool that aims to tell users how Vista-ready their system is.

I decided to run it on all the systems I had at my disposal and found some interesting results. The first candidate was the four-month-old Compaq desktop that I have been using to test Vista. I also have a Windows XP partition, and I ran the tool using that.

But despite the fact that I have been running Vista on the machine for months, the advisor tool said it would need a memory upgrade to run Vista. That's a problem, since I thought the 512MB of built-in memory would be sufficient. The system does use shared memory for graphics. However, if all machines with shared graphics needed more than 512MB of memory, that would be mean there are a lot less Vista-ready machines out there than previously thought.

Vista Upgrade Advisor

A Microsoft representative said that the problem appears to be with the Upgrade Advisor--which is in beta--and not with my machine. "Windows Vista will run in 512MB with 64MB" of memory allocated for graphics, the company rep said.

My work laptop actually meets the bar for Vista, though my IT department is likely to have some qualms about me upgrading, and it would need a more powerful graphics card to take advantage of Vista's Aero interface.

Ironically, the machine that was in the best shape for Vista, at least according to the tool, was a loaner Mac Mini with 1GB of memory. That system was Aero-ready, according to the tool, as long as I devoted more of the system's modest hard drive over to the Windows partition. It needed 15GB of the drive to be free, and most of the free space was over on the Mac side of the house.

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