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volume 11 number 1 january 2006 TipSheet

Welcome to the January issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll start a short series on Microsoft's planned new operating system, Vista. Most of the information below is from an article in the Star Telegram by AMAN BATHEJA.


Those in the market for a new computer probably have a checklist worked out: It has to have the right monitor size, be able to handle all the right tasks and come installed with the right software.

But shoppers might want to consider one more potentially crucial sticking point: Is it Vista-ready?

Microsoft is preparing to release a new operating system next year called Windows Vista. The most recent Windows updates have essentially been sleeker upgrades of the previous version of the operating system. With Vista, Microsoft says it will offer a far more secure system that offers a rich, 3-D interface and improved search function. Reviews of early releases of the system have been mixed.

For PC users, release of a new version of Windows is an important development. Some may choose to hold off buying a new computer until Vista is released.

Vista is expected to be on store shelves in time for next year's holiday season.

Microsoft has released a list of the recommended hardware for upgrading to Vista. As it is still in development, some of the details of what the new system will require are still sketchy. What does seem clear is that all those entry-level desktops going for $299 this holiday season will not likely be able to fully upgrade to Vista next year. Among the minimum requirements for a PC to be Vista-ready:

  • 512 megabytes or more of RAM. RAM, short for Random Access Memory, runs programs for the computer. Generally, the more RAM on a computer, the faster it will run. Cheaper computers come with 256 MB of RAM of less. Although 512 MB is the minimum requirement, Microsoft has recommended at least a gigabyte of RAM for a computer to comfortably upgrade to Vista.

  • A 32- or 64-bit CPU. The computer's central processing unit runs all the software. In general, Microsoft recommends a 64-bit CPU to take full advantage of Vista, but a 32-bit version of Vista will also be available. Microsoft has not made clear what the difference between the two versions will be, but an essay on its Web site explains that lower-end CPUs "won't provide the optimal experience for most users and definitely won't provide the best experience for high-end gaming or video editing."

  • An advanced graphics card. Purchasing a computer with the right graphics capabilities to support Vista is likely to trip up the most consumers. Vista's graphics interface, called Aero Glass, will need a better graphics card than comes equipped on most low-end PCs. Things can become tricky for those scanning store circulars for the best deal, because the level of graphics offered isn't always clearly spelled out. The key things to look for are a graphics card that's discrete or dedicated, meaning it has its own allotment of memory separate from the CPU's memory, comes with at least 64 MB of graphics memory, and supports Direct X 9, also known as DX9, the latest version of Microsoft's graphics application. The top graphics-processor makers -- Intel, ATI and NVIDIA -- have lists on their Web sites of which models will support Vista.

  • A drive capable of reading and writing DVDs. Microsoft describes a DVD drive as "an important element of a Windows Vista PC" on its site. The feature will be necessary for a PC to handle Vista's digital-image processing. Also, the company is recommending a hard disk drive with a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (usually referred to as a SATA drive or a Serial ATA drive). This will ensure that the computer will be able to handle multiple applications at once.

  • Copyright 2006, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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