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Preparing to install Windows Vista: Checking system compatibility

Mark Minasi provides the information you need to ensure Windows Vista will run on your system. This chapter is an excerpt from Minasi's book, "Mastering Windows Vista for Business Professionals."

SP1 and R2

Mastering Windows Vista for Business Professionals
By Mark Minasi and John Paul Mueller

The following excerpt is from chapter two of Mastering Windows Vista for Business Professionals, entitled "Installing Vista."

Check out the rest of this chapter, Installing Vista.

Checking System Compatibility

There isn't any doubt that the upgrade requirements for Vista are considerably higher than previous Windows versions. You'll also find that you need new drivers to meet Microsoft's stricter requirements. In fact, you'll find that Vista simply won't upgrade some past Windows versions. The following sections provide the information you need to ensure Vista will run on your system.

Suggested Upgrade Paths for Previous Versions of Windows

Vista requires a significant investment in hardware, so let's face it, many machines out there today can't run it solely from a hardware perspective. In addition, Microsoft has limited the updates it supports. You can't support any past version to just any version of Vista. Table 2.1 shows the update paths that Microsoft has envisioned for Vista.

NOTE: As of this writing, the Vista upgrade only supports Windows XP SP2. The upgrade process might not work if you have an earlier version of Windows XP (including SP1).

Table 2.1: Vista Upgrade Paths from Previous Windows Versions
Windows XP Professional Vista Business and Vista Ultimate
Windows XP Home Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, Vista Business and Vista Ultimate
Windows XP Media Center Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate
Windows XP Tablet PC Vista Business and Vista Ultimate

Table 2.1 contains a very short upgrade list. However, any other previous version of Windows requires that you perform a clean install. Essentially, this means starting from scratch, although, you can save your settings for future use.

Using the Microsoft Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor

To check whether Vista thinks your computer will be able to run it, run the Microsoft Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor program. Don't use the commonly available alternatives, such as the update advisor for Windows XP. The following steps describe how to check your system:

  1. Insert the Vista DVD. If your computer doesn't automatically start running the DVD, open an Explorer window, navigate to the DVD, and double-click the setup.exe program.

  2. On the opening screen, click the Check Compatibility Online link.

  3. Download and install the Microsoft Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor by following the prompts provided by the installation program.

  4. Check Launch Microsoft Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor on the final installation page and click Close. Vista automatically starts the program for you.

  5. Click Start System Scan. The program asks you to choose the Vista features you want to use. Many of the entries are self-explanatory, such as using the Aero Glass interface. Other entries are more nebulous, such as simplifying your business.

  6. Check the features that you expect to use. When you get to the bottom of the list, you'll see Microsoft's recommendation for the version of Vista that you should use.

  7. Click Next (it's hidden at the bottom of the list). The upgrade advisor performs a check of your system's hardware. If the program finds discrepancies, it will display a list of the required fixes for Vista. Figure 2.1 shows a typical report.

  8. Click Next. The upgrade advisor performs a check of all of the drivers and other low-level software on your system. You'll see another report similar to the one shown in Figure 2.1, but for software this time.

  9. Click Next. You'll see a final report window where you can choose to save the report to disk as an HTML file or print it.

  10. Click Close. Windows closes the program.
Follow the Microsoft Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor advice to get your computer ready for upgrading to Vista. In particular, you need to take care of any blocking issues that the Advisor has identified. An example of a blocking issue is not having enough disk space to install Vista. You might need to remove some existing files or reconfigure your partitions using the DiskPart utility in order to resolve such an issue.

Figure 2.1
Use the Microsoft Windows Upgrade Advisor to check whether your computer will be able to run Vista.

Continue to Preparing to install Windows Vista: The final steps toward installation.

Mark Minasi is a best-selling author, commentator and all-around alpha geek. Mark is best known for his books in the Mastering Windows series. What separates him from others is that he knows how to explain technical things to normal humans, and make them laugh while doing it. Mark's firm, MR&D, is based in Pungo, a town in Virginia's Tidewater area that is distinguished by having one -- and only one -- traffic light.
Copyright 2007 TechTarget

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