Windows

Running the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor on a new computer

Greg Shultz runs the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor on a new machine to see what it would tell him about the system's Windows Vista capability.

If you've been reading the Windows Vista Report, you know that I’ve visited the topic of Windows Vista’s hardware requirements many times over the last year, particularly in reference to the Windows System Performance Rating system which is now called the Windows Experience Index. Each time that I’ve written about this topic, I made reference to the hardware in my Windows Vista test system, which consists of an AMD Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2 GHz CPU, an ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics system with 128 MB of shared memory, and 1 GB of RAM. And while this system seems to fit the requirements listed in Microsoft’s Windows Vista Premium Ready specs, the system received a Windows Experience Index base score of only 2.0.

I’ve recently put together a new system on which I am planning on installing Windows Vista Ultimate. This new system consists of an AMD Athlon 64 X2 (dual-core) 4800+ 2.4GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, a 256 MB NvidiaGeForce 7300 LE video card, a 160GB SATA hard drive, and DVD drive. This new system more than fits the bill as far as Microsoft’s Windows Vista Premium Ready specs go and of course I’m anxious to see what the Windows Experience Index base score will be for this system.

However, while investigating Windows Vista’s hardware requirements, I became interested in the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. As you probably know, the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor is designed for people who will be upgrading to Windows Vista on existing hardware. This tool will scan your computer and create an easy-to-understand report of all known system, device, and program compatibility issues, and recommend ways to resolve them. The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor will also recommend which edition of Windows Vista will best fit your computer.

I have run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor on several older computers to see what kinds of things that it would recommend for getting the system up to speed for the new operating system. However, I had never run it on a system that I knew was ready for Windows Vista. Therefore, I decided to first investigate the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor to see what it would tell me about this system’s Windows Vista capability.

Downloading and installing the Upgrade Advisor

To get started, I installed Windows XP SP2 and all relevant patches and updates on the new system and then downloaded the Upgrade Advisor, which comes as a 6.54 MB MSI file.

When I attempted to run the MSI installation file, I was informed that I first had to download and install the MSXML 6.0 Parser. Fortunately, all I had to do was click OK and the download and install of MSXML 6.0 went off without a hitch. I then was able to install the Upgrade Advisor.

Running the Upgrade Advisor

When I launched the Upgrade Advisor, I saw the introduction screen, shown in Figure A. (The Upgrade Advisor is both a technical analysis tool and a marketing tool. With the latter in mind, I found it curious that Microsoft's marketing folks decided to depart from the mountain vista theme found on almost all of the Vista marketing material and go with a desert theme for the Upgrade Advisor. I got the impression that they were trying to convey the idea that without Vista, you’re situation could be likened to being stranded in the desert.) I then clicked the Start Scan button.

Figure A

The Upgrade Advisor’s opening screen recommends that you connect regularly used devices.

While the scan is underway, you’re shown a comparison chart and invited to learn more about each of the four editions of Windows Vista by clicking the buttons at the bottom of the page, as shown in Figure B. As you can see, the comparison chart lists the top 10 new features in Windows Vista Ultimate and indicates which features are missing in the lower cost editions.

Figure B

While the Upgrade Advisor scans your system, you can learn more about each of the Windows Vista editions

The results

When the scan was complete on my new system, I studied the report. As I expected, the Upgrade Advisor had given my new computer a clean bill of heath in the system requirements category, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

My new computer passed the system requirements tests with flying colors.

However, I also discovered that the report didn’t provide any direct indication about how well this system would run Windows Vista. On the other hand, the Upgrade Advisor did recommend that Windows Vista Business would be the best version of the operating system to run on this computer, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Curiously, the Upgrade Advisor recommended Windows Vista Business for this computer.

While this recommendation threw me for a loop at first, when I checked the Windows Vista Ultimate section of the report, I discovered that the Business edition recommendation was based on the fact that the system currently only has a DVD-R drive, as shown in Figure E. (I have a Sony DRU-710A DVD-RW that I will be extracting from another computer and putting in the new one.)

Figure E

In order to run Windows Vista Ultimate on my example computer, the Upgrade Advisor recommends getting a DVD-RW drive.

Conclusion

While the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor really didn’t provide me with a direct indication of what Windows Experience Index base score I could expect out of this new computer, it did give me some subtle clues via the Windows Vista Business recommendation and the DVD-RW upgrade suggestion on the Windows Vista Ultimate System report.

I’ll report more on this system’s Windows Experience Index base score in the next editions of the Windows Vista Report. In the meantime, please drop by the discussion area and let us know if you have any experiences or questions about the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

19 comments
tony
tony

Yes, I've tested on new hardware, supposedly "Vista Capable". I have to say that I was very disappointed. It stated everything was good for Ultimate (have happauge TV tuner). I ran the Vista Ultimate upgrade and was ultimately disappointed, since it did not work at all with the hauppauge TV tuner, did not work wiht the intregated Sigmatel sound. It did recognize the hardware and installed WHQL drivers. I ultimately went back to XP Media Center. A good waste of several days. The Upgrade Advisor is simply bad advice. I would not depend on it. Comparing to the XP updgrade advisor, this one rates as FAILED.

Elfman42
Elfman42

...makes me rather appreciate XP. I recently upgraded my IBM T60 (dual core 1.86/1GB RAM/X1300 vid) to Vista Business. I'll say this about Vista...it's shiny. That said, Microsoft claims this OS is faster. Well, my rig runs Vista like a Celeron with 256MB of RAM runs XP. Way back in the dark ages of computing, the Operating System was the foundation for other programs to run; the OS wasn't the reason to own a computer, it was what you installed on your comptuer to do things that mattered. In the last 10 years or so we've seen Microsoft and Apple fall over themselves trying to convince us that their OS is the REASON to own a computer, trying to make their respective OSs be all things to all people; the horribly bloated system requirements are proof of that. All that said, Vista will be in wide use in due course, but by the time it's patched and running well and the hardware has caught up to run it properly, Redmond will again be foisting another be-all, end-all Operating System on us. Sigh...

gboyce
gboyce

Sadly, my hard drive went bad a few weeks ago. Of course I had all data backed up, so I figured this would be a good time to try to dual-boot WinXPP and the latest Ubuntu (6.0 build?) side-by-side. Well let me tell you something, Ubuntu has been wonderful! It's very fast (2.8Ghz P4, 1GB RAM, etc) on my system, and runs many, many free applications that are widely available on the internet. I have transfered all of my Word and Excel docs and I use the "included" office suite w/ Ubuntu. It's rock solid, offers free support for the lifetime of the product, and it loads drivers natively (you can always update manually, but so far so good with the included driver-set). All in all, there's something worng here. Ubuntu is offering their product (which is very good) for free. Microsoft wants upwards of $400.00 to buy a license for their product. Don't get me wrong, I use WinXPP at the office, but when it comes down to it, is it the OS that your concerned with, or the apps that run on it? Stability, reliability, and cost effectiveness will keep me trying alternate OSs. Anyone agree or have any luck with an alternate OS (Linux, BEOS, Etc)?? Thanks and talk soon, George Boyce LIS Support Long Island, NY georgeboyce@optonline.net

hrosita
hrosita

Finally somebody that expressed exactly what I have been thinking. While I like Windows as an "Operating System" for running the PC's hardware and applications, I find that there are many programs that will do specific tasks that are important to me much better. As an example, V-Com.com has an far superios file management program called Power Desk. Compared to Power Desk, Windows Explorer is babe in the woods. Similarly, Adobe's image editing programs, are far superior. Elements 5.0 is all that a serious amateur photographer needs. Add to those the numerous security systems like McAfee, etc., Small software companies that specialize in writing software for special needs are much better at what they do that the 800 pound gorilla that Microsoft is placing on your PC.

1bn0
1bn0

Be-all End-all Operating System?

Elfman42
Elfman42

The discussion this has spawned is interesting to say the least. It tells me that indeed, Linux is emerging as a viable alternative to the monolith that is Windows, but based upon the discussion, it's also clear that it is not for all users. There are still accessiblity issues around the various Linux distros; while some are better than others, it's still those of us with more than a passing familiarity with computers and software that possess the comfort level required to poke, prod and tweak the OS until it's working the way we want it. The one thing that really stands out to me however, is what the Linux distros offer in terms of their useability and feature sets for the price (FREE), versus what you get with Windows ($400+). When viewed in this light, it's clear that Windows represents a horribly poor value for the dollar, in spite of its accessiblity and compatibility. As the various Linux distro mature and the communities that support them refine their focus, I think it's only a matter of time before Windows is truly challenged in its dominance of home and business Operating Systems. My Linux litmus test? When my wife is comfortable with it...LOL

FXEF
FXEF

I also had a similar situation and installed Ubuntu with no regrets. Ubuntu is a great alternative to Windows with a nice price tag (FREE). The only thing that is holding Ubuntu and Linux back is the "Microsoft Tax" on new computers. I think more users would choose Linux over a $400 Vista machine if given a choice. FXEF

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

When I was previewing Vista and had to re-learn the OS again, I started browsing Linux. I found that I didnt like fedora much (had to reinstall 2x from video issues), but SUSE has been pretty solid for me. I downloaded Ubuntu, but havent installed it yet. It took some getting used to, but I remember Win 3x, 95 all took getting used to as well. I spent a few hours a day for a few days to find out that for home use I could move right over to SUSE without issue (except to play DVD movies). As for work, I was only able to get to 60% of what I needed to do (due to remote access(VPN Client is Win only)), and digital certificate issues (secure badge is on special USB card which requires Win SW), and internal websites that will not work with Opera, Konquerer, or FF. Aside from that, I started doing much of my work in Linux. Right now that system is in another persons hands to play with for a bit. Maybe he can switch over as well!!

lastchip
lastchip

me too! I've tried various Linux distro's and will always have a soft spot for Xandros, but having recently migrated to Kubuntu (Ubuntu with the KDE desktop), I really have to question why I'm still using Windows at all. The only sad plausible reason I can come up with is; I do have a legacy program that I use a lot and of course, it's written for Windows! I haven't yet tried it with Wine to see if it will run in an emulator, but that aside, Vista as far as I'm personally concerned, is a dead duck!

Elfman42
Elfman42

Your reply, while somewhat tongue-in-cheek, brings up an interesting side-disucssion with regards to the monolithic presence of Microsoft, and even Apple, in the world of computers and operating systems. The blind drive towards this day and age of the Operating System being the reason to own a computer has led to the drying up of of many promising alternative operating systems. BeOS is just one of them. OS/2, AmigaOS, NeXT, et al...I'm not saying they're intrinsically better, but since they were squashed early in their respective evolutions, we'll never know. Linux and its variants are the single brightest light in the OS arena right now, and a testament to the power and fleixbility of Open Source software and its community. Vista might just be the one MS OS (more so than XP) that makes more people think about Linux as an alternative in homes and businesses. It's an interesting time to be a part of the IT world, for sure...

tony
tony

It seems even worse that this entire discussion was supposed to be on the Vista Upgrade Advisor, yet has turned into a Linux vs. Windows discussion. Techrepublic.com should spin off to Techlinux.com, as it seems more and more topics here always turn into linux vs windows. It is just too often when people want a discussion on a windows topic, people jump in, stating you should run Linux, you wouldn't have that problem.....blah blah blah Imagine if you will, if everybody just started replying in random responses: SAM: Hey Joe, how are your kids? JOE: I got my oil changed at quickie-lube, great service! SAM: ????? how are your kids?? JOE: I get better gas mileage now! SAM: ????????????? Chaos, pandemonium, anarchy, confusion, disorder!

Elfman42
Elfman42

My wife is a teacher; when it comes to the computer she knows what she knows and doesn't want to take time to learn something new. I put her down in front of a few live OSs, Slax, Linspire and Ubuntu. She thought OK of them, but then she had to do some work for her class and Booting up Windows and firing up Office was just easier for her. That said, Vista has a learning curve steep enough that now may be the time to put a flavour of Linux on the home 'puter. Since I have a few rigs at home, I will likely load two up with different distros (Ubuntu for sure, likely also Suse or Mandrake), and leave the main machine alone (XPP). That way I can slowly wean her off of MS dependence and towards an alternative that doesn't require ungodly horsepower or stupid sums of money. I've been running a retail build of Vista Business, and while I'm getting comfortable with it and finally getting apps to run properly, I have some serious misgivings about the degree to which the OS steps in to 'protect' me. Surely I should know what apps I want to run, and if they don't have a digital signature that the OS doesn't like, I should be able to over-ride it and move on. I don't need my hand held by the OS, that's for sure. Then there's the steps taken to address piracy; essentially what MS has done is brand every computer owner a pirate before they've even turned the computer on. Not a healthy business plan in my view.

lastchip
lastchip

If I offended you, you may rest assured it was completely unintentional and I unconditionally apologise. I was simply trying (badly it seems) to make the point that those most critical of alternatives have often not tried them. This was an overview of what I have observed in posts in general and certainly not aimed at any specific individual, least of all you. Yes, I suppose I am enthusiastic about Linux in general and Kubuntu in particular, not least because as you will be aware, it provides a much more unrestricted use of ones own computer; a fact that many are about to find out, won't be the case with Vista. With it's built in DRM and various other so called anti-piracy techniques, many home users will find it is not all they thought it was. A chap called Peter Gutmann, a computer scientist at the University of Auckland published a very good paper entitled "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection". It is well reasoned and really communicates *possible* reasons why Microsoft chose to build Vista in the way they have. In addition, an Internet law professor Michael Geist (University of Ottawa), has cast serious doubts about the terms and conditions for Vista's use. In essence, I agree with your original post. I have tested Vista RC1-64 bit against the equivalent SuSE 10.0 and Kubuntu and frankly found it very disappointing. One cannot argue that it is not bloated and it's overall performance (by comparison) was sadly lacking. If you couple this with the requirement for both users and admins to essentially learn a new operating system, one has to question, why? Incidentally, which distro did your wife try and was there anything in particular that she really didn't like? Or do you think it was more a question of unfamiliarity? Just curious.

Elfman42
Elfman42

Lastchip...When I originally posted here it was intented to start a reasoned and objective discussion about Vista and the history of operating systems, and how some of those other OS's may represent a good alternative to the current status quo. The tone of your message insinuates that I don't like or trust Linux and that I've never introduced my wife to it. Get down off the soapbox and can the Linux fan-boy rhetoric. Not only do I like Linux, but I've plopped my wife down in front of the computer to use it and try it. She works with and understands Windows and she does not want to or have time to learn a new OS in order to get her work done. For better or worse, Windows and Office serve her just fine; she knows the programs and is comfortable with them. Howdoug...thank you for your comment and observations about Linux vs Windows; reasoned, well spoken and objective. It's nice to see someone of your 'vintage' exhibit such excitement and willingness to learn about computers and operating systems. I do not know many in your age group with that attitude. Keep it up!

howdougd
howdougd

Since the thread has changed somewhat from the original topic, I have some comments. I'm an independent old fossil of 74. I like to 'own' my stuff including ALL of my computer. One year ago I began learning Ubuntu Linux while dual booting Windows. Ubuntu was difficult at first but I had spent hundreds of hours and read many books maintaining Windows but only a few feeble attempts learning Linux. So I continued my study. About five months ago realized that I prefered Ubuntu to Windows. I know almost zilch about the command line. I seldom need it and when I do, there is an abundance of help. I receive automatic software updates about four times weekly. The Synaptic Package Manager shows me there are 18,916 packages available for immediate download if I want them. After years of being bound by EULAS, I'm so thankful to have earned my freedom. Investing my time to learn Ubuntu Linux is a small price to pay for independence. Mission Accomplished! If you would like to have Linux and another OS on independent hard drives for independent booting, see my "Make A Dual Hard Drive Selector Switch" article at http://imhdd.ms11.net/ a link is near the top of the page.

lastchip
lastchip

But have you given her a distro to try? Frankly, there is little difference now to the end user and if you let her try either Kubuntu or Xandros, I'll wager she will be right at home in no time at all. You may be amazed at how fast she will adapt. We have pensioners here in the UK, who can no longer afford Windows that absolutely love Linux. Why? Primarily because it's free *and* they no longer have to worry about malware, viruses and all the rest of the junk that comes with Windows. Add to that the legendary stability and you can see why they are "happy bunnies". After all, if you can use MS Office, you can use Open Office and if you can use Internet Explorer, you can use Firefox or Konqueror. The list goes on. People that criticise modern Linux distros, are mainly those that haven't tried them *or* simply can't be bothered to even look at an alternative. Well, I predict that many of those people are about to get a very nasty sting in the tail when they migrate to Vista. Just you wait and see!

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

but gave up after the first 2 that I tried. They had SUSE 10 instrictions and every time I followed them, I was still missing something. I spent about 3 hours searching and downloading , and reading. Finally I said to myself, hey, when was the last time that I watched a DVD on my comp??? Try NEVER. So why was I wasting all of that time. In SUSE, YAST will install most items, and RPM works with a variety more. I got used to both of them and setup the box pretty well. I just brought up the DVD thing cause others may have an issue as well. And I havent tried setting up wireless yet on the SUSE box. But I think that Novell did a good job overall, and the wireless adapter was found automatically. So I am guessing it works...... Thank You for the input, as I am getting ready to build a new system (have half of the parts) and I was thinking of a multi-boot with Linux. Since Linux is supposed to be compatible with 64-bit and dual core (I believe that I read that before), I should have a screaming box when completed (Athlon x2 5000 or FX-62, ASUS or Gigabyte MB -- not sure about which I want more yet, and 2 GB DDR2 6400 (800Mhz) RAM. Does Linux run SLI yet? I was thinking of going to an SLI-video

lastchip
lastchip

As far as I know, none of the mainstream vendors that provide free systems allow DVD's to be played "out of the box". This is due to legal licensing issues. Also, keep in mind the Windows OS's you mentioned all required third party software to play DVD's anyway. It's just that often, it comes pre-installed on the machine and so seems to be part of Windows. However, you can play DVD's in SuSE; I set my SuSE installation up to play them without any issues. To be honest, it was a while ago and I can't remember how I did it, but I do remember finding a web page that detailed how to install the various parts of the puzzle. It wasn't *that* difficult (if I did it, it couldn't have been). I just did as I was told and hey-presto, it all worked! If you try Ubuntu (or Kubuntu), you can download and install Automatix2, which is a GUI that will allow you to install all the common programs that you would use for multi-media. This provides a really easy way to configure Linux to provide a multi-media experience - true click, install and play!