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.


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.


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.

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