Although Microsoft lists the minimum hardware requirements for running Windows XP, those requirements can sometimes be insufficient for your business’s needs. In some cases, you may need to use a faster processor, install more memory, or upgrade a video card and monitor. But are there other hardware components to consider if you want to run some of XP’s additional components like Remote Assistance, Remote Desktop, and Windows Movie Maker? In this article, I’ll examine these three components and their hardware requirements.

Getting ready to migrate to Windows XP?

For information about XP’s general hardware requirements, read my previous article,  “Get your PCs ready for Windows XP.” In it, I outlined the hardware requirements that Microsoft advertises, explained how some of them might not be sufficient, and provided my own hardware recommendations.

Remote Assistance
Windows Remote Assistance allows you to share control of an end user’s computer via your organization’s network or the Internet. You can view the user’s screen and, if the user grants you permission (see Figure A), control their pointer and keyboard. No fighting with end users who’ve renamed their My Computer icons!

Figure A
Users can choose whether or not to allow you to connect to their computer.

You can also communicate with the end users via a chat box that appears on both your screen and their screen, see Figure B.

Figure B
Type a message in the Message Entry field and click Send to chat.

Remote Assistance doesn’t require any special hardware other than a NIC or modem for the network connection, but both computers must be running Windows XP.

Remote Desktop
Although similar to Remote Assistance, Remote Desktop is less of a support tool and more of a remote access utility. Remote Desktop allows you to access a Windows session running on one computer from another computer using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). With the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) (Figure C) you can access all the files, applications, and network resources of the host computer.

Figure C

As with Remote Assistance, Remote Desktop doesn’t require any special hardware other than a NIC or modem to facilitate a network connection. The host PC—the one you’re connecting to—must be running Windows XP Professional. Windows XP Home won’t work. The client PC—the one you’re connecting from—must be running a Windows operating system capable of running a terminal server client; this means Windows 95 or higher. I’ve even used Windows CE to access an RDC.

Windows Movie Maker
While Windows Movie Maker (Figure D) isn’t likely to be a standard install for most of your end-user workstations, there are situations when employees require video-editing tools.

Figure D
And you thought everyone had forgotten that embarrassing video of you from the office holiday party.

Before you even consider installing Movie Maker, make sure the end user’s video equipment and computer are compatible. Consult the video equipment’s manufacturer for instructions on connecting their equipment to the user’s computer. Then, you can turn your attention to the computer, itself.

For running Windows Movie Maker, Microsoft states that you must have a video capture device and a 400-MHz or faster processor. This requirement is grossly understated. Video capture and editing is one of the most demanding tasks a computer can perform. To capture and edit with good quality results, you’ll need a FireWire card and a camera capable of attaching to it via a 1394 FireWire cable. You’ll also need a fast machine. A 1-GHz machine will get the job done, but you’ll need a 2-GHz system for good performance. Likewise, you’ll need a lot of extra memory and hard disk space. I recommend a bare minimum of 256 MB of RAM and 10 GB of free hard disk space.