XP Users Can Try the Vista Upgrade Advisor
To help you determine whether a particular PC has the performance characteristics and the current hardware drivers it needs to work well with Vista, Microsoft provides the Vista Upgrade Advisor. We recommend that you run the Upgrade Advisor on your current, non-Vista PC, if only to be humbled when you see the many aspects of your system that may need you to shell out some bucks for complete Vista compatibility. Even if you never install Vista on an older PC, you may find that upgraded drivers are available that will give you better performance on your current system.
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The Upgrade Advisor is a short and simple test that you access on Microsoft's web site. It runs only on PCs that have Windows XP installed. As Microsoft states on the site, "In general, PCs purchased within the last two years have a better chance of being able to run Windows Vista as-is or with affordable improvements to the system hardware." That leaves out a lot of PCs that were built when Windows 2000, Me, or 98 were the leading operating systems.
The Vista Upgrade Advisor
For those who want to upgrade a Windows XP machine to Vista, starting with the Vista Upgrade Advisor is a good first step.
Getting Ready for the Upgrade Advisor
When you start the Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft's site, a small application is downloaded to your PC. When you run this app, you see the dialog box shown in Figure 3-1.
Figure 3-1: After you download and start the application, you'll be prompted to plug in any printers, scanners, external hard drives, or other devices that might need driver updates to work well with Vista.
The advisor is designed to test two different kinds of hardware compatibility:
- Whether your hardware is fast enough and modern enough to run Vista satisfactorily
- Whether your device drivers are compatible with Windows
The advisor's initial dialog box suggests that you plug in any devices you may want to use with Vista. It's easy to forget some, but this is absolutely the time you want them to be checked out. So here's a short list to jog your memory about gizmos you'll want to make sure are plugged in to your PC and powered on before you start the advisor's system scan:
- Printers and scanners (make sure they're powered on, not just plugged in)
- External hard disk drives, backup devices, and USB drives of all kinds
- An extra USB hub that you seldom use—plug it in anyway to check it
- Spare USB keyboards and mice that you may have forgotten
- iPod or other MP3 player, even if you seldom synchronize it to your PC
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