Utility SpotlightWindows Vista Upgrade Advisor

Lance Whitney

It's finally time to start planning your organization's upgrade to Windows Vista® and, as with any upgrade, there are questions. Do your network clients meet the hardware and software requirements? What compatibility issues will you face? To help answer these and other questions, Microsoft provides the free Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. This utility scans all installed hardware and software on a PC to determine if an upgrade is feasible. If it is, the Advisor recommends the optimal version of Windows Vista and reveals any issues to address before upgrading.

The Upgrade Advisor scan typically takes several minutes. While the scan runs, a chart lists the different versions of Windows Vista, comparing the features of each. You can also select a specific edition—Ultimate, Home Premium, Business, or Home Basic—to view a brief description and list of prominent features. After the scan completes, the Report Details screen tells you whether your PC is Windows Vista-capable and which version is advisable. Details include:

System Requirements This tells you if your hardware—CPU, RAM, video memory, and CD/DVD drive—are sufficient. If this is not the case, you'll see details on what is needed to upgrade your PC, for example, how much memory you need to add.

Devices This examines all external devices and drivers, including modem, printer, scanner, sound card, monitor, and video card. If a device doesn't pass the compatibility test, the report explains what action to take, such as downloading the latest drivers from the manufacturer's Web site. A link to the Web site is conveniently provided.

Upgrade Advisor reports known compatibility problems and recommends ways to resolve them

Upgrade Advisor reports known compatibility problems and recommends ways to resolve them  (Click the image for a larger view)

Programs This analyzes installed software. You'll learn which applications are able to run under Windows Vista as they are and which ones are incompatible or need to be upgraded in order to pass the test.

If any of the components fail the compatibility test under a more powerful version of Windows Vista, such as Ultimate, you can return to the introductory screen and select another version, such as Business. Then you'll be able to see if your PC meets all requirements of that version.

Finally, a Task List describes your PC's hardware configuration and itemizes the tasks you need to complete both before and after installing Windows Vista. It summarizes the items from the previous screens and offers additional recommendations, as the screenshot shows. You can print the Task List or save it as an HTML file.

The Upgrade Advisor runs under 32-bit Windows Vista or Windows® XP Service Pack 2, and requires the Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 and MSXML 6.0. To learn more and download the tool, just browse to microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/upgradeadvisor.mspx.

Lance Whitney is an IT consultant, trainer, and technical writer. He has spent countless hours tweaking Windows workstations and servers. Originally a journalist, he took a blind leap into the IT world 15 years ago.

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