Are Vista graphics requirements anything to fear?

All the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Despair) being spread about Windows Vista graphics requirements seems to getting out of hand lately.  Legitimate dissent is one thing, but being deceptive or just plain ignorant of the facts serves no one.

All the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Despair) being spread about Windows Vista graphics requirements seems to getting out of hand lately.  Legitimate dissent is one thing, but being deceptive or just plain ignorant of the facts serves no one.  The controversy stems from alarmists who claim that Windows Vista will not run on the vast majority of current corporate or home PC hardware because of Vista's graphics requirements for running Aero Glass.  Low-end graphics hardware will work perfectly fine in Windows Vista. While it's true that Aero Glass does indeed have very high graphics hardware requirements, what isn't told to the reader is that Aero Glass itself is not a requirement for running Windows Vista.  It's a classic case of telling half truths to drive an agenda that is clearly designed to strike fear in the hearts of corporate and home consumers.

Windows Vista will have a whole new video display driver model that will allow the desktop operating system to leverage technology that has been available to 3D gaming for years.  While the new display driver is a welcome addition to Windows Vista, Microsoft has not forgotten about the low-end,1 so the existing Windows XP drivers and graphics hardware will work perfectly fine in XPDM (Windows XP Display Driver Model) mode under Windows Vista.

While running in XPDM mode, you have your choice in running "Classic" mode which looks just like Windows 2000 or you can run in "To Go" mode which looks like a simplified version of the Aero interface.  If you have a newer video graphics adapter that supports the new Vista Display Driver Model, you'll get the additional ability to run in "Aero Express" or the full blown "Aero Glass" mode for Windows Vista.  For those who want all the eye candy and they have the hardware to power it, they'll opt for "Aero Glass".  For those with low-end graphics adapters or if they simply prefer the Windows 2000 user interface, they can still drop down to "Classic" display mode.  Here is a summary of what the graphics hardware requirements are.

ModeDriver modelHardware requirements
ClassicXPDM or VDDMAnything that runs on Windows XP
To GoXPDM or VDDMAnything that runs on Windows XP
Aero ExpressVDDM64-128 MB video memory
Aero GlassVDDM256 MB or more video memory

The bottom line is that having high-end graphics capabilities that push the video hardware of today as well as tomorrow is a good thing.  It's nothing to be afraid of since existing low-end graphics hardware and drivers will work perfectly fine in Windows Vista just as they do in Windows XP.

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