Is Vista Home Basic a way for vendors to sell low-spec PCs?

Summary:I think that I've found a sure-fire way to spot the bargain basement cheap PCs that OEMs have on offer. Just look for these words - Windows Vista Home Basic.

I think that I've found a sure-fire way to spot the bargain basement cheap PCs that OEMs have on offer.  Just look for these words - Windows Vista Home Basic.

When I first read details about the Home Basic version of Windows Vista I had a sneaking suspicion at the time that this version was more for the benefit of OEMs who still wanted a way to shift low-spec PCs rather than Microsoft wanting to offer a basic (and cheaper) version of Windows to the public.  After all, the recommended system requirements for Home Basic is quite low compared to Home Premium/Business/Ultimate:

Home Basic

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 512 MB of system memory
  • 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Audio Output
  • Internet access 

Home Premium/Business/Ultimate

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of system memory
  • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
    - WDDM Driver
    - 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)
    - Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
    - 32 bits per pixel
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Audio Output
  • Internet access

Because you get far less with Home Basic (no Aero, no media center support, no backup/restore functionality, no DVD maker, no movie maker), it needs far less in terms of hardware to run. 

I've just been going through the online stores of some of the big names in PCs out there (such as Dell, HP, IBM and so on) and wherever I see a Windows Vista Home Basic PC, I'm seeing a low-spec PC attached to it.  Take these Dell PCs from the "Essential" range.  All low-end CPUs, all have 512MB of RAM and all have integrated graphics GPU.

The problem I have with these low-spec PCs running Home Basic is that they back the owner into a corner.  If, as some point, you want to upgrade to a higher version of Vista (and let's face it, given some of the limitations of Home Basic, this is quite possible) you're looking at having to carry out some costly upgrades.

What I find is that many people want the cheapest PC possible - until they start using it.  Then they wished that they'd bought something with more power.  For this reason alone, I always find it hard to recommend low-spec PCs.  Nobody's happy with their PC forever, but the honeymoon is over real fast for these cheap systems.

Thoughts?

Topics: PCs

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.