On the trail of the $1000 Vista PC

Summary:Yesterday, I debuted my Vista Mythbusters series with a discussion of how much hardware you really need to run Windows Vista. Today, I spotted that myth in the wild. A so-called enterprise user claims that "Vista will NEVER run on a $1000 PC." Oh really? Check out my shopping list.

Mary Jo Foley is normally one of the smartest, most perceptive Microsoft watchers around. So I was particularly baffled when I read this post: What Is the Business Case for Upgrading to Vista? It's a transcript of a conversation she had via IM with an enterprise user on the subject of how Microsoft will make the business case for Windows Vista:

MR. Biz: vista will NEVER run on a $1000 PC
MR. Biz: maybe a $1500 PC, but that one doesn't exist Yet
MR. Biz: there aren't cheap dual cores yet
MR. Biz: price point is still around $2000
MJF: u are right

Ironic, isn't it, that I devoted a whole column to this very myth yesterday, and here it pops up on one of the most popular tech sites today.

Vista will never run on a $1000 PC? Ha. I just went over to Dell's website and priced out an Optiplex GX620DT, their most popular business-based configuration (and guaranteed to run Windows Vista). Here are the specs:

  • Pentium D 820 dual-core CPU
  • Windows XP Professional SP2 with media
  • 1GB DDR2 non-ECC RAM
  • 160GB SATA 3 drive
  • 16X DVD
  • USB keyboard and mouse
  • Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet NIC
  • 3 Year Business Standard support
  • Asset Recovery, 2 pieces
  • No monitor (17-inch flat panel LCD available for $149)

Price as configured? $959. That is, by the way, a pretty smokin' business machine. And we're talking onesy-twosy prices here. Something tells me if you bought a few hundred of these you could get that price down below $900. Since we already know that Windows Vista Business will cost about the same as Windows XP Professional or perhaps a little less, the cost of the OS is a non-issue.

And that's for a well-built business PC, not a corner-cutting consumer box. If you're a SOHO buyer willing to purchase from the retail channel, you can take your pick of inexpensive dual-core machines today, for well under $1000. The Deals folder in my RSS reader today included a Dell Inspiron E1505 notebook with Intel Core Duo processor for $629 with free shipping and a Dell Dimension 9200 desktop with Core 2 Duo and a 19" LCD monitor for $799 with free shipping. (Both machines come with 512MB of RAM and can be upgraded to 1GB for $65-80). Newegg.com is selling an Acer TravelMate TM4222 notebook with an Intel Core Duo, 1GB of RAM, and 120GB HDD for $895 with $12.34 shipping.

Any one of those PCs will run Windows Vista exceptionally well and should have a lifespan of three to five years. I don't know where Mr. Biz is shopping, but he needs to do a little more homework. These days, a $1000 PC offers exceptional performance. Hell, for the $2000 price point that Mr. Biz is talking about, you could probably put together a dual-Xeon system!

Hmmm. I wonder whether Mr. Biz works for FUD Industries...

Update 1-Sep: Be sure to read the reactions by Nathan Weinberg and Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

Topics: Hardware


Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications. He has served as editor of the U.S. edition of PC Computing and managing editor of PC World; both publications had monthly paid circulation in excess of 1 million during his tenure. He is the a... Full Bio

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