How Windows Vista will change the PC market - for the better

How Windows Vista will change the PC market - for the better

Summary: People are polarized about Windows Vista. Very polarized. While some cannot wait for the final version to be pressed onto DVDs so they can install away to their heart's content, others are very worried about the impact this new operating system will have on the PC landscape.

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TOPICS: Windows
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People are polarized about Windows Vista.  Very polarized.  While some cannot wait for the final version to be pressed onto DVDs so they can install away to their heart's content, others are very worried about the impact this new operating system will have on the PC landscape.

One recurring theme is that the increased hardware requirements Vista demands will cause a huge spike in PC prices as manufacturers cram more into a PC in order to get the operating system to run smoothly.  The thinking is that because Vista demands more computing power and system resources than XP it will mean prices will have to go up dramatically (we could go back to the "Vista won't run on a $1,000 PC" debate a while back).

Let's get some things into perspective here.  First, Vista is still four months away, and things can change a lot over that time.  Certainly the prices of some components will fall over this period (especially graphics cards, hard drives and probably RAM too), so this will mean that come Jan 2007 $X will buy a better PC than you can get for the same money now.

Secondly, there seems to be a belief that Microsoft pulls system requirements out of the air.  This isn't how it happens.  When developing an operating system, Microsoft developers work very closely with hardware manufacturers and OEMs at all stages in the development process.  You don't get to hear much about this process because the whole thing is carried out under a veil of NDAs, but it happens.  What would be the logic in coming out with an OS that OEMs couldn't support?

Finally though, I think that the increased system requirements are, ultimately, a good thing and will benefit customers.  I say this because for too many years PC manufacturers have got away with selling PCs that barely run Windows and leave little room for other applications, especially resource-hogging applications.  Gaming, for example, is one area where a lot of customers who buy at the low end get short-changed by OEMs.  From January next year, anyone buying a "Vista Premium Ready" PC will have a PC that has a good chance of being able to play many of the popular games, and play them reasonably well.  The spec Microsoft has issued for Windows Vista PCs doesn't represent the minimum required to run Vista (you can run Vista on some really meager system resources, as I've discovered using VMware), the system requirements represent a minimum level of hardware needed to give the user a good experience.

Hopefully this will be a good thing because it will decrease the number of people who become disappointed by their PC when they try to use it for demanding applications like gaming, photo or video editing.  OK, perhaps they should have done some research and spent a little more before buying a PC, but for those folks who just went on the advice of the sales assistant in the store, Microsoft is giving them a safety net of sorts.  Yes, it might be a little hard on people who want to upgrade an old machine, but to be honest, if your machine is not up to Windows Vista spec, you're better off spending the money on hardware rather than on a new OS.  Remember, there's no rush to upgrade to Vista - in the words of fellow ZDNet blogger Ed Bott, "Under Microsoft's published guidelines, consumers will have more than four years to safely say no to Windows Vista, and business users will be able to hold out until at least 2014".  XP is going to be around for a long time!

But what about PCs that will never see a game installed nor see a digital photo or video that needs editing?  Then that's where the "Windows Vista Capable" PC comes in.  This will not be capable of running the Aero interface (along with a few other differences) but this will otherwise be able to run Vista well and again give the end user a good computing experience.

Topic: Windows

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  • Older machines

    In order to test Vista with the Aero interface on my over three year old machine, I had to make one upgrade. The existing video card, a GeForce 4 Ti4200 was replaced with a GeForce FX5700 that I picked up dirt cheap ($75 including tax and S&H). That's it. I already 1 GB of PC2700 RAM and large hard drives which got a heck of a lot larger with my new SATA-RAID card but that upgrade wasn't driven by Vista at all but by my database work.

    If you already have a real gaming PC from the last three years, it should eat Vista for breakfast. True, on the other hand, most off the rack systems from Dell, Gateway, and others are not going to be Vista Aero-capable, but those machines, in my experience, are sucking wind as is for all but normal business/personal use which is why when I am asked by clients and friends what machine they should buy I spend quite a while drilling down to exactly what applications they want to run before making a decision on hardware, OS, and software.
    shadowjack9
    • Good point ...

      ... that's typical of the upgrade that people with an older PC will need to make.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • The vast majority would rather buy $100 computers so they can check email,

    browse the web, edit simple documents, etc.

    How does Vista help them???

    And, yes, the computer industry might like having consumers forced to buy fancy hardware they don't need. So what???
    DonnieBoy
    • Vast majority??? On what planet???

      Sorry but your dead wrong.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • For most, their life does not revolve arround a computer, it is just a tool

        to check email, browse the web, and do simple word processing. And, there are a ton of people that get by without computers right now that would like to buy a $100 computer for email and browsing.
        DonnieBoy
        • If this is the case ...

          ... why do more people not buy $100 PCs? Sorry, but I don't see there being a big market.
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • I know why...

            They have the ma and pa shops, as well as relatives or friends telling them to buy 2000 dollar computers for browsing the internet, checking mail and playing with pictures.

            They don't need a 2000 dollar computer for simple use. That's the first problem.

            As any technician who does it as a job for a living, and most will tell you to buy the "best" you can afford. Okay.. but why?

            Cause it lasts longer for the price? No it doesn't. You wait 2-3 years (after buying a mediocre one) and then you can buy that 2000 dollar one for like 1/3 the price. And you probably saved yourself a couple hundred bucks in the process.
            ju1ce
          • Could not have said it better myself. Yes, the "you have to buy one that

            will last 5 years syndrome. Rather than spending the $2,000, you buy one now for $300, and another in 2 years for $300, and so on. You will have on average better hardware for less money.

            But, I think even better, we need to focus on $100 computers for the masses. Of course Microsoft and the Manufacturers don't like the margins there and will fight tooth an nail with dirty tricks to keep you buying those expensive computers.
            DonnieBoy
          • Apparently, neither do consumers ...

            Dell draws people in the door every day with $300 loss-leaders (with 2.66GHz Celeron D processors) but that's not what people buy. They buy $500-$700 machines. If they are gamers they buy $1200 machines. And a few buy $2000 machines.

            As long as there appears to be value in their buying decision, people will pay. American consumers are not insisting on $100 desktop systems or there would be some on the market. They would be running at 500MHz but they would be there!
            M Wagner
          • No, thats not it

            What I see, far more often, are people going out and buying a $400 Dell, because they believe exactly what you are saying. They have small needs and requirements of the system.
            Then in a few months, realizing what can be done on a computer, they want to edit pictures, rip all their music, or (a true show stopper) edit video.
            You can go to Dell or TigerDirect or any number of places and get really cheap equipment; I see those same people shopping for a new machine in a few months.
            mdemuth
          • Let's look at this for a moment....

            Edit Pictures doesn't require the latest video card. I can edit pictures on an old 1 Meg video card.

            Rip all their music? I've been ripping music since 166mhz days. Again it's possible on a cheaper computer.

            Edit Video? What are they Movie Connoisseurs who think they are making a Hollywood movie? I remember editing movies back when I owned my 233mhz. (If they are getting that far, then yeah spending on a Mac would the choice or the latest computer but again, even then.. They won't even come close to use the full power of what they're buying)

            Compared to what I have now.. Was it slow? Hell yes..

            Now if they start getting into high end games.. Spending 2000 is a good bet.

            Let's say they spend 400 a year on the latest "average" computer. Now lets say we buy a 2000 dollar computer to last 5 years.

            We can both agree that would be 5 computer upgrades in the process.

            Well with "current" market upgrades in 5 years, that "upgrade" per year will far surpass that 2000 dollar computer now. They will have better base stuff than that 2000 dollar computer and to boot have a better and legit copy of let's say windows without the "extra" cost of buying an "upgrade" or retail copy to come into the latest version.

            Cost vs Ownership. The "slower" method of upgrading beats it hands down in the long run. And for a home user, it means absolutely nothing becuase most won't upgrade every year.. and still get more out of it (money wise and speed in the later part of the ownership).

            Look at the top end computers of 5 years ago, compared to the computers of today. The "mediocre" 400 dollar ones destroy the 5 year old ones. If history says anything is that in another 5 years.. The computers we have today will be nothing more than glorified door stops that people sank their money into for nothing.

            Even in the last 2 years.. we went from what.. A 2 ghz being top dog, to now a dual core 4.8 64bit.

            You want to bet in 5 years, that dual core 4.8 will be the low end model (or too old to even be sold)?

            You also want to bet in 5 years from now that mediocre one they purchase in 4 years will destroy that 2000 dollar one you bought today?

            Look at the lower model dell (Dimension E521). 3400 AMD Sempron, 80Gig SATA, CD-RW/DVD Rom, XP Home, and 512MB Single Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz - 1DIMM

            That's a good computer for ANY home user for browsing, emailing, ripping, video editing etc etc...

            They want something a little better... 130 more (Canadian)

            AMD Athlon 64 3200XP
            FREE Upgrade to 250GB SATA Hard Drive- $100 Value
            48X CD-RW/ DVD Combo Drive

            Again, pretty damn good for a home user. For under 600 bucks. There is no legitimate reason for your average user to buy a 1500+ dollar computer (even that is too much) because they are buying processing, speed they'll never use to it's full capacity.
            ju1ce
          • OK, let look

            I have Vista RC1 up and running nicely on a machine that I bought for about $800, 21 1/2 years ago. I had to add a $50 video card, then bump the RAM, so $1000 in 1 year ago dollars?
            Where are you pulling this imaginary '$1500 needed to run Vista' from?

            I would also like to see you edit a standard 2 hour show recorded on a capture card on your old machine... Tossing multi-gigabyte files around on slow hardware sucks.

            Now, again, take your old machine and play a song. Now open up a browser, an online game, an email client, an RSS reader, or any other combination of standard everyday software, then open a half-way decent photo editor... bet your music skips.
            Rip another CD at the same time? Video?

            I'll say it again; people have very low expectations of what they want to do on a computer until they start using one.
            mdemuth
          • You don't get what I'm saying...

            "I have Vista RC1 up and running nicely on a machine that I bought for about $800, 21 1/2 years ago. I had to add a $50 video card, then bump the RAM, so $1000 in 1 year ago dollars?
            Where are you pulling this imaginary '$1500 needed to run Vista' from?"

            I'm still discussing how people say you have to buy a 2000 dollar computer to run applications. Whether it's vista, a video editor, a music player ...

            "I would also like to see you edit a standard 2 hour show recorded on a capture card on your old machine... Tossing multi-gigabyte files around on slow hardware sucks."

            I would like to mention that I only know ONE person in my entire family, and friends who even remotely do video editing of any sort. That's me. Not everyone (if not most people don't) require that capability. Heck just this past week when telling someone I could take their VHS tapes and rip them to DVD for them, they were amazed. Yet they just bought a high end computer. :P

            And even at such, if they required that "capability" they still don't need a high end computer. Most people are "speed" junkies like us IT people. Put me on a 1.2 ghz that I just sold a year ago and I feel like pulling my eyes out, but before I sold it.. I was like "Why do I need to go faster?". They had a 133 before that. They think it's great, plays their poker, their emails, msn, p2p whatever it is they do..

            And best part is, computers today have a longer span (even for mediocre ones) then they did back when the speeds were turtle slow.

            "Now, again, take your old machine and play a song. Now open up a browser, an online game, an email client, an RSS reader, or any other combination of standard everyday software, then open a half-way decent photo editor... bet your music skips.
            Rip another CD at the same time? Video?"

            Back then, I did just that.. Email, Rip and browse the internet. Never had an issue (and I used ICQ back then). Tell me how many "normal" users you see that have EVERYTHING they have on their computer open at the same time.. Most people think I'm nuts when they see my taskbar with 10+ things open at a time.

            "I'll say it again; people have very low expectations of what they want to do on a computer until they start using one."

            Well you find me the "average" person that went from occasional browser to full fledged movie director and I'll give you my computer. 2 Gig video editing? Maybe they should be taught to go in smaller chunks like normal people do.

            The same goes with Vista.. They buy a 400 dollar computer today, and a 400 dollar one a year or 2 years from now with Vista and their golden and still have better or getting close to what your current system has.

            Let's revisit this a year from now, and then we'll compare your computer you bought a year ago, to a computer that 400 dollars a year from now. Want to bet it closely matches what your computer is now if not some parts better (some parts yours would be better because of customization).

            In 2 years from now.. a 400 dollar computer will be able to run Aeroglass with no problems or slow down.

            Don't take my word for it, I think that people who tell people to buy a computer that's worth more than what they use it for isn't a really good technician. More like.. Just a dishonest salesman.
            ju1ce
          • Spot on!

            "I'll say it again; people have very low expectations of what they want to do on a computer until they start using one."

            Bingo!
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • Give it a break, the average user does non spend hours evey day ripping

            music and editing videos. The browse the web, read email, do simple word processing. Period.

            If you have a family where you need to do those things, then by all means, buy a $2,000 computer.

            But, even then, the second and third computers could be $400 Dells.
            DonnieBoy
          • You can't go into Best Buy or Walmart and buy them right now.

            And, Microsoft is doing its best to create compatibility problems so this will not work. But, this is what consumers want.

            It would be perfect for 2nd and 3rd computers as well.
            DonnieBoy
          • I know a lot of people

            I know a lot of people who want to do simple word processing, check email and surf the web. They don't want or need an expensive computer. They also don't need Vista.

            My brother and I have been shifting a lot of them over to Linux and a small box (nice HD though)...all in all a good, reliable word processor/email checking/web surfing box for under $500. Simple...easy...no WGA nightmares, no serious trojans and viruses and zero-day exploits...

            I mean if you are a computer geek who socializes almost strictly with other computer (and gaming) geeks, then of course you won't see many people who want a simple PC.
            ccrashh29
      • I believe the planet is Earth

        I believe the planet is Earth since we have not yet discovered life on any other planets.

        The biggest trouble with the "mass" market computer industry is that it is dominated by the "under 30, living in an industrial nation, with lots of disposable income," folks. That doesn't describe the vast bulk of the 6.5 billion people on planet Earth.

        The constant introduction of newer and better computers, upgrades, and operating systems and software that won't run on an older computer basically describes what the marketing industry calls "cherry picking" -- focusing on the highest profit comsumer and ignoring everyone else.

        Be happy that you are one of the elite who can afford to buy what you want. Most of the rest of the planet hates your guts because of your cavalier elitist attitude. There is a vast planet out there that is not served by the current incarnation of the computer industry.

        One example, my 85 year old mother (living in the USA). For years she had a machine called an "I-Opener." It was a small $100 email browser that worked in full color and graphics. The processor was mounted in an oversized LCD monitor case. The I-Opener quietly downloaded her email automatically in the middle of the night and coached her through reading it each morning.

        That genre was killed by the mega-pixel aninmation/FLASH movement. Her machine took longer and longer to load those emails, and choked on the occassional website an email link would encourage her to visit. Eventually, it stalled and the company told her it was no longer supported. Her brother-in-law gave her an old PIV/400 running Win 2000. She can't make heads or tails of how to use it, and only sees her email every month or two when I visit.

        Try telling someone in Pakistan how Vista will help them!
        cfostel
      • Yeah and the vast majority want a $6500 45MPG car too.....

        Ford would be selling a zillion 1991 Festivas this year with 5 speeds and no air conditioning if this was true anywhere but opinion surveys...... The FACT is everybody SAYS they want bare bones basic cars and computers and garden tractors. But when they actually decide on buying one, they don't REALLY want to OWN the bare bones minimum. On the rare occasion when people DO buy the loss leader, they come back and bitch about it once a week, forever (I've sold 'em, I know). The automakers have been suckered into producing "cheap basic transportation" every other decade or so since they started making cars and every attempt since the Model T lost money on direct sales of the "people's car" and only made up for it by increasing traffic of people who move up to a better model.
        The people who want a computer to "just check e-mail" can get one handed down in the family, at the used computer wrecking yard, at a garage sale or out of their own closet for little or no cost and have a better machine than one being sold at a loss and made with bottom of the barrel, obsolete but technically new components.
        Neutrodyne
      • The planet Earth you arse . You are just as bad as loverock and mike cox

        <NT>
        Intellihence