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

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.

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TOPICS: PCs
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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?

Topic: PCs

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11 comments
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  • True... but.

    There will always be a market for low end anything. Especially a PC for the folks that only want to do email and surf the Internet. This is a perfect answer. My parents fit this bill exactly. Don't have a ton of money for a PC nor will the utilize any feature of a high end PC except surfing the web and email.
    redtrain65
    • I bought a $250 PC 15 months ago and...

      ...I am very pleased with it. 1.8GHz Duron, 512MB, 80GB, CD/DVD reader, Windows XP Home. Never had a problem with it and it does all that I need it to do. So I'm not seeing a problem.
      ye
      • Oops

        Memory should be 256MB not 512MB.
        ye
      • Even Better.

        I bought my Compaq SR1710NX with a S939 Sempron 3400+ (2.0 GHz), 100GB SATA, & 256MB ram, CD/RW+DVD-ROM in Jan. 06. My cost after rebates, about $150, inc. 8.5% in taxes! Have added 1GB of ram to help the XP w/SP2 go. Looking to drop in an Athlon 64 4000+ cpu to prolong its lifetime. Catch some more memory when the price is right. Not going to touch VISTA, no explanation needed.
        oklahomadanny
    • Then your parents

      are prime candidates for a Linux system. Take your old PC and set them up. Buy a blank system for $250.00 set them up. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
      • but why....

        I have never seen Linux on a desktop and I am not willing to learn it to support my parents PC. I have a hard enough time explaining how to use a PC that I am familiar with to two senior citizens. Why muck the waters with something different when there is no real benefit to do that.
        redtrain65
  • On the flip side....

    It makes it easy to identify a pc you want to avoid. Just look and see if it has Vista home basic!
    ridingthewind
  • The lowdown

    [i]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.[/i]

    When in doubt, reach higher. It has always a staple of prudent PC purchasing to go for as much as you can reasonably afford. Then add 15% on top of that, and don't look back.

    [i]There will always be a market for low end anything. Especially a PC for the folks that only want to do email and surf the Internet.[/i]

    Say it again. And for some lightweight users this will work out quite well since their needs are so marginal.

    [i]On the flip side....
    It makes it easy to identify a pc you want to avoid. Just look and see if it has Vista home basic![/i]

    Couldn't be simpler. ;)
    klumper
  • Overselling

    I don't see any problem with low-spec machines, as long as people have reasonable expectations of what they're going to get.Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are convinced they 'need' something in computers that they really don't. The reality is that a lot of home users will get along just fine with a Vista Home Basic machine, but if you're an enthusiast you should avoid it like the plague, or be severely dissapointed.
    I've been in retail shops way too often (i.e. Apple Store, Circuit City and Best Buy) and watched as a home-user that just wants to surf the web and email is convinced to overspend. The sales people use some of the same arguments that you do.
    I think having a low-end option for a way for vendors to sell low-spec, low-price machines is a positive.

    Among things I've heard in stores recently:
    Apple Store salesperson to 70+ y/o woman who said she wanted the most basic MacBook: "Well if your son sends you really big pictures, you won't be able to see them on the little screen. They will fit on the 17"..."

    Best Buy sales rep to a mom buying her kid a notebook for college and was on a very tight budget: "You really do need a dual-core processor, because it's like having two processors. If one breaks, the other one will keep on running..."
    xlanier
    • And that's why..

      That's why I don't buy computers from Best Buy...

      But yeah, as long as the computer is easily upgradeable, the low-end ones should stay in the market.

      About four years ago, my parents bought a medium-end computer from Dell, it had 256 MB of RAM, which was fine for them then, but now they are wanting to either double or quadruple the amount of RAM, but their motherboard only supports RDRAM, which is really expensive to buy on its own.
      KWierso
  • sounds like the real problem here is

    bloated graphics requirements for Vista.

    Personally, I prefer integrated motherboards because ordinarily, they're less hassle to set up and I know that all the parts work at the same time and work together... but an integrated GPU that isn't big enough for Vista would be a deal-killer for prospective Vista users, CPU / DRAM / HD can be upgraded incrementally.

    Luckily for me, Debian Etch deals with 64M integrated GPU just fine and 1G DRAM just fine, the main reason I plan to upgrade my Athlon 3500+ CPU to a x2 and go to 2G DRAM is future-proofing, once this is done I can seal the box and forget it for a couple of years.
    A.Lizard