On the trail of the $1000 Vista PC

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.