Vista Get Ready program falls short, for some

Microsoft's Get Ready program lacks details, according to some company watchers.

Customers who want more information about what PCs will require to run Windows Vista will get some, but not much, from Microsoft at the company's conference for hardware engineers this week.

At Microsoft's annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), the company will discuss a "Get Ready" for Vista program it launched Thursday that outlines the hardware requirements for to run both low-end and premium versions of Windows Vista. (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/capable.mspx)

However, Microsoft expects the Get Ready program to pretty much speak for itself, said Mike Burke, a Microsoft product manager, and will not discuss it in "any comprehensive detail" at the conference.

That's bad news for some analysts and users who said they still aren't clear what kind of PC to buy to get ready for Vista, even though Microsoft provided a tool on the Get Ready Web site they can run on their PCs to help them to test system requirements. Since Vista is such a drastic overhaul to the Windows OS with multimedia features that will require, among other things, premium hardware for graphics, knowing what kind of system to purchase is important to customers.

"I still think [Vista requirements] are still extremely hard to figure out," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft. "It bothers me that I'm sitting here with a brand new machine I just purchased in the last three months, but even though I ran Microsoft's program, I'm not sure if it could exploit Vista."

It would be helpful if Microsoft or hardware vendors could "clarify" Vista PC requirements at WinHEC, he said.

Burke said that Microsoft has worked closely with its hardware partners so they can articulate to users what kind of technology a PC will require to run Vista, hence the Get Ready Web site and program. Customers who want more information can certainly get it from those partners, he said. "We don't want this to be confusing for customers," Burke said.

Microsoft began working with hardware partners several months ago to prepare customers for Vista's release. In April, PCs with stickers saying "Windows Vista Capable" became available in stores, letting customers know what the minimum hardware requirements for running low-end versions of Vista are. The Get Ready program also outlined requirements for PCs with a Windows Vista Premium Ready designation. These PCs can run higher-end versions of the OS that include the next-generation graphical user interface of Vista, called Aero. This designation will not be part of the in-store PC program, however, the company said.

Also at WinHEC, Microsoft plans to present to business customers how they can take advantage of Vista, the next version of Windows Server and Office 2007 as one platform. Burke said Microsoft will discuss the connections between the three products and the value of deploying them all at once, since they are expected to be available around the same time.

Microsoft has said that Office 2007 and Windows Vista will be available to business customers in November or December, while the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, expected sometime next year.

WinHEC kicks off on Tuesday at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. Microsoft said the show has sold out.

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