Microsoft this week provided greater detail on hardware requirements for its Windows Vista Basic and Premium logo programs. The Redmond company said that in order to be certified as "Vista Ready," a device must meet all of the requirements.
"To qualify for a basic system logo, the devices of a basic system that includes embedded or add-in devices must comply with the basic requirements (if a logo program exists for the device categories)," Microsoft explained.
"Likewise, to qualify for a premium system logo, the devices of a premium system that includes embedded or add-in devices must comply with the premium requirements for the device category."
Those wishing to qualify now for the program must meet the following standards effective immediately: high-definition audio and DirectX 3D 9 support, one or more digital outputs for video adapters, Ethernet and/or Wi-Fi support, USB 2.0 support, and system resume times of two seconds or less from the "standby" state.
Additionally, Vista Premium PCs would need to support the following by June 1, 2007: H.264 hardware decoding, HDCP support, multi-monitor support, HD audio and automatic detection of a connected HD audio device, Serial ATA 2.5 support, 50MB NV cache on a hybrid hard drive with at least 8MB/sec write and 16MB/sec read in mobile devices, support of USB flash drive booting, Windows Vista green button on the computer remote, and a Green driver quality rating.
H.264, HDCP, and multi-monitor support are intended to ensure that Vista's new Aero glass interface operates properly on a Premium system. Additionally, the HD audio support, as well as solid support for HD video, shows that Microsoft wants to ensure that high-definition content both plays and sounds well on high-end systems.
Serial ATA 2.5 and hybrid hard drive support are requirements aimed at the storage side of Windows Vista. HHDs are said to offer several benefits, including faster read and write speeds, as well as shorter boot times. However, there is some confusion as to whether hybrid hard drives will be required, or simply meet a specific performance standard if optionally included.
Microsoft officials indicated at TechEd 2006 in Boston that hybrid hard drives will be a requirement in Vista Premium laptops starting next year.
Booting from USB is being made a requirement in order to give Vista users an additional option in backing up and restoring machines. With USB thumb drives increasing in size while dropping in cost, this is increasingly becoming a feasible way to move large amounts of data from one PC to another.
The Windows Vista green button requirement would be for Media Center PCs, and is equivalent to the Media Center button on today's computer remotes. Media Center accessories would need this feature as well to be termed "Windows Vista Premium Compliant," Microsoft says.
Finally, in probably the most significant move, Microsoft is demanding more accountability from device makers and manufacturers on driver quality. By requiring the drivers running peripherals have a "green" quality rating, it would result in added pressure on lax manufacturers to produce better performing and more stable drivers.
Microsoft did not change its basic hardware requirements for Windows Vista, which specify an 800MHz modern processor, 512MB of RAM, DirectX 9 capability, and conformance with the "Designed for Windows XP" or "Designed for Windows XP x64" logo programs.