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Microsoft Windows Vista is the most eagerly anticipated operating system in history. Coming more than 10 years after Windows 95, it is the biggest revolution in home computing in many years. Most people will get Vista on new computers from Dell or HP, but a number of people will attempt to update their old systems to run the new operating system.

But there are many changes that people may not be aware of that may make that upgrade experience somewhat less than optimal. So, here is Part 1 in a series to show you how I (J.) upgraded my system, using Windows XP Home Service Pack 2, to run the new operating system, including new hardware.  This SnortyHow series will let you know all of the pitfalls and problems of being on the bleeding edge of technology.

What You Will Need:

  • the Vista Upgrade Advisor tool, which you download from Microsoft (see below)
  • an Athlon 64 Processor chip (see below)
  • An ECS KN1 Extreme motherboard (see below)

Step 1: Download the Vista Upgrade Advisor tool. Windows Vista will require much more computing power than XP, especially for the desktop presentation. The new interface, called Aero, will only work on a system with a modern 3D graphics card and enough horsepower to push those pixels. Not only that, but only Vista Home Premium and above can run the Aero interface, Home Basic does not include it.


To assist would-be upgraders, Microsoft has provided the Vista Upgrade Advisor. Go to to download the tool. I did that for the system I am going to upgrade, and this is the result:


Step 2:  Diagnose the situation. Unfortunately, itís telling me I should run Vista Home Basic, which is not what I want. Clicking the button under the ďDevicesĒ icon lets me know something is wrong:


Step 3.  Decide what new hardware you need. What itís telling me is that my video card, an All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500, will not work in Windows Vista, due to the fact it only supports DirectX 7 and above. So before I can even run the Home Basic version, Iíd have to upgrade my video card. And whatís the use of running it if youíre not going to get the whole experience? So, itís time for a major upgrade. The advisor said the chip I was running (an Athlon running at 1.3 GHz) was ok, as was my memory (640MB). But thatís not going to cut it if I want to do anything like video editing or gaming on the machine while running the new operating system. So hereís what Iím going to be putting in the system to start with:

Picture5 002a

An Athlon64 3700+. 64 Bit compatibility and 512K of cache on the chip. For a basic upgrade to a slow system, you canít beat it. Some may argue for getting a dual-core processor like an Athlon64 X2, but for this system, which is more a test upgrade and a stop-gap while I save for the more extensive upgrade in the summer, itís just what I needed.

An ECS KN1 Extreme motherboard. Dual LAN support (1 is Gigabit Ethernet), space for 10 USB 2.0 ports and six SATA ports which can run two different RAID setups plus digital audio out, it is the perfect board for the chip above and it has room to expand with 3 PCI slots as well as a PCI-X slot for the video card. Not only that, it can take an Athlon64 X2, so when I do want to upgrade this system, I can just drop the faster chip in.

Picture5 003a

In the next installment, Iíll talk about what memory and video card Iím going to use with the system, as well as getting the case ready for the new motherboard and chip.J.

See also
Part 2:  Selecting The Right Hardware
Part 3:  Installation And First Look
Part 4:  The Start Menu

Disclaimer:  SnortyHow is intended for entertainment purposes only and has NOT been reviewed by professionals for accuracy, reliability, legality, or safety. Whatever you read in SnortyHow, you must try at your own risk, preferably after seeking advice from licensed professionals.