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We’re going to assume you already know of the new features of Windows Vista, and are considering an upgrade. Here are 10 tips to make it less painful.

  • Try before you buy. Want to see Vista in action? You don’t have to install it on your system. from Microsoft lets you test-drive a Windows Vista virtual machine through a web browser. It also has Office 2007 installed so you can see how they work together.
  • Decide which version. For most people reading this, that will be Vista Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate. Home Premium is probably the best choice. Home Basic lacks the new Aero interface, and is probably only a good choice for an older system that will not be upgraded. Ultimate adds the ability to connect to a domain, and other features that would make it a good choice for laptop that does double duty at work and home. Whatever you choose, Vista makes it much easier to upgrade with Windows Anytime Upgrade. Instead of buying a new shrink-wrap box to upgrade, you simply go to the control panel, and choose which edition you’d like. The data for all versions is contained on every DVD, so simply use your original media to perform the upgrade.
  • Buy OEM and save 50%. Many online e-tailers are offering OEM versions of Windows Home Premium, Home Basic, and Vista Business. For example, Windows Vista Home Premium has a suggested retail price of $239. The OEM version sells at for $119.99. These are full-versions, not upgrades requiring a previous version of Windows to install. Upgrade version of Home Premium are selling for about $149.
    OEM licensing used to require a hardware purchase be bundled with it’s purchase. That requirement has been removed with Vista. However, OEM software lacks the fancy retail packaging and a printed manual.
  • Have a multi-PC household? The Family-Pack may be the best option for you. You must first purchase Vista Ultimate (either a full-version, or upgrade). Then between Jan 30th, and June 30th visit a special website Once you enter your Ultimate key, you will be able to purchase up to two additional keys for Vista Home Premium at the reduced price of $49.99 each. Suggested retail price for Home Premium upgrade is $159.
  • Upgrade your hardware. Is your system ready for Vista? If it’s less than 2-years old it most likely is. However, the RAM and video may need an upgrade. RAM requirements have doubled since XP. We recommend a minimum of 1GB, and many programs would benefit from 2GB.
    If your video is integrated into your motherboard, or has less than 128MB of RAM on-board, you’ll likely need to install a new video card in your system to experience the new Aero desktop interface. It’s an easy upgrade that most anyone should be able to accomplish. Look for the Certified for Windows Vista sticker when shopping.
    Vista Premium minimum specs:
      A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:
    • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor1.
    • 1 GB of system memory.
    • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)2, Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.
    • 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space.
    • DVD-ROM Drive3.
    • Audio output capability.
    • Internet access capability.
  • Clean install or upgrade? A clean install requires reformatting your hard drive, or starting with a new one. Whenever upgrading an operating system, performing a clean install is a good recommendation. However, most people do not have adequate backups of the contents of their hard drive, or weekend to spend backing up and reinstalling all their software. It’s also easy to forget to back something up, like email or contacts. Vista’s upgrade has been changed drastically from previous versions. It installs a clean image of Vista, and then scans the system to install programs, hardware, etc. Upgrades with Vista should be much smoother.
    Some versions of Vista require a clean install, depending on which version of XP you’re upgrading, and may affect your purchase decsion.
  • If you must perform a clean install, use Windows Easy Transfer to automatically copy all your files and settings to an extra hard drive or other storage device. Then install Windows Vista. After the clean install is complete, Windows Easy Transfer will reload your files and settings to the upgraded version of Vista. You will still need to reinstall all your applications.
    If upgrading, download, install and run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. The advisor will help avoid unpleasant surprises. It will warn you of any hardware of software conflicts, before Vista is installed. You should uninstall any unnecessary programs or hardware before running the upgrade advisor, and before running the actual upgrade.
  • Every copy of Vista contains both 32 and 64 bit version, and use the same key. You can install either version, or change at a later day (on the same system). Unless you have a need to run 64-bit software, or require more than 4GB of RAM, avoid the 64-bit version for now. Driver support is very weak for 64-bit, but should improve greatly after general availability. There is no upgrade path to 64-bit. Either from XP, or from 32-bit Vista. It always requires a clean install.
  • Install Vista on a new hard drive. Most everyone can use more storage. Hard drive prices have dropped greatly, and performance has increased. Perform a clean install of Vista, leaving your XP installation intact on your old drive. Then you can use the Windows Easy Transfer to copy files and settings. Leave your XP install on the old drive until you’re sure you have everything you need. Then reformat it, and use it for additional storage, or even better use it as a drive to store backups.
  • Be sure your system is clean of malware (viruses, spyware). Just before running the Vista upgrade, uninstall your antivirus program. It may cause problems with the upgrade, and will almost certainly have to be updated to work with Vista.
  • Last, but not least, backup. Backup important data before running any upgrade. When you’ve finished installing Vista, and have all your applications installed, run another backup. A one-touch backup drive is an easy option.

      Netflix, Inc.

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