Microsoft’s official recommendations are 512MB for a “Vista capable PC” and 1GB for “Vista Premium Ready“. Of course, nobody takes such recommendations seriously, anymore. Steve Row, a Microsoft employee, just posted an interesting comparison with the memory requirements for Windows XP.
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He says that XP runs very well with 512MB. I think “very well” is an exaggeration; “well” would have been a better description. It is interesting, however, that in his view 512MB on XP machines is comparable to 1.5GB for Vista. This assessment corresponds to my experience.
Since 512MB on XP PC is usually enough for standard users, 1GB is the minimum for power users. I don’t agree with Steve, that 1GB only slightly improved XP’s performance. Power users usually have several applications open. If you only have three or four apps running at the same time, 512MB is enough. If you need to run more programs simultaneously, you certainly need more RAM. This will greatly improve the performance of an XP computer.
Thus, if you don’t want complaining users blocking your phone all day after deploying Vista, you should make sure that they have 1.5 GB RAM. Or at least let some of your typical users test Vista for some weeks to see how much memory they actually need.
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Since I don’t consider myself a standard user, I will run my own Vista PC at work with 3GB RAM. It is interesting to note that the new memory, I ordered some weeks ago, has still not arrived. It seems to me that I am not the only one moving to Vista.