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.

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.

  1. Scott 16 years ago

    I have been an XP user for sometime and love the look and feel of it. I’ve been reading a lot about Vista and its features, but still I’m not sure if I am ready for the change. I do find myself having some problems running when I have multiple applications open. What would you recommend for someone like myself who has 5-10 apps open at a time? I guess I’m just curious as to where I stand in terms of standard or power user.

  2. JoelM 16 years ago

    I am like you where I have at least a dozen apps running at all times. I suggest first of all expanding your taskbar so that it is double high – this helps manage all your minimized apps.

    You don’t go into much deail on what apps you run, your problems are, or what your PC specs might be so I cannot offer any more help than this.

  3. JoelM 16 years ago

    I have not even begun to test Vista as I don’t plan to deploy a single Vista PC until at least 2008. It would be interesting to hear what exactly is consuming so much RAM. All I ever hear is that ‘Vista’ needs RAM, but nobody talks about it is about Vista that requires so much RAM. For example, I get desktops from OEMs and their base image consumes around 280MB of RAM after logon. I build my own image, perform a few tweaks including disabling unneeded services, and end up with a clean image that consumes around 130MB after logon. Perhaps there are such things that can be done with Vista to help lower the requirements as opposed to just feeding it more RAM?

  4. Scott 16 years ago

    Thanks for the tip! I just expanded my toolbar and already I find it a lot more convenient. As far as the applications I have running generally the main ones up constantly are AIM, Outlook, iTunes, excel documents, and multiple tabs for firefox. Those are just the main ones.

    I find it interesting that you don’t plan to deploy Vista for another year or so. How many PCs would you deploy it on when the time comes?

  5. JoelM 16 years ago

    I am currently managing around 900 PCs. I plan to deploy to a test pilot group when the time comes to introduce Vista. This group would be no more than a dozen PCs and would allow me the chance to test migration from XP using WDS. I plan on spending alot of time testing WDS alongside SMS for migration to Vista. I will probably not migrate the majority of users unless it is time to replace their hardware or there is significant and justifiable demand.

  6. Scott, if you often have 10 apps simultaneously open, 1.5 GB might not be enough. But it really depends on the kind of apps. The best way is to just try it. Use the task manager to check how much RAM is used during normal workload.

    JoelM, I think the amount of RAM used by Vista immediately after booting up, doesn’t say much about the requirements when you start working with it. I also think that apps developed for Vista will need more memory than under XP since they will use specific Vista features (Aero, UAC support etc.).

  7. Tenchidbz 16 years ago

    Would people stop complaining? Please, every OS that has come out has had higher hardware requirements than the previous versions. So vista should be run on 2.0 or so GB of ram. So what? You can get motherboards that support 8.0 and up! So stop crying!

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