I read an interesting article in the German magazine Chip (11/2006). They tested Vista's performance on different kinds of hardware. All in all, they confirmed my expectations and also my fears.
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We bought about 250 new computers eight months ago. The tests of the Chip magazine made me question my plan to deploy Vista on some of these machines next year. They have a 2.4 Ghz CPU, 1 GB RAM and 80 GB hard disk.
Of course, Vista is running on these computers. But the question is, how well will it perform in a real world scenario? According to the Chip testers, you could now work under normal cicumstances with such a system. However, it is probably only a matter of time until it becomes too slow.
I remember that when we first deployed Windows XP some years ago, the performance was quite good on our one year old PCs. But two years later, many users were complaining about their slow computers. The reason was that new applications needing more resources were running now on their machines.
The CHIP testers recommend a PC with Intel Core Duro or Athlon 64 X2 4600+ with 2GB RAM, S-ATA hard disk, and a graphics adapter with at least 256 MB and DirectX 9 support as optimal configuration for Vista.
I, somehow, think that this might be the minimum hardware requirements if you want to deploy Vista in an enterprise environment. If you install Vista on machines with lesser resources you should be prepared to upgrade their hardware in one or two years.
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Another reason, why I believe that these are the minimum hardware requirements, is Microsoft's own recommendations. They say that "Windows Vista Premium Ready PC" for the enterprise needs 1 GHz CPU, 1 GB RAM, and 128 MB graphics memory. In my experience, one always has to double Microsoft's recommended configuration to get a reasonable data.