Microsoft releases update to RSAT tools for Windows 7

Microsoft wants to make it easy for Windows users to figure out if their existing hardware is capable of running Windows 7, and this week released a beta software tool that handles this task.

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor tests the PC processor, memory, storage and graphics capabilities, and flags known compatibility issues with installed software and devices, said Brandon LeBlanc, a communications manager on the Windows Client Communications Team, in a Thursday blog post.

Ever since Microsoft acknowledged the existence of Windows 7, the company has said that PCs that can run Vista will be able to run Windows 7. Microsoft isn’t providing a direct Windows XP-to-Windows 7 upgrade path, and will instead require XP users to perform a clean install of Windows 7.

Microsoft’s official requirements for Windows 7 are:

* 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
* 1 GB RAM (32-bit)/2 GB RAM (64-bit)
* 16 GB available disk space (32-bit)/20 GB (64-bit)
* DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or higher driver

When Microsoft launched Vista, the company offered XP users a similar tool that would scan PCs and recommend a particular version of Vista. But it’s doubtful that Microsoft plans a repeat of its disastrous ‘Vista Capable’ marketing campaign in the run-up to Windows 7’s release.

With Vista, Microsoft initially planned to run a single marketing program that labeled PCs as ‘Ready’ to run Vista only if they met the hardware requirements for doing so. But not many PCs had the right hardware, so Microsoft came up with a ‘two-tier’ marketing campaign that added a second, lower threshold category called ‘Vista Capable.’

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Vista Capable PCs weren’t really capable of running Vista, and the program quickly became a black eye for Microsoft that persists to this day.

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