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Microsoft Vista Will Increase Hardware Costs

You might know that the software cost of upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista Business is $199. But you might not know is that the Vista upgrade carries a hardware cost as well, with about $100 in new or additional PC components required to make the conversion, according to data from iSuppli Corp.

Based on an analysis using CSCA, an average desktop PC running Windows XP contains components that collectively cost PC OEMs slightly more than $500. For an average PC running Vista, the cost will jump to slightly more than $600, a 20 percent increase.

Because this figure represents the cost of the components and not the actual price of the PC, users will pay significantly more than $600 to buy a Vista-ready machine due to the PC maker's added profit margins.

Much of the additional cost for Vista-capable PCs is in the memory area. Although Microsoft has stated that 512Mbytes of DRAM will be sufficient to run Vista, iSuppli believes at least 1Gbyte will be required for optimal performance and to allow headroom for upgrades. This will amount to a doubling in memory costs per PC.

"When configuring the memory, think today -- and think tomorrow -- because application and user demands on memory change overtime," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli.

Beyond the basic PC requirements to run Vista, corporations and individual users also will need to consider upgrading their graphics capability in order to use the 3D functions found in Windows Vista's interface. However, Vista allows users the option of disabling the 3D interface, eliminating the need for a new graphics card or a more powerful integrated graphics chip.

Whether or not to pay the additional costs required to obtain the 3D functionality is a choice that individual users or companies must make. Therefore, iSuppli believes that the decision whether to upgrade existing systems or to buy new ones will be a major issue for businesses and consumers to consider.

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