HWiNFO tool Useful for PC upgrades

HWiNFO and HWiNFO32 are professional hardware information and diagnostic tools supporting latest components, industry technologies and standards. Both tools are designed to collect and present the maximum amount of information possible about computer's hardware which makes them suitable for users searching for driver updates, computer manufacturers, system integrators and technical experts as well. Retrieved information is presented in a logical and easily understandable form and can be exported into various types of reports. Currently, there is a Windows version (HWiNFO32) and a DOS version (HWiNFO).

I've used HWiNFO32 in the past couple of weeks to help out with some computer upgrades to include the recent attempt to upgrade my father-in-law's PC to Windows Vista. I recommend this tool if you want a quick way to determine exactly what is inside a PC or laptop.

Download the tool here: HWiNFO32

Microsoft Learning Snacks

Learning Snacks are short, interactive presentations about popular topics created by Microsoft Learning experts. Each Snack is delivered by using innovative Microsoft Silverlight technology and includes various media, such as animations and recorded demos. At the end of each free presentation, you can view more Snacks to learn more about the topic, or visit a related Web site.

Current topics:

Microsoft Silverlight
Windows Server 2008
Windows Vista

Learn more here: Learning Snacks

Vista Capable Logos are not Needed

Most of us have read the recent lawsuit articles relating to Microsoft's Vista Capable logo that was planted on basically every PC maker out there during the initial mass selling of Windows Vista. Infact, companies like Dell and HP were selling these PCs and laptops with a Vista Capable logo before Vista even hit stores basically stating this:

"The purchase you are making will allow you to install Windows Vista when ready and your PC will work fine".

Well, apparently, consumers feel they got scammed into purchasing PCs and laptops there were technically not Vista Capable even though the logo said it was. I would like to now squash this theory because whether or not the stupid logo is on the PC, it comes down to how bad a person wants Windows Vista. Anything is possible with the correct hardware.

Case in point......

My father-in-law has a 6 yr old PC, it is an HP Pavilion 551w. It came with Windows XP Home Edition installed and its been running perfectly fine for the last 6 years. Of course, he only uses it for the Internet and the occasional Word or Excel document but for him, its fine. To me....its extremely slow but that is only because I work with much faster PCs on a daily basis so my mind is accustomed to the faster speed. Anyway, I decided to see if it was possible to upgrade the PC to Windows Vista. The PC originally had only 128MB of RAM but that was upgraded to 512MB a couple of years ago. (I can not even remember when a PC that I supported only had 128MB of
RAM). From experience with Vista, I realized that before I even attempted the upgrade, I would need to at least bump up the RAM to 1GB. So I did. The 2nd thing I decided to do was install a better graphics card. I hate using the on-board video so I installed an Nvidia GF400 64MB card (it was free) in the free AGP slot.

The hard drive was the next thing that needed to be upgraded. The PC came with a 40GB drive but at some point during the past 6 years, the PC crashed and someone (who shall remain nameless) decided to try and help fix the problem. So after formatting the PC, he partitioned the hard drive in 2...another no-no in my book. I never partition hard drives, because you will eventually run out of space on the partition with the OS, it always seems to happen. I received a 40GB drive by donation and decided that I will just use it to install Windows Vista and then install the original drive as a backup and migrate all of his personal data to the new drive.

Quick recap:
Upgraded RAM to 1Gb from 512MB.
Installed a 64MB AGP video card
Installed a used formatted 40GB hard drive for the OS installation.

(by the way, so far, this has only cost us $40 which was for the purchase of the 1GB PC3200 DDR module)

I was now ready to upgrade to Vista....and just to be funny, I decided to upgrade to Windows Vista Ultimate just because I could. Here is where I ran into a snag. If you don't already know, to install Windows Vista, you now need a DVD drive since the OS is so large, the install no longer fits on 1 CD. I think that the size of the original ISO files are at least 2 or 3GB. Upon inserting the Windows Vista install DVD, nothing happened. So I rebooted the PC anyway because I need to do the install from booting to the DVD anyway. Again, nothing happened! The DVD drive was running but the DVD was not being recognized.

To speed this long article up, there were 2 problems:

1) The HP Pavilion 551w desktop is so old that it does not allow booting from a DVD (and yes, there is no BIOS update to allow this, I already checked)

2) The actual DVD drive was not accepting any DVDs. I could not even play a DVD movie from the original hard drive which I used as a test to checkout the drive. CDs work fine, burning CDs worked OK, but for some reason, it did not like any DVD. (for the record, this drive was an HP DVD writer 740b)

After spending another $60 to purchase a new DVD-RAM drive, I was able to install Vista but since the PC does not allow us to boot from it, I had to first install Windows XP and then do an upgrade to Windows Vista Ultimate. Everything was recognized after the install completed, including the video card drivers!

Total Cost to make PC Vista Capable: $100

Conclusion: Vista Capable logos are not necessary! If you can not afford to purchase a new PC with Windows Vista, just attempt to upgrade your PC as much as possible so that Vista will install for you. You will probably save money by doing so.
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