The first beta of Windows 7 is available for download. However, after the Vista-ready debacle, regular Windows watchers will be leery of downloading a new Microsoft OS without making absolutely sure that their PC hardware can stand the pace. PC Advisor has a free software tool that can do exactly that. Here's how to use PC Performance Monitor's Windows 7 Compatibility tool.

First, register as a user at Go to (all the required links will open in a new window or tab so you can stay on this page), and complete the simple, three-stage process. Be sure to tick the box that enables you to use PC Performance Monitor. If you are already a registered user, you should log in and go to to update your profile and enable PC Performance Monitor.

PC Advisor registration

Now head to, and hit the Monitor My PC tab. Your unique CustomerID should be displayed. Click the link and follow the instructions to download and install the PC Performance Monitor application: this is a small piece of software that collects performance data from your system.

Now you should see five performance monitors for your chosen PC - the one we're interested in is the Windows 7 Compatibility Testing widget.

PC Performance Monitor widgets

See also: Windows 7 review

Before you can use it, however, there's a couple of bits of housekeeping I should cover.

  1. Once PC Performance Monitor is installed, it takes the application roughly an hour to start sending back information about your system's performance, so all the boxes will remain blank for now.
  2. You can install PC Performance Monitor on up to three PCs, but your data remains secret - neither the software makers, nor PC Advisor can access it.

See also: My weekend with Windows 7

The Windows 7 Compatibility Testing widget assesses the suitability of an x86 or x64-based PC for running Windows 7. You can use the Windows 7 widget to identify systems that will be incapable of running the next version of desktop Windows due to inadequate hardware, current stress levels or workload composition.

System information is extracted and analysed to determine Windows 7 compatibility. The tests look at three categories: Hardware Configuration, Current Stress Levels and Workload Composition. PC Performance Monitor collects counter data once every second and averages the collected values once every 60 seconds. The data points analysed by the Windows 7 widget represent a daily summary (average) of these one-minute averaged samples.

Windows 7 Compatiblity Widget

Once the PC's Machine Name appears in the System list, simply click the Results tab to see how it fared. The Windows 7 widget posts results in a simple Pass/Fail format. If the system meets the requirements for a given category, a green PASS appears. If your PC fails a category, explanatory text appear in the Notes box at the bottom of the Results pane.

if the requirements for Windows 7 change, we'll update our the tool, so it's worth checking back from time to time.

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 spotlight for the latest news on Microsoft's upcoming OS