Windows 7 is here. Is your PC ready? PC Advisor's Windows 7 compatibility calculator, a feature in the free PC Performance Monitor will tell you. (Note that we've based our Windows 7 compatibility calculator on the October 2008 pre-release version of Windows 7.)
It seems like a straightforward question. However, in the aftermath of the Vista debacle, where many systems that were certified as "Vista Capable" proved to be anything but, the process of vetting new Windows-compatible hardware has taken on more complexity.
You simply can't count on Microsoft to provide an honest assessment of Windows system requirements. And as the "Vista Capable" experience has shown us, Microsoft's vendor partners are no better.
Hence PC Advisor's motivation in developing the Windows 7 Compatibility Testing widget: the need for a truly independent tool that can evaluate a PC's suitability to run the next version of Windows.
By taking marketing, politics, and vendor-speak out of the equation, we're hoping to provide you with an honest assessment of your PC's runtime environment, factoring in hardware configuration, current stress levels, and workload composition.
How to get started
Note: As with all PC Performance Monitor widgets, you'll first need to register for your free Windows Sentinel account, which my company (Devil Mountain Software) developed based on years of experience benchmarking system performance for Microsoft and Intel.
Once you've registered, download and install the PC Advisor PC Performance Monitor tool from techadvisor.co.uk/pc-performance-monitor and allow it to collect data for a few hours during normal usage periods. Then load the widget and find out if you pass or fail (and if the latter, why).
You can learn more about the process by visiting the PC Performance Monitor page.
What the Windows 7 compatibility widget looks for
The widget begins with an analysis of your system's hardware; specifically, the type and speed of your CPU and the amount of installed memory.
As a Vista-derived OS, Windows 7 will no doubt levy the same kind of performance "tax" (high overall CPU utilization spread across a massive thread pool) that hobbled its predecessor.
Our tests on the first Windows 7 prerelease version that Microsoft made available in late October 2008 confirms that Windows 7 is very much Vista, with similar requirements. Experience has shown that, to get acceptable performance with Vista, you need at least two CPU cores.
Windows 7 will carry forward this baseline overhead while introducing new workloads (such as a touch interface and Web services) that Microsoft is only beginning to describe publicly.