Machines capable of running Microsoft's new Windows operating system Vista, due for release (apparently) early next year, are to get stickers that say they are "Windows Vista Capable." Microsoft has come up with the scheme in anticipation of the release of the 50 million lines of Vista code.

Seemingly, a machine will qualify for a "Windows Vista Capable" sticker if it has a "modern" CPU (whatever that means...), 512MB of RAM, a DirectX 9-class graphics processor, and can optionally support Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). The company has pointed out that just because a PC has a sticker, it does not mean that such a machine will provide a great Vista experience, or that it will support all Vista features. But the machine will be able to run Windows Vista Home Basic adequately. Exactly what "adequately" means was not defined.

Joe Wilcox, analyst, Jupiter Research, stresses the importance for customers to distinguish between PCs "capable" of running Vista and those that are actually "ready" to do so.

Wilcox points out that a system running Windows Vista may not be capable of using all of its features. Wilcox explains that a machine branded "Windows Vista Capable" that is a high-end Media Center PC with superior graphics capabilities will be ready for even the most feature-intensive versions of Vista. But if it's a low-cost PC that has a "Capable" sticker on it, Wilcox warns that the PC will probably run the features of Home Basic but not anything else.