If your computer came with Windows Vista already installed on it, you can skip this appendix—for now. But if you're running an earlier version of Windows and want to savor the Vista experience, this appendix describes how to install the new operating system on your computer.
Believe it or not, most of the work involved in installing Windows Vista takes place well before the installation DVD so much as approaches your computer. You have a lot of research and planning to do, especially if you want to avoid spending a five-day weekend in Upgrade Hell.
For example, you must ensure that your PC is beefy enough to handle Vista—not a sure thing at all. You also have to decide which of two types of installation you want to perform: an upgrade or a clean install. (More on this in a moment.)
If you opt for the clean install (a process that begins with erasing your hard drive completely), you must back up your data. Finally, you have to gather all of the software bits and pieces you'll need in order to perform the installation.
Before you even buy a copy of Vista, your first order of business should be to check your computer against the list of hardware requirements for Windows Vista, as published by Microsoft. Vista, as it turns out, is a serious hog—for memory, speed, disk space, and, above all, graphics-card horsepower. 2004-era computers (and earlier ones) probably aren't up to the challenge.
Turns out there are two degrees ...