Doug Thompson

I don’t use the Vista operating system by Microsoft yet. I just found out I probably won’t.
I just read the minimum system requirements for the new computer game “Mass Effect.” The installed memory requirement is twice as high if you’re using Vista rather than the older XP.
I checked out the specifications of “World in Conflict,” another game I thought wouldn’t run on my machine. This time, you need a 2.2Ghz processor to run it on Vista and only a 2Ghz to run it on XP.
Now buyer beware here. “Minimum specs” are just about meaningless. You need to look at the recommended specs. For instance, my machine could run “Oblivion” before my latest video card upgrade. The game literally looked like a hand-animated coloring book, but it “ran.”
Vista probably does a lot of things very well that I don’t know about. I’m just talking about game performance, which is a type of software performance. Generalize at your own risk.
Vista is required to run the latest version of DirectX, the key software in making your games look very good. Some upcoming games will require Vista.
Not all games will run on a slower machine. The PC version of “Bioshock,” for instance, really could use (according to reviewers) a dual or quad-core processor, whatever the operating system.
Now, all the disclaimers are done. Here’s my big point:
How can an operating system that requires 10 percent more processing power or twice the memory to do the same darned thing be all that much of an improvement?
Apparently, this is old news to people who have bought a computer lately. A recent article from PC Magazine (, for instance, begins: “If the leaks and rumors about the next Windows version are true, Microsoft has learned a lot from the Vista fiasco.”
Some older games apparently have trouble running on Vista, too, but that’s hearsay on my part.
Any new Windows computer you get will probably have Vista on it. The next Windows operating system is supposed to come out in 2010.
Waiting out the next generation may not be an option. Talking to somebody who actually knows what he’s talking about rather than reading my ramblings would probably be a good idea.
At my house, we were lucky enough to stumble in to a pattern that’s worked for us so far. We don’t buy a new PC until every other new operating system from Microsoft. For instance, we bought Windows 95 and kept it while Windows 2000 came and went. When Windows XP came out, we got a new machine. We stuck with the Windows XP machine while Windows Vista came out. Now we’ll think about a new one only when Windows 7 materializes.
There’s always the option of a Mac, I suppose. However, I’m too much of a game player to consider that. I’m told that the software for running Windows programs on the Mac is very good, but that seems like an added expense.
There’s another option worth mentioning: Stick with your XP machine for now and buy an Xbox 360. The console will run “Assassin’s Creed,” for instance, while the PC version of that game requires a very hefty machine to run it. “Bioshock,” “Mass Effect” and others are also available. The console — which costs about as much as a good PC upgrade including a new high-end video card — has a new chipset coming out in August that supposedly takes care of the overheating issues. People who know a lot more about the console than me insist that giving the Xbox 360 a lot of room for air to circulate rather than putting it in some tight-fitting space in your wall unit solves a lot of those overheating issues too.
On the topic of games, I have to say something about “Okami” for the Nintendo Wii. Based on Japanese mythology, this is simply the most beautiful game I’ve ever seen.
Taste is personal, and the graphics aren’t high-end, but “Okami’s” watercolor-like visual style is simply gorgeous. My kids tell me it’s a good game too. I wouldn’t know. I just watch them play it.

Categories: Features