Operating systems have minimum hardware requirements that must be met for the OS to install and function correctly.

Identify the equipment that your customer has in place. If hardware upgrades are necessary to meet the minimum requirements for an OS, conduct a cost analysis to determine the best course of action. In some cases, it might be less expensive for the customer to purchase a new computer than to upgrade the current system. In other cases, it might be cost effective to upgrade one or more of the following components:

NOTE: If the application requirements exceed the hardware requirements of the OS, you must meet the additional requirements for the application to function properly.

After you have determined the minimum hardware requirements, ensure that all hardware in the computer is compatible with the OS that you have selected for the customer.

Microsoft Compatibility Center

Windows 7 and Windows Vista have an online Compatibility Center that allows technicians to check the compatibility of both software and hardware, as shown in the figure. The tool provides a detailed inventory of hardware that has been tested and proven to work with Windows 7 and Windows Vista. If any of the customer’s existing hardware is not on the list, those components might need to be upgraded.

The Microsoft Compatibility Center does not support Windows XP. Windows XP has a Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) that can be found on the manufacturer's website.

NOTE: An HCL specified for an OS might not be continuously maintained and therefore may not contain all compatible hardware.