PC makers to promote ‘XP-ready’ PCs

In anticipation of the Windows XP operating system’s launch on Oct 25, Microsoft Corp. and a number of PC makers on Wednesday announced a program to designate PCs as “Windows XP Ready.” PC vendors involved in the program include Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

In order to meet the minimum Windows XP Ready requirements, a PC must have Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Professional or Windows Millennium Edition operating systems preinstalled and 128MB of memory, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman asked not to be named in accordance with Microsoft policy.

According to early reports from beta testers and some PC manufacturers, PCs need 256MB of memory for optimum Windows XP performance. In addition, PCs need at least a Windows 2000-level system, which is a 300MHz Intel Corp. Pentium III system with 128MB of memory.

“Let me just stress that these are the minimum requirements which have been determined after exhaustive beta testing,” the spokeswoman said. “At this point in the beta testing process, we have not released requirements for the speed of the PC, be it 233MHz, 300MHz or 600MHz. And if other beta testers discover conditions which they believe necessitates a change in the requirements, they should contact us and we will certainly look into it,” she said.

The software giant pointed out that some of the PCs might need additional drivers to meet the minimum hardware requirements for running the Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition operating systems. The drivers can be obtained from the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) once Windows XP is officially released, the Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Compaq’s Windows XP Ready PCs will be available beginning in “late June,” and the company is also launching an upgrade program for all Windows XP Ready PCs purchased in the next six months, Compaq said in a separate statement.

All of Compaq’s consumer PCs and existing business PCs will be made Windows XP ready with the exception of the Presario 800 notebook line of consumer PCs and select Deskpro EX or EXS and iPaq models in the business PC line, Compaq said.

PC makers Gateway Inc., EMachines Inc., Lan Plus Inc. (makers of the Integra Series of PCs), MicronPC Inc., Premio Computer Inc. and Systemax Corp. are also part of the Windows XP Ready program, Microsoft said.

“The program is mainly a marketing effort. The program is to allay any fears buyers may have when buying a new PC that it wouldn’t be able to run Windows XP,” the Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., can be reached at http://www.microsoft.com. Compaq, in Houston, can be reached at http://www.compaq.com/. Dell, in Round Rock, Tex., can be reached at http://www.dell.com/. Premio Computer, in City of Industry, Calif., can be contacted at http://www.premiopc.com/.