In a recent post I recommended that firms wait until their next hardware replacement cycle to upgrade to Vista, getting it along with the new machine. An article in March’s PC World magazine (Vista PCs Perform on p. 18) gives yet another reason for waiting.

The right hardware for your computer is not the only thing that should be considered in a Vista upgrade; your peripherals (printers, scanners) and applications/utilities (antivirus software, firewall) must also be compatible. As a result, buyers of hardware are not the only ones taking a wait-and-see attitude about going Vista all the way; the vendors are playing it safe as well. Dell, HP and Gateway plan to switch to Vista exclusively for new consumer machines, but will still put XP on business machines. Alienware is going to do the same thing, keeping XP an option for businesses due to business application compatibility issues.

Before going to Vista, do a little homework. Check with the manufacturers of your peripherals to see if they have updated drivers. In this way you will ensure that your printer, scanner, external hard drive, USB hub, Palm or PocketPC will work well with your new computer.

This also applies to internal components. Many computer manufacturers, for example, have reported problems with video graphics card drivers (you know, that expensive add-on that will allow you to get the “Wow” out of Vista’s new Aero Glass interface). If you are putting Vista on an existing machine, be sure you can download a driver upgrade; if it is a new machine, ask questions about the graphics board to be sure it is fully Vista Premium Ready.

Another point made by PC World was that not all of the early machines sport hardware to take advantage of all of Vista’s new features, such as ReadyDrive and SideShow (worthwhile new Vista features will be the subject of a future post). There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to try out a new software feature only to find out that your hardware can’t handle it. Do yourself a favor and wait at least six months before getting a Vista machine. By then the drivers for peripherals will all be updated, software applications will be fully compatible, and your new computer will have what it takes to leverage the most that you can out of Vista.