Windows Vista is now available at CERN as part of a pilot (while Windows XP remains the default). Last issue we described Vista's new features, gave details of the hardware required to run the operating system, and talked about application compatibility (see IT/IS evaluates Windows Vista). In this article we report on the installation procedure and the scope of support for Vista at CERN.

Hardware requirements

Vista brings many new functionalities and a new user experience, but it also has different hardware requirements. The basic CERN recommendations regarding hardware are given in table 1.

If a user plans to install Vista on a computer bought recently at the CERN stores, it will comply with the requirements. However, a user wanting to install Vista on a computer that now has Windows XP installed should first perform a Vista readiness check on the computer account status page on the WinServices site. On the right-hand side of the Hardware Inventory section a box gives information about the compliance of the computer with CERN's recommendations (figure 1). The box also tells you whether or not Windows Aero (a sophisticated 3D Vista user interface) is available.

Supported models

The readiness check may indicate that Windows Vista is not supported at CERN on a certain computer. This is because in the first phase of deploying Vista we will support it only on recent models of PCs that have been sold by CERN stores within the last two years. Tables 2 and 3 list seven desktop and four laptop models that comply with NICE Vista. We plan to extend the list in the future.

Installing NICE Vista

To install Windows Vista at CERN the standard procedure for a Diane installation must be followed. Once the computer is turned on, boot the network by pressing F12. Follow the installation Wizard, which will enable you to select an operating system. Windows Vista will only be an available option if the computer is on the list of supported models.

Each Windows Vista computer needs to be activated within 30 days of installing the software. We enforce activation during the Diane installation process; however, the activation has to be done by a direct connection to Microsoft servers over the Internet, so Vista should be installed while the computer is connected to the General Purpose Network and not to the Technical Network – otherwise, after 30 days the Vista computer will be blocked.

The result of the activation can be verified by right-clicking on the Computer item in the Start menu and selecting Properties. "Windows is activated" should be seen in the Windows activation section (figure 2). The IT/IS group is in contact with Microsoft to find a better solution.

Before using Windows Vista for the first time, users are recommended to reorganize their home folder. For details, see the article "DFS home folder is reorganized for simplicity".

Supported applications

The IT/IS group has tested all the standard office applications and ensured that they work with Windows Vista at CERN. This includes Microsoft Office 2007, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Professional, Corel Graphics Suite X3, Hummingbird Exceed 2007, CERN Phonebook etc. Before deciding to reinstall your computer, check with the appropriate support lines that the applications you use are supported on Vista. We encourage other application support groups to test their applications and make them available for Windows Vista.

Documentation and support

Documentation on using Windows Vista at CERN is available on the WinServices site. Contact the helpdesk ( or 78888) if you have any questions.