With newer operating systems, there can be issues of compatibility, especially where the 64-bit architecture is concerned. For people who are trying to decide which brands of hardware to choose with their Windows Vista computing rig, careful selection of hardware can go a long way.
Windows Vista is a unique operating system in that it experienced a very short window of time in which it had market priority. This is unusual for a Microsoft system. Windows XP remained the operating system of choice for Microsoft users for a number of years. Windows 7 was released somewhat quickly after Vista. This can make hardware compatibility a little complicated.
The main issue of concern will be drivers. Vista enjoys fairly broad driver support in both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. However, you will probably do a little better to pick up hardware from more established name brands. The larger the market share of the product, the more likely that a very broad population of consumers has dealt with the compatibility issues that might emerge with this particular OS.
For Windows XP, the opposite principle is generally true. Boutique hardware often has more sophisticated driver support for an established operating system. However, the newer and bigger brands will have likely optimized their product for Vista during the period in which it was commercially dominant. Older hardware is going to suffer compatibility problems as well.
As a general rule, pick the more commercially established brands when selecting hardware for Windows Vista compatibility. For example, a smaller company that creates custom-over clocked graphics cards might not offer the type of driver support that will keep you up-to-speed with Windows Vista after Windows 7 begins to dominate the market share. If you aren't in the mood to shell out the money for a new operating system, this can be a serious complication.
If you do wind up with poor driver support, you can probably fix the problem with modified drivers, so worry not. Operating system compatibility is often directly addressed on the packaging of most hardware. While this rarely relates to the more boutique operating systems like Linux, Vista should continue to enjoy a large enough slice of the market share to attract optimization from most major brands.
As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to research compatibility when buying any new hardware. If it is a processor, you want to make sure the motherboard is compatible. For a video card, the Power Supply Unit must be strong enough. However, no matter what the device, the operating system must have good driver support for the hardware in question. There will be a community of Vista users who have dealt with this issue before, so search around on the web to ensure that you are buying a product which has great compatibility. This will save you major headaches after your install.
For the time being, most brands are offering good compatibility with Windows Vista. Most problems are going to be experienced in the 64-bit arena. However, Vista enjoys enough commercial success to attract major attention from the driver programming industry. As time passes, expect more of the smaller companies to focus their efforts on Windows 7. Bigger name brands should remain very comprehensive in their support of Microsoft operating systems.