I set out to see what Vista would do if attempted to install on an old(er) generic "white box" machine. You might say Why? it's just going to fail. Yes, I expect it to fail but how would it fail and how well (or bad) would Vista handle it?
Time to hit the computer lab.
So I took a older machine (see specs below) to the computer lab, slapped a DVD drive in it and booted the Vista CD. To make a long story short, it actually installed but failed to start up. The most amusing thing was that there was the old Blue Screen Of Death during startup that flashed over the screen so fast that I could not read it, but it was certainly there. So much for Vista doing away with the old BSOD!
End of short story...
The BSOD caused it to crash and force a reboot, then upon booting from the CD again I was presented with the "Vista failed to start, what do you want to do" with the repair installation option. I tried the repair and of course, was presented with the same BSOD reboot "feature".
Next I removed all PCI cards and replaced the AGP graphics card with another and tried again. The net result was that I tried a number of format and re-install with an empty PCI bus and three different graphics cards and replacement RAM and had the same result every time. This leads me to believe that it simply did not like something on the mother board. My bet would the the chip set, but who knows?
Processor: Intel P4 1.7ghz
RAM: 2 x 512mb RAMBUS (also tried a 2 x 256mb set)
HDD: IBM 60gig IDE
Graphic: Nvidia AGP, ATI AGP, S7 chip PCI
Moral of the story... don't waste your time with Vista on old retired hardware.
If someone has had success with Visa on legacy hardware, I'd like to hear your story here.