I have to admit that I'm not one to keep up with hardware advances. I know a lot of gamers keep up with the video cards, for instance, to better support the latest games. I just haven't ever cared about all that. As long as I have something strong enough to create the software I need, I'm happy. Obviously, Vista is going to change the overall landscape of hardware in the everyday household -- well, as is spreads it will, anyway. Due to this, I think one thing we'll see as we get closer to the official release, is the idea of a Vista-ready hardware rating.
Anyone who's played with Vista or read about the vast level of graphics utilized will know about the experience rating. You can read a little about it here (which includes this screenshot). Note that this review is from very early March and a lot has changed since then, but the idea is the same. Basically, each hardware component is analyzed to determine how much it can support. This analysis results in a numeric rating, which is ultimately used to determine what software can be run and at what level.
I expect to see this start popping up on computer and component manufacturers' websites and boxes in the next 3 months. I've alerady seen Vista-ready stickers on a few laptops, but it hasn't really permeated the overall scene, yet. What I expect to see is pre-calculated experience ratings for every piece of hardware so consumers will know within seconds how to build the most "ready" system. This way, you can buy a system that can support exactly what you need it to. You'll know before you buy a computer or hardware component exactly what rating it has and how it will affect your score. For instance, I have an old video card which was rated 1.9. If I upgraded that to a 5.1-rated card, my overall score would jump up significantly. And, if this is what I'm looking for and I don't know a whole lot about hardware, I can simply look for a card that's rated at the level I'm interested in. Not really the best way to hardware shop, but it'll give consumers something to really make a base their needs on.
Anyway, I think it'll be something to pop up in the near future and I think it will definitely change the way people are looking at their computer purchases. I wouldn't be surprised if the idea caught on to other tech gadgets.