As a long running advocate of Linux, I know I’m stepping out of my usual terrain but I think it has to be said by a competent computer user: Yes, you can run Vista.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have both desktop and server installations of Linux and love it dearly. I also have a desktop that runs Vista. In fact I took it a step further and run 64-bit Vista and other than Quicken 2008 which gets shut down by DEP occasionally (Quicken refuses to look into it, by the way, thanks Intuit) the system is running great.
Compatibility? You’re probably unlikely to run into a complication. Unless your application is 6-10 years old it’s most likely going to work even if it wasn’t designed for Vista. Guaranteed? No, but the odds are in your favor. I ran into only one compatibility issue and that is Sony who refuses to support 64-bit with their Personal Voice Recorder (an ICD-P520.) I dropped $100 for it only a few months ago. Sony, you’re a bunch of jerks.
That said, it had some stability issues when it first came out but Microsoft resolved those after about 3 or 4 months. It’s been pretty good for me since then. YMMV but I’d say go for it.