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July 7, 2006

Microsoft tries again on Vista performance rating system

Posted by David Hunter at 9:55 AM ET.

When last we visited Microsoft’s plan for a built-in performance rating system in Vista, vendors were complaining that it wasn’t accurately representing their machines and Microsoft was promising a revamp. Well, the revamp is here and the vendors are still complaining:

Microsoft has reworked the PC assessment tool in Windows Vista after fielding complaints from hardware makers–but the changes may not be enough to completely quell concerns.

The tool is designed to help consumers make sense of Vista’s fairly complicated needs when it comes to memory, graphics performance and other internal components. It looks at five benchmarks and presents an individual score for each, as well as an overall rating for the system.

The newly renamed Windows Experience Index includes tweaks both in the built-in software and in the way that the assessment is described. Despite these, some partners still believe that the score generated by the tool is not a balanced reflection of a computer’s abilities.

Officially, Intel said, “We continue to work closely with Microsoft to shape and influence (the rating tool), but we have no further comment at this time.”

However, a source close to the chip giant said that it remains concerned that the tool places too much emphasis on the graphics and memory power needed to take full advantage of Vista’s Aero user interface and advanced media features. “It’s very heavily focused on graphics performance,” the source said.

In contrast, Intel believes that the tool doesn’t adequately account for important characteristics, such as whether a processor has more than one core, or the battery life offered by a notebook, the source said.

Graphics chipmakers, meanwhile, are understandably pleased with the prominent attention given to their products, noting that Windows Vista relies heavily on graphics chip horsepower to generate its Aero user interface.

“It should be very clear to everyone how important graphics are,” said Andrew Dodd, a software product manager at graphics specialist ATI Technologies.

As I have previously observed, while it may not do too good a job of providing a hardware performance rating, at least the Windows Experience Index will provide lots of entertainment as Microsoft tries to solve an age old problem inherent in benchmarking competitive products.

Filed under Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows Vista

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One Response to “Microsoft tries again on Vista performance rating system”

  1. Vista RC1 Reaction Roundup -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reports that the Windows Experience Index is much improved since pre-RC1 build 5536. This is the built-in Vista hardware performance rating tool which I’ve mentioned before which seems unfortunately destined to be come the universal yardstick for hardware comparisons. Also related – Ed Bott says Vista isn’t a hardware hog. [...]

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