March 15, 2006 12:49 PM PST

Will your PC keep pace with Vista?

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How does Windows Vista love thy computer? Let it count the ways.

Microsoft is building into the new operating system a tool that will rate a PC based on how well it is running and on how much it can take advantage of Vista's capabilities.

The "Windows Performance Rating," which can be seen in the latest test version of the operating system, evaluates components such as the processor, the memory, the hard drive and graphics cards to come up with an overall score.

The rating appears in a large blue circle and can be seen in multiple places in the operating system, though Microsoft has said little about what exactly the rating signifies. The main rating is on a scale of 1 to 5, but individual components are also given a "sub rating" on some other, unspecified range.

"The idea behind the Windows Performance Rating is to help average consumers easily understand their Windows Vista PC's overall performance, and to simplify the process of determining whether certain software applications will run smoothly based on their system components," Microsoft said in a statement provided to CNET

Computer makers and retailers would then be able to use that as a tool to help explain, in general terms, the capabilities of a particular machine. Software makers would also be able to specify the type of PC needed to run their software.

Vista rates PC

A Sony Vaio laptop on display at last week's Intel Developer Forum, for example, scored an overall rating of 3. The PC had an Intel processor and 1GB of memory, which earned sub-ratings of 5.6 and 5.5 respectively. A desktop on the IDF show floor with Intel's Pentium D 940 processor and 2GB of unspecified memory also received a 3, with the processor rated at 5.6 and the memory at 5.5.

Microsoft declined to provide details of its rating methodology, noting that it is still working on the grading system.

"This capability is still under development, so the current experience with the Windows Performance Rating may not be indicative of the final experience," Microsoft said. The company promised that the feature would continue to be enhanced in future test versions.

Vista's performance ratings will be primarily useful to customers before they make a purchase, said Roger Kay, the president of market analysis firm Endpoint Technologies Associates.

The ratings could be a tool for salespeople in retail outlets, for example, to demonstrate how well systems would run Vista and related applications, Kay said. But if the buyer doesn't find out about the rating until they get their PC home and start playing around with it, it's harder to understand the benefits, he said.

Set scale?
An open question is whether the system rating is a fixed score or whether it might change over time, as hardware advances. There are challenges whichever route Microsoft takes. If adjustments are made, then the rating for a particular setup will decline, and consumers may feel their PC is losing steam. On the other hand, if the ratings don't evolve, improving technology could eventually lead all machines to score a 5.

As for systems slowing down, that's an issue that Microsoft is already trying to tackle. In the past, machines actually have lost significant performance as more software loads at startup, hard disks become fragmented and other features "gunk" up the works. With Vista, though, Microsoft has added several features that aim to keep the PC from bogging down over time.

It is unclear how large a factor these ratings will be for PC makers as they plan their Vista lineup.

Sam Bhavnani, an analyst at Current Analysis, said that, provided the rating system can be easily understood, it could give computer makers a new way to tout the performance of machines.

"It would make it easier for them to advertise their systems as 'good,' 'better,' 'best,'" Bhavnani said. It would mean the prospective buyer wouldn't have to compare the memory, hard drive and other components on their own.

A Hewlett-Packard representative praised the idea behind the system, saying, "Anything that simplifies the technology for the consumer is a positive thing, and that's obviously the goal."

However, HP said it was too soon to say just how the ratings will factor into how it markets and sells its PCs.

CONTINUED: The hardware needed for Vista…
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Why not 1 to 10?
In today's world, where "On a scale of 1 to 10 how do you rate..." is almost a dictionary term, why in the world would Microsoft choose 1 to 5, and then do sub-ratings in a different scale? Makes their claim of trying to simplify sound fishy.
Posted by Budlong (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ya know 10 is a big number, hehe. Maybe they figure just enough so you can count on one hand.
Posted by chuchucuhi (233 comments )
Link Flag
Are you serious?
Man... some people can find ANYTHING to complain about when it comes to Microsoft.

Hey... my system scored an 8.5527 on your 1-10 performance scale... That's pretty close to 9... do you think I can run Glass? I know it says I need 9, but I'm really close... don't you think?

I like 1 to 5 better anyhow.
Fewer steps between "good" and "bad" means simpler and more appropriate summary analysis.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
The ratings scale, not the metrics
The answer is that as hardware continues to improve, newer systems will eventually have overall ratings higher than 5. It isn't a measurement within a scale of 1-5; right now an overall 5 is the highest rating assigned to currently available hardware, but in time that number will increase.
Posted by saska01 (2 comments )
Link Flag
I wonder if that's a real CD key that's been activated?
Posted by itworker--2008 (130 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My Mac Mini goes to 11.
Any Spinal Tap fans here?


This concept is a stupid idea on so many levels. And not just because it's from Microsoft. It would be equally stupid if applied to Linux or OS X.

You can't characterize the performance/value of any complex machine with just one number. Especially a machine used for many functions, where the standards of excellence are rapidly changing.

Doesn't matter if that machine is a car, or a building, or a computer.

I suspect this idea got hatched by some big-shot in MS marketing. Then some poor tech-flunkies were told to "make it so". This is going to fail so bad, it's not even funny.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
rat rating
5 possibly the only rating marketing guys can count with help of
one hand.. (no alien in the group). Just wondering if the same
program can be used to count software rating: turn off the graphics
use text only rates for 5max, get rid of some spam check at
background gets improved rating...etc.etc. would be nice to know
how fast we really can run the computation without the overhead ...
Love to know why microsoft application is sooooo slow, like ppt..
disable all the stuff that usually "hang" CPU would be nice...
Posted by 1st (104 comments )
Link Flag
Potentially useful benchmarking
The author seems to think that this system rating will only be
useful when one's in the process of purchasing a computer from
a retailer or choosing software. I think the author is missing the
point about the benefits of having this rating system on a
computer that has already beeen purchased. If you have an
existing system and can rate how well it runs Vista with a sub-
rating for each component, you will know whether your system
can utilize a system's features well enough to run all of the
features or have the need to turn some of them off. After turning
off certain features (or on), you can run the check again and
have a performance comparison (benchmark) for the different
settings. Also, you can analyse the bottlenecks in your system's
performance and determine what component of your system
needs to be upgraded to improve the overall system
performance. I wish my current system would tell me where the
weak link was on the hardware level, so I could either choose to
improve it, if it is a big bottleneck in an otherwise quicker
computer, or leave the system as-is, if the components are fairly
well matched.
Posted by Adventure Seeker (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Will my PC keep pace with Vista?
No it won't, and I'm friggin not buying another machine to run it
either. I'm fine with XP its secure as its ever going to be on my
current machine. I don't see whats the hassle in upgrading
either. Don't get me wrong I'm curious to see how it looks
upclose and personal but really if I have to shell out more cash
to buy another machine to run this, why should I? Its just
another version of Windows and it runs the same appz. What

Maybe Windows Live can give me a reason... but it seems like its
all hot air on the part of the "MS Marketing Machine."

Besides why would I want to do that, when I can get a brand new
machine from Apple running the original OS X for my money.
Atleast I have two machines doing different tasks. That seems
more lucrative than buying another Windows machine. Vista is
such a sham.. my belief is, is that its not secure as its touted.
Look at XP when it was released it was suppose to be more
secure.. was it? Granted it is more secure now.. but it wasnt
when it first came out.

Until Windows Live can establish itself as a good online service..
truly there is no reason to buy Vista..

Unless well, your bored.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A Microsoft hardware tax?
We can "guarantee" you your hardware will get a 5, Mr PC Maker, if you just pay us an extra fee. 4 will be the highest anyone can get otherwise. Oh, and those white box makers? 2 tops. wink wink nudge nudge
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who Cares, Window$ Vi$ta is just a lot of eye candy
Vi$ta is just a whole lot of eye candy, a real hardware hog. All I need is an lean, mean, stable, customizable and open source OS can run on new and old systems, and surely it's NOT Window$ Vi$ta.
Posted by wakizaki (44 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux= OS/2
LOL,Linux users are like OS/2 users in 1996 that said Windows was going to be dead by 2000 .
Posted by mtnbiker (2 comments )
Link Flag
What An Incredible Piece Of Bloatware
Why one earth would average Joe User need so many computer resources just to do basic tasks on their computer? We're not talking about mapping the human genome here for Christ's sake. Computer hardware is already getting too expensive for a lot of folks. How are computer vendors going to absorb the cost of an extra gig of ram, faster processors, faster hard drives, and faster graphics cards without passing it along to the consumer. Dell's going to have to yank the 1 year warranty and charge $200 for shipping. Is that $650 entry level laptop now going to cost $1,000? Or $1,200 if you want it to actually run well?

I've got customers running a 20th century OS (Windows 2K) on 20th Century hardware (P4 128 meg ram) and things are just dandy. Now all of a sudden, a mere 4 years later, they need 8 times the resources to do the same things? How is this progress?
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why would you need more than 640K ?
That is what Bill Gates said in the early 80's about how much RAM a PC would need and your comment is wrong just like his. XP came out Nov 2001 and it required hardware that was very common back then and when Vista comes out Dell will be selling $650 laptops and $450 desktops that will run fine with Vista. If your customers computers run just dandy with a P4 128 meg ram on Win2K then what is the problem ? Why would you want to change the OS if there is no problem ?
Posted by mtnbiker (2 comments )
Link Flag
The part I found interesting is that in the screen shot, the average of the scores presented is 4.1, yet MS rated the system as a 3. They probably apply different weights to different components, or maybe they just take the lowest value. Could it be an effort to get people to upgrade the systems?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The history of business endeavors repeats itself in such incredibly consistant fashion. Ford & GM invented planned obsolesance, the buyer cried foul, the industry failed because Ford & GM's could not keep up with the buyer's simple demand:

keep it simple stupid, make it right the first time out of the gate, make it trouble-free on an on-going basis because we simply don't have the time to all get under the hood of your cars let alone understand alla these weird names you apply to alla the stuff there and in five years call us when you have a better quality mousetrap to update this machine.

Yesterday's monopolies are today's bankrupt laughing stocks. Get a grip and break alla the rules by rethinking the basic premise:

>K.I.S.S. cause you bore and confuse us.
>We don't want 700 New Once A Year Models of one fundamentally simple S.K.U. cause your so-called MBA-nonsense *product differentiation* is transparent marketing jive.
>Think of our needs first and derive all the rest top down from there or else we guarantee we shall rebel against you.
>Minimize the bloody fine print which your attornies painstakingly write (and which we pay our hard earned dollars for) in order to warrant the same old thing different day: *We guarantee nothing and you are screwed. Sorry but that's life.*
>Deal directly with us and not thru intermediaries who reconfigure your technology to bloat your product with no added value whatever (actually, a great deal of harm) and are not of the slightest interest to us. Us is the folks who ultimately pay your revenues. Do it all or forget it, we ain't interested.

Google knows all of the above and is putting together the ultimate solution. They will build the product all-inclusive, at a reasonable allin price and the buyers will come.

Short MSFT because it is endgame
Long GOOG because it does it right from the getgo or not at all

Just my view on this forest for the trees. It's time for something completely different by the only party who can put all of this together in one package that will work at 7th Sigma quality and inexpesnive price.

Google has put all of these jokers out of business though they haven't seen it yet. By *jokers* I mean Microsoft at the fore and those who have created a no added-value industry around Microsoft's illogic basic premise of business.

Pls don't flame me. I will accept C|NET's bet that this op-ed post will prove correct when they reprint it in 25 years' time verbatim. It's my view that C|NET bless their souls are shrewd enough journalists to not accept this bet.

Microsoft - you bore the hell outta us, so we have decided Google will put you out of business if this American technolgy is to survive let alone thrive.

[end of rant]
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
$200 on a notebook graphics card?
....Bhavnani said. "Even though you just spent a grand on your notebook, you need to go spend $200 on your graphics card."

I think it should be "you need to go spend another grand on a new notebook with better graphics capabilities."
Posted by Mallardd (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not always...
There are some laptops out that have the ability to upgrade video cards. The unfortunate thing is that this would be too complicated for many laptop users to do.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
Hasta la Vista
Vista is crap.

Will the common user of the current era buy it?

Mr. Win 95 still running his 486 and using AOL dial-up won't.
He's fine being stuck in the past with that machine, Office 97,
and not burning CDs.

Mr. Win 98 still running his early Celeron. He's got some USB
devices, and has updated his computer pretty well. He's happy
running Office 2000 and making an occasional CD.

Mr. Win ME . . . they can't figure out why only AIM and Yahoo!
Chat works well, but overall, they don't care about anything too
much, just online, online, online.

Mr. Celeron XP, the majority of current computer users thanks to
Wal-Mart and Target . . . a Vista programmer told me it can't run
on these machines . . . that's rude. They use iTunes, they steal
movies via P2P, they emulate, they burn DVDs and CDs like the
DIckens, so forth and so on, yet they do it all on 128 MB of RAM
and lack a video card with any RAM to speak of. They don't care
about anything except, like the ME user, online online online.

Mr. Geek . . . he will get Vista to work on hardware it's not
supposed to. Amazing. 1% of 1% of 1% of 1% of sales. And he'll
crack Vista to boot.

So, who's Microsoft shooting for? PCs sales, in reality, are
declining (comparison of numbers since 1993) because most do
what the average user wants: Office, chat, porn sites, P2P, and
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: Hasta la Vista
Couldn't agree with you more. Recently loaned an HP Omnibook (circa 1995, 100% made in USA) running Windows 98, Opera beta, and Yahoo IM to a friend. Her expensive Gateway laptop was in the shop for repair. She liked the Omnibook's small size and solid feel, and was able to stay connected with the world while Gateway did their thing. Of course, they only repaired one of two problems, so it will be going back to the shop yet again, and she'll be using the 1995 100% USA made computer running ancient Windows 98 on 96 megs of ram. I told her I would consider trading her the Omnibook for the Gateway, but in retrospect I think she would be getting the better of the deal.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Link Flag
Quite right
You hit the nail on the head! Your breakdown of the user types matches the spread of average users that I know.

That is, other than Windows ME users. I can count the number of ME users that I know with no hands. That's right, none. Thank God!
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
Ummm, you're forgetting something...
Microsoft doesn't particularly care if end-users upgrade to Vista. They don't have to. They have the OEM market to support them.

And while you've got a point with your user breakdown, it's beginning to dawn on the bulk of users that PCs can be great for TV viewing/recording, too, when they're properly equipped. XP Media Center Edition is pretty good for this, but Vista SHOULD be better. That's going to drive a LOT of upgrade business on its own.
Posted by Thunderbuck (62 comments )
Link Flag
Mostly right on
I totally agree with you except that you forgot about Mr. Gamer and Mr. Video Editor. Both of these constantly upgrade thier systems. Mr. Gamer is always after the fastest CPU and graphics card, Mr. Video editor wants faster CPU's and larger hard drives. Both might want Vista if it pushes the 64-bit world forward, as long as vista does not block Mr. video editor from doing what he wants. Otherwise it will be all Linux all the time.
Posted by Vaasman (9 comments )
Link Flag
right on it
First off, I am a MCP. However, sadly to say Microsoft has lost touch with the average user. Vista DOES seems to be a geek-tech (me) OS. The majority of users are like, vista? Hasta la vista more like it. If I were a consumer, just shelled out $1000-$3000 on a PC or laptop and could not run Vista, I would be extremely pissed. These delays on Office and Vista mean one thing. BUGS, and plenty of them. Even upon release, the new packages from Microsoft will not be ready. Look at the history over the past 10 years, hell 5. Well enough about my rant, of course I have a MSDN subscription, etc so Vista will be available to me, so will Office, and everythign else. To the average consumer shelling out mad money on PC's and software, will not happen. I do not think people will spend keeping up with the "Vista's" instead of on gas for the cars, food, rent, etc.
Posted by bhines5 (8 comments )
Link Flag
I know some might not care but Dell is offering Windows Vista for $150 extra. I wonder which version are they offering.
Posted by gcasale (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista Beta Tester
My computer is the epitome of hardware over-kill twin dual core Opteron 175, with 2GB of ram and 4GB of vram and my computer currently crawls on Vista and takes about 2 minutes to boot up(not including the bios) with nothing running. But on the same system XP Professional will load XP in 15 seconds with a lot of services running.
Posted by brokenantimatter (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh yea, well mine will boot in.....
Oh yea? Well, I've got an old Pentium laptop with 16 mb or ram and a 2 GB hard drive and it'll boot DOS 6.22 in less than 10 seconds. And I can even do better than that... I have an old 86' Atari ST with 512 KB of ram, an 8 Mhz motorola 68000 processor and a 20 MB hard drive with the OS on ROM that'll boot in 3 seconds.

Oh no! The older the get, the faster the booted!
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Get your money back....
...some one sold you a limited lemon.

I assume you have some knowledge on installing Vista, etc. so the
fault has to lie in the hardware.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
You're an idiot
I am not sure if you were trying to be serious or funny? But you came off as an idiot
Posted by brokenantimatter (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How the ratings scale will scale
"An open question is whether the system rating is a fixed score or whether it might change over time, as hardware advances."

In fact, this isn't an open question. It is clear that a scale whose metrics changed over time while the ratings remained static would not be useful to manufacturers of hardware or software or to the users.

The top end of the scale will continue to grow as hardware capabilities increase. This means that if a software manufacturer prints a box stating your PC must have a "3" rating in order to run the application, this will still be true in future years even as hardware advances. Perhaps your old "3" system will still be available for accounting, word processing and web browsing while you'll need a "7" system to run the latest immersive 3D gaming experience.
Posted by saska01 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
the truth about memory requirements
There has been a lot of comment about Vista's memory requirements, much of it ill-informed. Vista has the ability to address vastly more memory than XP but this in no way means it REQUIRES so much RAM! It is an ability provided by Microsoft to address the needs of high-end users and to provide headroom for future memory hungry technologies.

To read accurate, insider information about Vista's memory management, visit my forum at

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by bwallx (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
directx 10
the only reason i will get vista is for gaming. direct x10. im not an M$ fanboy, but they are forcing gamers like me to upgrade to play the latest games.
Posted by duke12aw (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ppl are f'd up
you all are mofo idiot create a os with a memory that u don't have to reley on
Posted by d420mofo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
vista new system tool
It still only see the system board graphics, not my 256MB graphic adapter, and does not see my 250GB External wd Hard drive. So it still needs to be updated but at least they are trying. Just hope they don't ship the finished product before it has been thoroughly tested and most of bugs taken out, not like windows millenetium, like i recommended and almost lost my job doing so. keep testing till you get it right.

Posted by rayjay19692 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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