Part II: The Windows Experience Index
What is the Windows Experience Index?
“My computer is a 5.5. Yours is a 4.8. My computer is way better than yours!”
This just might be the future of technology bragging on the elementary school playground.
The Windows Experience Index is a technology, native to Windows Vista machines, that assigns a numeric value to the performance of a computer. The higher the number, the faster that computer can perform common tasks.
Windows Vista runs 5 different tests to determine the performance of the processor, memory, graphics, gaming graphics and primary hard disk. At the conclusion of each test, a number (from 1 to 5.9) is assigned to that component.
The most important of those numbers is whichever is the lowest. That number becomes the Windows Experience Index Base Score. For example, my monster of a desktop ranks 5.9 for 4 components and 5.5 for the fifth. That makes the system’s base score a 5.5.
When you discuss a Windows Experience Index score, it is the base score that you concentrate on since it is the limiting factor for performance.
The Windows Vista Team Blog offers a comprehensive look at the Windows Experience Index.
Besides bragging rights (notice how I shamelessly included my base score), what good is the Windows Experience Index to a real estate agent? The Windows Experience Index will simplify every real estate technology purchase you make.
New Computer Purchases:
Purchasing a new computer is a confusing task. How do you know what processor to buy? Is the upgraded video card necessary or a waste of money? The list of questions that will flood your mind when you are buying a new computer is virtually endless.
The Windows Experience Index allows you to ignore clock speeds, dedicated memory and all of that technical mumbo-jumbo. Just look at the Windows Experience Index scores to tell you how that system performs.
Microsoft claims that a computer with a base score of 3 or higher will be able to handle any standard business applications. I see this as a bare minimum.
The real estate industry has become so multimedia driven that a base score of 4.5 or better is advised. The future of real estate technology lies in video presentations and audio files (podcasting). These technologies need a higher base score.
The good news: the price difference between a 4.5 and a 3.0 computer can be only a couple of hundred dollars.
Upgrading a Computer:
As I mentioned in my last article, I don’t recommend upgrading a computer to Windows Vista, it should be purchased with it already on the system. You may be in a situation, though, where you purchased a Windows Vista that just isn’t meeting your performance needs.
The Windows Experience Index identifies what components are holding your system back. I worked on a system with a base score of 2.1. Every other index score was at least a 4.1. By replacing the video card with a more powerful model, that awful 2.1 base score was increased to a 4.1.
Ever look at the minimum hardware requirements for a piece of software? Those requirements will usually list minimum processor speeds, video card processors, amounts of RAM, etc.
Software manufacturers are changing this practice by using the Windows Experience Index number instead. In the future, the software you buy will clearly state that any Vista machine with a base score of 4 will meet the minimum requirements.
A little known tip for increasing your Windows Experience Index number.
According to Microsoft, once your computer is assigned a Windows Experience Index number, that number won’t change unless you upgrade your hardware components. I have seen to be not true.
When Windows Vista was first released, most hardware manufacturers had a difficult time writing Vista-compatible drivers for their products. The delivery of my own system was delayed by a month due to a delay in the release of a sound card driver. Even after I got the machine, my video card drivers were considered a “beta” version.
Over the course of the past year, hardware manufacturers have greatly improved the performance of their components on Vista through the release of updated drivers. This means that by updating the BIOS and drivers for your chipset, video card, sound card and other components on your system, you might see your computer’s base score increase (along with the performance of the machine). This is especially true of Vista machines bought in the first half of 2007.
To see if you can increase your Windows Experience Index base score, visit your computer manufacturer’s downloads page and install any updates that apply to your system. To assist you, here is a list of download page links for the most common computer manufacturers: