After installing Windows Vista on my new machine I discovered the Windows Experience Index, a numerical measure of how well a computer system will be able to run Windows Vista and other software. This is a pretty cool feature if it measures something useful, and despite disparaging comments around the net it appears that it does.

The Windows® Experience Index is a new feature built into Windows Vista™. It is designed to help consumers understand how well Windows Vista and the software running on it will perform on a specific PC. The index achieves this by assessing the performance of the PC and assigning a score to it. The higher the score, the better the PC will perform.

The overall PC performance is represented by the base score. The base score is derived from 5 sub-scores for each of the following 5 attributes:

- Processor: calculations per second

- Memory: operations per second

- Graphics: desktop performance for Windows Aero graphics

- Gaming graphics: 3D graphics performance. Useful for gaming and 3D business applications

- Primary hard disk: The data transfer rate of the primary hard disk

The numbers are determined by actual tests run on your system, not by just looking at the types of components you have installed. The goal is that the scores for a given system will stay constant unless the hardware is changed, so future systems with new technology will be able to be compared on an ever-expanding scale. Good idea, if implemented properly.

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