After running Windows Vista (build 5365) on my Toshiba M4 machine and as I mentioned in a previous post, the performance and the overall user experience is far better than in any previous build I've been using so far.
I'm currently exploring Windows Vista from an end-user perspective; more than from a developer perspective.
One of the screens that has been greatly improved - not only the design but also the information shown - is the system properties window. It can be accessed by right-clicking on Computer and then Properties.
This screen has four sections. But especially the second section is interesting. An overview.
Windows Edition: this part tells you which version of Windows Vista you're running. In my case it's the Ultimate SKU. The Ultimate version is the flagship edition of Windows Vista across consumer and small business desktop PCs and mobile PCs. The primary user of Windows Vista Ultimate is the individual, such as a small business owner, who has a single PC to use both at home and at work. This edition includes all of the features available in Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Enterprise. The Ultimate SKU combines the advanced infrastructure of a business-focused operating system, the productivity of a mobility-focused operating system, and the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused operating system. For users who want their PC to be great for working at home, on the go, and at the office, this SKU of the OS provides it all.
All info on the Windows Vista SKUs can be found on the Windows Vista: The Versions.
System: this section gives the user an insight in the processor, memory and functionality of the PC. It also lets you access the new Performance Center which help you understand your PC’s performance characteristics and manage and troubleshoot performance-related issues.
Most interesting part of the Performance Center is the Windows System Performance Rating (WinSPR). It helps you understanding the characteristics of your PC’s processor, memory, graphics card, and storage—and how these capabilities interact. The Windows System Performance Rating (WinSPR) is a simple, numeric rating system that helps you understand the performance capabilities of your Windows Vista PC and the software you want to run on your machine. WinSPR also indicates whether your PC is capable of running Windows Vista’s more performance-oriented capabilities, such as the new Aero user interface, multiple monitors, and HDTV Personal Video Recording functions—all of which have minimum performance requirements. The WinSPR rating is determined by the built-in system assessment tool "Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSAT.exe)", which runs tests on your machine’s hardware and converts the results into a numeric performance rating of your system. The test specifically looks at your machine’s processor, memory, hard disk, general graphics capability, and gaming graphics capability.
This shows the Performance Center Rating for my Toshiba Tecra M4.
As a test I ran the Windows System Assessment Tool (Winsat.exe) on two different systems.
The first system is a Toshiba TabletPC (Tecra M4). It shows an overall rating of 2. Strange because when calculating the average it returns 3,66. The system rating is always an integer value of “1”, “2”, “3”, “4” or “5”. It is the minimum of the integer portions of the sub scores. Note there's still a bug in build 5365 on the memory reporting. But that one has already been fixed in newer builds.
The second system is a Acer Ferrari F4000 laptop. This 64-bit AMD system shows an overall rating of 3.
The results for the Acer Ferrari F4000.
In practice both machines run very well with this build, despite the rating difference.You could ask of course if that is useful if you don't experience any difference...
But, yes it is useful. Especially for ISVs building software on top of Windows Vista. The rating allows ISVs to display the WinSPR rating on their application packaging, indicating what level of performance is needed for their software to work well on a Windows Vista PC. Because certain Windows Vista features and third-party applications will work only if your machine meets certain hardware requirements, a new Windows System Performance Rating (WinSPR) scale helps you understand how your PC measures up and whether those features and applications will work on your machine.
Computer Name, Domain and Workgroup Settings: This section lets you change the name of the computer or join a domain. Joining a domain is only available for the Business, Enterprise or Ultimate versions.
Windows Activation: Activate your version of Windows Vista by using genuine Microsoft software. This proves that your software is legitimate and fully supported by Microsoft.