Windows Experience Index – in 8.1 – Where is it?

Win8 Experience Index (also Win7)

Introduction

Win8 Experience Index (also in Win7)
Win8 Experience Index (also in Win7)

Recently Microsoft announced  a bit of a climb down over its release of Windows 8.1 to MSDN developers (like me).  Their previous stand was for developers to get 8.1 at the same time as commercial release.

So I’ve had a look, installing it into a VirtualBox environment…

The focus of this article is on one difference, the Windows Experience Index, mine is shown in the screenshot in the top right.

Differences?

Win8 Control Panel
Win8 Control Panel

Well yes and no.  Apart from the much talked about “start” button (not) re-instatement, the control panel throws out some differences for sure (see screenshots)…

Win8.1 Control Panel
Win8.1 Control Panel

….. notably the Windows Experience Index (or Performance Indicator) (or Assessment), a Microsoft gauge of the “goodness” of your machine.

Well in Win 8.1, it’s gone!  See highlight…

Or Has It?

WinSat Usage
WinSat Usage -not all shown!

Actually, it’s still there under the command line…  All you need to do is add a switch (I chose ‘formal’ as it does the lot).

The actual file that does the work is called winsat.exe and it’s in the System32 folder.  Give it a ? switch from the command prompt and all it’s inner options and usages are revealed!  (see left)

So fire up your command line and run:

C:\Windows\system32\winsat.exe formal

…then watch the process stream past.

Results

There no nice GUI web report, of course.  The results are still there, tucked away (as they always were) as a set of XML files in the Windows directory.  Go to:

C:\Windows\Performance\WinSAT\DataStore

Win8.1 System Assessment Files (cmd process finished in background)
Win8.1 System Assessment Files (cmd process finished in background)

..to find them.  The screenshot right shows the files I’ve just created and you’ll see that the process has just finished in the Command Line window and that it took 2min 49.59 secs to run all the tests.

Examining Results

WinSat Win8.1 CPU Results
WinSat Win8.1 CPU Results

Running all assessments has produced 7 files.

The screenshot here on the left shows the end of the CPU one.

The time it took is plainly visible along with the plainly poor CPU assessment (well it is in a virtual environment after all!!)

Conclusion

Windows Performance Index is not dead and buried in the new Windows 8.1 – it’s only been buried.

Testing Windows 8 Developer Preview Version

Windows 8 Developer Preview

Win8 Dev Logon Screen
Win8 Dev Logon Screen

I’ve finally decided to test the next Windows edition, probably to be called Windows 8, although things like that are never certain in Microsoft-land.

Virtual Box

Win8 Dev VirtualBox Installation
Win8 Dev VirtualBox Installation

I did a Virtual Box install, which is fairly straightforward.  There are many tutorials on-line now which show how to do this, so I won’t do a walk-through. I installed the 64-bit version which I downloaded from MSDN using my licence.  You can get the installs from the Microsoft Website here, which come in ISO format.  You can also find out more from the horse’s mouth here.

You can also set aside a partition on your hard-drive and install to that.  However, Virtual Box is the safe way to go should the partition install fail and corrupt your current installation somehow.

What I will say, is to use more memory allocation to the virtual installation than recommended elsewhere or as the default,  and to use as many virtual processors as your host machine has.….. My machine is an AMD 955BE, which is quad-core running at around 3GHz.  In other words, if you don’t want it to run like treacle, give it plenty processor and memory room;  at least the recommended values for Windows 7.  You can see all of this in the VirtualBox settings screenshot above.

Fast Install (added 24/11/11))

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 time to upgrade
Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 time to upgrade

Microsoft, on their MSDN blog, have made a big thing about the rapid installation for Windows 8, particularly for the upgrade route.  See Improving the setup experience.  I can say now that the clean install into the VirtualBox environment was very fast….

Briefly:

  1. You make a virtual machine in Virtual Box
  2. You set it’s parameters – processors, memory size, footprint size, IDE/SATA storage etc
  3. You set the downloaded ISO image to boot from in the settings.
  4. You boot by “Starting” the virtual machine.
  5. You install Windows into the filespace that you’ve previously set aside for it – I gave it a dynamic sized 50Gb.
  6. After that, let windows do it’s thing.  It took 10 minutes or so.
  7. Let it reboot.
Win8 Dev Loggged On Screen
Win8 Dev Loggged On Screen

Following this, you get a green screen from which country specifics are added, a username and finally, you enter your Live.com identity, if you have one, and if you want to!

Appearance

It’s a big green screen.  I don’t have a touchscreen, but it’s obviously designed for one.  It has massive buttons to a host of online services like weather & stocks, plus a few to your computer’s functions.

Win8 Dev Logon Screen
Win8 Dev Logon Screen

If you log off, you get presented with an American Rockies vista of a lonely winding road.  Essentially, the entry into Windows 8 is like a smartphone.  But what’s it like beneath the surface?

Windows 7 Legacy, and Vista Too!

Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen
Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen

Obviously, this is a development preview release, and we can expect more of the same to come.

Win8 Dev Double Click Explorer Screen
Win8 Dev Double Click Explorer Screen

But most work has gone onto the main intro screen because beneath the surface, all the various apps and settings controls are the old (current) Windows 7 interface.

Bizarrely, some screens even have vestiges of the green Vista, notably the main screen itself.

Personally, I think it’s very, very dour.  I can’t believe that two years of effort has gone into doing something that Android does on a more than twice-annual cycle….

Win8 Dev Left Corner Hover Screen
Win8 Dev Left Corner Hover Screen

Accessing the menus is the most unintuitive thing I’ve seen for ages!  Following on from the impressive Windows 7, it’s truly not just a user let-down, but somewhat infuriating as well…….    Whereas previously I just typed into the run bar to do almost anything, now I can’t even find programs or files!   No doubt there’s a way – but after Win7, it’s not intuitive and not helpful either.

I hope that’s not the end of the run box, because that feature in Windows 7 is awesome.

Control Panel

Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen
Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen

I haven’t checked through many apps (except a few desktop ones like the weird child-like paint thing and the weather which won’t do anywhere except California) but this is the control panel.

Win8 Dev Control Panel More Settings Screen
Win8 Dev Control Panel More Settings Screen

You then drill-down to get the old Win7 control panel on “More Settings”.

Initial Investigation Ends

Well that’s it for now.   To say I’m un-impressed by the big green monstrous front doesn’t give my opinion justice.  There doesn’t appear to be an easy way out of the front-screen apps and to have an app made for a  3-inch screen sat on a 23 inch desktop monitor really demonstrates the infantile  apps for what they are.

Way back in the nineties Microsoft tried their in-house Microsoft Network (MSN) which was a disc install that gave you a black desktop that gave dial-up access to features giving almost the same as this big green toy-town monster.

Not happy.

Watch this space as I delve more….

Visual Studio 2008 Install Problems

As part of my day job, I get a (extremely valuable, it must be said, for which I’m very grateful) MSDN subscription. Recently, I’ve had trouble with Visual Studio.  It used to be 2005 and is now 2008.  They use the Team Foundation Server Developer Edition.  So I decided to re-install….  oh, dear.

After a lengthy download of the ISO image which is nearly 4Gb, it burned apparently okay, but informed me a cab file was corrupt on the install.  So I downloaded at home, which was a lot faster.

Now, on the home PC, I’ve tried 4 installs and it kicks out each time early on in the install process.  The first time I ended up with a weird install that disabled the windows firewall and made the taskbar look odd.

So I rolled back and started manually uninstalling things I thought would conflict…  Each install kicked out soon into the process.

After some time and heavy head scratching, I decided to google for something.    WOW!   I’m not alone.  There are literally trainloads of disgruntled Microsoft developers all fiddling around and getting more and more irate with M$.

Eventually I came upon my solution, and I think it’s the one that will work, which comes from the MSDN website, but not from the help!!!   Granted, a google search puts it top of the list, but if you are a developer and you know you’ve done something wrong and thus thinking as a developer, type “clean up prior to installing visual studio 2008”  into Google gives all the wrong answers.  :-?

The key, is to think like Microsoft help staff and uninstall previous installations in a specific order.  Only people with Asperger syndrome are going to remember this, so here’s are some links.

Uninstalling Previous Versions of Visual Studio 2008 – this is for pre-release versions of VS2008

Uninstalling Visual Studio 2008 – this is for full versions of VS2008.  This page also has a handy tool, a bit like the Symantech Tool for removing Norton, inspiringly called UninstallTool.exe I won’t supply the link, it’s on the page.

There are also links from the above for getting rid of VS2005 properly as well.  And for those with Asperger syndrome, here’s the list:

Manual uninstall instructions

  1. Go to the Control Panel and launch Add/Remove Programs
  2. Remove all instances of Visual Studio 2008/Codename Orcas products
  3. Remove any remaining supporting products in the specified order.
    1. Remove “MSDN Library for Visual Studio 2008”
    2. Remove “Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5”
    3. Remove “Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 Design Tools”
    4. Remove “Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 for Devices”
    5. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Performance Collection Tools”
    6. Remove “Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2 for Pocket PC”
    7. Remove “Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2 for Smartphone”
    8. Remove “Crystal Reports 2007”
    9. Remove “Visual Studio Asset System”
    10. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Web Authoring Component / Microsoft Web Designer Tools”
    11. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System Runtime”
    12. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System Runtime Language Pack” (non-English editions only)
    13. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Office Runtime 3.0”
    14. Remove “Microsoft Document Explorer”
    15. Remove “Microsoft Document Explorer 2005 Language Pack” (non-English editions only)
    16. Remove “Microsoft Device Emulator 3.0”
    17. Remove “Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 3.5”
    18. Remove “Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 2.0 SP1”
    19. Remove “.NET Framework 2.0 SDK”
    20. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Codename Orcas Remote Debugger”
    21. Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio 64bit Prerequisites Beta” (64-bit platforms only)
    22. Remove “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5”

Good Luck!

Addendum @ 18:30

No.  All the above wasn’t enough.  I’m not sure but it looks like I’ve got two corrupted ISO downloads of the Team thingy.  So…

  • I decided to just install the “Professional” edition which has all I need for now.
  • Before doing so I…
    • removed ALL DotNet i.e. 1 to 3.5 using the M$ tool dotnetfx_cleanup_tool.zip
    • removed all traces of VS using the above tools – again!
    • removed all the bits for Nero Burning software(v6 for me)
    • checked windows update for .. er .. updates, in case any were part of the cleaning process
    • disabled the anti-virus (NOD32)
    • Installed dotNet 3.5

This seems to have worked.  It’s just finishing off the MSDN Library as I type.  next step is another reboot and to install the VS2008 sp1…

ADSL, Pipex Blocks my Web Access, Weirdly!

I’ve got a weird problem with my internet access. I can access any website except my own, like this one!
Specifically, all my domains hosted at ixWebhosting, I can’t see from my PC or any other in the house using any browser.
I can access my domain host’s control panel, but bizarrely, the File Manager (Webshell3) is also blocked somehow…

I’ve finally managed to get some sort of access (which is how I’m writing this ;-) ) via an anonymous web proxy. Certain fancy things don’t work, like this post’s editor, but I’ve managed to get my plugins working after I’d previously deleted a few using an FTP client, CoreFTP.

So now it’s the weekend. I’m not paying 10p a minute or whatever to sit in a phone queue to Pipex, so I’ll have to wait till Monday for the normal support staff to read my curiously detailed emails that I’ve sent them…

In all this, the people at ixWebhosting were very good. I thought the problem lay with them in Columbus, Ohio initially, but they said everything worked at their end. This was using the neat live chat facility they have.
Later, I sent a standard support ticket message and got a reply detailing all the tests they’d done.

It was at this point I had the idea of looking at my sites via a proxy as I didn’t fancy a trip to the local internet cafe and my office is closed for the weekend!

I could also have posted from my backend mySQL database as I have all that functionality. It’s just weird. I reckon it’s a cronky caching process on the Pipex firewall…

Ah well! Watch this space for interezzzzzting developmentzzzzz………