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….

Windows 7 Impressive First Experience

Windows 7 Ultimate Install

To say that I’m seriously impressed is an understatement!

Having an MSDN subscription confers certain benefits, but for most Microsoft stuff that I have to use, it’s usually an exercise in teeth-gritting somewhere from the banal to the infuriating as I plod on through.

My personal experience of Vista comes into the latter which is why I’ve never used it and have stuck with XP… like most professionals in the Windows camp have done.

Windows Experience 2.0

Win7 1st install showing it working on minimal system specifications
Win7 1st install showing it working on minimal system specifications

Having only 2 x 256MB memory sticks in my old main-board, and because of it’s on-board graphics there’s only 383MB spare for the operating system, I installed the thing onto a bit of spare hard-drive (an old Samsung 160GB IDE) and was amazingly surprised by the ease of the install…

  • XP is still there and appears on the new boot menu.
  • Networking worked out of the box and I flipped between the configurations with absolute ease.
  • All the drivers were installed straight from the Microsoft website:
    • ATI Radeon system and graphics
    • Realtek sound and network
  • Once drivers were updated, the monitor was detected and set up automatically.
  • The networked HP All-in-One printer installed in seconds…
  • The new taskbar/start-menu right-click pinning works like a charm.
  • IE8 is installed by default and Firefox can be installed and defaulted without any bother
  • I even like the new  way of classifying user files and the concept of “libraries” is intuitive and easy to use and understand.

Absolutely amazing – even the aero interface works!

Windows 7 system requirements
Windows 7 system requirements

For a bit extra speed, the aero has been turned off in the “Themes” area.  Also, I don’t actually like it that much, but that’s just me I guess. More importantly, my system is well below the Microsoft Minimum System Requirements – I only installed it for a laugh and to see what would happen!

You’ll see in the screen-dump above, (which contrasts markedly with the Microsoft Minimum recommendations), that windows rates the system as 2.0 – it recommends 3.0 for the Aero interface.  What I plan to do is stick 1GB of memory in the spare slots from my other PC, and then put new giblets in that one’s box.  I intend to make that one a 4-core 64-bit platform to play with this new Microsoft OS….  Reaper should work fantastically!

Windows Experience

It’s truly an order of magnitude better than Vista and 5x better than XP!

In actual fact, it’s more like the jump from 3.1 to Win98.  I have actually been smiling at how good it is! The effort Microsoft has put in seems to have been worth it – this same install that I’ve just done is supposed to work on netbooks with ARM processors!  In fact, the claim that file-copying is faster on a Win7 Arm laptop than WinXP is probably true – I just copied several gigs of user files from the old partition which went extremely quickly.

All this copying was done after installing Office 2007 Ultimate and ESET’s NOD32 antivirus software (which works much better than on WinXP, by the way).  Microsoft’s Defender is installed and runs by default – it’s a spyware catcher and doesn’t seem to slow stuff up.

However, to show how impressed I am, the copying was done while Windows/Microsoft Update downloaded ~300MB of updates!!!  Before the copying was finished, the long process (about 20mins) of installing the updates had begun…

This is some serious disc and processor activity, I can tell you – and all done on a single 64-bit processor running in 32-bit mode in 383 of system memory!  It never missed a beat or got confused once!

In fact, during the copying, it prompts for Videos/Pictures & Music, which were previously in the \My Documents\My Music\ etc path to go into their correct library!…..   It’s the little touches like this, plus the sensible ease of installing programs (goodbye to Vista mad-clickitty-click HELL) that has put oodles of polish onto an already robust and comforting experience.

Conclusion

  • I’m typing this as Win7 is de-fragmenting the old partition.
  • I’m doing it from within Firefox (running the Web-Developer, Screengrab and British Dictionary plugins)….

……so you’ll guess that I’m impressed by this serious bit of software kit.  With another Gig of Crucial Ballistix memory it should fly even more and be good for another three years!

Finally: Never in a million years could I have dreamed of praising Microsoft so much!!!

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…

More Chips Off the ID Card Block

Chip ‘n Pin Fails to Stop Criminals

Yesterday’s news that the UK banks’ Chip ‘n Pin card security system has been (easily) cracked is yet more evidence that ID Cards will be a colossal waste of money and a major plough through our freedoms and liberties.  The only people hurt by the scheme will be normal, average, citizens trying to go about their daily lives.

The crooks will just by-pass it.  Just like the Chip ‘n Pin cards in most people’s pockets.

Device ‘steals chip-and-pin data’ – BBC

Raid turns up chip and pin card fraud – FT

The system used by Apacs cost £1.1 billion three years ago.  So far, the UK High St losses have fallen from £218million per annum to £73million per annum, that is, a maximum saving of £435million – so the system hasn’t even paid for itself yet! In actual fact, all the savings are swallowed up by the increase in card fraud abroad, which doesn’t use C ‘n P.

Criminal Spam

This Marshal article, Spam Volume Doubles and Is More Likely to Be Malicious points another way that security systems are easily breached by criminals, usually, for financial gain.

Marshal says that 90% of all spam comes from just seven botnets!  These control >105 computers that are used for many nefarious schemes by really nasty men.  Nowadays, a large part of the spam I see is carrying a trojan payload to set up my machine as another ‘bot in the network.  Social and other methods are used to tempt me to open attachments.  I have stuff spoofing MSDN with the latest news and others that say I have a nice eCard ready to be opened.  All have attachments or point to hacked websites that carry the package.

I had a test today – NOD32 & Firefox 3 both trapped them.  IE7 hung for ages thinking about them.  Say no more…

My point is that it looks like the criminals are starting to use network computers as a form of “Distributed Computing“.  If the normal methods of cloning and reverse engineering don’t provide a solution for them (like in Birmingham yesterday), then the vast power used by SETI for example, can be easily harnessed with or without the machine owners permission or knowledge, to provide a formidable code cracking tool.

What would they want to crack?  Anything that makes money!  Forged ID Cards are a start.

Remember.  Any security system made by man can be broken.  All it takes is time – or lots of examples of the target….

There will be millions of ID Cards floating about.  The usual way to start cracking into a code is to find repetetive sequences, and the more examples there are, then the more chances of finding some relevant sequences to open the gates.

Saying all that, the main weak spots are humans and their behaviour.  And this all goes against having ID Cards as a “defence” against terror and immigration and more as an attack on all our freedoms which have taken so long to accumulate.