By now, you've heard the scuttlebutt: Over the Christmas holiday, Microsoft teamed up with AMD and sent out Acer Ferrari laptops and Velocity Micro media center desktops loaded with 64-bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate edition to bloggers all over the world. Of course, the ether is now flooded with claims of bribery and payola by those who choose to view the acceptance of these systems as unethical behavior.
While I didn't receive one of these systems, I think that it's an awesome technology marketing scheme on Microsoft's part. However, I think that with all the hoopla about ethics, most folks seem to have missed the point—these systems are running a 64-bit version of Vista!
How many folks actually used the 64-bit edition of Windows XP? How many folks actually have computers with 64-bit processors that are fully capable of running the 64-bit version of Vista?
If Microsoft really wants to get the word out about the 64-bit version of the Windows Vista operating system, what better way to do that than to send a reviewer a really powerful computer with a 64-bit processor running the 64-bit version of Vista? If they just sent out the 64-bit version of Vista software, what would those people who only have computers with 32-bit processors do?
By receiving a fully loaded 64-bit system running the latest 64-bit operating system, these people will really be able to evaluate and write about the 64-bit experience. Isn't learning about Windows Vista's hardware requirements and the capabilities of Microsoft's most powerful operating system what most folks are interested in? I know that I am!
The 64-bit Windows Experience Index
I've written several articles over the past year about Windows Vista's hardware requirements and what used to be called the Windows System Performance Rating. (It's now called the Windows Experience Index.)
SoI was very glad to see that Scott Beale, who received one of the 64-bit Ferrari 1000s, posted several screen shots on his Web site of the System page that showed the computer's Windows Experience Index Rating.
At first I was surprised that such a beefy system—1.80 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 (dual-core processor) with 1 GB of RAM and a 160GB SATA hard drive—only received a Windows Experience Index base score of 2.8. Before seeing the screen shot, I would have bet good money that a system like that would be closer to a 4.
The second screen shot shows the Windows Experience Index breakdown. As you can see, the breakdown shows that the beefy RAM, processor and hard disk combination all received subscores way above the 4 I would have wagered on. However, the Graphics subscore is only 2.8. This low subscore is due to the fact that the Ferrari 1000 comes with an ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 integrated 3D graphics system with 128MB of shared memory. This really highlights that fact that even with a beefy RAM, processor, and hard disk combination, a lower-end graphics system, can still bring the overall Windows Experience Index rating down—even with a 64-bit operating system.
Ed Bott, who received one of the 64-bit Ferrari 5000's, posted a screen shot of the Windows Experience Index breakdown from that particular computer on his site. As you can see, the Ferrari 5000 has a Windows Experience Index base score of 4.8. The subscores for the RAM, processor, and hard disk are very close to those of the Ferrari 1000; however, the subscore for the graphics system is 4.9. This high score is because the Ferrari 5000 comes with an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 512 MB of memory—256 MB of dedicated GDDR3 VRAM, 256 MB of shared system memory. This indicates that a higher end graphics system can really bring the overall Windows Experience Index rating up to the subscore level of its breathren components.
Because Microsoft sent out those 64-bit Vista computers to people who would write about them, I learned something that I might not otherwise have known about. If you have comments or information to share about the 64-bit version of Windows Vista, the Windows Experience Index, or hardware requirements, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.