Microsoft is considering a numeric ratings system for PCs for the upcoming version of Windows–The Operating System Formerly Known As Longhorn, that is. I believe it’s going to be called Windows LH.
I smell marketing.Basically the idea is that a PC will be assigned an arbitrary numeric rating between 1 and 5, based on how much CPU power, memory, and potentially how powerful the video card is. Then a piece of hardware will have a number on it, and software will have the same number. If a piece of software has a "5" on it, don’t expect it to run well on a $399 Emachine with a rating of "1".
The problem with this idea is that capabilities change. This year’s "5" PC is 2006’s "1" PC. Granted, PC capabilities aren’t growing by leaps and bounds the way they have for the past few years, and maybe this is an admission that CPU power has leveled off, but memory requirements aren’t going to level off, and hard disk speeds are doing anything but standing still. So this is still a system with built-in obsolesence. And it doesn’t even take into consideration the speed of the disk drives, which to me is still the most underrated component of system performance. If you’re not a gamer, you’re much better off with the cheapest PC you can buy, hot-rodded with the fastest hard drive you can find and some extra memory, than you are with a system with a fire-breathing CPU and the hottest new video card. Or just put the same drive and memory into your old one and keep it for another three years.
Old-fashioned system requirements are still the way to go, I believe.
But I suppose if this rating system goes through–which really should be conducted by an objective third party and not by the collusion of Microsoft and Intel–it’ll give me a chance to write a new book. So I guess I should be happy, eh?