I know or understand that you read a lot, Paul and you may have read all of these. I have not read all comments etc. on all blogs <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> but still some links for the subject at hand:
November 1, 2008 at Ed Bott's blog:
January 19, 2009 by Michael Fortin at Engineering Windows 7:
January 29, 2009 by Paul Thurrott at his SuperSite for Windows:
I can't find it now, but I have seen some people mention the same thing you see, change for the disk in Windows 7 beta, perhaps in the comments at Engineering Windows 7. I can't compare.
I agree quite a bit with Paul Thurrott; when it came WEI seemed to be like an index for customers to compare there HW with software and game requirements, something like that was it presented as in the early Vista days. But as Paul Thurrott says, and puts it very well:
<hr>Today, there isn't a PC being sold that can't run Windows Aero, and of course Windows 7 runs better on lower-end hardware than does Windows Vista. It's hard to understand, then, what the point is of continuing to measure relative hardware performance when the provided scores don't, in fact, relay any meaningful information about the performance of your PC. When you couple this with the removal of some tools that would be quite helpful for measuring and changing PC performance--the Software Explorer from Windows Defender come immediately to mind--the continuation of Windows Experience Index in Windows 7 is all the more confusing. That Microsoft has actually spent time updating the scoring system is even more curious.But I agree with you completely that one can be curious about why a difference, apart from the changed index scale.
Forced to guess, it appears that WEI is actually designed primarily as a tool for Microsoft to obtain valuable data about the hardware on which Windows is run. It offers only negligible value to consumers, and has likely caused more than a few unnecessary hardware upgrades.<hr>