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An early preview of the new WebXPRT 4 results viewer!

Last week, we shared some new details about the changes we’re likely to make in WebXPRT 4, and a rough target date for publishing a preview build. This week, we’re excited to share an early preview of the new results viewer tool that we plan to release in conjunction with WebXPRT 4. We hope the tool will help testers and analysts access the wealth of WebXPRT test results in our database in an efficient, productive, and enjoyable way. We’re still ironing out many of the details, so some aspects of what we’re showing today might change, but we’d like to give you an idea of what to expect.

The screenshot below shows the tool’s default display. In this example, the viewer displays over 650 sample results—from a wide range of device types—that we’re currently using as placeholder data. The viewer will include several sorting and filtering options, such as device type, hardware specs such as browser type and processor vendor, the source of the result, etc.

Each vertical bar in the graph represents the overall score of single test result, and the graph presents the scores in order from lowest to highest. To view an individual result in detail, the user simply hovers over and selects the bar representing the result. The bar turns dark blue, and the dark blue banner at the bottom of the viewer displays details about that result.

In the example above, the banner shows the overall score (250) and the score’s percentile rank (85th) among the scores in the current display. In the final version of the viewer, the banner will also display the device name of the test system, along with basic hardware disclosure information. Selecting the Run details button will let users see more about the run’s individual workload scores.

We’re still working on a way for users to pin or save specific runs. This would let users easily find the results that interest them, or possibly select multiple runs for a side-by-side comparison.

We’re excited about this new tool, and we look forward to sharing more details here in the blog as we get closer to taking it live. If you have any questions or comments about the results viewer, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

A clearer picture of WebXPRT 4

The WebXPRT 4 development process is far enough along that we’d like to share more about changes we are likely to make and a rough target date for publishing a preview build. While some of the details below will probably change, this post should give readers a good sense of what to expect.

General changes

Some of the non-workload changes in WebXPRT 4 relate to our typical benchmark update process, and a few result directly from feedback we received from the WebXPRT tech press survey.

  • We will update the aesthetics of the WebXPRT UI to make WebXPRT 4 visually distinct from older versions. We do not anticipate significantly changing the flow of the UI.
  • We will update content in some of the workloads to reflect changes in everyday technology. For instance, we will upgrade most of the photos in the photo processing workloads to higher resolutions.
  • In response to a request from tech press survey respondents, we are considering adding a looping function to the automation scripts.
  • We are investigating the possibility of shortening the benchmark by reducing the default number of iterations from seven to five. We will only make this change if we can ensure that five iterations produce consistently low score variance.

Changes to existing workloads

  • Photo Enhancement. This workload applies three effects to two photos each (six photos total). It tests HTML5 Canvas, Canvas 2D, and JavaScript performance. The only change we are considering is adding higher-resolution photos.
  • Organize Album Using AI. This workload currently uses the ConvNetJS neural network library to complete two tasks: (1) organizing five images and (2) classifying the five images in an album. We are planning to replace ConvNetJS with WebAssembly (WASM) for both tasks and are considering upgrading the images to higher resolutions.
  • Stock Option Pricing. This workload calculates and displays graphic views of a stock portfolio using Canvas, SVG, and dygraph.js. The only change we are considering is combining it with the Sales Graphs workload (below).
  • Sales Graphs. This workload provides a web-based application displaying multiple views of sales data. Sales Graphs exercises HTML5 Canvas and SVG performance. The only change we are considering is combining it with the Stock Option Pricing workload (above).
  • Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan. This workload uses ASM.js to sync notes, extract text from a scanned receipt using optical character recognition (OCR), and add the scanned text to a spending report. We are planning to replace ASM.js with WASM for the Notes task and with WASM-based Tesseract for the OCR task.
  • Online Homework. This workload uses regex, arrays, strings, and Web Workers to review DNA and spell-check an essay. We are not planning to change this workload.

Possible new workloads

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP). We are considering the addition of an NLP workload using ONNX Runtime and/or TensorFlowJS. The workload would use Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) to answer questions about a given text. Similar use cases are becoming more prevalent in conversational bot systems, domain-specific document search tools, and various other educational applications.
  • Message Scrolling. We are considering developing a new workload that would use an Angular or React.js to scroll through hundreds of messages. We’ll share more about this possible workload as we firm up the details.

The release timeline

We hope to publish a WebXPRT 4 preview build in the second half of November, with a general release before the end of the year. If it looks as though that timeline will change significantly, we’ll provide an update here in the blog as soon as possible.

We’re very grateful for all the input we received during the WebXPRT 4 planning process. If you have any questions about the details we’ve shared above, please feel free to ask!

Justin

A potential fix for the CrXPRT 2 battery life test error

For the past few months, we’ve been recommending that CrXPRT 2 testers not use the battery life test until we find a solution to a recurring error on Chrome v89.x and later. The error prevents the test from completing and producing a battery life estimate. Sometimes, the CrXPRT battery life test stops running after only a few workload iterations, while at other times, it almost reaches completion before producing the error.

We are cautiously optimistic that we’ve identified both the problem and a potential fix. We believe the problem stems from fluctuations in the time it takes the benchmark to communicate with Chrome to collect and store battery life information. While we haven’t identified the root cause of the fluctuations, adjusting the CrXPRT code to make it less sensitive to the fluctuations appears to be an effective fix. We have incorporated those adjustments into an updated, unpublished version of the app package, and we can now complete CrXPRT 2 battery life tests on Chrome v89.x and later with no failures.

We are calling this a potential fix because we’re still testing across several different Chromebook models to ensure consistency. In some testing, the variance in estimated battery life results has been a little higher than we like, so we’re taking time to determine whether that variance is present across all systems or on only specific hardware.

We’d like to apologize once again for the inconvenience that this error is causing CrXPRT 2 testers. As soon as we better understand the viability of the current fix as a long-term update, we’ll let you know!

Justin

A note about Adobe PSE and HDXPRT 4

During recent Windows 11 HDXPRT 4 compatibility testing, we noticed that Adobe now requires a user ID to download the free Adobe Photoshop Elements 2020 trial. Previously, testers could download the trial without setting up an account. While setting up an Adobe account is free, this change might inconvenience some HDXPRT 4 testers. Unfortunately, we don’t currently know of a way around it. We apologize for the hassle!

Justin

Following up on XPRT compatibility with Windows 11

Last week, we discussed the upcoming Windows 11 GA launch on October 5, and our hope is that the transition period from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will go smoothly for the three XPRTs that run on Windows 10, HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT. We’re happy to report that so far, we’ve been able to install HDXPRT 4 and TouchXPRT 2016 on the latest stable preview of Windows 11 without any problems. For TouchXPRT 2016, we successfully installed the benchmark using both available methods—directly from the Microsoft Store and through the manual sideload process—and ran it without issues.

We’re still testing Windows 11 compatibility with the AIXPRT OpenVINO, TensorFlow, and TensorRT test packages, and will share our findings here in the blog as soon as possible. Also, because Microsoft might still publish through the stable preview channel Windows 11 changes that interfere with the HDXPRT 4 or TouchXPRT 2016 installation or testing processes, we’ll continue to verify each benchmark’s Windows 11 compatibility up through and beyond launch day.

If you’re conducting your own HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, or AIXPRT testing on the Windows 11 beta, you could encounter issues with newly published updates before we do due to the timing of our update cycles. You could also run into problems that are specific to your test gear. In either case, please don’t assume that we already know about the problem. Let us know!

Justin

Testing XPRT compatibility with Windows 11

Last week, Microsoft announced that the Windows 11 GA build will officially launch Tuesday October 5, earlier than the initial late 2021 estimate. The update will start rolling out with select new laptops and existing Windows 10 PCs that satisfy specific system requirements, and only some Windows 10 PCs will be eligible for the update right away. Through a phased Windows Update process, additional Windows 10 PCs will be able to access the update throughout the first half of 2022.

Between the phased Windows 11 rollout and the pledge Microsoft has made to continue Windows 10 support through October 2025, it will likely be a while before the majority of Windows users transition to the new version. We hope the transition period will go smoothly for the XPRTs. However, because we designed three of our benchmarks to run on Windows 10 (HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT), we might encounter compatibility issues with Windows 11.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be testing HDXPRT 4, TouchXPRT 2016, and AIXPRT on beta versions of Windows 11, and we’ll test again after the GA launch. In addition to obvious compatibility issues and test failures, we’ll note any changes we need to make to our documentation to account for differences in the Windows 11 installation or test processes.

We hope that testers will be able to successfully use all three benchmarks on both OS versions throughout the transition process. If problems arise, we will keep our blog readers informed while exploring solutions. As always, we’re also open to feedback from the community, so if you are participating in the Windows Insider Program and have encountered Windows 11 beta compatibility issues with any of the Windows-focused XPRTs, please let us know!

Justin

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