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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 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

Investigating the possibility of WebXPRT user accounts

One of our goals during the ongoing WebXPRT 4 development process is to be as responsive as possible to user feedback, and we want to emphasize that it’s not too late to send us your ideas. Until we finalize the details for each workload and complete the code work for the preview build, we still have quite a bit of flexibility around adding new features.

Just this week, a community member raised the possibility of a WebXPRT 4 feature that would enable user-specific test ID numbers or accounts. One possible implementation of the idea would allow a user to sign up for a WebXPRT test account as an individual or on behalf of their organization. The test accounts would be both free and optional; you could continue to run the benchmark without an account, but running it with an account would let you save and view your test history. Another implementation option we are considering would let users generate a permanent user ID number for themselves or their organization. They could then use that number to tag and search for their automated test runs in our database, without having to log into an account.

Our biggest question at the moment is whether our user base would be interested in WebXPRT user accounts or test IDs. If this concept piques your interest, or you have suggestions for implementation, please let us know!

Justin

Reports of CloudXPRT installation failures

Recently, CloudXPRT testers have reported installation failures while attempting to set up CloudXPRT on Ubuntu virtual machines with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. We have not yet determined whether the installation process fails consistently on these VMs or the problem occurs under only specific conditions. We believe these failures occur with only GCP and Azure, and you should still be able to successfully install and run CloudXPRT on both Amazon Web Services virtual machines and on-premises gear.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this issue causes for CloudXPRT testers and will let the community know as soon as we identify a reliable solution. If you have encountered any other issues during CloudXPRT testing, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

Using WebXPRT 3 to compare the performance of popular browsers (Round 3)

In November, we published our WebXPRT 3 browser performance comparison, so we decided it was time to see if the performance rankings of popular browsers have changed in the last nine months.

For this round of tests, we used the same laptop as last time: a Dell XPS 13 7930 with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and 4 GB of RAM running Windows 10 Home, updated to version 1909 (18363.1556). We installed all current Windows updates and tested on a clean system image. After the update process completed, we turned off updates to prevent them from interfering with test runs. We ran WebXPRT 3 three times each on five browsers: Brave, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. For each browser, the score we post below is the median of the three test runs.

In our last round of tests, the four Chromium-based browsers (Brave, Chrome, Edge, and Opera) produced very close scores, though we saw about a four percent lower score from Brave. In this round of testing, performance improved for all four of the Chromium-based browsers. Chrome, Edge, and Opera still produced very close scores, but Brave’s performance still lagged, this time by about seven percent.

Firefox separated itself from the pack with a much higher score and has been the clear winner in all three rounds of testing. During our second round of testing in November, every browser except for Chrome saw slightly slower performance than the first round. In these latest tests, all the Chromium-based browsers produced significantly higher scores than the second round. When discussing browser performance, it’s important to remember that there are many possible reasons for these performance changes—including changes in browser overhead or changes in Windows—and most users may not notice the changes during everyday tasks.

Do these results mean that Mozilla Firefox will always provide you with a speedier web experience? As we noted in previous comparisons, a device with a higher WebXPRT score will probably feel faster during daily use than one with a lower score. For comparisons on the same system, however, the answer depends on several factors, such as the types of things you do on the web, how the extensions you’ve installed affect performance, how frequently the browsers issue updates and incorporate new web technologies, and how accurately each browser’s default installation settings reflect how you would set up that browser for your daily workflow.

In addition, browser speed can increase or decrease significantly after an update, only to swing back in the other direction shortly thereafter. OS-specific optimizations can also affect performance, such as with Edge on Windows 10 or Chrome on Chrome OS. All these variables are important to keep in mind when considering how browser performance comparison results translate to your everyday experience. Do you have insights you’d like to share from using WebXPRT to compare browser performance? Let us know!

Justin

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