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Microsoft

"Levels" of Computers the Future? 635

RabidMoose writes "Gamespot has an article up talking about a recent interview with Microsofts's Dean Lester about the future of PC gaming (as well as Xbox 2 tidbits). Basically, they're in contact with the big hardare producers about transitioning to a system of tagging pre-made computers with "levels". He provided a hypothetical example that a PC with a "level 5" designation might have a medium processor speed, amount of RAM, and mid-range video card, while a "level 7" PC might have a faster processor, more RAM, and a higher-end video card."
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"Levels" of Computers the Future?

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  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) <homerun@gmail.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:52PM (#10332992)
    A level system would be bastardized very quickly. There are so many possible permutations of hardware combinations that it would be difficult to even come up with general levels. You would instantly run into, for example, "Level 5 with the video card of a level 8." or "Level 7 but double the ram," ect., etc. You might also end up with "flavors" of a level such as maybe Dell's idea of a Level 5 ends up better than Compaq's. Once again, as I have often had occasion to say with regards to these type of ideas, we have a solution in search of a problem.

    -erick

    • by DVDAshot ( 723971 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:54PM (#10333024)
      Here here. Here's a solution. Why don't we just continue to call it what it is. Why does Microsoft feel the need to try to dumb down everything that has to do the PC.
      • by RazzleFrog ( 537054 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:56PM (#10333077)
        This may be taken as a troll but it really is to compete with Apple. Apple long ago learned that some people just want a machine without having to know every spec.
        • by Chess_the_cat ( 653159 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:03PM (#10333234) Homepage
          It's true. Consoles are the same way. Sometimes you want to buy a machine that will just run whatever is out there. If you buy a Gamecube or an iMac you can be pretty sure that whatever you grab off the shelf will run on it. As it stands in the PC market you might overlook a spec or two and then be disappointed in the future because you forgot to check what the standard video card specs were for your machine.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:09PM (#10333336)
            Video cards are really a great example. Did you get the FX or the MX. Is it LE, SE, Pro, or Ultra? 64, 128, or 256? AGP 4x, 8X, or PCI?
          • by emag ( 4640 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMgurski.org> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:20PM (#10333497) Homepage
            Even if you don't overlook a spec or two, wait a year, and you'll be disappointed. The difference between PCs and consoles/iMacs (at least in this case), is the difference between a diverse group of vendors constantly developing new technologies (revolutionary or evolutionary) vs single vendors who have a complete lock on the platform, keeping it static for years at a time.

            So what happens is, developers keep taking advantage of the latest and greatest video/sound/whatever in the PC world, where your equipment quickly becomes obsolete and the PC you got last Christmas has trouble running the games released this week, while developers for console systems and the like have a strictly-defined set of unchanging hardware (until the next replacement comes out), and so of COURSE everything for console Y or an iMac that you grab off the shelf is guaranteed to run....it's all for (arguably) obsolete hardware...
            • by severoon ( 536737 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @05:16PM (#10334887) Journal

              I don't get it. We have levels right now...we just don't call them "levels".

              What's the point of adding another "level" of indirection in this process? Also, it's possible that you'll get manufacturers that try to exploit the interference between components. I have a crap processor and motherboard, so it should be in a level 3, but I've doubled the RAM and hard disk size expected for a level 3 machine, so it's actually a level 5 now. But run it up against any other level 5 machine, and it sucks.

              Of course, we could solve this problem by creating a telephone book-sized standard that declares the minimum requirements necessary for each level. They'll have to settle on something that will flow along with time...the minimum requirements for a level 5 will change on a month-to-month basis. And then as people become dependent on this mindless system, and we get unethical manufacturers falsely advertising the levels of their hardware, we'll have to get Congress to start passing laws forbidding that kind of thing.

              Actually, I'm starting to change my mind on this levels thing. If we work it right, we could snarl up major corporations and the government to the tune of billions of dollars and years of effort. Maybe if we distract them with this, they won't have time to keep messing up the important stuff in life.

        • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:22PM (#10333538)
          If so, they won't care about the numeric levels any more than they'd care about the detailed specs.

          They'll be:

          Does it have a monitor?
          Does it have internet access?
          Does it let me type letters?

          They won't be the ones asking if level 5 PC's support playing doom 3 at 1600x1200x32-4xaa-8xans
      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:41PM (#10333797) Homepage Journal
        Ever hear of MPC? It let "multimedia" designers establish a standard below which their software would not work. However this is horribly misguided (the levels, not MPC) because you'd have to have a new set of levels every year.
      • "Why does Microsoft feel the need to try to dumb down everything that has to do the PC."

        Have you gone shopping for a game lately? I've been out of touch about video card specs lately, now it's like "uhh... well I hope it works."

        There's a difference between 'dumbing down' and 'making things easier'.
    • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:55PM (#10333054)

      I completely agree. And it would be even worse than that.

      Let's say that today, right now, the very best PC you can get is a level 10. Then, let's wait a year.

      See where I'm going? What'll next year's very best be? A level 11? The system will wind up looking like Spinal Tap's amplifiers.

      "No, mate. My PC goes to 11."

      • by rnelsonee ( 98732 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:46PM (#10333870)
        We could use a logarithmic scale.

        Hmm... I kind of meant this to be a joke, but it would work. Use something like 1.5-base log where a 2 is 1.5x better than 1. A level 20 would be 437x faster, and by then something else would've come along....

        The end consumer could care less about log scales. They might not understand them, but they're used in other things right now without complaint (Richter scale, dB levels...)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        From "This is Spinal Tap"

        Nigel Tufnel : The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
        Marty DiBergi : Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
        Nigel Tufnel : Exactly.
        Marty DiBergi : Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
        Nigel Tufnel : Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from
    • The point of levels would be that people would be able to quickly determine which level would be suitable for their task. If there is a standardized convention, if you will, then levels will be similar across the board and not vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. I think it's a good idea, but tough to implement.

      • If there is a standardized convention, if you will, then levels will be similar across the board and not vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer

        Ah yes. I can see it now. Large companies will be able to shift the blame for bad coding to insufficient hardware. In the clamor for overall product quality the politicians will establish a certification system. With hardware certification will come lockin and subsidy similar to automobile or airplane manufacturers.

        Say goodbye to modular cards and custo
    • Not to mention that any present level designation would get dated really quickly. Today's level 7 would only qualify as a level 5 in two years.

      Unless, of course, they propose to make the level designation open-ended, which means that in 10 years, level 22 would be the midrange.
      • From my read on this, the "level" would be something broadcast from the bios, so as to protect users from trying to run incompatible software on their system and complaining when it doesn't work. Just watch. This means there will be games that refuse to run on your "Level unidentified" system.
    • by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:04PM (#10333250)
      Ooh, I think we may be missing the point.

      Think about how some cars are sold with option packages: I couldn't get the parking system I wanted ($300) without getting the GPS system I didn't want ($1200).

      So maybe the whole thing here is that you _cannot_ have a Level 3 computer with a Level 8 card -- that it's a bundle, and you have to go with an L8 computer if you want an L8 card even if all you want the L8 desig for is just the card, not the CPU.

      Add to that some sort of ability to limit in BIOS what you can use ("this is an L3 computer. It may only have video cards that are 33MHz or slower and 32Mb of less of RAM") and you essentially kill modding of the most moddable (is that a word?) platform around! Then, you don't necessarily need to build an 'XBox' to do one thing and a 'PC' to do another and be afraid people will take the XBox and turn it into a computer -- you just sell an L2 (of a certain form factor) that can't be upgraded.

      I hope these are just paranoid delusions ...
      • As long as places like ASUS, ABIT, MSI, and Chaintech are around, I doubt that this will happen. They seem to take that rebellious attitude in their hardware design: coloring their motherboards, adding bright LED's, using funky fans and heat sinks, and allowing easy overclocking through the bios. Any sort of encouragement by MS to move to a boring All-your-base type of arrangement would be lost on deaf ears to them.

        People who build their own machines usually go with these manufacturers as well. If your

  • so (Score:5, Funny)

    by TupperTrenine ( 803932 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:52PM (#10332996)
    How much experience do I need to level up to a Radeon x800?
  • by Artie_Effim ( 700781 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:52PM (#10332997)
    In the futuire MY PC will go to 11.
  • by Scythr0x0rs ( 801943 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:52PM (#10332998)
    level 1 - gets you to the moon level 2 - gets you back level 42 - runs BSD level 65 - runs windows level 66 - runs windows, but crashes are faster level 468 - runs doom 3 with full shadowing (black and white) level 469 - runs doom 3 with full shadowing (color)
  • Remember MPC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fez ( 468752 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:53PM (#10333012)
    They already tried this before... There was the "Multimedia PC" (MPC) spec that had level 1, 2, 3, etc based on whether or not your PC had a CD-ROM, sound card, graphics capable of 800x600 and so on.

    This was back in the days of Windows 3.1, even.
    • Re:Remember MPC? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:41PM (#10333796) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, I was going to mention this. It died pretty quickly. The problem was that applications often require certain components to be faster/better (your application may be MMC1, except you needed 8MB of RAM so you were stuck with the MMC3 designation). People who had computers that would run your software (and otherwise generate a sale) were scared away because they only had a 2xCD-ROM (leaving them at the MMC2 level). I think the hardware also changed too fast for the MMC guys to keep up (especially when 3D video cards/games started appearing on the market).
  • MPC, Take Two? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Serk ( 17156 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:53PM (#10333014) Homepage
    In other words, they're trying to bring the "MPC" standards from the early 90's back?

    http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/M/MPC.html [webopedia.com]

  • Level ONE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:53PM (#10333016) Homepage Journal
    Well, by God I want a Level ONE computer. Is not that what all geeks will aspire to? On a serious note, this proposal is going to run into some problems with the definition and quantification of just what is "A computer". For instance, we are not far off from having multiple core CPUs on one chip which gives many software vendors massive headaches. Additionally, the concept of clustering (I favor xGrid myself) shows the problem as well. Are you defining a level designation per task? per installation? per "box"? Honestly this smacks of marketing speak that is designed to sell discrete "game" packages and I am inclined to dismiss it as such unless somebody can more clearly define why this is necessary or why this has applicability beyond the gaming market. I suppose that if you could "quantify" the nature of the task in terms of how much "horsepower" or throughput a given computer system is capable of then one could apply it to something other than a game. But the problem is often not CPU limited unless you are dealing with large calculations which occupy big iron many hours to days to weeks and even when working with games you have the problem of perception. One could establish I suppose a lower limit of 30fps on any given resolution and then that will dictate what level of hardware was needed to maintain that frame-rate, but even then there are going to be other issues.....shading......polygon counts.....ray tracing.....etc....etc....etc.....

    At any rate, because people should not let games wash over them like the TV does, they should have to work a little bit at it. Giving them options to tweak is important as it does teach some degree of problem solving and process optimization that for many kids at least is important.

  • So, a standard way to rank different hardware combinations based on their performance... Isn't that the whole point of benchmarking?

    Not to mention it'll be just as hard to pick a standard for these "levels" as it is to pick a standard for benchmarks.

  • all of which, of course, will be indexed against typical windows box configurations, further streamlining and embedding the subconscious windows-centricity of the masses.

    funk dat.

  • Hell, most of us have played games where we're a 19th level Ice Blaster or a 22nd level elf necromancer.

    I'm a 6th level editor and a 7th level slacker. It'll cost you more if you want me to switch the two around.

    (ObFuturama: "I'm a 10th level vice president!")
  • Two words: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:55PM (#10333046)
    stu pid.
    So a level 5 PC will have a medium processor. What is this, D&D? And what happens next year when last year's "medium" is this year's "suck" chip? This whole thing strikes me as horribly condescending, although perhaps its the logical extension of the Intel/AMD/Cyrix "Performance Rating" stupidity. And if so, does Joe Sixpack DESERVE the condescension, for buying into the crap before? Either way, a static rating system for PC performance is instantly outdated the minute that its implemented. Geesh.
  • I have a 3 GHz processor, and 64 MB of ram vs. someone who has a 1.4 GHz processor, and 512 MB of ram?

    WHAT LEVEL IS IT THEN?

    This is akin to saying your rice-rocket has stage-3 nitrous, or a stage-umpteen turbocharger. It's just dumb.

    -Jesse
  • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:55PM (#10333062) Journal
    a $500 computer will have a mid range processor and memory

    a $700 computer will be better

    a $1500 computer will be better still

    It even scales correctly as technologie comes out.
    • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:11PM (#10333360)
      It even scales correctly as technologie comes out.

      No it doesn't. 10 years ago, I doubt you'd have been able to get a $500 computer, let alone one with "mid range processor and memory". 20 years ago, $1500 is the only one of your price ranges that would have got you a PC.

      Sure, the pricing changes slower than the actual capabilities of the computer, but there is a shift to lower cost going on as well.

  • I believe.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aengblom ( 123492 )
    I believe those are called Macs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:56PM (#10333069)
    If operating systems had levels:

    - Windows ME would run under the maximum negative value limit
    - Windows XP would probably be 2
    - Windows 2000 would probably be 2.5
    - Windows Server 2003 would probably be 3
    - Linux would probably be a 5
    - Mac OS X would probably be a 5.000001 just to piss off Linux people
    - *BSD would be a 10
  • Besides watering down the information that the average person would have to know about a particular system, it sounds like that scene in "My Cousin Vinny" where Vinny and his fiancee went into a local eatery the morning after they arrived for the murder trial, only to see the menu listing "Breakfast", "Lunch", and "Dinner" as the only available options.

    I wonder if Bill Gates is inbred.
  • Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glpierce ( 731733 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:57PM (#10333085)
    Wouldn't the date be far more informative than anything else? If you have a 3-year old computer, I can probably give you general spec ranges to which it conforms. Whether you say it's a "Level 5" or not, my first response will always be "when was it made?" The only way to counter this would be to keep on going up (today's level 3 is next year's level 13). There are a hundred other reasons why this is a poor idea, but I'll leave them to other posts.
  • Why would you do something like this? The "level" is completely arbitrary and there would certainly be no way to certify or verify it.

    What about when a year or two passes and your "Level 7" PC is now a "level 2"? What happens with the previous "level 2" PC?

  • ...in the geek world, at least.

    Ars Technica does a system guide [arstechnica.com] that has multiple levels of computer. Just slap a number on each one, and poof.

    The problem is that time changes these things. My computer six months ago was a "Hot Rod", but now it's an "Ultimate Budget Box." In the future, I'll buy a Level 7, but in a couple of months it'll become a Level 5. How do I know what level my computer currently is so I know whether or not it'll run that great new game that requires a Level 6 PC?

    ...and how many ex
  • So that snazzy new "Level 7" computer just became a "Level 6" the moment you opened the box. A week later it's a "Level 5". Seems like a waste of time and a hassle to consumers.
  • Terrible idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GoNINzo ( 32266 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .ozNINoG.> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:58PM (#10333125) Journal
    The idea of levels is just stupid. People can have machines with a vast array of different equipment. I might have a P4 with 128 meg of RAM and a Geforce 2 MX. How would that compare with a P4 with 128 meg of RAM and a Radeon 9800? It's really hard to make that comparison because they are both limited by the RAM.

    It would be easier to designate a computer by a year when it was top of the line. For instance, if I put 'PC1999 compatible' means that it would be compatible with a computer that's 5 years old. A brand new game requiring a P4 3.0 with a gig of ram might be a PC2004+ or something. Most people can figure out what year their computer came from, once it's in general use.

    A good example of the different requirements for games is the Sims 2. You need more hardware if you have a non-T&L card, but less if you get a better card. So it's video card dependant.

    I hate this direction he is considering. Because I think he's just pushing it so that eventually you'd have Xbox 3 using a rating system on their games. 'Xbox 3 level 5 required' and such. ugh.

  • Level 5 WHEN? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:59PM (#10333147)
    A level 5 computer today will no longer be a level 5 computer in 5 years. Do we just come up with a different numbering system then?

    Maybe each system should be ranked by its PERFORMANCE (MIPS), and not some arbitrary numbering system.
  • Apple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zorilla ( 791636 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @02:59PM (#10333154)
    I thought Apple did this with the original iMacs and it seemed ridiculous then.

    "My Macintosh is grape!"

    Great.
  • by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:01PM (#10333205)
    JERRY: You're doing this yourself?
    KRAMER: It's a simple job. Why, you don't think I can?
    JERRY: Oh, no. It's not that I don't think you can. I know that you can't, and I'm positive that you won't.
  • Done Before? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Solstice ( 11486 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:02PM (#10333216)
    I seem to recall that they already tried this before with the Multimedia PC standard? Wikipeda helped fill in my fuzzy memory:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_PC [wikipedia.org]
  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:03PM (#10333235)
    So that they can price their O/S based on the speed of hardware running it. I used run into vendors trying to do this back in my network management days. I remember asking one of them. "You want me to pay more for your software because I paid more for the hardware I run it on?" and he said "Sure, you will get more use out of our software.". I was still laughing at him as I shoved him out the door.
    • by fupeg ( 653970 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:42PM (#10333805)
      I think you might have a point. Such a tactic would be a classic monopolist tactic. Charge different prices to different people based on their demand level (money willing to spend.) That way you maximize your fleecing of the public.

      This is how IBM made so much money in the 50's. They made very little profits on their mainframes, because the shelf life of the mainframes was so long. So they made all their money on punch cards. If you used somebody else's punchcard, you voided your warranty. They would charge different companies different prices for punchcards, based on how much money the company was worth. A company worth more got charged more.
    • Back in the VAX/VMS days, our school's VAXcluster included an ancient VAX 11/785, because it was much cheaper for us to license software for that machine than for the other, faster machines. When we finally turned it off in (I think) 1996, it was the last 11/785 operating in NJ.
  • Marketting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mateito ( 746185 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:04PM (#10333264) Homepage
    What a load of bollocks.

    Obviously this is marketting crap aimed at the home user, but if they haven't yet worked out that YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, will sticking yet another number help any?

    If you are data crunching, you may need a level 5 Hard drive, a level 8 CPU, but a level 3 graphics card. If this is your home entertainment center,, you may be fine with a level 8 HD, level 6 CPU, level 4 graphics. Which machine is "better"? Its too easy to pull the wool over consumer's eyes. I'm sure we could all populate a m/board with heaps of the cheapest RAM available to knock a computer system up a notch or two.

    Of course, to run Longhorn, you are looking at level 15, right off the bat, across the board.
  • by 4ginandtonics ( 455958 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:10PM (#10333352)
    Awwright... uh...

    Gimmie a Number 2, hold the pickles, extra mayo, onion rings instead of fries. Diet Coke. Make it a biggie.

    ----

    I can hear it now:

    "Hey, nice box. Is that a Level 6?"

    "Naw, it's a Level 5, but I upgraded the transmatic illudium vector sub processor, so it's about as good as a Level 6."

    "No way...... The Level 6 has the super ultra mega dynamo, "

    "Oh yeah. I guess it's a really like the level 5.5a, then."

    "I suppose so. Say, did you see the new Level 37? Man, that's a sweet computer".

    "Yeah, but I'm saving my money for the Level 50 that's due out next month."

  • by Zorilla ( 791636 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:12PM (#10333378)
    Level 5 computer: Athlon 2400+, 512 MB RAM, GeForce FX 5200

    Level 3 computer: Athlon 2400+, 512 MB RAM, GeForce FX 5200, WeatherBug, CoolWebSearch

    Level 2 computer: Athlon 2400+, 512 MB RAM, GeForce FX 5200, WeatherBug, CoolWebSearch, Bonzi Buddy, ShopAtHomeSelect

    Level -1 computer: Athlon 2400+, 512 MB RAM, GeForce FX 5200, WeatherBug, CoolWebSearch, Bonzi Buddy, ShopAtHomeSelect, Claria, Alexa, Sasser, DiallerPlatform, MSBlast

    (Sorry, just cleaned someone's Compaq a couple days ago which was of similar specs. Over 400 instances of spyware in Ad-Aware and another 50 or so in Spybot)
  • MMOPC! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Maul ( 83993 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:18PM (#10333479) Journal
    Just like in EQ, only the most uber hard core elite players who spend gobs of time and money will be able to level their PCs up to level 99 and afford the most l33t equips (case mods).

    Brilliant!
  • Details, not numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sean80 ( 567340 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:20PM (#10333495)
    I myself think far better to have standard "capabilities" than standard "levels." I believe I've already seen most marketing material do this. For example, a computer could designate itself as "Web Browsing" aka Level 1, or "Word Processing" aka Level 2, and so forth. Again, my gold standard is always my mom. Level 1, huh? she says. What the hell does that mean? she says.

    This idea isn't revolutionary, but I think what could be is saying that Level 8 is a gaming machine with a very precise configuration that manufacturers have to build to, and, say, game developers saying that all of their games will run well on such and such a level. Pretty much the standardization that consoles give us, but on a PC. Never, ever have I had to worry whether an XBox game will run well on my rig. If only I had that luxury on a PC.

  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt ( 578295 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:22PM (#10333527)
    hmm...levels. Now consumers will have an objective gauge for their computer's performance. It's hard, though, when you only have, say levels 1-10. And it doesn't say much in the way of relative performance. Does a level 1 10% have as much performance as a level 10? Also, as someone pointed out, as hardware progresses, you'll need higher and higher numbers.

    Maybe the solution is to have standards by which performance is measured. Someone could write software which evaluates a computer's performance and assigns a numerical value. Then consumers could use that as a guide. We could call it a "bench mark". Then people could get into all sorts of flame wars about these "bench marks", and how they are computed, and which one to use, and so on...

  • by badmonkey ( 29600 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:33PM (#10333678) Journal
    Joe consumer never buys machines with enough RAM- because Dell etc make a big deal about their systems having 4.0 Ghz processors, but in the smaller print, the system comes with something like a paltry 128 Megs of RAM. If the level system implies an acceptable amount of ram, then that's great.
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:38PM (#10333750)
    they make very little consequential pc hardware (keyboards, mice, discontinued wifi) - where does it matter for what they do?

    unless they want to be clear about what the hw reqs are for a given sw package - and with karma to burn, he offered - won't they simply say that all ms bloat^H^H^H^H^Hsoftware needs level n+1 anyway?

    or is it just another case of "we're from microsoft - we're here to help"

    apple doesn't really do levels except with BTO they say good better best, and it's mostly the things that count, and those mostly in step - ram and hd and ghz and video sorta jump as one... additionally good better best is relative and numbers are absolute - tough to do for long.
  • by DrDebug ( 10230 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:41PM (#10333793) Journal
    That way, we could match the user level to the level of the computer.

    Level 1 users (dweebs) would only use level one computers (toys).

    Level 7 users (gurus) would use level seven computers (supercomputers). ..... Ah, just a thought.....

  • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:43PM (#10333829) Homepage Journal
    Everybody seems to either be telling D&D jokes or flaming the idea. Keep in mind that most people that use computers are dumb as dirt on the topic. I worked at ChimpUSA in college, and it really opened my eyes. A very common question would involve someone shoving a new game at me and saying, 'I have a dell. Will this run?'.

    While several people have pointed out that a L8 video card will not make a L3 system into a L8 system, at least you have a baseline language to work with.

    I suspect they want this so software vendors can slap a sticker on a box that says 'Level 8' system required. It's not a perfect system, but it beats having ignorant sales people try to explain video card ram and HD seek times to Ma and Pa Kettle.
    • IMHO it sound good in theory, but it's just going to be another set of numbers to confuse people. Maybe a L8 video card would make a system into an L4. But if you look on the box for the card, the card was rated at L8 months ago - now it's actually an L5. The other option is that you just incrament numbers. That's going to be pretty annoying since different components advance at a different rate. Processors will advance levels extremely fast, Mainboards very slow. Hard drives may have an 'L' rating,
  • by bokmann ( 323771 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:53PM (#10333959) Homepage
    It gives my games that 'extra edge'.
  • by dethl ( 626353 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @03:58PM (#10334026)
    Lv. 6 Dell attacks Lv. 3 HP, dealing 500 damage.
    Lv. 3 HP is DEAD!
    Dell gains 400 experience.
    HP dropped 5 gold.

    Dell has gained a level!
    RAM: +128MB
    Processor: +500mhz
    Graphics: +Nvidia 5200FX

    Ok, I had to do that. Karma burn ahoy!
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) <nsayer.kfu@com> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @04:21PM (#10334324) Homepage
    I have a level 5 Athlon with a +2 video card of OpenGL and a +1 bank of memory. Unfortunately, I went to eBay and got saddled with a -3 sound card of Aureal.

    Time to play Doom 3. Roll 1d20.
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday September 23, 2004 @05:06PM (#10334785)
    Didn't somebody already describe the levels of computers with Windows installed? I thought it was Dante:

    Level 9: XP on a P4 3.2GHz, internet, SP2, behind Checkpoint firewall
    . . .
    Level 5: Win2K on a P4 1.7GHz, internet, SP4, no firewall
    . . .
    Level 1: Win95 on a Pentium I, internet connection, no patches, no firewall

  • My PC... (Score:5, Funny)

    by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2004 @08:39PM (#10336444) Journal
    Mine goes to 11.

    Sorry, am I too late?
  • This is stupid. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) * <doug@openg e e k.org> on Thursday September 23, 2004 @10:54PM (#10337215) Homepage Journal
    The PC industry is about making the fastest machines at the lowest dollars. Personally I wish somebody would do a little design at the expense of speed, but that is another story.

    Getting back to the levels. This is an attempt to qualtify what you are doing, then sell you a computer that fits. --The problem is that they all fit for almost everybody.

    If Microsoft can get folks to buy into the level system, they can then certify hardware as being level 3 compliant, or some other such thing. Each year, they will put out little charts and graphs that equate their current bloat to the level guides. Hardware makers will get something new to talk about.

    Most of us will get screwed because the level system will hide the actual specs and reduce the average persons awareness of what they are buying. They want to dumb this down because uninformed people more easily part with their money.

    The current status quo looks bad for everyone really. Good hardware can be had for about $300. Legal software for that machine can easily triple that. More people are learning this lesson so something has to change to keep the dollars flowing.

    Almost nobody in the industry wants people making their own PC's. The way things are right now, you can buy "made for windows" hardware, throw it into a cool case and you are good to go. (Of course, you should be running Linux, but that too is another story.) Specs are specs. People see a bundle and can shop around pretty easily.

    Now lets talk about a Level 3 computer? What's inside? How does it compare to my P4 2Ghz.... ? Will hardware makers sell Level 3 kits? What if people want to choose different vendors?

    It's all about the bundle. Microsoft has made their fortune bundling things together in ways that encourage people to buy. This bundling of hardware and terminology will simply allow them to better leverage their already strong dominant position in the hardware end of things.

    It will be at our expense. (It always is.) Bundles limit choice. Where there is limited choice, people pay more.

    No thanks, people are learning now. Might as well just let them continue to get smarter so they can make their own choices.

    I do give Microsoft credit though. --It's a good move. Creative. Hope most folks know better.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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