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Windows UI Performance

Published: February 29, 2012

Updated: October 20, 2013

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1

This assessment evaluates the performance of some basic experiences in the new Windows user interface (UI). The assessment measures responsiveness and rendering quality while the assessment exercises workloads that simulate user activities, such as using search in the Start Screen and transitioning from the Start Screen to the Desktop and back. Responsiveness results are measured in milliseconds. Low numbers mean that the computer is faster and more responsive. For rendering, the results show the frame rate and the number of glitches that occur. A good user experience has high frame rates and few glitches. For more information about the results and issues that are produced by this assessment, see Results for the Windows UI Performance Assessment.

The assessment does not evaluate the gesture-based user experience. The workloads simulate only keyboard-based and mouse-based interactions.

The following graphic illustrates the assessment process.

Workflow for Windows UI Performance

In this topic:

The first-run help tips in Windows 8.1 can negatively affect assessment results. To disable these, run the following command from an elevated command prompt, and reboot the computer:
reg.exe add "HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\EdgeUI" /v DisableHelpSticker /t REG_DWORD /d "1" /f

Run this assessment only while the desktop is full screen. Do not run this assessment if you have another Windows Store app opened side-by-side with the desktop.

For the best results, follow these guidelines:

  • Run the assessment locally. Do not use Remote Desktop.

  • Run the assessment on computers that have only one monitor. A multiple-monitor configuration can affect the results.

  • Do not run the assessment on computers that use the default Windows® 8 VGA driver. Make sure that your display drivers are updated to match your video card.

You can run this assessment only on a computer that is running Windows® 8 and that has the Windows UI enabled.

Supported architectures include x86-based, x64-based, and ARM-based systems.

There are two ways to run this assessment on Windows RT:

A workload is a set of automated tasks that simulate user activity in a predefined, repeatable manner. The workloads run independent of each other. You can select any combination of these workloads to run during the assessment.

This workload simulates a user typing at the start of a search query, pausing, and then dismissing the search by pressing ESC.

In Windows 8, the Start screen replaces the Windows Start menu to provide a new experience for users to find and start their applications. The search experience is divided into 4 components: application search, settings search, file search and command start. When you start typing at the Start screen, application search is invoked by default. This is the experience the Windows UI performance assessment measures using the letter ‘c’ as the default search string, but a different search string can be configured.

The Start screen has aggressive responsiveness and availability requirements because it is the single unified application launcher for Windows 8. The goal is to match the speed of displaying the Windows Start menu. It should take less than 150 milliseconds to display the first search result and less than 500 milliseconds to display all search results. To meet these performance requirements, applications are enumerated with minimum disk I/O. The search system keeps the data in memory. However, the total memory usage is not expected to be high. For more information about assessment results, see Results for the Windows UI Performance Assessment.

This workload simulates transitions from the Start screen to the desktop and then back to the Start screen.

The Start screen is created when you log into Windows and is shown or hidden when you transition to or from the Start screen. Since the screen is kept in memory, the transitions are very fast. The video memory used by the Start screen is not expected to be high. For more information about assessment results, see Results for the Windows UI Performance Assessment.

By default, this assessment uses the recommended settings. These settings are defined by Microsoft to ensure that the results can be compared across multiple computer configurations or over time on a single-computer configuration. When you review the results, the results information includes metadata that indicates that the recommended settings were used. This helps you identify results that use recommended settings in addition to those that don’t.

You can also customize these settings if you want to gather data that is different than the data that is captured by default. For example, you can identify specific data that helps you perform a more detailed analysis of a particular aspect of the computer.

The following table describes the assessment settings, recommended values, and alternative values for each setting.


Setting Description

Use recommended settings

Specifies whether the assessment uses the recommended settings. By default, this check box is selected. To change the settings for this assessment, you must first clear this check box.


Specifies how many times you want the selected workloads to run during the timing iteration. By default, each workload runs three times. Each workload runs before the next iteration starts. Therefore, a single series of running each workload, is referred to as an iteration.

There are three different types of iterations used during the assessment.

  • Training iteration: To ensure the assessment binaries are loaded and the workload can run.

  • Timing iteration: The results that are produced are aggregate results from the timing iterations. The default number of timing iterations is 3.

  • Analysis iteration: This iteration collects information while the assessment is running and serves as the basis for issues generated by the assessment.

Although you cannot vary the number of iterations for each workload or the order of the workloads, you can add multiple instances of this assessment to one job. Each instance of the assessment can use a different value for iterations in the workloads.


Runs the Transition workload. By default, this check box is selected and the workload is used.

For more information about this workload, see Workloads.


Runs the Search workload. By default this check box is selected and the workload is used.

For more information about this workload, see Workloads.

Search String

Specifies a string to use as a search value for the Search workload. By default, this value is “c”. If you clear the search value, and don’t enter an alternative, the default value will be used. The Search workload must be selected for the search string that you want to use.

See Also

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