"What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away". That was the mantra my colleagues and I adhered to when I was leading Intel’s PC benchmarking efforts in the early 2000s. As the resident "HOC" (Highly-paid Outside Consultant) to the company’s Desktop Architecture Labs (DAL), my job was to help Intel’s engineers design the most complex desktop runtime environments possible for the purpose of showcasing the performance advantages of each new PC chip generation.
And thanks to a steady stream of increasingly CPU-hungry Windows and Office releases, our thirst for new and interesting stuff to stack atop our shiny new Pentium III and IV test rigs was always satiated.
Then came Windows Vista, and for the first time the CPU demands of Microsoft’s software stack outpaced the average performance of even state of the art Intel designs. Suddenly, Windows was "too fat" to fly, and the subsequent backlash saw the long overdue departure of Vista’s architect Jim Allchin, the ill-fated rise of Steven Sinofsky to Windows development boss, and the much anticipated emergence of Windows 7 as the anti-Vista: A new version that was actually less demanding (in terms of CPU, memory and disk footprint) than its predecessor.
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