Posts filed under 'Vista'

The case against Vista

Microsoft claims Vista was a success (or do they?).

True, millions of copies sold, but, most of these copies turn out to have been preinstalled on new PC’s.

So, the average consumer is quite clearly not really interested in Vista. In fact, many consumers still request Wicrosoft Windows XP, INSTEAD of Vista. Microsoft has reacted to this in predictable fashion: by announcing that XP will no longer be available via OEM channels by 2008

So, what’s really wrong with Vista, and how will it affect you?

Extreme hardware requirements..
Windows XP is a stable reliable OS, with modest requirements: 128MB ram and 1-2 GB hard disk space (As little as a 500MB install when tweaked). Vista needs nearly 10 times XP’s requirements, i.e. 1GB ram and 10GB hard disk space. If this trend continues, we can expect Vista’s successor to require 10GB ram and 100GB hard disk space. Does this seem absurd? So did 1GB of ram seem, just a few years ago.

…few benefits
Aside from it’s Aero interface, most of the benefits in Vista were already available in Windows XP SP2. 10X hardware requirements does not translate to 10X improved performance.

DRM
Vista includes various digital rights management features built in. Microsoft argues these features are necessary, for example, to legally play HD DVD’s.

DRM is bad for consumers because it requires an additional resource overhead in terms of wasted disk space, memory, and processing cycles. It also increases hardware cost, and represents a security threat to users: Vista’s DRM features have the ability to (in theory) disable certain hardware components (or put them into reduced functionaly mode)

Lastly, integrating DRM features into hardware would mean more expense for the manufacturer: A cost invaribly passed onto the consumer. when you buy a graphics card, you would end up paying for Hardware/Software DRM features and licencing. This cost would be incurred by you even if you do NOT intend to intend to use watch HD-DVD’s with Vista, or even use Vista at all.

The general philisophy behind Microsoft’s DRM is that “This software and hardware is ours. You merely licence it - if you do something that seems even slightly suspicious to us, we can shut down or disable parts of your PC”. As a consumer, I find this philosophy disturbing, to say the least.

The end of the traditional PC as we know it? Disturbing manufacturer tie ups:
More and more manufacturers are being convinced by Microsoft to make Vista only or Vista enhanced hardware. This could be as ‘harmless’ as ensuring that enhanced featurers only work with Vista, or as extreme as Pheonix recently releasing a Vista only Bios [edit: this may not be the case]

For the consumer, this is terrible news. Making hardware OS specific would effectively cripple other operating systems (and increase cost).

Vista’s biggest challenge:
As strange as it may seem, Vista’s biggest challenge is Windows XP itself. XP works on old and new hardware, it’s fast, reliable, and perfectly compatible with Windows software.

Microsoft is reacting to this unusual scenario by slowly and quietly killing off XP. First by stopping OEM sales, then by (eventually) stopping official support.

True, some may argue that this is what Microsoft usually does when it releases a new software package, but this might be the first time that the replacement OS is worse than the existing OS.

So, what could the future hold?

  1. More Vista only hardware: more and more hardware will be Vista only, or function in a reduced/crippled mode with other OS’s. In time, manufacturers may split product lines, with one line for Vista only products. This will mean increased costs and a lack of choice for consumers
  2. . Eventually, Microsoft’s goal appears to be to make the PC a closed architecture, like a MAC (and kill off all other operating systems).

  3. Forced obsolescence: Whereas XP could comfortably be used on a PII400, Vista requires the latest hardware. This would be OK if people could still buy XP (and obtain support) but it appears that this may not be the case for long. When XP is removed off the market, people would have no choice but to use Vista, if they are looking for a supported Microsoft OS. This would mean purchasing new hardware, and disposing of old hardware.

18 comments April 19th, 2007

Windows Vista Launch: Sri Lanka

Microsof Windows Vista Launch in Sri Lanka

Today afternoon, Vista was launched in Sri Lanka. The main event was a colorful PR blitz.

I missed the opening ceremony, and stuck around a few minutes only (most of it was stuff on Vista and how it would improve your business etc).

Vista Demo’s

Vista Demo PCs

There were a few of PC’s and laptops with Vista for people to try out. A rep from Microsoft called me over for a demo - overall he focused on features which casual/business users might like (Aero etc).

Swag

Microsoft Goodie Bag

Just a t-shirt and a brochure on Vista. A smarter move would have been to include a discount voucher for purchasing Vista !

The brochure included some info on Vista and a note on the benefit of Genuine Windows (A not so subtle hint I guess).

Questions

I still don’t know how much Vista costs here (Sigh). Maybe that was in the presentation and I missed it.

Photos
More photos from the Vista launch in Sri Lanka

Add comment February 15th, 2007

Windows Vista: FAQ and Buying guide.

Vista: Teh coolness

On January 30th, Windows Vista was released to the general public.
Here’s a quick Vista FAQ from me:

Is Vista for you?
It depends. Given the right hardware (i.e. a Core 2 duo, 2GB ram and the latest graphics), Vista is fast. But then again, so is anything else. Also see my review of Vista here.

If you depend on Windows software, then maybe Vista is the way to go, from a future perspective - i.e. if you want to continue to run Windows software, expect most of this software to require Vista somewhere along the line.

So, if you are buying a new PC, and want a Microsoft OS, then maybe Vista is for you.

Otherwise, I recommend you consider options such as Ubuntu

How fast is Vista with current software?
THG has a good review with detailed benchmarks of most applications on Vista.

How cool is Vista?

Well, Vista can run with a new interface (Aero) which enables the desktop to function in 3d (many cool effects, vector icons etc). If you are into 3D desktops, you should also check out Beryl’s desktop here, which happens to be free - it works with many Linux distro’s)

Which Vista is for you?

Vista comes in many different versions. You can compare them here. I’d recommend the cheapest version you can find which includes Aero.

What’s the difference between OEM and Retail version?
Retail version:
FOR: Includues more support, has a nice shiny box, Can be transfered from PC to PC
AGAINST: Costs a lot more.

OEM version
FOR: Same thing without the shiny box, costs a lot less.
AGAINST: Lives and dies with your PC (Can’t transfer to another PC)
Note: You CAN do hardware upgrades to your PC though (except the motherboard though)

Which do you recommend?
I’d say go for home premium OEM: It includes Aero, and most of the stuff you need, and is a bargain at around $125 incl shipping Zipzoomfly have it a bit cheaper, but I prefer newegg.

Purchasing Vista

I suggest you import it direct from US. I recommend Newegg as I reglarly purchase from them, and they have never let me down. I do not recommend purchasing it locally from Microsoft or an agent. Vista has NOT been released locally, it will be released sometime in FEB according to Microsoft chief evangelist who I spoke to recently.

Add comment January 31st, 2007

Vista: ReadyBoost and Superfetch - real or hype?

Testing Vista’s ReadyBoost and Superfetch - please see the video:

Notes:
1. Startup time is total startup time from POST onwards.
2. It takes a second or so to load desktop whether or not readyboost/superfetch are enabled.
3. This is a clean install of Vista. Only change I have done is getting rid of sidebar
4. I’ve removed the password, thats why the system logs in automatically without asking me to enter a password.
5. PC was restarted between each test. Where vista and readyboost were enabled, the test was repeated a few times so the data could be ‘cached’ by those technologies.

My only guess is that the SATA hard drive and dual channel 1GB ram remove any significant visible advantages from ReadyBoost and Superfetch, which would be visible on slower machines.

Disclaimer: Microsoft, Windows, Vista, ReadyBoost, and Superfetch are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation - this test was done using RC1, and results may not apply to newer releases/different hardware configurations etc.

2 comments January 15th, 2007

Vista: Tips and tricks 1

500+ MB RAM Available 
1GB RAM, Vista with AERO, 500+MB Ram available!! (Before these tweaks I had less than 100MB available RAM).

Update:
I’m now told that Superfecth (by design) will try to gobble up most ram you have, so it’s normal to see virtually no free Ram with superfetch running. The idea is that if you load a program SF will quickly give you back ram, so (in theory) its not a bad idea to keep SF running).

Also, while I did not see specific improvements in performance with Superfetch and Readyboost, a number of reviews, e.g. by TomsHardware do have evidence that it helps.

Vista is very resource heavy. The following tips show you how to disable some of the unnecessary stuff, speed up your PC, and use Vista more effectively:

Warning:

  1. These tips are for power users only - don’t change system settings unless you know what you are doing!
  2. Some of these settings (e.g. disabling defender) make your PC more vulnerable to malware etc. Also, disabling some services can cause your PC to malfunction / behave unpredictably, and / or pop up a video of Steve Ballmer doing the developper dance. Or not.
  3. By following these tips you agree that if you mess your PC I’m not responsible. Please back up your PC before attempting these tips.

VISTA Tips and Tricks list:

1. Disable Windows defender

  1. Open control panel- click classic view.
  2. Open defender - it’s at the bottom, next to Firewall and other stuff like Sidebar.
  3. Click Tools - then Options - and untick everything you see, such as:
    Untick automatically scan my PC
    scroll down, untick use real time protection
    untick advanced options, click save
  4. If user access control is on, you may get a warning. Click continue.

2. Disable User Access Control

On most versions of Vista, User Access Control is enabled - basically this is a security procedure which warns you before you (or any application) enables to do something considered risky, e.g. modifying system settings. Disable it only if you know what you are doing.

  1. Open Control Panel
  2. Open User Accounts
  3. Click turn user account control on/off.
  4. Untick use user access control
  5. click OK (you may need to restart).

3. Turn off hibernation

If you don’t use the hibernation feature, you can disable it and recover around a gigabyte of hard disk space. 

To do this, run “powercfg - H off

4. Press Alt

In most windows, you can get the traditional menu (File, Edit, View..) by just tapping the Alt key.

5. Turn on hidden files view

  1. In any drive window, click Alt, then click Tools - Folder Options
  2. Click View tab
  3. Select Show hidden files and folders.
  4. You can also untick various other annoying “Idiot mode” options like Hide extensions for known file types, and “Remember each folders view settings”.

6. Disable the sidebar
If you get tired of the sidebar, you can disable it easily via the control panel.

  1. Open Control Panel - Sidebar Properties
  2. Untick start sidebar when windows starts

7. Move swap file to another drive/partition

If you have another drive, you can speed up Vista a bit by moving the swap file to that drive. Even if you are using only one drive, moving the swap file to another partition is useful (if you intend to back up your primary partiton via a compressed mirror, saving space on the primary partition will speed up the process and reduce the backup file size).

  1. Press Windows + Pause/break key 
  2. Click advanced system settings
  3. Click the advanced tab 
  4. Click the settings button
  5. Now click Advanced (yes I know this is a bit confusing)
  6. Under virtual memory click change
  7. Untick automatically manage
  8. Select the new drive/partition you want to use for swap file and click system managed, click set (Note: Unlike Ubuntu, windows will not wipe the drive or partition - instead it just makes a file called pagefile.sys).
  9. To cancel the swap file on C click C and select no page file, click set

8. Disable unnecessary services

Warning - disabling services can cause your system to behave unpredictably, reduce security, not boot at all, or rupture the space-time continuum. Proceed with caution, only if you know what you are doing:

Navigate to: control panel - administrative tools - services Then try disabling the following (doubleclick, select disabled under startup type, click OK).

  1. Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  2. DHCP client (Only if you use a static IP, see Dan’s note below!)
  3. Diagnostic policy service
  4. Diagnostic System Host
  5. Distributed link tracking client
  6. DNS client
  7. IP Helper
  8. Offline Files (See http://207.46.197.98/Windows/en-US/Help/93a550df-34cd-4497-85d0-8732602f59591033.mspx for more info on what this is)
  9. Portable Device Enumerator Service
  10. ReadyBoost (if you are not using this feature (no flash drive)
  11. Secondary Logon (This may prevent you from using the “Run As/Run as Administrator” option.
  12. Security Center (prolly kills off defender etc).
  13. Shell Hardware Detection Service (Kills autorun - and good riddance).
  14. SSDP discovery (Something to do with UPNP devices. Darned if I know or care)
  15. Superfetch (This is Vista’s amazing caching service. Think of it as Vista’s Smartdrv. In theory it will slow down some operations but AFAIK it didn’t make much of a difference, and released a LOT of RAM).
  16. System Event Notification Service.
  17. Tablet PC input service (If no.. tablet PC?).
  18. Terminal Serives.
  19. Web client.
  20. Windows Defender (First disable it from control panel).
  21. Windows Error Reporting.
  22. Windows Event Log.
  23. Windows Image Acquisition (if no scanner and you are using your digital camera via a card reader).
  24. Windows Search (This is that annoying indexing utility. Keep it if you need to find files fast).
  25. Windows Time.
  26. Windows Update (if you can’t manually update, turn this back on).
  27. Print spooler (if you dont have a printer).
  28. Tip: Don’t disable task scheduler as defragment depends on it.

9. Setting up custom network settings
Vista will usually automatically detect your network, but if you need to set it up manually, heres how:

  1. Right click the Network Icon on the taskbar
  2. click Network and Sharing center
  3. Click the blue View Status link (if it’s not visible, ensure your cable is plugged in and click connect..)
  4. Click properties
  5. Doubleclick Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)
  6. Enter your custom network configuration (The IP for this PC, the subnet, default gateway and DNS server - gateway and DNS server are usually your routers IP.
  7. You may need to restart your PC.

After restarting, you can select your type of network (e.g. Home) and you are good to go.

If you have other tips for Vista, please list them here as comments!

19 comments January 9th, 2007

Vista: First thoughts

Vista: Aero 

So I’ve been using Windows Vista for a few days now and I have some quick observations:

Hardware Requirements

Someone once said that what Intel gives, Microsoft takes - i.e. everytime Intel releases a massively fast processor, Microsoft makes an OS to ‘take advantage’ of this.

I don’t mean to say that Vista is a slow OS. On the contrary, it is quite fast, faster than XP in certain scenarios. But that speed comes at a cost: serious hardware requirements which means most current PC’s would be better suited to run XP.

So what are the requirements? Microsoft has an official post here. Basically Microsoft categorizes PC’s as either Vista capable or Vista premium.

Vista capable machines have at least an 800MHz processor, 512MB ram and a Directx9 capable graphics card.

Vista premium needs a 1Ghz processor, 1GB ram Directx9 WDDM card, audio, DVD, etc (though even a capable machine should require a DVD otherwise how would you install Vista?)

My recommended specifications would be any machine with a dual/quad/multi-core processor, preferrably 2- 4GB RAM (yes, GB) and any Directx9 WDDM card which supports 32bit color (for the aero interface)

Installation: mostly easy - boot off the DVD (Vista comes on a DVD, occupying around 2.5GB) and follow the prompts.

Stability: In my testing, RC1 was mostly stable. I did notice occational oddities (like Explorer swallowing 300MB of ram once but I guess that was temporary insanity and will be fixed with the RTM version.

Speed: very fast, but resource hungry.

Resource usage: 1GB ram, around 6GB of hard disk space (reqd min 6.9GB or so to install) and a lot of processing power. Quite simply this was unlike any OS I ever saw.

First Impressions - what’s new:

Vista represents a total redesign of Windows - yes it looks somewhat like XP but under the skin the architecture is totally different. At least that is what I heard. Anyway here are some of the features that I noticed as new. Yes, some of them were already in XP SP2..

  1. New Theme- Vista includes a new theme called Aero which includes transparent windows, (at least the frames are transparent) and cool special effects such as 3D flipping to select Windows. Lots of other little features exist like live previews of Windows in the taskbar and so on.
  2. New Interface - The interface has been mostly reworked. Basically clever scientists studied how trapped mice in mazes find cheese and decided to apply the logic to how humans find porn. Summary, you have to relearn a few things. Thankfully its mostly intuitive. Unthankfully you have to forget some of what you ‘learned’ with 95, 98, etc.
  3. New sidebar - It.. er… sits on the side of your screen and enables you to place little widgets - little mini programs represented which reside there. I see a big market for widgets in the future. Some say Microsoft were inspired from MAC OS X, when they developped this future. lies. Lies! all lies and malicious propaganda.
  4. Speed - On a fast PC, even with Aero enabled - everything seems to happen instantly - I think Vista achieves this by massively caching most of the operating system and preloading as much as possible into RAM. This is a very inefficient way of doing things, but it works. Think of Vista as the SUV of OS’s
  5. Security - Vista includes a Firewall and a Defender. The defender basically checks every program that attempts to run if it is a Microsoft program or not, and if not asks you whether you are sure you want to run it. Ok that’s an oversimplification but I’m feeling somewhat irreverant right now. (note: I think you can download Firewall and Defender for free if you use XP).

So why did Microsoft make Vista?

  1. Because XP is so yesterday. Vista is so wow.
  2. To battle spyware and virus (virii?): Millions of Windows PC’s belonging to clueless n00bs are being merrily hacked and attacked by spyware and viruses. Vista includes some stuff like Defender and Firewall which should make the PC more idiot proof. Problem is every time someone makes something idiot proof, better idiots (and hackers) come along. 
  3. To keep up with fast hardware: Modern PC’s resemble workstations of the past - multiple processors, gigabytes of ram, and nothing to take advantage of that. So, Microsofts engineers probably had a conversation like this:
    MS 1: Hey, people keep switching to Ubuntu. What can we do to make Windows better?
    MS 2: I know, let’s make our OS load faster by loading it into RAM and cache everything we can. True it will be massively resource hungry, but that’s OK, it will be faster than anything else.
    MS 1: OK done, but theres some leftover RAM still!
    MS 2: I know, lets make a nice 3D interface and fill that up too!
  4. The whole DRM thing: Somewhere along the line someone decided that an expensive PC should be used as a device for playing HD-DVD/BLU-RAY and other high def content. Microsoft wanted in on the action so decided to make an OS with lots of digital rights management built right in. Or so I was told by a chap with an eye patch. He muttered something about tilt bits but that’s all baloney!

So, is Vista for you? What advantages would you see?

Business clients: Recommended

  1. Security: Vista has a lot of security built in, plus it’s more idiot proof and harder to screw up than XP. This should mean less downtime, less tech support etc.Of course the new interface and architecture means a lot more complexity, and previous experience with Microsoft software shows complexity is proportional to number of bugs. Hope that aint the case here.
  2. Aero Interface: Nothing to do with Business as such but it’s cool and will match your art deco furniture.
  3. More support: By releasing Vista, Microsoft will slowly phase out support for XP. So, business customers should eventually need Vista over the long run. Unless they switch to something like Ubuntu. Or something.
  4. More software: Soon, we should see the first software applications that are made for Vista. They will make use of the Aero interface and various hardware tweaks to make your user experience more entertaining, secure, fashionable, and cure common problems like depression, insecurity, and the common cold, while making the world a better place. Expect to see that annoying message “This program is designed for Windows Vista” popping up pretty soon.

Power users: Depends

  1. L33t people will love the Aero Interface: Except for true h4×0rs who only use assembly language in a console, who will say “Bah”.
  2. Security: The security features won’t mean much to them as most power users have stuff like Zonelabs (Firewall) and Common Sense, to protect them from malware. 
  3. Programmers: Those who use anything Microsoft will find benefits from Vista. For example, programs .NET will operate so fast that the results will arrive before you run the program.
  4. Gamers: In theory, Vista might benefit gamers, but Google tells me most games run slower.
  5. Photoshop users: People into graphics, rendering, etc may get benefits as Vista can use flash drives for caching… or you could take the $200 and buy a few GB of ram instead.
  6. HD: Vista supports HD (high definition video) support including HD DVD/BLU ray etc etc. it even includes all the DRM stuff built in so Hollywood will probably let you use it to watch an HD DVD or Blu ray disk. Or you could buy an Xbox or playstation. Still, its good to know… And, FYI linux probably won’t officially support this sorta stuff as linux wouldnt be able to legally licence the decoding technology.

n00bs, clueless people, parents, HP Users: Highly recommended

You know, those people who purchase their PC from a shop window because it looks nice. (no offense to HP), it could be Dell users…

  1. Aero interface is pretty and intuitive.
  2. Security features should help prevent their PC’s becoming zombie bots, and enable them to go online safely.. Or so we hope.

People with old hardware/on a budget: For older PC’s or those with less than 1GB ram, XP or Ubuntu would be better IMO.

Final thoughts:

Vista is the future, and it looks to be a colorful and interesting future. On the right hardware, it is faster than XP and more fun - thanks to the Aero interface it’s pretty and stylish, while the various security enhancements should help n00bs a lot..

So, um, that’s my preliminary review. I for one, welcome our new Vista overlords ;-)
Update: Switched to a SATA 250GB drive and I was amazed that the whole installation process completed in around 20 minutes.

Update2: I’m told that Vista might not be able to play HD-DVD/Blu-ray and other HI def content on some PC’s due to licencing issues - for example where the PC’s monitor or graphics card do not support HDCP (but this applies to ALL OS’s and PC’s e.g. Apple etc, not just Vista powered PC’s).

10 comments January 8th, 2007


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