Tag: "windows vista"

Debunking John Naughton's anti-Microsoft rant

It seems that Mr Naughton is a tad upset about the media coverage Microsoft has been getting lately, a few articles over the last week or so have directly quoted Steve Ballmer because of his recent trip to the UK. Heaven forbid.

Ballmer was in town last week, graciously granting audiences and genially talking through his hat. Yet his every word was reverentially chronicled. The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reported Ballmer's metaphorical comparison of Microsoft (annual revenues, $60bn; 90,000 staff) as 'David' in comparison to Google's 'Goliath' (annual revenues $20bn; 19,000 staff).

What's wrong with that? Oh you're trying to make it seem that Microsoft is the Goliath – well sure, they're the larger company but then they're active in more businesses than Google who have one business which is online advertising. Google control depending on the country between 50% and 90% of the online advertising market, primarily through its search engine. Microsoft on the other hand commands worldwide about 9% of the search market. Of course Naughton is fully aware that this was the comparison that Ballmer was making, which is why he's talking about Google, but why bother to report it in context when you can make it seem like Ballmer is nutty straight off?

Commenting on Google's just-launched Android platform for mobile phones, Ballmer declared that 'an open-source solution would not be attractive to phone manufacturers

His opinion, and historically accurate, Linux for example hasn't gained any traction in the mobile phone market.

...and predicted that Windows mobile phones would stay ahead of BlackBerry, Apple's iPhone and Google Android in the smartphone market

Despite the hype over Blackberry, iPhone and Android - Windows Mobile outsells them. Blackberry is close, and possibly slightly ahead in the United States, but Windows Mobile is much stronger in Europe. As for the iPhone, Microsoft sells 20 million Windows Mobile devices in a year. Apple project 10 million iPhones sales this year, however for the first quarter of the year they only moved 1.7 million. IDC project Windows Mobile to continue to outsell iPhone 2 to 1 in the consumer space until 2012, and 9 to 1 in the business space.

And he went on to say that Windows Vista had been 'the most popular operating system that Microsoft had ever introduced'.

It's certainly the fastest selling, both on raw sales figures, but also on how quickly it is spreading through the PC ecosystem, which is larger than ever before. Windows XP sold 17 million units in its first 2 months on the market; Windows Vista achieved 20 million in the first month. Windows XP was on 16.9% of all computers by the end of 2003, about two years after launch; Windows Vista on the other hand was on 18.3% of all computers a year and a half after release, by the end of the year that's projected to be 21.3%.

Unfortunately for John Naughton, despite how he attempts to spin it, Ballmer is actually spot on. But that's not all Naughton does to demonstrate his ignorance.

This hooey was conscientiously relayed by Cellan-Jones, who was too polite to ask why, if Vista is such a success, Ballmer is to unveil its successor, Windows 7, to the Microsoft developers' conference at the end of this month.

Microsoft holding its developer conference two years after release isn't unusual, in fact it is to be expected, the Windows team has been working for last two years and they're ready to start showing off what they've been doing. Microsoft held a PDC in October 2003, two years after Windows XP shipped to introduce Windows Vista (then codenamed "Longhorn"). Here we see Microsoft doing another PDC in October, about 2 years after Windows Vista was finished to introduce Windows codename "7". Getting the people who actually write software (and the hardware, the hardware conference is the following week) for a platform in on the process early means they're not caught off guard by a new release of Windows and then have to work to make all their old applications compatible, they can play with the early version of Windows "7" now so they can start getting ready for its release.

Perhaps Rory Cellan-Jones actually knows something, unlike Naughton, which is why he didn't need to ask Ballmer such a dumb question.

Fact check: Windows Vista as fast or faster than XP for gaming

Let's put this bit of FUD to rest.

Fact: Windows Vista on launch was around 5-10% slower than Windows XP for gaming, this was largely due to video drivers not being as mature.

10% isn't even noticeable, I'd happily trade 10% for video drivers which don't take out the entire system when they crash thanks to them running in User Mode in Windows Vista instead of Kernel Mode like they do in Windows XP.

Fact: That gap was closed months ago, and now in many benchmarks Windows Vista is faster.

From ExtremeTech:

They also benchmarked World in Conflict, where the two were dead level.

Conclusion: there's no difference, and if somebody wants to get picky and argue Windows XP must be faster, kindly point them in the direction of some benchmarks.

Windows Vista haters admit to liking it when it's called "Mojave"

Not surprising.

Spurred by an e-mail from someone deep in the marketing ranks, Microsoft last week traveled to San Francisco, rounding up Windows XP users who had negative impressions of Vista. The subjects were put on video, asked about their Vista impressions, and then shown a "new" operating system, code-named Mojave. More than 90 percent gave positive feedback on what they saw. Then they were told that "Mojave" was actually Windows Vista.

Should get some content posted up on the Mojave Experiment website tomorrow, at the moment it's just:


duration: 3 days in San Francisco, July 2008
conditions: Partly Cloudy, 57 degrees
subjects: Over 120 computer users (Mac, Linux, Windows XP and Windows 2000)
hardware: An HP Pavilion DV 2000 with 2 GB of RAM
technical assistance: A retail computer salesperson
description: Subjects get a live 10-minute demo of "the next Microsoft OS" codenamed "Mohave" – but it's actually Windows Vista

The results?

See for yourself Tuesday, July 29th

Despite the FUD spread around by the press (who don't understand technology), and the anti-M$ brigade, Windows Vista is the best client operating system out there, it is far superior to Windows XP, which after using Windows Vista full-time for over two years now, feels extremely dated.

Randall Stross proves he should stop writing about technology

What a rubbish article, I'm very disappointed at the New York Times for allowing this to go to print. Almost as much as the BBC giving the Free Software Foundation free access to write technology articles on their website, the equivalent of letting Microsoft have their marketing department write for the BBC.

Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air

Ohhh that's new-age sounding, it's gotta be good.

Beginning as a thin veneer for older software code

Yup Windows began as a GUI for DOS.

it has become an obese monolith built on an ancient frame

Wrong, there's nothing of the "ancient frame" remaining in Windows today. It's completely different. More details below.

Adding features, plugging security holes, fixing bugs, fixing the fixes that never worked properly, all while maintaining compatibility with older software and hardware

Oh yeah all very good. Let's stop doing that, we won't add any new features. Then of course you'll be complaining because the new version of Windows doesn't have anything new. Security holes, OK we won't do anything about those, patching bugs, meh we'll just sell you the new version instead like Apple do. Compatibility, ah nobody needs that, we'll just stop worrying about that so you can buy all your hardware and software again every time a new version is released.

What planet is this guy on? Anything as an excuse to bash Windows.

Vista is the equivalent, at a minimum, of Windows version 12 — preceded by 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 2000, ME, XP. After six years of development, the longest interval between versions in the previous 22-year history of Windows, and long enough to permit Apple to bring out three new versions of Mac OS X, Vista was introduced to consumers in January 2007.

Oh here we go Apple must be nimble and quick because Microsoft didn't release anything new for six years. Wrong.

Microsoft shipped two server releases, four versions of Media Center, and at least two Tablet PC Editions, without counting Windows Mobile and Embedded that's eight versions of Windows right there. I should also mention Windows XP SP2, which could of been sold quite easily as a new version of Windows - Microsoft put pretty much the entire Windows team on SP2 for a year, pushing Windows Vista back so they could give you a free upgrade. I suppose you'd rather of seen a Windows XP R2 or SE in the shops for $200 though right?

The internal code name for the next version is “Windows 7.” The “7” refers to nothing in particular

Wrong, the seven refers to the next major version of the NT kernel, which in Windows Vista and Server 2008 is version six.

Yes version six (with four major releases), so your twelve versions of Windows is junk too. Why? Because there was a version of Windows started up from the ground up. It's called NT, which is why your ancient frame comment in your first sentence is utter nonsense. In fact Microsoft did it so well that apparently Randall doesn't even know they pulled it off.

the company should take heart from Apple’s willingness to brave the wrath of its users when, in 2001, it introduced Mac OS X. It was based on a modern microkernel design

Completely different. Apple took an existing operating system, FreeBSD (based on Unix) and built on it. So on the one hand you're proposing they "borrow" somebody else's operating system, and on the other hand you're telling them to start over fresh. Which is it Randall?

Asking Microsoft to chuck compatibility in the bin and start over new would be the biggest disaster ever in the technology industry, and no doubt the most expensive undertaking in history. Do you have any idea of the scale of forcing a complete overhaul for over a billion computers? Apple only had to worry about the backlash of a few million of their strongest supporters. Microsoft have to worry about a billion computer users, the largest companies in the world and everyone else. Talk about letting Microsoft give ammunition to people like you, who in next week's article would be attacking Microsoft for hurting backwards compatibility.

Windows Vista represents the biggest leap forward in changing the system since Windows 95, huge aspects of the operating system were thrown away and written from the ground up, NT security measures were enforced. That hurt compatibility, and Microsoft spent a considerable amount of time working on using visualisation to keep the impact to a minimum (something I believe they were extremely successful with). Something the scale of change we saw in Windows Vista was really as far as Microsoft could push it. Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the people who say we need to move forward, and that ensuring compatibility does hold things back. But what you're saying a completely re-write of the entire system from scratch, with modern ways of building a system is so far out of the real world. The press and blogosphere have a field day with Windows Vista already because it was so much of a change (completely unwarranted in my opinion Windows Vista is the best OS to date), what you're suggesting would amplify it a hundred times over. But I've got a feeling that's what Randall wants to see, or at least the people he got all these crazy ideas from.

They believe that problems like security vulnerabilities and system crashes can be fixed only by abandoning system design orthodoxy, formed in the 1960s and ’70s, that was built into Windows.

Now he's talking utter crap. Mac OS X you keep going on about is based on Unix from the 1960s!

Windows NT comes from the early 1990s, it was based on VMS which was created to address all the problems with Unix. You've got things completely upside down Randall. And even if they were right, it's not like you can use old or modern in this space to assume an operating system is good or not.

A MONOLITHIC operating system like Windows perpetuates an obsolete design.

What? Oh you're using a technical term to the general public so they think monolithic means bloated and big, and even that is 10 years out of date. This strikes me like creationists calling evolution a "theory", knowing full well how the general public understand the word, and how scientists use it are completely different. Windows NT uses a hybrid-kernel, not a monolithic kernel. He seems to be brushing over the fact that internally it is extremely modular, and not at all similar to something like Windows 95 or Linux, which use a monolithic kernel.

We don’t need to load up our machines with bloated layers we won’t use. We need what Mr. Silver and Mr. MacDonald speak of as a “just enough” operating system. Additional functionality, appropriate to a given task, can be loaded as needed.

What you mean like Windows? When you need to load something, you load it up and when you're finished you close it so it's not using any resources. Jeez.

I can't even be bothered talking about the rest, this guy just has absolutely no clue, everything he says is wrong, it started off completely wrong, and he just went further and further towards cluelessness. He's got so many concepts just completely backwards, and he's propagating so many myths straight out of the Apple/Linux crowd like Microsoft didn't do anything for six years between Windows XP and Windows Vista.

You're wrong Randall, totally wrong.

Apple and iPhone - the BBC loses it

Well the BBC was on a little roll, but it looks like some of their tech journalists need a kick up the rear for this article.

Apple fans are waiting with bated breath - and a seemingly unending supply of rumours - for the iPhone Version 2.

Yeah, maybe it will get 3G like we've had everywhere else for years, or maybe GPS like we've had for years already. I'm sure they're keen to catch up.

The first iPhone has been a big hit

I wouldn't define having a marketshare of 5.3% for Smartphones in Q1 2008 a "big hit". RIM and Microsoft are the big players here, and in Europe I think Windows Mobile is in the strongest position, we've had Windows Mobile devices on the market here for nearly a decade and I often see Windows Mobile devices out and about, I can't remember the last time I saw a Blackberry, or an iPhone in public.

I think this video explains it all...

Unlike more traditional technology companies like Microsoft or Google which are run by geeks and have feature-rich and innovative products and services that are very extensible and customisable. Apple today is dominated by the marketing department, as a result we get feature-poor, often buggy and insecure products that are locked-down to end-user customisation, but they can get the press on side thanks to their slick propaganda department and as a result, some people drink the kool-aid.

Of course some people, even Apple fans can get passed it sometimes and see the light, like when Nik Cubrilovic tried Windows Vista.

I have been running Vista for a little less than 24 hours and I can't believe I didn't switch back sooner, the main difference is that the interface is much much smoother and neater and despite popular belief performance is actually fantastic. I was used to waiting on Mac OS X while my standards apps would open up - Quicksilver, Firefox, Skype, etc. but Vista goes almost straight into the desktop and most apps boot very quickly.

I didn't expect it to be like this, I didn't want Vista to be this good - I was expecting to boot back into OS X and living happily ever after, but damn, this is one fast, slick and nice operating system.

The bottom line is, no matter how much hype Apple's marketing department can generate, and how much they attack their competition in adverts, they're years behind what Microsoft and others have done.

Why isn't my computer seeing more than 3 or 4GB of RAM?

Increasingly I'm running into these sort of questions in technical communities, to the point where its happening several times a day. Questions like:

"I've 4GB of RAM, but Windows only shows 3GB" and "My PC's got 8GB of RAM but it only shows 3.1GB" etc

This stems from the fact that a 32-bit computer (sometimes referred to as x86) only supports a 4GB (2^32) address space. So why doesn't 4GB of RAM show up? Because the computer also needs to address other hardware in the computer like the CPU, motherboard, graphics card etc these all need addresses so the computer can access them.

It's time for one of my dodgy analogies, and for the 5 year old artist inside me to break out.

This is what the address space on a 32-bit computer with say 2GB of RAM "looks" like using my dodgy street/house analogy. The first row of houses are the first 1GB of addresses, and so on.

Say the red house is where the CPU lives, the sound card lives in the yellow house, and the graphics card in say the orange house, these are all occupying addresses within the 4GB limit. The green houses are all filled with RAM. And there are some empty houses shown in white.

So what happens if we try sticking another 2GB of RAM in the system to bring the total RAM to 4GB?

Uhh ohh... All of the houses are full up, and we've got some RAM left over. This RAM is unaddressable, and as such the system has no address by which to communicate with it, and it goes unused.

This is why people's computers are only seeing about 3GB of RAM (that number varies due to different hardware, some needs more address space, some needs less). Despite the address space being 32-bit, the rest of the hardware needs its addresses and so the extra RAM is pushed out of the address space.

The solution

There is no easy solution, if you want your computer to use more than around 3GB of RAM. You have one option.

Ensure your hardware is 64-bit compatible, and use 64-bit Windows.

The mainstream version of 64-bit systems were mainly developed by AMD (dubbed AMD64, x86-64, often shortened to just x64), which debuted in their Athlon 64 chips. Intel later adopted the same technology in their own chips, for the last couple of years almost all CPUs sold are capable of running in both 32-bit and 64-bit modes. In 2005 Microsoft released versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that had been rewritten to support these 64-bit CPUs, and along with the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Microsoft also ship 64-bit versions.

64-bit has a significantly larger address space, 2^64 is 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes, that's about 16 exabytes. About 17 billion GB of address space, using the analogy it looks like this:

Our street/house analogy breaks down here, and there's no way I can draw all the houses, but you can see the left over 1GB of RAM now gets an address.

Recent changes, and putting 64-bit to work

Microsoft made some changes in Windows Vista SP1 so that the system properties will display the installed RAM, instead of the usable RAM. This no doubt came at the request of computer manufacturers who were getting too many calls to their help desks about this issue. Instead of doing the obvious thing - which is using Windows Vista x64 when selling computers with 4GB or more RAM, they'd rather cover the problem up, it's not like the 64-bit version is anymore expensive to buy off Microsoft than 32-bit.

You can still check what RAM is usable by opening the Task Manager and looking at physical memory under the performance tab.

It is only a matter of time until computer manufacturers have to get their act together on this - in a couple of years when you can buy computers with 8GB of RAM they won't be able to get away with 5GB going unused and they'll have to start moving 64-bit versions of Windows in large quantities.

Using 64-bit versions of Windows does have its trade offs, the hardware needs to support 64-bit by supplying 64-bit compatible drivers, and some motherboards need an option to be changed in the BIOS to support 64-bit. There are also some software compatibility changes, although Windows XP/Vista x64 is compatible with 32-bit software, applications that dig in deep to the system like anti-virus will probably need to be replaced, in addition 16-bit applications from the DOS/Windows 3 era are no longer compatible.

A few interests tidbits

A 1 exabyte hard drive would cost somewhere in the region of $200 million to manufacture. I don't know how big it would be - but it would be pretty huge.

All the words spoken by every human through history would weigh in at about 5 exabytes.

Yes, a 16EB address space is pretty big, and we won't need to move to 128-bit for address space reasons anytime soon (and yes in 30 years I'll probably regret saying that).

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