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Pros and Cons of Windows Vista :: Archived
This is a forum for Software related items such as OS', Virus notices, cool or free programs, etc. Gaming software should go in the gaming folder pertaining to the current info.
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Joined: Jan 21, 2005
Posts: 6989
Location: Central Illinois, USA
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:36 pm
Post subject: Pros and Cons of Windows Vista

Here's some interesting points about the upcoming release of Windows Vista and some comments from Beta testers. I'll let you make up your own mind, but both articles are worth reading IMO... Wink

First, the Pros...

Why Windows Vista Won't Suck

Major Kernel Overhaul

Many users view Windows XP (and Windows 2000, and previous Windows versions) as unsafe. No matter how many patches and updates Microsoft releases, the foundation of the OS itself�the kernel�is designed and built in a way that prevents it from being truly secure. The only solution, it is argued, is to redesign and rebuild the kernel with a focus on security and stability.

Well, that's sort of what Microsoft is doing with Vista. Rewriting the kernel completely would break too many applications, so that's not really an option. While the kernel in Vista is still primarily the same one as in Windows 2000 and XP, there have been some significant changes to tighten up security. Fewer parts of the OS as a whole run in Kernel mode - most drivers run in User mode, for instance. Things that run in Kernel mode are prevented from installing without verified security certificates, and even then they require administrator-level user permission. In Vista, it should be much more difficult for unauthorized programs (like Viruses and Trojans) to affect the core of the OS and secretly harm your system. In theory, you practically have to invite one in. Of course, the security of the kernel is unproven and will remain so until the OS ships and is out "in the wild," but it's encouraging that Microsoft has done everything they can to enhance stability and security while maintaining backward compatibility, which is no easy task.

That's not all, of course. Microsoft has made it their aim to make life easier on developers by improving and simplifying the way software interfaces with the system and the underlying hardware. Naturally, performance has been a major concern, too.

Take, for example, heaps. Most Windows XP users don't know what a "heap" is (it deals with how developers allocate memory and make memory requests), but there are problems in Windows XP when developers deal with large heaps, heap fragmentation, etc. In the Vista kernel, they have cleaned that up, helping to prevent heap fragmentation and gracefully deal with large heap requests. If that sounds like a bunch of technobabble nonsense, don't worry. You don't have to know what it means, you just have to know that it makes life easier on developers and improves performance. And it doesn't stop with heaps. Lots of relatively little, commonly-used functions have been improved, like procedure calls.

Then there's power management. System power management queries between system drivers and the OS have gotten a major overhaul, so it should be easier for hardware vendors to make their devices work in low-power environments and seamlessly work with power-saving features like Hibernation and Sleep Mode. "What is Sleep Mode?" you ask? On desktop systems, turning off the power will, by default, put your computer in Sleep Mode, where all the data currently in use is saved to both RAM and the hard drive, and then turns everything off except for a few key components (CPU, RAM, a few chipset features).

Move the mouse or press a key and the computer "boots" in a few seconds. In reality, your computer never turned off, it just went into a super-low-power mode. On laptops, Sleep Mode works much the same way when you hit the power button or close the lid, except it doesn't take the time to double-save everything to a hard disk. Instead, it monitors battery life in the ultra-low-power Sleep Mode and, when the battery gets low, transfers the RAM contents to the hard disk. It's like Hibernate mode, only faster.

A key improvement to the root file system and memory management of Vista is a technology called SuperFetch. SuperFetch learns which applications and bits and pieces of the OS you use most and preloads them into memory, so you don't have to wait for a bunch of hard drive paging before your apps or documents load. Microsoft has developed a pretty sophisticated prioritization scheme that can even differentiate which applications you are most likely to use at different times (on the weekend vs. during the week, or late at night vs. in the middle of the afternoon).

The scheme is also smart enough to make sure background tasks like virus scanners don't get priority over the foreground tasks you're working on. In fact, the whole I/O system now has a priority structure not that different from services, so your computer shouldn't bog down when some peer-to-peer file trading program has to do a hash check on a big file or something. SuperFetch also takes advantage of external memory devices�plug in that spare 256MB USB key (any size will work, really) and Windows can cache a lot of the working set to it. It's not as fast as your system RAM, but it's much faster than randomly grabbing small bits of data from all over your hard drive.

The driver model of Vista has been totally changed. Many of the drivers that used to sit at the system (kernel) level are now at the user level, which means that when drivers fail, your whole system shouldn't crash. You should also be able to update most drivers without rebooting your system.

Oh, and this time, we should have good 64-bit support. The 64-bit version of Vista ships at the same time as the 32-bit version and has all the same features�it may even be on the same disc. Everyone making Vista drivers who we know of are making functionally identical 32- and 64-bit drivers. With Vista, 64-bit computing might finally meet critical mass.

Why should you care?
The kernel may not be "sexy," but it's critical. It's one of those things where, if it's done right, you just take it for granted. Well the kernel and related operations (like I/O) in Vista should be far more secure by design, so hopefully we'll see almost no viruses or Trojans, or at least not any that affect a large number of users. SuperFetch shows a lot of promise, since it can hide the slow performance with data loading and make your computer feel a lot more "snappy." The new driver model is definitely a great thing�fewer critical system failures from bad drivers and less rebooting when drivers get updated.

To continue reading the whole article... Click HERE!

To continue to the Cons...

y Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Oh! My aching head.

When I first saw ExtremeTech's Why Windows Vista Won't Suck, I thought: "Aha, sarcasm."

Nope. I was wrong.

They really were saying that Vista is pretty good.

Oh please.

First, let me say, I've been running Vista myself for quite some time. Next to me at this very moment is a Gateway 835GM. Under the hood, it has an Intel Pentium D 2.8GHz dual-core processor, an Intel 945G chipset, 1GB DDR2 (double data rate) DRAM, a 250GB SATA hard drive, and built-in Intel GMA (graphics media accelerator) 950 graphics. That's a fairly powerful machine. Which is a good thing, because it's the only PC in my office of 20 PCs that's got enough oomph to run the Windows Vista February CTP (Community Technology Preview) build 5308 without driving me into fits of rage.

Mind you, it's not enough machine for Vista. I could run any Linux with all the bells and whistles on it without a problem. But, even though this system meets Intel's recommendations for a Vista-capable Intel Professional Business Platform, it still doesn't have the graphics horsepower needed to carry off Vista's much ballyhooed three-dimensional Aero Glass interface.

My point is, though, that while I write a lot about Linux, and I prefer it, my real specialty is that I know operating systems of all types and sorts, including Vista.

So when I say Vista sucks, well, I know what I'm talking about.

"Suck" is a relative term, though. Vista will be better than XP, which has easily been Microsoft's best desktop operating system to date.

However, Vista also requires far more hardware oomph than previous Windows systems. I'd say Intel's recommendations are pretty much a minimum for Vista. I would only add that if you expect to see the fancy desktop, you need to invest in, say, an ATI Radeon XPress 200, an Nvidia nForce4, or a high-end graphics card.

The truth is that very, very few people are going to be upgrading their existing systems to Vista. To make it work well, you're really going to need a new computer. If you didn't buy your PC in 2006, I wouldn't even try to run Vista on it.

OK, so the first reason that Vista sucks is that, no matter what version you get, it's likely to be expensive. No matter what Microsoft ends up charging for it, the only way most people are likely to be running it is when they get a new PC.

Now, let's see what my colleagues at ExtremeTech have to say in Vista's defense ...

Vista is much safer and more secure. "The whole kernel has been reorganized and rewritten to help prevent software from affecting the system in unsavory ways."

Well, yes, this is certainly what Microsoft would have to do to make it truly secure. I've say that myself. Unfortunately, while Microsoft has worked hard on improving Vista's security, it's still pretty much the same old rickety kernel underneath it.

Need proof? In January, Microsoft shipped the first security patch for Vista. It was for the WMF (Windows Metafile) hole. You know, the one, that my security guru friend Larry Seltzer called, "one of those careless things Microsoft did years ago with little or no consideration for the security consequences."

Good job of cleaning up the core operating system, Microsoft!

Of course, Linux never had this kind of garbage to clean up in the first place.

The ExtremeTech guys also say that Microsoft has done a good job of cleaning up Windows' use of memory management and heaps. They're right about that.

What they don't mention is that Linux and Mac OS X have both done that kind of thing well for years. They also don't mention that for an application to actually get the most from these improvements, it will need to be rewritten. So, if you want to get the most from Vista, be sure to set some money aside for new applications as well as a new PC. You'll need it.

They also praise SuperFetch, Microsoft's new combination application pre-fetching technique and hyper-active virtual memory manager. Intelligent pre-fetching is a fine idea for boosting performance. You've been able to use it in any application written with the open-source GCC for years. Microsoft's execution of it, however, has one of the biggest "What were they thinking of?" mistakes I've seen in a long time.

You see, with SuperFetch you can a USB 2.0-based flash drive as a fetch buffer between your RAM and your hard disk. Let me spell that out for you. Vista will put part of your running application on a device that can be kicked off, knocked out, or that your dog can carry away as a chew toy. Do you see the problem here? Me too!

I also understand that Vista will have improved TCP/IP networking. It's nice to know that they've finally done something with that open-source BSD code that's the basis of their TCP/IP network protocol.

What ExtremeTech doesn't mention, though, is that Microsoft is also planning on making it so that you can use IPSec (IP security protocol) for internal network security. This is another of their "What were they thinking of?" moments.

IPSec works fine for VPNs (virtual private networks). But, as John Pescatore, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said about this scheme, "Once you try to encrypt internal communications, your network architecture breaks." He's got that right.

Next up, they say wonderful things about Home Premium Vista having Media Center capability being built into it. Maybe I'm just a little confused here, but after looking at the feature sets, the only thing I see that's changed here is that they'll be calling the next media-enabled Windows "Home Premium Vista" instead of "Media Center Vista."

They also praise this version for having CableCard support, with the result that you'll be able to record HD (high definition broadcasts) from cable instead of being stuck with OTA (over the air) HDTV, without turning your entertainment room into an electronics lab.

Excuse me, but that's not because Microsoft is being innovative. It's because they are still not shipping CableCard cards for PCs. Come the day they finally ship -- and I'm betting the ATI OCCUR makes it out first -- I suspect MythTV and the other open-source PVR (personal video recorder) projects will be right there.

The ExtremeTech crew also has nice things to say about Vista's audio support. Mea culpa, it is better than anything else out there. So, Linux desktop designers, it's time to get cracking on audio support. Vista's still won't be out, at the earliest, until the fourth quarter of this year, and that gives you plenty of time to play catch up.

DirectX10, which is mostly used for game graphics and in the aforementioned Aero, is also much improved. It's also, however, completely different from DirectX9. Current games, current graphic cards, won't be able to do anything with it, which is why Vista also supports DirectX 9.

Here again, I'll give the Microsoft guys come credit. DirecX10 is a big improvement for the gamers. It's still not going to make your PC the equal of a dedicated game console, however.

The folks from ExtremeTech also like the fact that Vista will have many more built-in applications. Isn't this why Microsoft got into trouble with the Department of Justice a while back? Isn't this the kind of thing that has both South Korea and the European Union raking them over the coals? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

Be that as it may, as I sit here looking at my SUSE 10 Linux desktop, I can't help but notice that I have, for free, every software application I could ever want. Advantage: Linux.

At the end of the story, the ExtremeTech crew 'fesses up that "We don't know that it's going to be great just yet." True. And, I don't know that it's going to suck yet, either.

Expensive? Yes. Awful? We'll see.

What I do know, is that I really don't see a thing, not one single thing, that will make the still undelivered Vista significantly better than the Linux or the Mac OS X desktops I have in front of me today.

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

To read this article with the links Enabled, Click HERE!

I for one am curious what MS plans on charging for the various versions of Vista...

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Bar Maid

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Joined: Jan 22, 2005
Posts: 2011
Location: Cleveland. UK.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:35 pm
Post subject: Re: Pros and Cons of Windows Vista

It's like when Windows 98 was released, the Windows 95 computer could hardly cope, an upgrade was required then.

Vista looks as though it needs a computer with a bit more 'poke' than we currently use for games just to run the OS. Shocked Shocked
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Aircraft Demolition Expert

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Joined: Nov 28, 2004
Posts: 4369
Location: Blaricum, The Netherlands ~GMT+1
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:10 pm
Post subject: Re: Pros and Cons of Windows Vista

It's like when Windows 98 was released, the Windows 95 computer could hardly cope, an upgrade was required then.

Vista looks as though it needs a computer with a bit more 'poke' than we currently use for games just to run the OS. Shocked Shocked

your right Kit, have had alook at the "requirements" for fsX.

you'll need the most elaborate version of Vista to run it properly, the system to run that will set you back at nowaday prices something like 3,000 of your local currency.......................................not a pretty prospect to look forward to Sad

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