Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vista vs Vista SP1

We’ll start with our Futuremark benchmark applications, 3DMark 2006 and PCMark Vantage. 3DMark in spite of being a graphics benchmark is sensitive enough to pick up on any changes in CPU or GPU performance (in this case any optimizations that reduce overhead), while PCMark Vantage is a full suite of benchmarks to measure overall system performance. It’s also one of the few benchmarks that we’re using that has a 64-bit mode.

Starting with 3DMark, the change in performance is effective imperceptible at 0.2%, well within experimental variance. This just goes to show there haven’t been any changes in overhead. PCMark however is far more interesting; here we get a full 7% score increase, indicating that SP1’s effects are felt outside of our earlier benchmarks. Drilling down ino PCMark’s subscores, we found that the higher score is a result of improvements in data compression scores, data encryption scores, and searching in Windows Mail, all of which can be attributed to improvements in file I/O performance. All other subscores are virtually unchanged.

Moving on to our application specific benchmarks, we have our DivX encoding test, our iTunes/LAME MP3 encoding test, and the Retouch Artists speed test for Photoshop. DivX stresses I/O somewhat, while the rest of the tests are largely memory and CPU-bound.

Here we see no notable changes in performance moving to SP1. All of the application tests come back with virtually identical scores.

Finally we have our gaming tests. Games tend to be good a great way to stress all the components in a system, so this should give us a better idea of how far improvements in Vista’s file I/O system stretch. For our games we have the RTSes World in Conflict and Company of Heroes, and the FPSes Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3.

In spite of the more rounded nature of gaming tests compared to our application tests, the results are the same with no perceivable improvement in performance. At this point it’s clear that what performance improvements Vista does offer are limited to a handful of situations where we are specifically file or network I/O bound. What this means for any given application is that it is unlikely to see a performance improvement due to SP1.

We also ran some quick testing with startup and shutdown times to see if Vista improved performance there at all; there were a couple of hotfixes in SP1 that dealt with these matters.

Vista Startup/Shutdown Performance

Startup Time
33 Seconds
28 Seconds
Shtudown Time
32 Seconds
31 Seconds

While shutdown time doesn’t see any real performance improvements, we are surprised to see an improvement in startup time by several seconds. Vista is not notably slow to start up in the first place, so we weren’t expecting much improvement if there was to be any at all. Shaving off 5 seconds for a 14% improvement in startup time (getting startup below 30 seconds altogether) is a pleasant surprise.

Windows Vista SP1 review

Bug fixes are a big part of any Microsoft service pack, but not just for the bugs being fixed specifically by the service pack. Microsoft has released numerous hotfixes since Vista launched, correcting a number of issues declared significant enough that they need to be fixed before the next service pack, but minor enough that they’re not worth a full deployment and the kind of massive regression testing that entails. The result is that there are a number hotfixes already out that can potentially fix specific issues certain users are having, but because they aren’t well-tested they’re instead well-hidden with only a small number of users with extreme problems usually getting their hands on any given hotfix. Now that a service pack has arrived, Microsoft has rolled up all of these hotfixes into the service pack, in essence approving them for wide release and full support.

Among the 24 pages(!) of hotfixes that have been rolled into Vista SP1 are favorites such as the virtual address space fix and a fix for a conflict with NVIDIA’s USB controller and >2GB of RAM. Other additions include fixes for ejecting iPods, a fix for HybridSLI/HybridCrossfire (which is why the launch of these technologies is tied to SP1), and a fix for AMD Barcelona processors causing system reboots during Windows installations. While we could rattle off the entire 24 page list of hotfixes, the important thing to note here is that there are a number of small issues that have been “fixed” prior to SP1 but are only now being widely corrected. We’re going to spend most of our time going over the biggest and most noticeable fixes in SP1, but please keep in mind there are many more things addressed in this service pack than what we’re looking at today or are listed in Microsoft’s consumer-level product literature.

Among the most significant fixes to Vista in SP1 is Microsoft's work on further refining the User Account Control (UAC) prompts of Vista. Even after already being scaled down between the betas and Vista’s launch, these prompts are still rather prolific at times. An adjustment to the folder creation is the most prominently touted of these fixes, with the number of folder creation prompts (when creating a folder in a protected location) falling from four to one. Microsoft doesn’t list any further reductions in UAC dialogs, but as far as anecdotal evidence is concerned it certainly feels like they’ve done a bit more than that. This won’t change the public perception of UAC (or Apple jokes on the subject), but any reduction is welcome and perhaps will stem the tide of Vista users who are completely turning off this critical system feature.

Among all of the fixes in SP1, the biggest and most widely noticed will be the changes Microsoft has made to how Vista copies and moves files. There’s no two ways about it, Vista is slow at copying files - in fact frequently much slower than XP. Microsoft had a good reason for picking the methods they did for Vista but the payoff clearly hasn’t been worth it, so they’ve gone back to the drawing board and modified their file copy methods slightly to improve performance. Vista still won’t perform as well as XP (and we’ll get to why that is in a second), but with SP1 it’s definitely faster than it was under the original version of Vista.

The story of why Vista’s file copy speeds are slow so is a long and interesting one, with Microsoft’s tech blogging guru Mark Russinovich providing a particularly lengthy and descriptive explanation of the issue. If you’re curious as to what the specific details of the situation are, we encourage you to read the whole blog. For everyone else we’re going to take the liberty of paraphrasing and condensing it a bit, so that we can go over the changes to Vista without talking about things at such a low level.

According to Microsoft, there are three issues with the CopyFileEx method in XP that they wanted to correct with Vista.

  1. XP’s buffered file network operations resulted in the file being cached no fewer than 3 times: twice on a client requesting data and once more at the host sending data. This wasted a lot of memory, particularly on the client.
  2. Copying large files would eat up a great deal of memory when write operations couldn’t keep up with read operations (solid state drives in particular are prone to this) and the read data would be cached until it could finally be written
  3. File copying was a synchronous action that couldn’t be pipelined, resulting in poor performance over high-latency, high-bandwidth links; this is one of the areas Microsoft was working to optimize performance under Vista, which included optimizations at the networking level.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Windows Vista SP1 RELEASED

Today Microsoft announced releasing Windows Vista Service Pack 1. It's a final release. Final long-awaited update. It is available through Microsoft Download Center. Here is full Vista SP1 for 32-bit windows verions (434.5 MB):

Download Windows Vista SP1

Will our computers run faster? Will large companies switch to Windows Vista or still use Windows XP and wait for xp service pack 3 ? Or is it going to be another Microsoft failure?
We will see in a future, and I will let you know, my blog readers.

Notable changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 1:

Windows Vista SP1 is an update to Windows Vista that, along with improvements delivered via these other channels, addresses feedback from our customers and partners. By providing these fixes integrated into a single service pack which is thoroughly tested by Microsoft and by industry partners and customers during the beta cycle, Microsoft provides a single high quality update that minimizes deployment and testing complexity for customers

In addition to all previously released updates, SP1 contains changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also will continue to make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage Windows Vista. Service Packs are not intended to be a vehicle for releasing significant new features or functionality; however some existing components do gain slightly enhanced functionality in SP1 to support industry standards and new requirements. Here is a complete document of changes of Windows Vista SP1.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 5 Windows Vista Gadgets

1) Multi Meter (Dual Core) v1.25a

Info shown:- Cpu usage % ( 2 cores )- Ram Usage %- Ram info ( Total, used, left size)- Status bars animated above 90%- 100 Skins + background selection- Help and email support included- Shortcut options

2) Calculator

The first ever Vista calculator gadget released on the Live Gallery.
The Calculator features: Expandable size. Automatic update notification. Scientific notation display. Memory, Trigonometry and Copy/Paste functions. Active operator indicator. Keyboard shortcuts. Help. And many other qualities.

Auction Sidebar Tool for eBay

Still the #1 eBay gadget, Auction Sidebar Tool offers an unrivalled set of features to help you stay on top of your eBay activities.

Speed Test (Monitor CPU, RAM, Internet, more..)

With Speed Test you can monitor CPU (over 8 cores) and RAM usage by itself and it has the ability to test;. View all data in a graph, seeing the results even after they happened. Imagine something on your computer slowing down and by the time you look at any other utility, the problem has vanished, but not with Speed Test and its graph.
Speed Test also has cross-hairs, put your cursor over the line you are inquiring about and detailed information is shown with the time and value of that point on the graph.


Receive live weather conditions for anywhere in the world on your Sidebar. Get detailed forecasts, radar, weather cameras, and severe weather alerts from any of WeatherBug’s 8,000 Tracking Stations.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Are you tired of Spyware?

Is your computer acting strange, restarting randomly, opening popups even when you are not even browsing, redirecting sites to spyware sites and is totally under control ?

All those spyware, adware, worms, trojans, viruses and dialers makes us all feel tired and desparate. Recent survey made by Cyber Security found that four of every five PCs are infected with harmful spyware. And it's getting worse...

I suggest you to take a free scan and remove dangerous spyware and adware from your computer. Even if you think your computer is clean, you should scan and you will be surprised.

Adware Alert - Get a free scan and take back control of your computer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

If You Think SP1 Fixed Windows Vista , Think Again

The same problems that were initially associated with the gold version of Vista have survived and moved on as the legacy of SP1. At the end of its first year of availability on the market, Vista had passed the 100 million sold license milestone, and according to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, present at MIX08 the past week, the platform is the second most popular Windows operating system in the world, despite its long line of problems.

“I’m not saying that there aren’t things that customers choose to
comment on. Come on, the number one issue we’ve had customers have issues on were application compatibility and driver compatibility. We made a very concrete set of choices in order to enhance the security, Vista is a very secure system. We’ve had very little issue of that kind. It’s the most secure client operating system out there. But we did have it we did make the choice to kind of hurt compatibility and our customers have let us know that that has been very painful,” Ballmer stated.

Still, the promise was that with Windows Vista SP1, Microsoft would soften all the rough edges of the operating system. But just like the gold version of Vista, the RTM build of Vista SP1 experienced integration issues with existent hardware drivers, a detail that led to the postponing of SP1’s general availability until mid-March.

“A couple of things have happened, a lot of the apps have now been upgraded to be compatible, and the drivers have been upgraded. We’ve shipped our first service pack, Service Pack 1, which allows us to factor in a lot of the quality and other suggestions that people have made, and I think we’re starting to see more uptake now in the business market, and Vista continues to sell quite strongly in the consumer market,” Ballmer added.

But not only is Vista SP1 not resolving the driver incompatibility issues of Vista, but it is introducing new ones. Microsoft warned on March 12, that in certain scenarios, following the deployment of Vista SP1, end users might experience sound problems.

The company enumerated the issues starting with the fact that: “no sound is produced when you play audio files or run programs that have an audio component. The speaker symbol next to the clock in the notification area may display the following message: ‘No Audio Output Device is installed.’ The Sound Controller in Device Manager displays a yellow exclamation point.”

The glitch is entirely the fault of Vista SP1. What the service pack does is to update system files upon installation and inbox device drivers are refreshed in an effort to evolve device reliability. This is done via the redeployment of device drivers at the very end of Vista SP1’s installation. But this specific step could fail and result in no new drivers being installed.

Microsoft advices end users to first restart the Windows Vista SP1 machine, then unplug and plug back in the speakers, as well as verifying the default output device. If these steps fail, then users should check to see if the audio device driver exists, and either perform an installation or an update.

Windows Vista speech recognition failure - the whole story

Here is what microsoft team is saying about this:

This specific problem looks like it was likely caused by a serious audio gain bug in the specific build that Shanen was using for the FAM (Financial Analysts Meeting) demo. I'm actually going to be taking a look at the machine personally this morning to see if that's what it was or if it was something else. No matter what it was, we'll address it before we ship in one way or another.

The results Shanen got during the demo were not at all similar to the results he was getting earlier yesterday morning, so there's certainly something else going on. If it always performed this poorly, we wouldn't ship it! :-)

I consistently get 99% accuracy with the Windows Vista Speech Recognition system, every day. I know a lot of other people here at work that use it regularly get similar results (to mine -- not Shanen's!)

and another one:
Speech demos in front of a large audience are particularly tricky because the acoustics change from when you did your rehearsal (in an empty room) to when it's showtime (lots of people). There are plenty of ways to make up for that, of course and the best way is to have a good close-talk microphone. But even then, sigh, something can happen.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

How To Remove Windows Vista And Install Windows XP

Please make sure you backup your files before you do this.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Services Guide for Windows Vista

there are some services you just don’t need; running them is a waste of resources. Here’s how to find and reduce them:

  • Click the Start button, then Run.
  • Enter services.msc in the box.

The screen that pops up is a bit intimidating at first, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Services are programs that run in the background, helping your computer work. They do things like make sure you’re connected to the network, allow your mouse to work, and so on.


The Services list shows every one that’s on your machine and tells you whether it starts automatically or manually, among other things. Some of the services that start automatically are unnecessary, so we’ll stop them. Here’s how:

  • Click the Extended tab on the bottom, which will create a space that will give you a description of each service.
  • Click on the words “Startup Type” at the top of that column, which will sort the services. The ones that say “Automatic” are, obviously, the ones that start when Windows does. They’re the only ones you care about.

Some services are critical for your computer to run. So don’t disable anything that’s not on the list below unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s an expendable item.

You can choose to disable the following non-critical items without encountering problems. The find out what each does before disabling, click on them. Some of these items are specific to Vista, while others are also found in Windows XP.

COM+ Event System
Cryptographic Services
DFS Replication
Computer Browser
Distributed Link Tracking Client
IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules
IP Helper
IPsec Policy Agent
KtmRm for Distributed Transaction Coordinator
Offline Files
Remote Registry
Secondary Logon
SSDP Discovery
Tablet PC Input Service (Unless you have a Tablet PC
Terminal Services
UPnP Device Host
Windows Error Reporting Service (no more asking you to notify Microsoft when there’s a crash!)

One at a time, find each one on the list and double-click it. A dialog box will appear. In it will be a drop-down menu next to “Startup type” that is probably set to Automatic.

Change it to Manual and click OK. This way the service will start only if it’s needed, not all the time.

Then under Service status, click Stop.

Click OK and go to the next service on the list.

Windows Vista registry clean up

The Registry is essentially a huge database of thousands of settings for Windows itself and most of your software. When you install or even use a program, it makes changes to the Registry, but when you uninstall something it often leaves junk behind, filling the Registry with garbage.
Luckily, there are a bunch of good Registry cleaners out there that will seek and let you destroy useless stuff. Here is some Vista registry tips and tricks:

We recommend the following Vista-compatible system utilities, available at Download.com

A good one to try is ToniArts EasyCleaner It’s both free and easy to use.

Here’s what you do:

  • Download and install a registry cleaner for Vista. When that’s done, start the program to get a grid of 16 things to choose from.
  • Click the Registry button.
  • Click the Find button on the bottom. EasyCleaner will search your Registry for the leftovers of old programs and other detritus. This could take several minutes.
  • When it’s done, the Delete All button will become clickable. Click it.
  • Click Yes to say you really want to delete the bad entries.
  • That’s it! Click Close and let’s move on.

Search Indexing

You might notice that your computer’s hard drive is busy a lot, even when you’re not doing anything. That could be because Vista is busy indexing all the contents of your drive in case you need to search for something.

The good thing about Vista’s indexing system is that it lets you find things on your computer very quickly when you need to. The downside is that if you don’t search a lot, your computer’s time and resources are wasted doing that.

If you only search your drive occasionally, here’s a good way to speed things up:

From your Control Panel choose “Indexing Options.”

  • Hit the Modify button. A dialog box with two boxes inside it will appear.
  • In the bottom of those two boxes will be a list of locations on your hard drive that Vista is indexing. One at a time, click each one of those “Included Locations” except Start Menu.
  • As you click each one, it will appear in the top box with a check mark next to it. Uncheck it. You should end up with only Start Menu listed as an indexed location.
  • Click OK, then close the Indexing Options box.

Feel like diving into the Registry for a quick change that might make a noticeable difference? Try this to speed up how quickly some program menus appear when you click on them:

  • Click your Start orb, then click Run.
  • Enter regedit to start the Registry Editor.

You’re now going to make your way through several levels of the Registry.

  • Click anywhere in the left-hand pane, then click Ctrl-Home to make sure you’re at the very top.
  • There will be five sections under “Computer,” all beginning with “HKEY_.”
  • Click on the little arrow next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER.
  • Click on the little arrow next to Control Panel.
  • Click the word “Desktop.”
  • On the right side, double-click “MenuShowDelay.”
  • In the box that appears, enter 0 (that’s a zero) in the box labeled “Value data.”
  • Click OK, then close the Registry Editor.
  • Registry edit