Monthly Archives: August 2008

Performing Windows 7 – Making it Better

From Engineering Windows 7

Steven Sinofsky talks about the Windows Team’s efforts with this new release of Windows to make it a release that lives up to all users expectation when it comes to performance in all categories, CPU Utilization, Disk I/O, Disk Foot Print, Memory Usage and more.

Quote:

‘Performance is made up of many different elements. We could be talking about response time to a specific request. It might mean how much RAM is “typical” or what CPU customers need. We could be talking about the clock time to launch a program. It could mean boot or standby/resume. It could mean watching CPU activity or disk I/O activity (or lack disk activity). It could mean battery life. It might even mean something as mundane as typical disk footprint after installation. All of these are measures of performance. All of these are systematically tracked during the course of development. We track performance by running a known set of scenarios (there are thousands of these) and developers can run specific scenarios based on exercising more depth or breadth.’

Personally, I believe a lot Windows Vista’s performance issues relates to how it is setup and what it is setup on. The OS tries to scale this according to how powerful a computer is. For instance, if you have little RAM, with an insignificant shared memory Vista will give a lower tier UI called AERO Basic, since using AERO Glass would be too strenuous performing on such system. Even if you have certain model discrete video card and certain amount memory, Vista will consider what’s best for you to give you the best experience. Hopefully this will be improved in Windows 7 in a way that they can get the most out of their system. Because regardless, Vista tries to make the system acceptable, the added application equation often makes the system performance less powerful and unproductive.

Quote:

We have criteria that we apply at the end of our milestones and before we go to beta and we won’t ship without broadly meeting these criteria. Sometimes these criteria are micro-benchmarks (page faults, processor utilization, working set, gamer frame rates) and other times they are more scenario based and measure time to complete a task (clock time, mouse clicks). We do these measurements on a variety of hardware platforms (32-bit or 64-bit; 1, 2, 4GB of RAM; 5400 to 7200 RPM or solid-state disks; a variety of processors, etc.) Because of the inherent tradeoffs in some architectural approaches, we often introduce conditional code that depends on the type of hardware on which Windows is running.

This something I have particular issue with, especially how the system rates your performance. For instance, I have Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit installed on a system with the following specs:

  • 3.2 Ghz P4 32-Bit
  • 2.6 GBs of RAM
  • nVidia Geforce FX 6200 512 MB AGP
  • 250 GB drive

Yet my Windows Experience Index rating stands at 2.3. Personally I believe at least a respectable 3.5. So, there needs to be a delicate and better way to rate a users components. Regardless of all of this, my system handles Vista beautifully especially with the recent Service Pack 1 update.

Read the entire article here

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Filed under Windows 7

Windows Development – does size matter?

There has been a lot of discussion this week stemming from the article over at the E7 blog about the size of the Windows 7 development team. Persons are saying, Windows 7’s human resources are just too big and hard to manage. Microsoft (Steven Sinofsky) response to that is, its the scope of the project that determines how many persons are allocated to developing the product. The Windows Team is divided into 23 + Development Teams.

Some of the main feature teams for Windows 7 include (alphabetically):

  • Applets and Gadgets
  • Assistance and Support Technologies
  • Core User Experience
  • Customer Engineering and Telemetry
  • Deployment and Component Platform
  • Desktop Graphics
  • Devices and Media
  • Devices and Storage
  • Documents and Printing
  • Engineering System and Tools
  • File System
  • Find and Organize
  • Fundamentals
  • Internet Explorer (including IE 8 down-level)
  • International
  • Kernel & VM
  • Media Center
  • Networking – Core
  • Networking – Enterprise
  • Networking – Wireless
  • Security
  • User Interface Platform
  • Windows App Platform

Looking back in the past, the size of the Windows Development Team, seems to have varied, if you take a look back at Windows Server 2003, the size of the Windows Team was 5,000 Developers. Here is a quote from Paul Thurrotts, Windows Server 2003: Road to Gold Part 2: Developing Windows:

Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and Windows Server Architect Mark
Lucovsky told me. "Now there are 5000 member of the Windows team, plus
an additional 5000 contributing partners, generating over 50 million
lines of code for Windows Server 2003. It’s the biggest software engineering task ever attempted. There are no other software projects like this."

Thats 10,000 developers depending on how you look at it. Considering that Windows 7 consist of both client and server and the approximation of Developers is around 2,500 it doesn’t spectacularly amazing about the size of the Development Team in this release.

For Windows 2000, Microsoft noted a higher amount of developers worked on the project than is now allocated to Windows 7, if todays estimates are correct:

"Microsoft has invested more than $1 billion in the development of
Windows 2000, and more than 5,000 employees worked on the new platform,
Gates said"
.

Microsoft Presspass: Windows 2000 Now Broadly Available

So, the enthusiast communities astonishment is a bit strange in my opinion, a project like Windows as Mark Lucovsky said is huge, taking into account the audience and segments of the market. Windows is not the Windows of 90’s or early 2000’s, this project that has changed dramatically over the years and continues to grow in features and yes, size. 

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E7 Blog: Maginitude of the Windows 7 Release

From Engineering Windows 7

Steven Sinofsky blogger and head honcho of the Windows 7 Project took the time out today to discuss Windows 7’s significance in terms of being a major upgrade or minor release, a huge topic in the blogs this week. Here is a snippet of what he had to say:

Quote:

When we started planning the release, the first thing some might
think we have to decide is if Windows 7 (client) would be a “major
release” or not. I put that in quotes because it turns out this isn’t
really something you decide nor is it something with a single answer.
The magnitude of a release is as much about your perspective on the
features as it is about the features themselves. One could even ask if
being declared a major release is a compliment or not. As engineers
planning a product we decide up front the percentage of our development
team will that work on the release and the extent of our schedule—with
the result in hand customers each decide for themselves if the release
is “major”, though of course we like to have an opinion. On the server blog we talked about the schedule and we shared our opinion of the scale of the releases of Windows 7 client and server.

Our goal is about building an awesome release of Windows 7.

Across all customers, there is always a view that a major release is one that has features that are really the ones for me. A minor release is one that doesn’t have anything for me.
It should then be pretty easy to plan a major release—just make sure it
exactly the right features for everyone (and given the focus on
performance, it can’t have any extra features, even if other people
want them)! As engineers we all know such a design process is really
impossible, especially because more often than not any two customers
can be found to want exactly opposite features. In fact as I type this
I received sequential emails one saying “[N]obody cares about touch
screen nonsense” and the other saying “[Win7 needs] more
advanced/robust ‘touch’ features”. When you just get unstructured and
unsolicited input you see these opposites quite a bit. I’m sure folks
are noticing this on the blog comments as well.

Read the entire article here

Steve went on to discuss the different categories of users the release of a product tends to target, Consumers, IT Professionals and Developers. My understanding and interpretation about this release of Windows is that major or minor is really in the eye of the beholder. But I wish the E7 Blog could have given a clearer understanding of the significance of this release. For instance, is it an upgrade that all Windows Vista users upgrade to or just Windows XP users? Right now, the only major feature we have become aware of in Windows 7 is Multi-Touch and to be honest, its cool, but not a must have for me in particular I will save final thoughts until I have experienced it. Lets stay tuned in.

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All About Microsoft: You say major; I say minor – Windows 7

From All About Microsoft

Mary Jo has been investing Microsoft’s recent decision to call Windows Server 7, Windows Server 2008 R2. This to many is indicating it as a minor release and is also reflecting on the client version of Windows 7 as a minor release. Here is a quote:

Over the past couple of years, both the Windows client and Windows
server teams have been structuring their releases to alternate between
major and minor ones.

(On the server side, the Softies have been rolling out a major
release followed by a minor update (known as Release 2, or R2) every
two years. On the client side, the timing has been off, but the major/minor cadence has been pretty similar.)
Starting with Windows 7, however, that logic and naming structure
that Microsoft has worked to establish for Windows seems to breaking
down.

Read the entire article here

My Thoughts:
I hate to say it, but Windows 7 client is beginning to sound like a
minor release indeed. With both the Server and Client expected to RTM
the same time, it pretty much adds up that Windows 7 will actually be
version 6.1. The reason I am hearing for the code name is because Steve
Sinofsky likes whole numbers, but at the same time, it just does not
add up why you would call the codename ‘Windows 7’, unless the Windows
Team is considering it a 7th release of the Windows product, not
technically a 7th ‘version’ of the NT kernel itself. We must take into
account, Microsoft stop using the NT version in its branding with the
release of Windows 2000 which was 5.0, XP 5.1, Server 2003 5.2.

Here
is the problem I just discovered after writing the above, Microsoft
could not use that logic, since it would mean that XP was the 6th
release of Windows, Vista the 7th and 7 being the 8th.

Microsoft
needs to explain themselves. If it continues with the 6.1 version by
Beta 1, its definitely a Vista R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2 releases.

Another thing about versions

During the early
parts of the Longhorn development, when the OS was at Alpha, Microsoft
christened it version 6.0, I am talking builds 4xxx. The leaked Windows
7 builds we have been seeing earlier this year have been using the
version 6.1 for the kernel. Some said that was because not all of the
product had matured enough to become a part of what at Microsoft is
called the ‘winmain’ build. Persons in the enthusiast community assumed
that by PDC 2008 Windows 7’s kernel would reflect version 7, but with
PDC only a couple months away, its looking unlikely at this stage.

Previously:

Is Windows 7 really just version 6.1?

Its Official – Windows Server 7 to be a Minor Release

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PC World: Microsoft Sends Up Trial Balloons for Windows 7

From PC World

Quote:

"Windows Vista hasn’t fared so well since its debut. Its generally low reputation among customers has led one Forrester analyst to dub Microsoft‘s latest OS "the New Coke of tech," while some studies have suggested that nearly a third of customers who buy a PC with Vista pre-installed may actually be downgrading those machines to XP.
Still
other customers seem to wish the whole thing will just go away. They
don’t want to hear about Vista at all — they’d rather hear about
Windows 7, the upcoming OS from Microsoft that will be Vista’s
successor. And given the dismal consumer reaction to its latest attempts to market Vista, Microsoft seems willing to oblige."

Read the entire article here

This conclusion that Vista is not
great or better comes from a lack in understanding and not using the OS
enough to really see the obvious benefits out of the box. My brother
upgraded to Windows XP in summer of 2002, loved it, you could say he is
an earlier adopter and continued using the OS on various machines,
including a Dell Inspiron he purchased in June of 2006 (XP Home).

My brother jumped on the early Windows Vista adopter bandwagon in
January of 2007. He loved it! Yes, the things that ‘wowed’ him was
Vista’s visual appeal, it looks darn great. And PC World would be surprised, a lot of people love the richness, the transparency and realness
of the OS. AERO is a bold, serious yet inviting look and many people I
ask, new to Vista, previous XP or 2000 users, novices, lab techs, love
Vista.

A lot of negativity about Vista has been intensified by a number of
things. Things that we have been acquainted with from previous versions
of Windows or any other platform…device drivers and application
compatibility. It just was not there for many in early 2007, but it has improved tremendously and has reached the same level as XP or better.
You would be hard pressed to find most modern hardware released in the
last 2 to 3 years incompatible with the OS, not to mention applications
that are probably in their second to third generation of full
compatibility with Vista.

XP’s reception faced many compatibility and hardware issues, I
remember some clearly, like Roxio and printer and scanner hardware not
being supported. But they eventually were, Roxio did update version 5
to support XP and the problems died. But because XP was released in a
time where the Internet, blogging and the spotlight was not on
Microsoft and Windows in a scrutinizing way like it is today. In
addition to Microsoft’s transparency and openness during the Longhorn
project, it set a tone and perception in addition to things that
happened during the project like reset and drop of features. Those are
the irrelevant things that are still etched in the minds of many who
covered the OS during its development.

Vista in its current form is well accepted, but some lingerings
still remained and being revived and utilized by people who have never
used Vista, don’t use Windows and is being articulated in a way to make
Windows out into a platform that is not desirable, these include the
voice of Open Source, small resurgence of Apple, Justin Long vs PC and
many other insignificant events in the past few years.

But it still does not hide the fact that people are accepting of
Vista’s improvements, whether its developer wise, business or consumer
wise. Search, collaboration, ease of setup, security, Backup,
organization, true hardware and application support, clean interface
and just the plain likability of the OS, people see it and are proving
it everyday with the millions of licenses that come pre-installed on
new PC’s or deployed.

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Filed under Windows Vista

Talking about “Windows 7” appears in WSUS

From Living in Athens via All About Microsoft 

Just saw this interesting screenshot of Windows 7 support in the WSUS list on Living in Athens. Is this a sign that the first Developer Previews or BETA’s of Windows 7 are imminent?

Quote

"Windows 7" appears in WSUS

Here is a screenshot from my WSUS server today morning.

Notice the "Windows 7 Client" category in the Windows family of products.

Mary Jo notes, ‘The actual Windows 7 client code was not distributed via WSUS. But the
appearance of Windows 7 on the list of products that will be serviced
over WSUS paves the way for Microsoft to start pushing something
Windows-7-related to customers in the coming months.’

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Filed under Windows 7

Ed Botts Early Windows 7 Hopes

From Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report

Quote:
I thought it might be interesting to arrange the feature teams into
groups and discuss what I believe the real challenges of each group
are. It’s important to remember that this development team is working
on business, consumer, and server products, all of which will be built
on the Windows 7 code base.

THE GUTS

Feature teams: Fundamentals; Kernel & VM; Security; Deployment and Component Platform

Don’t be distracted by predictions that Windows 7 will have a new
kernel. It’s going to be an evolution of the kernel shared by Windows
Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008. I’ll be especially interested to see
whether some form of the Hyper-V virtualization platform
appears in Windows 7. If it does, I expect it will be in the enterprise
version. The security challenges for Windows 7 are well known as well: refining User Account Control and hardening the kernel against new forms of attack.

Read the entire list here

I personally am looking for improvements to the Networking User Experience in Windows 7, its just too much in terms of the amount of networking related UI’s.  Here is a quote from the Networking Section of the ActiveWin Windows Vista Review I did in 2007:

I
love the centralization of Network and Sharing Center, in prior builds I was
badly disappointed by networking overall in Vista, here is what I had to say
about it:


The networking wizard looks and feels clumsy. Common links
are all over the place making the layout difficult for users to understand.
You have these wizards with huge title bars that make you wonder why? It’s
just not well thought out, and I wish there was more focus on consistency
and ironically simplicity. I believe most of the functions first introduced
in XP could remain the same and some could be slightly improved. For
example, the Local Area Connection properties should be an Explorer instead
of this same old dialog I have been seeing since Windows 95. Its just too
much clicking, I had to open Network Center then click Manage Network
Connections, right click the connection, click Properties, its a chore
really.


The primary focus has been lost and I think networking in
Windows Vista has taken a definite step back and in some areas remains
primitive. Come on, five to six windows for networking? Networking is still
possible in Windows Vista and it can be accomplished with careful thought
and planning. I was able to join a domain and network both my laptop and
desktop using the traditional methods that we have known since prior
versions of Windows dating back to Windows 95 which takes more than three
clicks and seems very out of place with the changes to explorer. 

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