Perception is a funny thing. If you listen to Microsoft, Vista, despite its acknowledged shortcomings, has been a success story and the company has the sales numbers to prove it. But talk to the end users and you'll hear a very different opinion. The negative perception towards Vista remains so strong that thousands of XP users have continued to make do with a nearly decade old OS.
The good news for Microsoft is that those same users don't hold the same disdain for Windows 7 as they do for Vista, according to a survey conducted by PC World and Technologizer.com. The survey pinged nearly 5,000 Windows XP users to find out how they feel about their current OS, why they haven't moved to Vista, and what their thoughts are regarding Windows 7.
Over 25 percent of the respondents said they continue to use XP because Vista doesn't justify an upgrade, and out of those who have used Vista, over half indicated somewhat negative or very negative feelings towards it. Of those who have never touched Vista, about 80 percent said they have somewhat negative or very negative feelings towards the OS.
Those opinions haven't soured the perception of Windows 7. Out of those who have had a chance to play with a beta or RC of the upcoming OS, over 65 percent said they felt very positive or somewhat positive with their experience, and only about 10 percent reported feeling negative.
Windows Vista introduced the Recovery Environment to the world of Windows, and Windows 7 has brought it back with even more improvements. Windows 7's Recovery Environment (also known as System Recovery Options) lives up to its predecessor, adding additional refinements and features.
To learn how Recovery Environment makes fixing a balky Windows 7 installation easy, join us after the jump.
For the most part, Windows 7 has been met with considerable praise from those who have given the beta and RC releases a spin, but all those good vibes are in jeopardy following the discovery of a major bug. According to DailyTech, RTM build 7600.16385 suffers from a "massive" memory leak in the frequently used chkdsk.exe application.
The bug rears its ugly head when scanning a second hard disk on a non-boot partition or second physical drive using the "/r" parameter. Doing so triggers a nasty memory leak, with the term "leak" being used loosely. Some users have reported the dreaded blue screen of death, while others note a memory usage of about 98 percent within seconds of running the app, but without the system crash.
DailyTech says the bug has been confirmed on a variety of hardware configurations, including netbooks and Core 2 Duo notebooks, and it affects both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
"In this case, we haven’t reproduced the crash and we’re not seeing any crashes with chkdsk on the stack reported in any measurable number that we could find. We had one beta report on the memory usage, but that was resolved by design since we actually did design it to use more memory. But the design was to use more memory on purpose to speed things up, but never unbounded — we request the available memory and operate within that leaving at least 50M of physical memory. Our assumption was that using /r means your disk is such that you would prefer to get the repair done and over with rather than keep working."
Looking to make life easier for everyone planning on upgrading to Windows 7, Microsoft this week published a chart detailing which OSes are eligible for an "In-Place Upgrade," and which ones require a "Custom Install."
The chart includes every OS from XP up to Windows Vista Ultimate, and even tosses in Windows Vista Starter, only found in developing nations. It appears daunting at first, but simply find the OS you're upgrading from in 32-bit or 64-bit form and match it to the version of Windows 7 you're planning to install. Owners of 32-bit Vista Home Premium, for example, can perform an In-Place Upgrade to 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate. This means the settings, files, and programs will be preserved. For all other versions, including 64-bit, upgrading from 32-bit Vista Home Premium requires a Custom Install, otherwise known as a clean install.
All XP users will have to perform a clean install no matter which version of Windows 7 is selected.
Linux has been cutting into Microsoft's market share for some time now, but up until recently, it was difficult to get Microsoft to admit as much. But in a recent filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft for the first time named a pair of Linux distributors -- Red Hat and Canonical -- as competitors to its Windows client business.
"Client faces strong competition from well-established companies with differing approaches to the PC market," Microsoft said in the filing. "Competing commercial software products, including variants of Unix, are supplied by competitors such as Apple, Canonical, and Red Hat."
Microsoft went on to reference netbooks, noting that Linux has gained "some acceptance," noting that "competitive pressures lead OEMs to reduce costs and new, lower-price PC form-factors gain adoption."
Canonical makes the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, known for its ease of use and often recommended to users new to open source OSes.
Windows Vista replaced the antiquated, tape-oriented Windows NT Backup wizard with a new backup system optimized for external hard disks, and some editions also included true "bare metal" disaster recovery. However, Vista's Backup and Restore Center was missing some vital functionality: there was no way to create a Recovery Environment disc to boot your system (you were expected to use your Windows Vista DVD), file and folder backup and system image backup were performed with different programs, and Home Premium users who needed image backup had to purchase a third-party program.
To find out how Windows 7 has completed the transformation of Windows Backup from awkward adolescence into full maturity, join us after the jump.
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore have setup a supercomputing cluster of over 1 million Linux kernels as virtual machines. They did so in hopes of better understanding how botnets operate.
"The sheer size of the Internet makes it very difficult to understand in even a limited way," said Ron Minnich, one of the researchers. "Many phenomena occurring on the Internet are poorly understood, because we lack the ability to model it adequately. By running actual operating system instances to represent nodes on the Internet, we will be able not just to simulate the functioning of the Internet at the network level, but to emulate Internet functionality."
Making the project possible, Sandia utilized its Albuquerque-based 4,480-node Dell high-performance computer cluster, known as Thunderbird. it took 250 virtual machines coupled with the physical units in Thunderbird to run the over one million Linux kernels. And this is just the beginning.
"It has been estimated that we will need 100 million CPUs by 2018 in order to build a computer that will run at the speeds we want," said Minnich.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Taiwan-based OEM PC makers are still waiting on Windows 7 tools from Microsoft as well as final validation tests from independent software and hardware vendors (ISVs and IHVs), putting them behind schedule. Previously, OEMs had hoped to roll out PCs with Windows 7 by the middle of this month, but are now shooting for September.
Although major OEMs were given RTM copies of Windows 7 around July 24th, the staggered release schedule is forcing ISVs and IHVs to wait until August 6th for the same code. That means OEMs hoping to include third-party software, like antivirus software, or drivers for specific hardware devices have to wait as well.
In preparation for Windows 7's October 22nd retail release, OEMs planned to have 10 million units of notebook and desktop PCs ready to go. In order to meet that goal, they would have to produce 2,000 PCs in a single month, which sources say isn't likely to happen.
According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, Microsoft plans to rebrand its Windows Mobile operating system to Windows Phone. The name change "reflects the upcoming desktop operating system release where people away from their PC can have the same experience everywhere," Microsoft explains.
The Windows Phone branding will be applied to Windows Mobile 6.1, the upcoming 6.5 release, and also to the multitouch-capable WIndows Mobile 7, due out sometime in 2010. There's no word yet on when the new Windows Phone branding will be implemented, nor do we have much info on why Microsoft has decided to rebrand, other than to make it easier for consumers.
Windows Mobile 6.5 Windows Phone has already been sent to manufacturers and will include the ability to backup all SMS and email content to the Web, remote disabling of the handset, and the new Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
According to Nvidia, Windows 7, which recently reached RTM, will be the catalyst that propels the concept of GPGPU computing into the mainstream.
"Previously, GPUs were almost exclusively limited to rendering and accelerating graphics and video," Chris Daniel, product manager for software at Nvidia, wrote in a Microsoft Partner blog. "With the introduction of Windows 7, the GPU and CPU will exist in a co-processing environment where each can handle the computing task they are best suited for. The CPU is exceptionally good at performing sequential calculations, I/O, and program flow, whereas the GPU is perfectly suited for performing massive parallel calculations."
Nvidia went on to say that by introducing the DirectX Compute in Windows 7, Microsoft is providing a huge shot in the arm for developers to make better use of the GPU for more than just graphics acceleration. Such tasks include high-quality video playback, high performance transcoding, enabling new media scenarios, and offering extended control over media libraries.
"As an example of the real world benefits of DX Compute, you will be able to use the massive parallel capabilities of the GPU to significantly reduce the time it takes to manager your media files compared with just using the CPU alone," Nvidia added.