It’s a change that makes sense, and is probably long overdue. The current formatting standard for hard drives is a legacy from floppy disks--formatting in blocks of 512 bytes. This makes for a lot of wasted hard drive space, when error correction and block gaps are tallied in. Given the amount of space that can be wasted on a 1TB drive with 512 byte blocks, it’s time for a change.
The new standard, promulgated by the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association (Idema), which all hard drive makers have committed to adopting, is a 4K block. Besides an eight-fold reduction of the amount of unused space, this standard doubles the amount of error correction per block. Hard drive makers can squeeze out more storage capacity on the same size hardware. Steve Perkins, a technical consultant for Western Digital, estimates the format to be about 7 percent to 11 percent more efficient.
Windows 7 (and Vista), along with Apple’s Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard versions of OS X, and all builds of Linux released after September 2009 are 4K aware--they can handle the new formatting standard, no problem. But XP can’t. It’s stuck, permanently, in the 512 byte block world. Hard drive manufacturers know this, so they have built in emulation for the 512 byte block size. The emulation, however, can result in slower performance. David Burks of Seagate anticipates a 10% drop in performance for XP users.
It’s not a big hit, to be sure, but it is a start. With hardware development on-going, and XP frozen in time, it’s not a matter of if XP will become obsolete, but when. That day, to the possible chagrin of some XP users, may be sooner than they'd like.
I love my PC, but it has just gone wacko! I keep getting this error on Windows XP: “Parser message: Value creation failed at line 544.”
I put my PC to sleep, but the message pops up repeatedly before it will sleep. Once it returns from sleep, the same message pops up five times, followed by the Classic startup screen. I don’t use the classic theme, but I couldn’t figure out what was going on so I just dismissed the error and kept playing the game I was playing. The next day the error was back. Help!
I just bought a used PC running Windows XP. It had been really fast loading and running programs and accessing the web, but suddenly it slowed down to a complete stop. I had to unplug it just to shut it down.
So, I unplugged the Ethernet cable and it worked fine. I scanned the C: drive—no virus. Plugged the Ethernet cable back in and it slowed down again. Unplugged the Ethernet and it’s fast again. What’s going on, Doc?
If you have a smartphone, there’s probably at least one thing missing from it. Any idea what that might be? If you answered a clunky desktop operating system experience, you are apparently correct. The long rumored xpPhone seems to be one step closer to reality now that it has a price. According to the phone’s maker, ITG, the price is expected to be 3000-4500 Chinese RMB, depending on options. That’s about $400-650 in the US.
Overall, the price isn’t outlandish. Many unlocked smartphones sell for similar prices. The xpPhone is no ordinary phone though. In fact, it’s like something straight out of Intel’s fantasies where MIDs actually took off. First off, it is massive, packing a 4.8-inch LCD display. There’s support for multiple 3G bands, a USB port, VGA-out, and even a tiny trackpad on the keyboard.
There will apparently be custom phone software on the device, making its essential functions a bit more usable. We are still less than convinced that running a full version of XP on something of this form factor is a good idea. Still though, there will be plenty of time to judge it when, and if it comes out.
Although USB flash drives have become the most popular way to transport project files between systems, you're probably looking for a cheaper way to distribute presentations, music, photo, or video compilations. For these jobs and others, creating a CD or DVD make more sense. However, there's plenty of confusion at home and the office when it comes to what media to choose and how to write your files.
Read on to discover our ultimate guide to CD and DVD media, burn strategies, and freeware CD and DVD burning programs.
iYogi, a Windows technical support company, recently conducted a survey of 100,000 of its customers. It is reporting that the top three problems with Windows 7 are: (1) problems with installation (31%); (2) missing applets or components (26%); and (3) Aero not working properly (14%).
XP users moving up to Windows 7 in the same hardware (rather than buying something new), are bound to struggle with the transition. Windows 7 doesn’t mesh well with XP in the upgrade process, placing more demands on users to save then transfer their information (or lose it if they misstep). Given the peril inherent in the process, a 30% figure is probably better than expected.
As for missing programs: Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery, and Windows Movie Maker, they’ve been stripped from Windows 7 and integrated into Windows Live Essentials--which is where users upgrading are told to go look for them. (The download link: “Go online to get Windows Live Essentials”, however, is not as informative as it might be--coming across more like an effort to dump on a lot of unnecessary software rather than retrieve something essential.)
And Aero themes? Most likely inadequate video hardware or out-of-date drivers. Aero is not for the faint of heart. And certainly not for a hardware set-up from the 90s. It isn't, however, catastrophic.
Emil Protalinski of Ars Technica adds some useful caveats to these results: These are only iYogi customers; and only those who sought help with Windows 7. The percentages sound big, but in the entire scheme of things they could well represent a small proportion of the Windows 7 user base.
No power user runs Windows with just stock settings; the plethora of third-party PC utilities is an embarrassment of riches. But what about Microsoft's own contributions? Tools like SyncToy and Pro Photos are pretty well known, but there's actually a wealth of advanced tools buried in the Sysinternals section of Microsoft's Technet site for IT professionals.
The Sysinternals site hosts some of the most powerful Windows utilities you can find. Yet surprisingly, not too many people know about them, since TechNet is primarily a System Administrator resource. Whether you're looking for more powerful ways to find out what's under the hood of Windows, need help creating VHD images for use with virtualization hosts, or just wanting to play a joke on your co-workers, these little-known utilities have you covered. We cherry pick and explain the features of the ten most useful Sysinternals tools, and then show you the best of the rest.
Read on to dive into this awesome stash of Microsoft-sanctioned tools and tweakers for Windows XP, Vista, and 7!
The upcoming xpPhone from ITG is, as the name suggests, running the Windows XP operating system. You may be thinking, “Why would anyone want a phone based on Windows XP?” Well, it’s probably going to be fast thanks to some sort of “AMD Super Mobile CPU”, and it has a massive 4.8-inch touchscreen. Most people probably don’t want to carry a phone that weighs almost a pound no matter how fast it is, but some will.
The xpPhone promises netbook-like specs including the aforementioned AMD CPU, 512 MB RAM, a USB port, full QWERTY keyboard, and up to 120 GB of hard drive storage. The phone will be available with GSM frequencies for three carriers: AT&T, Vodaphone, and Orange. A custom unified phone interface will be built into the device that allows the user to make calls and access applications.
No one has actually used the unit, so it is possible that the phone isn’t all that fast by computer standards. Would anything that makes a computer easy to use even transfer to this form factor? MIDs worked out so well, right? We’ll have to wait and see. No pricing or availability has been announced..
By now, many of you will have a fresh copy of Windows 7 in your hands, ready to load up onto your PC (we show you the right way to do it). But while that stock Windows install may be OK for your mom, but is it good enough for you? Never! You deserve a Windows that soars above the clouds, swift and strong. That’s why we collected our team of Windows experts and spent countless hours mucking around in the registry, downloading little-known tools, and searching for new keyboard shortcuts to bring you this, our finest Windows tips guide of all time.
Dig it: we give you the definitive list of kick-ass, Maximum PC–approved tips and tweaks for Windows, whether you run XP, Vista, or Windows 7. While some are specific to Microsoft’s latest OS (you’ve upgraded, right?), many will work on XP and Vista, as well. So sit back, relax, and get ready to make Windows better.
Since the dawn of Windows, power-user tipsters (us included) have proffered hundreds of suggestions with the promise of improving your PC’s performance or streamlining its operation. The tip-givers have the best of intentions, but do all of those tweaks, registry hacks, utilities, and “undocumented secrets” really make any difference? To our surprise, in a number of cases, it turns out that tips that sound great on the surface don’t actually do anything when you put the screws to them. And some of those complicated registry hacks are more easily done with tools like TweakUI, saving you a lot of hassle.
We put 25 of the most commonly published XP and Vista performance tips and registry hacks to the test. Do the speed tweaks yield dividends? We clocked performance with PCMark and timed boots and shutdowns repeatedly after making the changes suggested in the tips. In the end, we found that many tips were right on the money, but some were outright wrong or just a waste of time. Some tips fell into the gray area in between, offering some improvement but perhaps not enough to merit the trouble of the hack to begin with.
Read on for our results. You’ll never tweak the same way again!