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Windows Vista (carry on from games section)

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  1. Author: robvdl
    User type: Administrator
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 22, 2006, 3:25 p.m.

    This is carry on from a previous post in the games section, regarding the requirements of the upcoming Windows Vista, it was moved to this section by demand.

    Requirements on Windows Vista are not fully set at this moment, but from what I have read, it will require at least:

    • 512mb of RAM (1024mb highly recommended)
    • 128mb DirectX 9 capable video card (that means GeForce FX, or Radeon 9100 min)
    • Around a 2.8 or 3Ghz CPU (but should run sweet as on a little lower)


    These are quite different from the Vista “logo” requirements, for example Vista Premium ready PC's must have an HDMI output to earn the “Vista Premium Capable” logo. Vista Standard does not need an HDMI output to earn a “Vista Capable” logo.

    Before I start, some people will probably criticise about the delays, or unfinished features in Vista, I am fully aware of these, but it is still very early to start talking about these now, and we don't know exactly what is going on behind the scenes at Microsoft, so lets just talk about the positive things first.

    First 3D Windows

    So why on earth do I need a 3D Windows? Isn't it a lot of money just to get the 3D hardware, just so I can run Windows Vista? Maybe I should just stick with Windows XP?

    Not exactly, the problem with previous versions of Windows, is that they only utilize the 2D part of your graphics card, which is a lot slower and holds up the CPU, when windows are being drawn, moved around, resized, opened, etc. This is especially noticeable on cheaper onboard graphics cards when running on Windows XP, because XP uses visual themes and puts quite a bit of stress on the CPU for even simple window drawing.

    Windows Vista on the other hand will render windows using your 3D graphics card, which is probably at least 100x faster and takes the load off your CPU. Operations such as transparency on windows WITHOUT a 3D graphics card is extremely CPU intensive and is very slow on Windows XP. However even current 3D graphics cards can draw thousands of translucent surfaces per second, so it would only be logical to start using it for drawing windows too. So basically, Windows Vista will look visually very stunning, but WITHOUT the performance drop that XP had when using themes.

    Improved Security

    Windows Vista is built on the new NT 6.0 core, which is practically rebuilt from inside out. Windows XP was NT 5.1 and Windows 2000 was NT 5.0, so expect a lot of changes with Windows Vista! The main problem with Windows XP was spyware, this is because Windows XP encouraged users to log into their accounts with full administrator privileges, this meant applications such as Internet Explorer also ran with full privileges. Any security exploit in IE, and a piece of spyware had FULL access to the file system and windows core, to do anything it wanted!!!

    Windows Vista on the other hand works differently, it ‘borrows’ a similar security model to Linux, in which the user logs in with restricted privileges, just enough to do most tasks. Any software installation, and you will get prompted to enter the administrator password. This means that applications such as IE will run in an account using very low user privileges, even lower than the logged in user itself. If a piece of spyware does get through due to a security exploit, all that it will have access to is the browser cache, the rest is what they call ‘sandboxed’ out. Windows Vista will also come with a security improved version of IE7, called IE7+. Windows XP users will only be able to run the standard IE7. I for a fact will still stick with Firefox off course, due to it's better support for web standards. ;-) However IE8 may finally fix web standards support, it's long overdue, but Microsoft are doing something about it at least, just not in this version yet as security is their main concern in IE7.

    Control your Kids!

    Windows Vista allows you to control when certain users can use the computer, and even when users can access the internet, and at what given times. This way you can restrict the amount of time your kids spend on the internet.

    Spyware Protection

    Windows Vista will come bundled with Microsoft anti spyware, giving users around the clock spyware protection. Then again, you might not get much spyware in the first place, with Vista's rebuilt security model.

    Per application volume setting

    Have you ever been listening to loud music, then you hear this really loud annoying DING! from your instant messaging program? Windows Vista solves this by introducing a per application volume setting.

    Gadgets

    Windows Vista comes with a sidebar, and a number of gadgets, such as an integrated RSS news reader!

    Improved Start Menu

    Windows Vista furthermore improves on the start panel that was introduced in Windows XP. The start panel removed clutter from our desktop, by showing only your most frequently run programs on the left and system icons on the right. in XP this meant we could run our desktop without any icons at all! Windows Vista will add a “search as you type” feature directly in the start menu.

    WinFS

    Although it is still unknown if this feature will make it on time, but WinFS is what they call a ‘journalling’ file system. It means the file system holds database information on it regarding the files. The filesystem can run complex SQL queries on it to quickly find information. This will be used by the “search as you type” feature in the the new start panel. WinFS is designed to replace NTFS.

    Journalling filesystems are not new, the BeOS operating system was one of the first to add a journalling filesystem, and the Linux EXT3 filesystem has had it for some time too.

    I/O priority

    Windows 2000 and XP can run different programs at higher or lower priorities, but if you run an antivirus that uses the hard drive a lot, the operating system will still slow down considerably, this is because disk I/O cannot be prioritised in windows XP or 2000. Windows Vista also adds priority to I/O transfers, so for example antivirus programs can scan the hard drive using a lower priority, and not slow the system down as much.

    Better Gaming

    Games have changed a lot over the years, the games that were written a few years back for DirectX 7 are completely different to the modern games that use DirectX 9 and ‘pixel shaders’. Because of backwards compatibility, every time Microsoft released a new version of DirectX, they had to practically ‘hack’ the new features in, without losing backwards compatibility. By the time we reached DirectX 9, there was far too much overhead in DirectX. Communicating between the game and video card, was starting to get too slow.

    Windows Vista solves this, by completely rewriting DirectX 10 from the core, optimized for speed. They bundle TWO versions of DirectX with the OS, DirectX 10, and DirectX 9/8/7 for old or ‘legacy’ games. DirectX 10 tightly integrates with the 3D desktop of Windows Vista, and it's driver model, and therefore cannot be backported to Windows XP. It's not that Microsoft won't backport it, it's that it's not actually possible.

    ATI are currently working on a DirectX 10 optimized video card, if you're going to buy a graphics card, I would highly recommend this one. Why? Because it's built on an improved version of the same graphics chip that ATI created for the Xbox360! The biggest difference is that this new card has better ‘load balancing’ between the pixel and vertex shaders, to allow very complex worlds to be created in 3D games, both high in geometry, AND shaders, previously not possible on older cards.

    Next generation desktop and web applications

    Windows Vista introduces programmers to a new programming API, called Windows Presentation Foundation, or WPF. WPF uses an XML language called XAML, similar to HTML, but for building 3D application interfaces, you can even insert 3D models directly in a program. The idea behind WPF is to separate the programmers and designers tasks, so the programmers only have to create code, and the designers create XAML interfaces in full 3D, that the programmers will then use.

    What does this mean to the average user? We will start to see a variety of interesting 3D applications starting to come out. I have already seen a cool 3D CD browser, that talks directly to the Amazon CD website, transparently downloads an image of a CD cover and tracklist, then displays the CD and it's track list as a full 3D model!!! This is a really cool way to buy CD's online.

    Further more, the code behind WPF applications is done in the .NET framework 2.0. The .NET framework allows running of ‘managed’ code through a common language runtime, it basically means the code is ‘checked’ as it is run, so can be fully ‘sandboxed’ out and run in a browser too. What will eventually happen is, you will be able to run WPF applications directly in your browser, imagine the cool 3D web shops we will start to see popping up. This practically blurs the line between desktop and web applications.

    And there's a lot more still

    There's a lot more to Vista, that I haven't even mentioned in this post, such as Media Player 11, the new Picture Browser, the improvement to built in games such as Solitaire, as well as a new 3D Chess game! My personal opinion is that Windows Vista will definitely be worth it, although others have said different things about Vista, but most of these have been people complaining about it requiring a 3D graphics card.

    I look at it from a different angle, and see the actual benefits from having a 3D graphics card, everything will be a lot faster, smoother and not tax the CPU as much for graphics. If Microsoft were to add support for running Windows Vista without a 3D graphics card, they would have to waste a lot of time creating 3D ‘emulation’ code, which will run slow anyway and is just not worth it.

    What will eventually happen is, 3D graphics cards will just become cheaper, and everyone will have one. Intel's next budget board will have a 3D graphics card on it, capable of running Windows Vista. This is a good thing, as everyone will be able to play games even with onboard cards, as well as running the new WPF applications.

    Will I be able to run Windws Vista on my current PC?

    It highly depends, you'll need at least 512mb of RAM or more (the more the better), but you'll also need a DirectX 9 capable 3D graphics card, and that's with at least 128mb video RAM on it.

    For a starter, any PC purchased from the warehouse currently will NOT be able to run it, and CANNOT be upgraded to run it either. You can upgrade the RAM in them, but you can't upgrade the video card, as these PC's lack an AGP or PCI Express slot.

    If you're going to buy a PC and intend to run Windows Vista on it in the future, it is not very wise buying a warehouse PC really, even though they might appear ‘cheap’. All of the computer systems we sell are 100% Vista capable and start of at $1999 (and you're supporting Wainuiomata). Our PC's are at least 6x as fast as a warehouse PC. Then again, you get what you pay for as they say.

    Will it be faster than Windows XP?

    It's hard to say, some things will be accelerated, because of the new graphics core, so will be a lot faster, while other things might be slightly slower, since it is naturally a bigger operating system. However, with the new improved security features Vista is definitely going to be a must-have, and with CPU's getting a lot faster these days, we will eventually get used to it.

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  2. Author: ☼│oooOMagnum233Oooo│☼
    User type: Standard User
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 22, 2006, 5:04 p.m.

    Thanks for the info rob, will have a good read when i get home.

    cya man.

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  3. Author: robvdl
    User type: Administrator
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 22, 2006, 5:15 p.m.

    There's one thing I forgot to mention, Windows Vista makes a few fundamental changes in the default folders used to store personal data. For starters, the “Documents and Settings” folder is gone, replaced by the “Users” folder, which is located in the root of the system drive (usually C:). Each user account has its own profile folder here, which contains 11 folders, each devoted to a different type of data. (This folder structure has been adopted from Linux/Unix).

    Also, “My Computer”, “My Documents”, “My Pictures” finally now become simply “Computer”, “Documents”, and “Pictures”

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  4. Author: Winston
    User type: Standard User
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 22, 2006, 11:47 p.m.

    It will be very interesting to see what features do and don't make it into the final release. Although I probably wont ever use Vista regularly, I am still very eager to see the final product.

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  5. Author: robvdl
    User type: Administrator
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 25, 2006, 5:07 p.m.

    It doesn't look like WinFS will make it into Vista now, I read this morning that Microsoft have axed it. Whether it's due to lack of time or the complexity of the project, I don't know.

    A shame, because Linux has had the EXT3 journaling file system for some time. Hopefully all the other features will stay.

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  6. Author: Uber_deathworld
    User type: Standard User
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 30, 2006, 1:42 p.m.

    Hmm vista a interesting topic.. I have Vista Build 5881.1 and to be quite honest IT IS RESOUCE HUNGRY :twisted: My Computer Specs are 2.8ghz, 1Gb PC133 Ram, Radeon 9600 PRO and im telling you now it takes a loooong time to boot when you compare it to WinXP which takes about 15 secounds. Also another thing i dislike and trust me it will drive you insane (damn i cant remember what its called) but everytime you want to install something or run a app a box will appear asking if Vista can run it, now after seeing it about 65836 times it gets annoying, All in all i think vista is more looks then product as WinXP SP2 seems alot better but if your extremely lucky and your running Dual Core with some fancy video card's in SLI then maybe your experience will differ, Money hungry microsoft…Maybe? 8-)

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  7. Author: robvdl
    User type: Administrator
    Posts: 67
    Date: June 30, 2006, 3:25 p.m.

    Hehe, I know what you mean, it's called “UAP” or “User Account Protection” (or is it Prevention?). There's a reason behind it though, it's something that has been copied from Linux/Unix. The idea behind this is tighter security.

    In Windows XP/2000, the user was practically encouraged to log into their account using administrative privileges, which was ok a few years ago, when spyware wasn't that much of an issue, but things have changed a lot since then.

    In Windows XP/2000 if a piece of spyware gets through, either via a security exploit in IE, or installed with another program (for example KaZaA or the like), the program has full access to the harddrive and OS kernel, and could do quite a bit of damage. You can log in under a restricted user account in Windows 2000/XP, but this resricts you from installing a lot of software, which is annoying as you have to log in as the administrator every time you want to install a piece of software. Not many people run their computer like this just for that reason, and continue to log in using administrative privileges which is actually quite unsafe (I have to do it myself too 8-O).

    In Linux, you log in using a restricted user account and every time you install a program, or try to edit a system setting, you get challenged for the root password (root is the administrator in Linux). This is why Linux is much more secure than windows, and Microsoft know this. This is why they have added UAP to Windows Vista, they want to now start encouraging people to log in using a restricted user account, and type in the password every time you install a program.

    It's annoying, yes, but definately worth it for people that often pick up a lot of spyware. In Vista, programs like IE run under a very, very restricted user account. If there is a security exploit and something does get through, all it has access to is the browser cache, so the spyware program can't really do much at all.

    Vista BETA is still in early stages off course, hopefully they will speed things up and make the UAP messages less annoying, and not make them show as much. Not unless it's really necessary. But all in all, UAP is there for a good reason, security.

    As for performance, I think in some ways you're pretty much in the same boat as me. Vista recommends a 128mb DirextX 9 class video card, as it extensively uses the “Pixel Shader” for the frosted glass effects in the “Vista Aero” theme. My card is a GeForce FX 5600, so a similar vintage/performance as your Radeon 9600 Pro in ways. As what I have found, in early (first and second generation) pixel shader cards, the pixel shader part of the graphics card is quite slow. Run a game like Unreal Tournament, which doesn't really use the pixel shader that much and it's fast as. Run a game like Doom 3 or Oblivion, which extensively use the pixel shader, and you see a huge performance drop. Cards like the Radeon X600, Radeon X1600, GeForce 6/7 are third and fourth generation pixel shader cards, and there's a huge performance increase in pixel shader driven games on those cards. I don't think a SLI setup will be required to run Vista, just a slightly more updated card. The Radeon 9600, similar to my GeForce FX 5600 is around 3 years old, I know I have to replace mine soon myself, but will need a PCI Express motherboard, new CPU and RAM to do so, it even means a new PSU. My other alternative would be to buy a GeForce 7800GS AGP, the fastest AGP card you can still get, and make do with my system for as long as I still can.

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  8. Author: robvdl
    User type: Administrator
    Posts: 67
    Date: July 1, 2006, 11:37 a.m.

    About that new Intel onboard graphics card that was coming out, which I mentioned earlier, more information on it has just been released.

    Spec wise, it looks like it's pretty much on par with current model GeForce and Radeon cards, speed wise, nobody will really know ‘till the thing gets tested. Clock speed is fairly high at 667Mhz, but that doesn’t mean anything yet really. We need to know how many pixel pipelines it has, the manufacturing process, e.g. 90nm, and the bus width, 64 or 128 bit. Then the question, how well optimized are the algorithms inside the card, considering NVidia and ATI have had years of a head start to perfect their cards?

    Anyways, the card will run Windows Vista, including the “Aero Glass” theme, but we'll have to see how fast it will be comparing it to an NVidia or ATI card. One thing to remember is, onboard cards have never really been as fast as add-in cards, because they are limited to the speed of the system RAM. The new board however can run Dual Channel DDR2 667 RAM, so it could still show good results. The board should be paired with Intel's upcoming Core 2 Duo (codename “Conroe”) chip, which is based on the very successful Pentium M architecture (But dual core, and with a 1066Mhz FSB!). Intel will drop their old “Netburst” architecture, found in Pentium 4 and Pentium D chips over time.

    Would be interested to see it being tested anyway. The target of this card is obviously budget Vista capable PC's. We're most likely to continue to stick with NVidia or ATI add-in cards in new PC's, unless the Intel onboard card shows really good benchmark results (which I somehow doubt myself), and it at least still comes with a PCI-Express slot so people can still upgrade if they want. Otherwise, we'll just stick to NVidia and ATI cards.

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  9. Author: Uber_deathworld
    User type: Standard User
    Posts: 67
    Date: July 1, 2006, 9:22 p.m.

    :-D Yea its about time they released a Intergrated Video Card with abit of power from experience anything labeled intergrated is Junk…(eg. warehouse computers) the only good intergrated thing i have ever seen is a soundcard which supported 5.1 Dolby but still has “static noise” .. although if your not producing music or a audiophile then it shouldnt really bother you that much.. Also just a quick question :?: Do you have any idea how much bloatware is in the Vista Builds.. I would of checked myself but after 2 days of having Vista on my machine i took it off, I know Xp comes with alot of bloatware alas why im using WinXP Lite erhmm yes i own a legit serial key :lol:

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  10. Author: robvdl
    User type: Administrator
    Posts: 67
    Date: July 1, 2006, 10:08 p.m.

    It's quite sad really with those Warehouse PC's, that is for the people that already have them (unless they don't plan to play any games). And there's no AGP slot in them either, so kind of stuck with the onboard video… or get a PCI GeForce card, and they're hard to come by. As far as I know, those new Intel boards coming out will at least have a PCI-Express slot, so there's at least some upgradeability left there.

    Static noise on onboard soundcards is quite common, especially when you plug them into an amplifier. It's definitely worth it forking out a bit of cash for a decent sound card in my opinion. However, the latest onboard soundcards now have digital 7.1 surround outputs. With digital out, you won't hear noise generated by a cheap DA converter (Digital to Analogue converter), as the conversion process goes on inside the digital amp instead, so then it's really upto the quality of the amp itself. That is if you have a digital amp off course. ;-)

    I definitely expect Windows Vista to be a lot more bloated than XP. For a starter, XP was released end of 2001, which is now over 5 years ago if you look at it that way. I do agree with you though, these days programmers are getting lazier, because they assume people have large harddrives anyway. In a way they're right off course. Most people from my experience will have a 40Gb hard drive and only just use 10Gb or less of that, they just don't get into gaming and downloading. Not your average PC user anyway. But Microsoft can do better optimisation than that, I do agree there.

    From a programmers perspective, I do believe that when Vista reaches it's final release, it may well run faster and take up less space. The reason being, in C++ you can compile a program either in “Debug” or “Release” mode. Debug mode generates larger executables that contain debugging information and run slower. There is a slight possibility, although I do not know this for sure, that Vista BETA's are compiled in Debug mode. I know I would do the same myself if I was to release a BETA version of a program for people to test.

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