Category: Vista

Microsoft Vista performance issues

Vista is buggy. That much is obvious to anyone who runs it but it has been improving in stability as the patches are rolled out. However it runs extremely slowly too and this became startlingly obvious to me in the last few weeks as I have been testing browsers on different platforms.

It turns out I can run Internet Explorer 8 faster on my older Mac than I can on my newer Vista machine (both 2ghz Intel core duo with 2gb ram)!

When I ran the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark tests on IE8, it completed the test in 9.9 seconds on my Mac (running XP in Parallels).

However, when I installed Internet Explorer 8 on my Vista laptop, IE8 completed the test in 19,906.4ms.

Vista is more than twice as slow as XP running in Parallels on my Mac.

Vista is a huge embarrassment for Microsoft. They spent a fortune developing it and you speak to any Microsoft employee now and if the topic turns to Vista they get visibly uncomfortable. To the extent that Microsoft are now starting to talk up Windows 7 with Bill Gates calling it a big step forward. It needs to be.

Vista SP1 To cause more problems than it cures?

Microsoft have published a list of programs which it says will be broken by Vista SP1 according to a story on News.com.

The applications listed are not the only ones which will be broken it seems and Microsoft is advising anyone who encounters problems to:

first restart their PC and, if they still encounter problems, to install a newer version of the program or contact the software vendor

It is pretty amazing that SP1, which is supposed to be a ‘fix’, will likely cause as many problems as it solves.

I’d hate to be working in the call centre of a Vista software vendor the day after SP1 ships – all hands on deck, I reckon.

Screaming fast browser II

I wrote a post the other day giving speeds of various browsers running the SunSpider JavaScript Benchnark tests.

Since writing the post Firefox has released Firefox 3.0b3 and Robert made me aware in the comments of the previous browser speed post that Opera 9.5 beta was released so I decided to check those two browsers as well.

on Vista the performance times came in at:

Opera 9.5b – 16,293.6ms

Firefox 3.0b3 – 19,345.4ms

WebKit r30123 – 8,920.2ms

While on OS X:

Firefox 3.0b3 – 9,822.4ms

Opera 9.5b – 8,953.6ms

WebKit r30123 – 5,744.8ms

So while the Opera 9.5b browser is the second fastest browser tested and is showing very respectable times, it is still taking nearlt twice as long as the Safari Webkit browser to render pages.

Note, I re-tested the WebKit so that the results of these browsers would be directly comparable. It is also worth noting that Firefox 3.0b3 is significantly faster on Vista than was Firefox 3.0b2 while on OS X Firefox 3.0b3 is only marginally faster than Firefox 3.0b2.

Ubuntu deleted my Windows partition!

I installed Ubuntu (a Linux distro) on my Vaio a few months back and loved it. It was fast, it was stable and I felt I was achieving a certain amount of geeky street cred for using it!

Then, more recently there was a new version of Ubuntu released – 7.10. I upgraded to 7.10 and found the experience even better. I booted into the Vista partition on the Vaio less and less.

However, the other day when I booted into Ubuntu my graphics settings were messed up. I couldn’t get the screen to display at full resolution. I eventually decided to re-install Ubuntu.

However, I was unaware that the installer for 7.10 doesn’t seem to recognise Windows partitions the way the previous installer did and sure enough when I re-booted the Vaio after the install my Windows partition was gone 😦

It is not too bad, the only thing I have lost afair is the time it will take to re-install Vista and all the apps I had on the Windows partition. Still, this has put a severe dent in my confidence in Ubuntu.

Microsoft needs a new strategy for its Windows platform

I have Vista installed on this laptop. I haven’t booted up Vista in weeks. Why? Because I installed Ubuntu on another partition and it is so much faster, and more secure (since Microsoft instructed me to remove Norton and then failed to get OneCare to work on this laptop).

Many others are eschewing Vista, not just because of the speed and stability issues it has but also because of the steep learning curve on moving from XP to Vista.

On the other hand Apple’s star seems to be in the ascendancy. In their financial statement released yesterday, for the quarter ended September 29th, they report:

Apple shipped 2,164,000 Macintosh® computers, representing 34 percent growth over the year-ago quarter and exceeding the previous quarterly record for Mac® shipments by 400,000. The Company sold 10,200,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 17 percent growth over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone™ sales were 1,119,000, bringing cumulative fiscal 2007 sales to 1,389,000.

“We are very pleased to have generated over $24 billion in revenue and $3.5 billion in net income in fiscal 2007,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re looking forward to a strong December quarter as we enter the holiday season with Apple’s best products ever.”

“Apple ended the fiscal year with $15.4 billion in cash and no debt,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

Why are Apple’s Mac sales doing so well and Vista so poorly?

At least part of the answer has to be in Apple’s strategy of releasing new versions every 12-18 months. Steve Jobs referred to this strategy in a piece in the New York Times yesterday when he said:

“I’m quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We’ve put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it’s given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve.”

Apple introduced OS X in 2001 and since then has brought out four newer versions (Puma, Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger) with a fifth version (Leopard – OS X 10.5) due to ship this coming Friday.

Ubuntu releases new versions on a pre-defined six monthly schedule.

Xp was also released in 2001 but the next version of Windows, Vista, didn’t ship until January 2007.

The gently, gently upgrade strategy appears to be working for Apple and Ubuntu as their uptake soars.

Microsoft needs a new strategy for its Windows platform. Its current strategy certainly isn’t working.

Microsoft will Open Source Windows (or die!)

I have said on a number of occasions that Microsoft should Open Source their Windows Operating System (and their Internet Explorer).

However, it bears repeating.

I realise it is unlikely to happen in the near term but, I firmly believe it will happen in the not-too-distant future (when Microsoft realises that they can’t compete with Open Source).

If you take it simply from a numbers perspective, Microsoft has 70,000 employees. If we say 40,000 are actively programming code for Microsoft (the rest being admin, management, marketing, etc.) then you are looking at a maximum of 10,000 who would have contributed to the development of Vista, Microsoft’s current Windows incarnation. I suspect the number is lower.

Vista is estimated to have cost Microsoft $10 billion and six years to develop and they still shipped a fairly shoddy product.

Presumably Microsoft will want to re-coup that investment before it even thinks about Open Sourcing Windows.

Compare that with the various Linux distros. It is estimated that around 100,000 people have contributed to Linux’ development! I recently installed Ubuntu on my laptop and it simply blows Vista away in terms of performance and reliability.

Why are Ubuntu and the other Linux distros so good?
Lots of reasons but a few jump out:

  1. With open source development, you are getting the “Wisdom of Crowds” – the more people involved in the development, the better the end-result
  2. Open-source development is peer reviewed so bugs are caught earlier in the process and any which make it into a release are fixed quickly
  3. In open source projects the code is written by people who self-select for jobs they have an interest/skillset in
  4. Feel free to add more in the comments!

The upsides for Microsoft of open sourcing Windows are myriad, for example:

  1. If/when Microsoft open source Windows, their Windows piracy concerns will suddenly disappear
  2. Microsoft drastically improves its reputation as an anti-competitive bullying monopolist
  3. The next operating system they write would cost a fraction of the $10bn spent on Vista and would be much higher quality

The economics of Open Source are counter-intuitive. IBM spends around $100m a year on Linux development. If the entire Linux community puts in $1 billion worth of effort and even half of that is useful to IBM’s customers, then IBM gets $500m of development for $100m worth of expenditure.

If Microsoft could, in one fell swoop, get rid of their Windows piracy concerns, write better quality software, improve their corporate image, and radically reduce their development costs, do you think they would do it?

Backup software for Vista?

I want to install a copy of Ubuntu on my laptop.

However, when Vista was installed on it, a single partition was made of the hard drive so if I try to install Ubuntu now, it will overwrite the Vista partition (I assume, anyone knowing better, feel free to jump in!).

I presume that what I need to do is backup my Vista install, partition the drive into one partition for Vista and one for Ubuntu, restore the Vista into its partition and install Ubuntu into its partition.

Can anyone recommend software to allow me to backup my Vista install (including all my installed apps and settings), so that I can restore it again later.

In case it is relevant, I don’t have a floppy drive for the laptop.

Update – since posting this I came across Wubi – an Ubuntu installer which installs Ubuntu into a Windows partition. This could be an easier solution. I’ll try that and see how I get on.

I have a dirty little secret to confess

I never thought I’d say this but I’m using my Vista machine more than my Mac these days!

Why?

Well, there are a number of reasons – the Vista machine is a Vaio SZ3. It is small, light and has a significantly better battery life than my 15′ MacBook Pro so I’m far more likely to take it with me when travelling.

Having said that, the keyboard on the MacBook Pro is far nicer to type on. The MacBook Pro is waaaaay quieter, and the screen on the MacBook Pro at 1440×900 is significantly better than the Vaio’s 1280×800.

So again, why have I started to use the PC more?
I think the answer is Cleartype. Cleartype is a font rendering technology developed by Microsoft which makes onscreen text easier to read.

By definition, I read enormous amounts of text every day online. If I look at the same text on my Mac and PC, I can’t really discern any difference. But when I read for hours at a time, I definitely notice that I prefer reading on the PC screen!

Other tasks like audio, video or photo work, I still do on the Mac but, for now, most of my reading is done on the PC.

Is this a slippery slope?

Microsoft post Vista fixes

Microsoft has released two significant fixes for Windows Vista today. One is a performance related fix and the other is a reliability related fix.

These fixes have to be manually applied for now although according to Mary Jo Foley:
Microsoft is promising to make the two new Vista fix packs available via Windows Update at a “later date.” The full statement, provided by a Microsoft spokeswoman:

“The two updates will be available on Microsoft’s download center today, and will be available through Windows Update at a later date.”

I downloaded and applied these patches to my Vista machine this morning but I haven’t noticed any significant difference to it yet. Probably because I don’t use the machine that much because of Vista’s performance and reliability issues!!!

This is a step towards the release of Vista Service Pack one (SP1). This will be the point where Vista comes out of what most companies would call Alpha and goes to Beta-equivalent quality. As I have said previously, Vista won’t approach production quality, at least until it reaches SP2.

Windows Live OneCare is crap

I have talked about what a piece of sh*t Windows Live OneCare is previously.

OneCare is Microsoft’s entry into the security arena. I have serious reservations about the ethics of Microsoft selling OneCare. It suddenly gives Microsoft a financial incentive to write buggy software. You can just imagine if, up to now, there was a financial dis-incentive for Microsoft to write buggy software and the quality of the software was poor just how bad the software will be now that they are selling OneCare.

That may go some way to explaining the many bugs in Vista!

Having said all that, I was contacted by Microsoft yesterday to tell me that they were sending me a new version of OneCare to install on the Vista laptop they sent me earlier this year.

I’ll give it another go, I said. Just to try it out and see how effective it is. Silly me.

I spent four hours today trying to get this piece of crap to work on the laptop. The last two of those four hours I was on to Microsoft tech support. They eventually gave up at 3:30pm and said they’d have to escalate it and I would get call back in an hour. That was eight hours ago. I’m still waiting for the call.

OneCare Startup Error

The number of re-starts required for this was completely ridiculous. It seemed like any time any change at all was made to OneCare, a re-start was required.

When nothing else worked, I had to uninstall Norton Internet Security. Restart required.

Onecare Cleanup Tool

To install OneCare, if you have a previous version installed (working or not) you have to uninstall the previous version. To uninstall OneCare, you have to download something called OneCare Cleanup Tool! You find this out after you do a normal uninstall and it still doesn’t uninstall properly. Seriously! How bloody difficult would it have been to build the Cleanup Tool into the installer?

Even Microsoft don’t know what the errors OneCare throws up means. At one point I received the error “No plans available”
Onecare- No Plans Available

Of course, copying the error text and putting it into a search box on OneCare support yields the helpful answer “We did not find any results for ….”
no plans available?

Windows Live OneCare is unusable. Don’t even bother wasting your time trying it.

UPDATE: It is now 30 hours since Microsoft tech support told me they would ring me “in an hour” and still no-one has called me back.