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A peak at Device Stage's display when looking at options for your cell phone. Note documentation and functionality are both easily accessible.  (Source: Microsoft)
The latest developments from Windows 7 focus on hardware

With the bits of Windows 7's pre-beta and milestone releases taking the torrent community by storm, there's more excitement than ever surrounding the highlights of the UI and top level features of Microsoft's upcoming OS, demonstrated and released at its Professional Developers Conference.  Many are pleased to see Windows 7 to be running leaner than Windows Vista, despite featuring rich graphics.

An important focus at Microsoft for Windows 7 has been hardware, though, not software.  Hardware was a virtual nightmare for both Microsoft and Vista users, when poor developer support led to incompatibility with many devices at launch.  Vowing not to repeat this problem, Microsoft is rethinking how it approaches hardware with its new OS.

At its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, it released more official pre-beta copies of Windows 7 to hardware developers.  And it gave the same features overview, this time with a hardware twist.

Leading the way is Device Stage, a new invention from Microsoft.  This intuitive idea is something you might expect from OS X, but it’s a sign of the newfound creativity brewing at Microsoft.  The new center allows the user to select from any device attached to the system.  Microsoft is providing an interface that allows the user to access any capabilities of the device and to go online to fetch manuals and documentation on the device.  Microsoft is being stricter with hardware partners, demanding they provide quality interfaces and information.

An example of how this feature would work is if you plugged in your cell phone -- say a Blackberry Pearl. Clicking on the device in question, Device Stage has a section for manuals, a file browser where you can manage content or look through the files.  Any interface functionality, which the hardware provides will be accessible in Device Stage.

Julie Larson-Green, vice president of program management for the Windows Experience describes, "I can set up my sync capabilities [on my Motorola phone].  I can manage the media on my device. I can browse files. I can go and find that documentation because I probably threw out the manual when I got the box, so I can go online and get that. And anything that the device does can be exposed through the Device Stage."

Also improved is Microsoft's code to exploit SSD drives.  SSDs will be faster than before.  They will also provide much faster wake up and hibernation.  According to initial reports, the difference between a Windows 7 PC equipped with a SSD and a Windows Vista PC is visibly dramatic when it comes to wake-up and sleep times.

Microsoft says it is planning "Windows enhancements that take advantage of the latest updates to standardized command sets, such as ATA."  SSD makers are enthused about Microsoft's support as they feel it may give the turbulent industry the boost it needs.

While much of the Windows 7 hardware interface upgrades will require some work from developers, Microsoft is also mollifying them, by explaining that they will have less work to do adapting to the underlying interface than with Vista, as Windows 7 shares much with Vista on a base hardware level.

Microsoft is expected to elaborate more on new hardware features in coming weeks.

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Windows 7 should be a free update for Vista owners
By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 2:37:27 PM , Rating: -1
MS basically just admitted that their software is flawed when using them with SSDs.

The question that remains is the SSD performance fixable with Vista SP2? If not, then Windows 7 should be free for legit Vista customers.

By therealnickdanger on 11/5/2008 2:47:37 PM , Rating: 4
The article that this one links to regarding SSD performance:

Until recently , solid-state drives used an older--and theoretically slower-- PATA (Parallel ATA) standard. But the newest drives shipping with, for example, the Dell Latitude E4200 and HP EliteBook 2530p ultraportable laptops, use SATA-2.

WTF? Not even recent HDDs use PATA! Clearly whatever performance boosts given to SSDs in W7 has not been expounded on enough to A) believe any such boost exists, or B) believe said boost could be used in Vista.

The only problem with SSD performance are the crappy controllers used in "budget" SSDs. Intel's X25-M proves that you can have a blisteringly fast MLC SSD with no write hangups. There's nothing wrong with Vista and SSDs, you have to place blame where it belongs: the hardware.

By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 3:22:00 PM , Rating: 2
Correct - these updates should be technically addressable with Service Pack 2 since Windows 7 uses the Vista base. Last update I read is Windows 7 will be compatible with vista drivers. Bottom line is the performance can be updated without having to upgrade to 7.

I stand by my previous post... regardless on how it was rated down.

By therealnickdanger on 11/5/2008 4:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, my point is that no matter what you do on the OS side of things, you have to eventually write to the SSD. If it has a crappy controller, no amount of tweaks will keep it from freezing. W7 might carry optimizations for SSD sleep states or perhaps even an optimized writing method, but you still can't get around bad hardware. I'll welcome any improvements to the OS, obviously, but I think this whole article (and its clones across the web) are jumping erroneously to the conclusion that W7 will solve SSD performance issues.

By TheFace on 11/5/2008 8:44:28 PM , Rating: 2
The article is actually unclear on this SSD issue.
"SSDs will be faster than before. They will also provide much faster wake up and hibernation. According to initial reports, the difference between a Windows 7 PC equipped with a SSD and a Windows Vista PC is visibly dramatic when it comes to wake-up and sleep times."
SSDs will no doubt be faster by the time 7 comes out. They should continue to progress in speeds more like processors. This quote does not mention anything regarding the actual throughput of the SSD being faster. The rest of the quote seems to suggest that, while using the same SSD a PC with 7 on it should wake up and go to sleep in a faster manner than one with Vista.
I'm sure that some optimizations can be made for writing and reading SSDs, although I wouldn't imagine that we will be blown away by the differences between SSD performance in Vista vs 7.

By chmilz on 11/5/2008 2:49:41 PM , Rating: 5
My lossless digital audio files don't play well on my 1983 Sony Cassette Walkman either. I'm still waiting for my free, updated product.

SSD's were barely even mentioned until about a year ago, well after Vista was launched. New technology isn't always going to be backwards compatible.

By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 3:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
Poor analogy as your lossless files did not exist back in 1983.

SSDs did exist as well as SATA devices before Vista release. The performance update is effectively a driver re-write and can be addressed with Service Pack 2.

By mindless1 on 11/5/2008 4:22:59 PM , Rating: 2
You should now the difference, that your walkman doesn't use software codec updates. Don't be a smartass.

SSDs are an evolution of CF cards which have been used in the embedded market for many years. There really wasn't any excuse for the incessant writing that windows did even when the only target was a mechanical hard drive. Once upon a time ago you could load an application and run it all day (until saving a file or reading a new one) with the hard drive spun down - quiet, using less energy.

By TheFace on 11/5/2008 8:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
SSDs are an evolution of... SSDs! They've been in use in industrial applications for far longer than CF cards. The current batch of them may have received technology used in CF cards, but the fact is, solid state disks have been used for longer than those CF cards.

The incessant writing windows does is really annoying. One of the reasons I got x64 Vista and 8gb of RAM and turned off pagefiles. Vista is pretty but it has some major issues. Keeps me coming back to my macbook.

By Nekrik on 11/5/2008 9:24:32 PM , Rating: 3
just wanted to throw this out as I see a lot of people making comments about the amount of RAM they bought so they have decided to 'disable the pagefile':

From what I understand it's not a good idea to completely turn off the pagefile, doesn't really have much to do with the OS or the amount of RAM in it. Many apps are written and expect to find and use the pagefile, if it's not there it can cause perf issues on it's own, it's a design issue in the apps themselves.

If this no longer the case, or measures have been taken to deal with such apps I am sure I will be scorned and rated down, and in such case I apologize for the fud.

By archcommus on 11/5/2008 9:42:41 PM , Rating: 2
Don't worry, you're totally correct. The pagefile's purpose is to make every app think it has the whole memory address space available to it. Then, as the CPU requests specific blocks, they will be mapped from the pagefile to physical memory. So if an app relies on this fact and accesses hard-coded memory addresses, they could crash or perform erratically if the pagefile is disabled.

By TheFace on 11/6/2008 12:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, well maybe I'll turn the pagefile back on again. Didn't really notice much difference, just wanted to end unnecessary writing to my disk. Thanks for the tip.

By mindless1 on 11/6/2008 12:09:07 AM , Rating: 1
Yes but you ignore the obvious, that memory is dirt cheap these days so if someone pretends they care about performance, they're not trying to optimize pagefiling, they're stuffing another few gigs of memory in their system so there really isn't any need to page nor have that pagefile (unless an app has memory leaks but obviously that problem is separate and has to be dealt with either way).

Pagefile is an idea whose time has passed. Disable it, then if an error results take it as a sign the system is not adequate for the jobs, then replace it or upgrade the memory if possible.

There's just no sane reason to think in terms of maybe needing a pagefile. If a job is that large (relatively speaking compared to the system) it's either inappropriate for the system and will take a ridiculous amount of time to run while using the pagefile, or it should be ran on a beefier system.

pagefile is only a way for MS and other developers to try and sell software to owners of systems that are inappropriate for that. It made more sense back when a system might cost $2000 and a few hundred MB Of memory close enough to that. Today with PC boards capable of 16GB, there's just no reason for one, it only slows a system down by the amount of I/O required for allocation even if that virtual memory space is never actually used.

By mindless1 on 11/6/2008 12:02:00 AM , Rating: 1
"SSDs" have not been in use, the term was coined only a very few years ago while CF cards were used since their beginning.

SSD <> any random type of solid state storage, the term was coined for a specific type of solid state storage. Ramdrives for example may be solid state but are not considered "SSD" for any practical purpose.

It is laughable that you write that you got x64 Vista and 8GB RAM as if that is somehow combatting windows writes. Don't you get it yet? It's not pagefile writes from lack of memory that cause most I/O, it's the bad logic on allocation and all the other OS services that cause it. With memory now less than $15 a GB, we can practially ignore amount of memory in a multi-hundred dollar system and focus on the rest.

Remember, it's not whether you're writing 50MB an hour or 1MB, it's whether the OS "chose" to spin up your hard drive to write anything at all. 1 byte of data written is stupidity on MS' part, when a user does not want their system to do anything other than what that user directed it to do. For example, once the OS has fully booted and all apps are loaded, it is ridiculous that the disk subsystem is ever accessed if the user doesn't try to read in a file or save one. Given the price of memory today, it's similarly stupid to have disk bound browser caches so that the OS can prefetch. Yeah, let's guess about computer use and cause resource waste just in case, then let's either flush it all out or save every lil brower file when today's webpages have dozens per page. It's lunacy.

Basically, those in charge of making such decisions are morons.

RE: Windows 7 should be a free update for Vista owners
By TomZ on 11/5/2008 2:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
You have an unrealistic expectation, since SSDs more-or-less came to market after Vista did.

And besides, its not like Vista was "flawed" with respect to SSDs as you say. Instead, it is about performance tuning and adding the ability for the OS to detect the presence of a SSD and adjust its algorithms accordingly.

By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 3:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
SSDs existed way before Vista

For the OS to be aware, all it will take is a simple Service Pack and not to purchase a new OS.

By Spivonious on 11/5/2008 3:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
They existed before Vista, but weren't used in consumer devices until mid to late 2007, over a year after Vista was finished.

By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 4:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft is well aware of new products before their introduction and sale to consumers.

By therealnickdanger on 11/5/2008 4:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
...And hardware manufacturers are WELL aware of the requirements to interface with Windows. They also are fully aware of their crappy controllers before bringing them to market. Bad SSDs freeze on any OS you use.

By TomZ on 11/5/2008 8:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft is well aware of new products before their introduction and sale to consumers.

There has to be a valid business case to support a new feature in a particular software release. Engineering resources are not infinite. And as others have pointed out, SSDs - especially in the use case of replacing HDDs - were not widely used when Vista came out.

And while SSDs did exist (for many years BTW), they also did not exist in their current form with the current technology. Microsoft wouldn't even have been able to test their implementation against any of these devices.

By mindless1 on 11/5/2008 4:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
No, Compact Flash cards are SSDs, just with their own CF abbreviation. Obviously they were in the market long before Vista, and it's definitely true that Vista, and XP, and 2K, were all flawed with respect to disk access. The flaw is the idea that an OS "needs" or "should" be writing non-essential things to a drive continually without the user specifically directing for it to happen.

All SSDs are doing is causing MS to go back and properly implement what they did wrong in the first place.

By coversyl on 11/6/2008 3:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of the OS accessing disks, can anyone help me with the following. I have an external USB hard drive which powers down after a period of inactivity.

I want it to stay powered down until i access it, but if I delete a file on (say) my c-drive then the delete 'hangs' until the external usb drive powers up (a few seconds) and then the delete completes.

Why should the external drive power up when i am deleting files on the local c-drive?

By mindless1 on 11/7/2008 10:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
There is no valid reason why it "should", this is just another blatant bug in windows. Same thing happens when most people launch any 16 bit legacy app, or when the recycle bin is emptied, etc. MS does not care about your system so long as you keep paying them.

It seemed ok, when we only had average commodity PCs, but now the field has changed and windows can't suit all system applications anymore, but all get get now is the bloated XP, the expensive and fickle XPe, or the obscenely bloated Vista. Oh, but you can have obscenely bloated with a !@#$ touchscreen if only you buy Windows7 too. LOL, masochists don't want to learn anything.

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