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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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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.


"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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