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Microsoft has focused on strong multicore support in Windows 7 to deliver superior performance. These improvements will really kick in when developers start using Visual Studio 2010, a software development suite that offers greatly improved tools to leverage the power of multiple CPUs.

Jon Devaan is head of Windows Core Operating System Division and led the Windows 7 multicore improvements.  (Source: CNET)
The company is taking multi-core performance very seriously

Microsoft is ready to put the Windows Vista era behind it and is moving on to a Windows 7 world starting October 22. Among Windows 7's greatest strengths is a combination of power and efficiency.  Faster and with new APIs like DirectX 11, the new OS looks to deliver impressive results, assuming driver makers can live up to their end of the bargain and write efficient drivers for the new OS. 

One strength of Windows 7 that's not always talked about, but is lurking under the surface of many of the operating system's advancements is its improved use of multiple cores.  With Intel and AMD flooding the market with multi-core designs, the gigahertz war is dead and a new war is brewing -- a battle for the most cores, and the most efficient cores.

Microsoft has enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity to utilize this power with Windows 7.  The new OS can support up to 256 cores, versus 64 in Vista.  Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Core Operating System Division says this change was particularly weighty.  He states, "One dimension is support for a much larger number of processors and getting good linear scaling on that change from 64 to 256 processors.  There's all kinds of depth in that change."

The improvements that enabled the increased number of cores also will improve performance with standard consumer numbers of cores -- typically 2 to 4 -- via improvements in cache and workload balancing.  Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 also features greatly improved support for multi-threading and should allow Windows applications makers to make more efficient Windows 7 apps that leverage multiple cores.

Evans Data analyst Janel Garvin says that is perhaps the most important change.  He states, "An operating system is never going to be able to take an application that isn't already parallel and make it so. Developers still need to multi-thread their apps.  Microsoft has done surprisingly little until recently to help developers write parallel applications, except for their alliance with Intel to promote Parallel Studio."

He continues, "However, in the last year they've made some announcements and promises for Visual Studio 2010 about enhanced tools for parallel programming. It's likely that the success of Parallel Studio has impressed upon them the importance of providing Windows developers with the tools they need to remain competitive going into the future when manycore will be the standard."

Visual Studio 2010 offers many improvements including Task Parallel Library (used for performing tasks like loops simultaneously when circumstances permit), Parallel Language Integrated Query (PLINQ) (used for parallel data operations), Microsoft Concurrency Runtime (scheduling and resource management), Asynchronous Agents Library (provides improved inter-thread messaging), and finally the Parallel Pattern Library (geared for C++ users).

Despite the vast improvements even Mr. DeVaan acknowledges the art of exploiting multiple cores is still evolving.  He adds, "As an industry, we're going to be working hard to make it work better and working with broad set of developers to target (multicore programming) without undue work.  Will these approaches really accomplish it? That's an open question."

With Microsoft's primary competitor Apple also focusing on multi-threading with its developer-geared Grand Central Dispatch multitasking model built into Snow Leopard, the ability to properly leverage multiple cores is a crucial task for Windows 7.  And it appears that the upcoming OS will be rising to the occasion.

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RE: DirectX 1,1
By Master Kenobi on 10/13/2009 12:58:15 PM , Rating: 3
Your exaggerations are quite over the top. Even at launch Vista was not the sluggish POS you describe it to be. With SP1 the performance was again improved, not counting all the improvements made over time in the tuesday hotfixes.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By AlexWade on 10/13/2009 1:27:15 PM , Rating: 5
In my experience, it was not Vista that was sluggish, it was hardware companies and computer builders who assumed Vista was just XP with a coat of paint. Despite being available for about 2 months before launch, there was poor driver support. So guess what that is going to do? And then computers were sold with less 512 MB of memory, which was further reduced with the shared memory for the graphics adapter. So, Vista came out, it was slow because of lack of drivers and ignorance. People bought it, blamed Microsoft when they should blame Dell and HP and Acer and Gateway for selling them a computer barely strong enough for Vista. With enough power, Vista is great.

Still, in my opinion, 7 is Microsoft's best work ever. Thanks to TechNet, I've been running 7 RTM since day 1 and I love it.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By The0ne on 10/13/2009 8:41:35 PM , Rating: 2
You haven't used Vista if many PC configurations to know what you're talking about. Even after SP1 Vista still crawls. I've since installed Windows 7 RC1 on all the desktops, laptops, tablets laptops I could get my hands on. Doesn't matter if they're aging or new Windows will still be snappy compare to Vista (any versions). That to me speaks clarity just due to to volume I've seen.

The above is specifically true of laptops that were just crawling with Vista to get any work done efficiently. Now they are running Windows 7 with Aero and there are no slowdowns. I don't need anymore proof to convince me not to switch over, considering I've not had major issues as of yet except for the few BSOD with hardware incompatibilities.

It's a minor improvement over Vista but a worthy enough successor to XP for the upgrade. That's not to say abandon XP if you still need the OS for software compatibility.

And I'm not sure why people would even be so ignorant to say it's Vista with a label "Windows 7" slapped on. These people are morons and buffoons, at the very least. The problem here is that some of us know these people know enough not to be saying such idiotic things but they still do it to win the Dwarwin Award. That is just wow, WTF, to me.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: DirectX 1,1
By Smilin on 10/15/2009 3:10:22 PM , Rating: 2
Why are you replying to your own post?

Take your downmod like a man and STFU.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By blppt on 10/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: DirectX 1,1
By Frallan on 10/14/2009 6:02:05 AM , Rating: 2
BS Kenobi

I am using the fastest hardware I have ever had on Vista SP2 and its still slower then my last generation hardwware. I went from an Opteron dual core at 2GHz and 1 GB of DDR with XP to a E6600 OC to between 2,6 and 3,0 GHz dual core with 2 GB of DDR2 Vista.

The performance i get today is abyssimal compered to what i used to have.


RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/2009 7:51:13 AM , Rating: 2
OUCH! Yeah, I still see that today. I worked on a okay notebook with 3GB of RAM... faster than my notebook, easily (hardware stats). But XP or Win7, my older notebook runs circles around the XP one. I've cleaned up the notebook quite a bit took, disabled alot of services, junkware, etc.

I have a 3.0Ghz Intel Quad. I wouldn't say it runs slow with XP... but I did went ahead in stuck on Win7rc a few weeks ago since my XP developed a problem and I wanted to see what works or not work.

My system runs very fast. Coping some files can still be a bit slow (not all the time). But I'm far happier with 7 over vista.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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