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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 zsdersw on 10/13/2009 4:48:46 PM , Rating: 1
but as has pointed out, every version of OSX is faster than the previous version, on the same hardware.

BFD... Why would I want OSX when I can get a good Linux distro for free and not worry about being locked into worshipping at Steve Jobs' altar?

RE: DirectX 1,1
By sprockkets on 10/13/2009 5:38:30 PM , Rating: 3
Who said using OSX locked you into anything? Macs run Linux natively with EFI and Windows through a BIOS layer?

Bud, I use Linux, and people who use OSX say it is Linux with professional support, and switch to it when they get tired of tinkering with the OS and want to get REAL work done.

Sometimes I get tired of trying to get Avidemux to work, or dealing with KDE3/4 messing each other up, or how Linux lacks good 3D support.

What professional apps exist on Linux? Any? No, for the desktop, not for server use? Would you recommend the average person to use Linux and expect them to be OK on their own without help?

Here's the last reason why Linux in their own way sucks: On anandtech, they showed how Linux runs Win32 apps on WINE faster than their native apps. That's embarrassing.

When I don't have to spend 30 minutes getting my wheel mouse buttons and the side button to work in Linux, maybe then it will have a chance.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/2009 3:05:46 AM , Rating: 5
That is something that Linux fanboys never quite understood. This is also how us Amiga users didn't understand why MS-DOS and Macs were outselling Amigas in the mid-late 80s. (Of course most of that was stupid Commodore.

Linux is a very "geek" technical OS. Its beautiful, its elegant, its fairly rock solid. They have TOTAL control of the OS. To a degree, when I was a kid - I loved that about my Amiga. They are more Computer people than anything else. Hey, I'm in the computer business myself :)

BUT they NEVER or DON'T understand the REAL world of computing. People are stupid or just want to get the job done. Linux / Open Office does the same stupid techno-geek crap that Amiga did.

Explain this. Back in the mid-late 80s, Amiga was easily the most powerful desktop PC money could buy. It multi-taskes, it had color graphics, it played games... even TODAY, a 1985 vintage Amiga can BROWSE the Internet (with an aftermark video-card (if you want more than 16 colors) and OS4. Each version of the OS 1>2>3 was faster and better than the previous. The costs for these started at about $600 (No HD) and about $1000~2000 with HD, RAM, modem, monitors (14" CRTs were $400~800) - far cheaper than the $5000(B&W)~$8000(Color+HD) MacII or $2500~5000 286.

MS-DOS was just a black screen with typing- commands. NO graphics. You may have 16 colors, 256 if you bought a $300 add-on card. Beeping was the only sound. Forget multi-tasking and your file names were 8.3 like: WORDPERF.EXE (yeah that sucked) while Amiga has something like 64character file names - upper & lower case (WOW!) that would take MS 10 years to "catch up".

Macs were a B&W PCs with tiny screens. Single task only and more expensive than they are today. If you wanted a cheap Apple - that meant spending $1200+ on an 8bit AppleIIc! (ARGH) A friend gave away his MacII to a Mac collector many years ago (He went to cheaper Win95/98) - he had originally paid $6000 for the computer alone in 1989... it was worth $50 in 1995 ;)

Amigas... they were techno & gamer computers. Knew we had something that made MS-DOS & Mac look like a joke. But that was the problem... Only Newtek was able to make Amiga a serious Video workstation. They exist today selling PC products (use wikipedia for history). But for Office and productivity? Totally SCREWED UP! Apple PAID MS, WordPerfect and other companies to MAKE software for the MAC. No software = no hardware sales, DUH!

The millions C= blew on crappy advertising and management could have been resolved by simply PAYING for KEY programs to be ported to Amiga. As well as Video output that worked on VGA monitors (not just the last or top end models).

Same with Linux... IBM has deep pockets. They talk about WE'LL push Linux for desktop. Er... okay, then PAY Adobe to make Creative Suite (photoshop, etc) for Linux. PAY for Quickbooks and Quicken. Can't pay MS for MS-Office... not unless theres an ability to sell millions of copies. BUT pay to have Open Office improved or make a better product.

OpenOffice, an excellent office suite that is on par with Office 2000... mostly. doesn't cut it in the REAL world. GIMP isn't Photoshop. The infighting between KDE and Gnome creates non-standards for normal software support.

When someone uses a computer, it NEEDS to be a click, something happens (easily) and they see magic. They don't care about the "blue smoke" under the hood. Ubuntu does a very good job with Linux... but the apps and issues are still there. Linux many never be an idiot-proof OS. The Amiga user could actually use the GUI forever, but the power under the hood was always there (As is MacOS X). Linux isn't like that.

30 minutes for a mouse config? ugh!

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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