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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 Belard on 10/14/2009 1:01:32 AM , Rating: -1
Er no...

XP on the high end runs just fine with 1GB of RAM. Even with 2GB on my Core2Quad, doing heavy work... I may crack 1GB of RAM. Only two games would hit the 2GB program limit.

So when Vista came out in 2007, all of the sudden - you need at least 2~3GB just to read your email. vista was a ton of bloat that really added some eye candy, but nothing really useful. And many of the "die hard vista" fans would say the same thing "All you have to do is turn **** off, remove **** and ****", by the time you turn off such features... vista has been reduced to a bloated version of WinXP.

I've installed Win7rc onto P3-1000Mhz/512mb PCs that ran the same (but slightly better) as a 3000Mhz P4/2GB Vista-basic system with SP2. Hmmmm...

I've got 3 PCs at home running Win7 with 1GB of RAM with CPUs as lowly as a single core AMD64 2.0, an AMD X2 3800 and an Intel PDC 1.8 (about the sam an an AMD X2 3800) and they all boot in about 30~45sec, they SHUT down, they are stable and are still a better experience than running vista on a C2D with 3GB of RAM.

Vista... will always be known as the OS that blows, just not as much and WinMe.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By DOSGuy on 10/14/2009 4:25:50 AM , Rating: 2
I used Windows Me quite happily for three or four years with no complaints and very few crashes. When I initially switched to XP SP1, it crashed frequently, which came as a huge surprise to me after all of the WinMe bashing. In my case, XP wasn't as stable as WinMe had been until SP2.

Bashing Windows Me and Vista may be popular, but IMHO it makes you look like an idiot. When my customers would tell me that WinMe was crap, I would ask them if they had ever used it and the answer was always no. Meanwhile I used it at home and couldn't have been happier with it. The same thing happened with Vista: everyone hated, but no one had used it. Well, Vista (and Vista drivers) has matured enough that most people aren't bashing it any more, and no one uses Windows 95/98/Me any more, so there's no point in bashing them. I've used every Microsoft operating system since MS-DOS 5.0 and I've had no major problems with any of them.

If you never used Windows Me, then you're bashing an OS you never used and I have no respect for that. If you actually did use it and found it significantly worse than Windows 95 or 98, then you don't know much about computers and I have no respect for that. If you're simply comparing Windows Me to XP, then you're not smart enough to realize that Windows Me is Windows 4 (the same basic OS as Windows 95) and Windows XP is Windows 5 -- so of course Windows XP was better! -- and I have no respect for that. So basically, I just don't respect people who casually bash Me and Vista. Maybe you should reserve that kind of criticism for a Mac forum, or some forum where people are less tech savvy and won't realize that you're an idiot.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By MrPoletski on 10/14/2009 4:36:22 AM , Rating: 3
Ah so you're the guy who managed to get Windows ME to work without crashing!

how did you do it? ;)

RE: DirectX 1,1
By VooDooAddict on 10/14/2009 12:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
It was easy, never had an issue ... after fixing the awful OEM settings (which was also a problem with XP too!)

Just disable WinME's System Restore and you removed most of the problems. On top of that, Disable the "Active Desktop", the new indexing, and use Netscape.

You would be left with what felt like a version of Win98 with slightly better memory performance when RAM was over 128Meg.

Bash WinME because it didn't add anything of significant value ... sure. But bash it because it was unstable? I just never saw the stability problems after disabling the above "features".

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Silver2k7 on 10/14/2009 2:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
if you had to disable features to make it stable
then it was unstable..

weather or not it could be made stable if you know what to disable is another thing altogether =)

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/2009 5:18:07 PM , Rating: 2
Voting down a message that doesn't have trolling, insults or anything "bad" is childish. Get over yourself.

If someone posts a message thinking that Windows XP/2000 are related to Windows9x... they NEED to be corrected.

Especially if they thing XP is version 5.0 and WindowsME is 4.0. That is funny.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By FaaR on 10/14/2009 5:02:03 PM , Rating: 1
I used WinME back in the day, shittiest OS I ever used. A WinME install lasted 6 months tops before it would spontaneously start going buggo and leaking memory like a sieve. It would always get to the point where you couldn't use the PC for more than a few hours before you ran out of conventional memory and "OS resources", at which point icons, buttons etc refused to show up and programs would start crashing due to out of memory errors.

It was total crap. Period.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By AnnihilatorX on 10/14/2009 5:42:38 AM , Rating: 3
However, speed of Vista surpass XP when you have enough RAM, because of the fundamental difference of how Vista uses and perceives RAM.

Vista will cache as much data into RAM as possible, predicting which app you are likely to run, and make frequently used apps launch quicker. This is why it is 'bloated' as you put it. Vista generally launch apps quicker than XP. But as you say, it needs at least 2GB of RAM.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: DirectX 1,1
By EasyC on 10/14/2009 12:24:48 PM , Rating: 4
When I made the jump from XP to Vista there was a 200 pt difference in benchmarks for my machine. A month later when newer ATI drivers came out, the difference wasn't in XP's favor.

Vista is indeed not slower than XP unless you have low specs. Besides, I'll take a bloated OS that runs for years over an OS that needs re-installs like clockwork. XP has a habit of "eating itself" and getting slower...and slower...over time.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/2009 5:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
200pt difference in what?

3dMark? Thats useless. 200points is what.. a frame, or half a frame.

You have to benchmark actual games. Notice serious sites don't use 3DMark.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/2009 5:16:44 PM , Rating: 1
Voting down a message that doesn't have trolling, insults or anything "bad" is childish. Get over yourself.

Post is based on well known constant facts about performance and memory requirements. If Vista wasn't a memory hog, $300 cheap PCs wouldn't come with 3GB of RAM.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: 0
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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