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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 just4U on 10/14/2009 2:36:17 AM , Rating: 2
Is win7 better then Vista? Sure to a degree. Altho if people have Vista installed, moving to Win7 is not really all that critical. I'd much rather see people off XP then off Vista. As both Vista/Win7 are clearly better.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: DirectX 1,1
By MrPoletski on 10/14/2009 5:03:31 AM , Rating: 2
I live with vistas failings so I can use direct 10.1, I've been running it for some time now. Not as fast, stable or intuitive as XP. Still not such a bad OS tho, but it certainly didn't begin that way.

Thing is MS took on a major new driver model with Vista, the last time they did that was with.... windows ME.

I think Vista will end up being remembered as windows ME is now.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By DOSGuy on 10/14/2009 5:19:52 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. They're both good operating systems that received a lot of criticism. But let's not forget that Windows XP had the same problems when it came out. XP broke compatibility with a lot of programs I needed, so I avoided it like the plague for about 3 years. The difference between these three operating systems is that XP lasted long enough to turn its reputation around thanks to Vista's long development cycle.

RE: DirectX 1,1
By DOSGuy on 10/14/2009 5:14:54 AM , Rating: 2
You would rather use Windows 98 than Vista? That can't be true.

We still have one computer at work that has Windows 98 on it and I can't stand it. It was a great OS then, but it isn't any more. Same goes for Windows 3.1 and DOS. I love them both, but they don't do what I need them to do any more. Windows 98 doesn't do what I need it to do any more, and Vista does. So the question is: what are you using computers for that Windows 98 is good enough and Vista isn't?

RE: DirectX 1,1
By Belard on 10/14/2009 7:44:50 AM , Rating: 1

When a person starts bringing up Amiga as a suitable replace for WindowsXP and considering a 1mhz 128K Commodore maybe better than Vista or anything else in the past 20 years. That part of the discussion should be considered "silly". Hence the :) (That is a smiley face)

But yeah, I'd go Linux or Mac before vista, that much I mean 100%. Luckily for MS... Apple doesn't sell decent $400~700 desktop computers. But I'm not a big apple fan either. I bought MS products, never an Apple one. The only Apple products I ever owned/have is (A) A macIIsi given to me and 2 Apple plastic cups.

Windows98 will run up to AMD64 and P4 computers... but Win98 is vastly out-dated. There is about 1% of total PC out there still using Win98.

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