Vista ServisePack1 Tested (Part-1)  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

It might sound strange to you but we actually asked average computer users if they or somebody they know are using Vista. After all, Microsoft has sold over 100 million licenses of Vista since the introduction of the operating system last February. Besides, this number is supposedly well distributed around the world. We wanted to find out why so many people hesitate to buy Vista and hence, we conducted an online survey. “My current programs won’t run since they are incompatible with Vista”, dreaded about 22 percent of those surveyed. They are not completely wrong in their assertion. Even with an installed XP emulator, some programs refuse to operate in Vista.
More than a year after Vista’s release, frustrated users feel that they have been unknowingly tangled in a beta test of incomplete software. Service Pack 1 (SP1) seems to provide relief to the disgruntled. Microsoft hopes that the release of SP1 will make Vista a full-fledged operating system. Yet, at first glance, it doesn’t seem to promise much. When the update is first run, the improvements are not very obvious. The situation is analogous to that in the auto world: If Volkswagen introduces the next Golf VI, it will look very much like the Golf V but underneath the surface the changed mechanism may actually make the vehicle run smoothly, or better still, it may even be a complete overhaul. That’s exactly how it is with Windows: the manufacturers claim to have improved features such as performance, security, and reliability under its bonnet. How much more exactly? We tested the claims in detail.
Performance: Vista is much faster with Service Pack 1 : Microsoft still asserts that an 800 MHz PC with 512 MB RAM and a DirectX 9 graphics card should be enough to run the system smoothly. In practice however, it turns out that Vista performs best only on the latest CPUs with dual-core technology and a minimum of 1 GB RAM. Still, there are performance problems even with fast computers: music crackles, power consumption on notebooks is extremely high, and it still takes ages for Vista to launch. Resource sparing, stability and faster operations are still the mainstays of the proven success of Windows XP. Microsoft has, however, improved considerably with the Service Pack.
Copying Faster : The average hard disk could transmit 25 MB of data per second but only if Vista’s brakes were absent. This transfer rate is achieved only in the rarest of the cases because of the sub par programming of Vista. Technicians in Redmond have identified the defect and repaired it, and this happens to be the biggest plus point of Vista SP1.
On a computer running the new software package, data can allegedly be copied on the local disk up to 25 percent faster and 50 percent faster across the network. However, in practical tests conducted in our test center, the increase in speed was not so high—it was 18 percent higher while copying locally and 33 percent higher over the network. Though not reaching the speeds touted by Microsoft, it is still good improvement. Incidentally, Microsoft has also rectified the way the copying process works. Until now, the Vista time specification while copying was rather haphazard. With SP1—while few of the time progress bars are still inconsistent with the actual time taken—the display is right most of the time. However, folders containing a cluster of small files still have problems in gauging estimated time.
Enjoying music without interference: Today we can simultaneously perform multiple tasks on the PC. However, Vista is still riddled with flaws. Whenever several memory- and computing-intensive applications are simultaneously running on Vista, the audio playback is usually interrupted. This occurs because the media player gets allocated very little CPU time to decode the MP3 and this results in crackles while playing music. Leave alone slower machines, this is a problem that can take place even on fast systems.
While testing the original Vista, Amy Winehouse, for instance, started stammering when we ran iTunes, Photoshop and Microsoft Word simultaneously on our 2.4 GHz large Dual Core system. With SP1, Microsoft gets rid of this exasperating problem by reserving CPU time for audio and video playback. If you believe that this is the only reason for the sluggish functioning of other operational applications, you are just deceiving yourself: Windows cleverly divides the CPU time amongst the applications and performance is not lost with Photoshop & Co. The only hitch is that Microsoft has not integrated a cool user-friendly playing tool, such as iTunes offered by Apple.
Notebooks hold out longer: Laptop users ought to rejoice with SP1 because the computer battery should now last longer. We tried it out and installed the new Service Pack on a Lenovo notebook. The outcome: about seven percent more run time. In order to achieve this increase in battery time, Vista SP1 has especially optimized the working of the major power devourer— laptop display. For instance, the CPU can now discretely go into sleep mode as soon as the display content does not change for a determined time. SP1 also gets rid of a bug with certain video chipset.
f a program continuously accesses the VSync-interrupt even though it does not need to, the system does not go to sleep mode. Vista SP1 monitors this interrupt and checks whether the application actually needs it. Similarly, there are alleged improvements in the second largest power sucker, i.e. the hard disk. The technicians at Redmond have improved its performance by merely rectifying a programming error: earlier, in some cases, the hard disk used to continue running even though it was actually supposed to switch over to the standby mode. Along with that, Microsoft has also worked on the compatibility of the new power-saving hybrid SSD hard disks (Solid State Disk) with SP1. These disks are equipped with a big cache, which buffers the data.
Earlier, the components of the hybrid SSD hard discs used to create difficulties while in standby mode. Unfortunately, our tests reveal that the collaboration of such hybrid disks with Vista SP1 has not improved substantially. On the contrary, on exiting the standby mode, the disk drives by manufacturers Samsung and Seagate take 20 seconds to start. Windows in the meantime is completely idle—it is neither possible to click on icons nor start any programs. This is an extremely embarrassing goof-up by Microsoft! -->

This entry was posted on Jul 4, 2008 at 12:57 AM and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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