For those of you who haven't heard of ReadyBoost, where have you been? Only kidding, it's not the most common term, so I'll explain. Essentially, without going too deep and technical, ReadyBoost is a technology in Windows Vista that boosts the performance of your system using inexpensive flash memory. Yes, the flash memory found in USB Keys, SD cards and so on. So, if you've bought a USB key in the last couple of months, or even earlier, it's definitely worth testing it in Vista to see if it is ready for ReadyBoost, as your system will benefit from that little extra oomph under the hood. You will see the biggest difference in performance if you have less physical memory to start with, say, 512mb for example, and you buy, for around $20 (or £10 here in the UK), a 2GB USB key, and use ReadyBoost. If you already have 2GB physical RAM, and you utilise the 2GB USB key for ReadyBoost, you will see some benefit, but not as much as the other scenario.
Anyway, the point of the post - I'm using ReadyBoost, but how can I actually measure what is going on? Well, today is your lucky day...
The various counters that you selected will now be seen in the Performance Monitor. As time goes on you will see the activity occurring in real time for each of these counters. Descriptions of the counters can be found below:
The total amount of uncompressed data currently stored in the cache. If there is data being stored then you know ReadyBoost is being used by Vista.
The number of times Vista reads from the cache per second. If you see a lot of cache reads per second then you know Vista ReadyBoost is working. If this occurs often when using your computer it is advised you invest in more physical memory to further increase performance.
The actual size of the data in the cache divided by the uncompressed size of the data in the cache.(actual size of the data in the cache) / (uncompressed size of the data in the cache)
Hit read bytes/sec
The number of bytes read from the cache per second. This is a further indication that the ReadyBoost cache is being used by Vista. If a lot of bytes are being read per second you also know that you need more physical memory to truly increase your performance.
Invalidated update buffer blocks/sec
The number of blocks in update buffers invalidated per second.
Invalidated update buffer bytes/sec
The number of bytes invalidated in update buffers per second.
Writes rescheduled due to the lack of regions per second.
Writes rescheduled due to the lack of update buffers per second.
Read-Size-Max IOs bailed/sec
The number of I/Os not serviced by the cache because the size is bigger than the maximum read size per second.
Sequential IOs bailed/sec
The number of I/Os not serviced by the cache due to sequentiality per second.
Total read bytes/sec
The number of bytes read from the volume per second.
Total write bytes/sec
The number of bytes written to the volume per second.
Updated buffer read bytes/sec
The number of read bytes services from the update buffers per second.
I've been meaning to blog about this for ages and today is the day. I've tried to embrace as many cool Vista applications and gadgets as I possibly can, but I don't have time to use and write about them all, and what with WPF and now Silverlight gaining momentum, there is going to be more and more coming out on to the web for all of us to use.
One that I have started using however, is the Daily Mail eReader.
You know the thing I love about using this style of newspaper rather than a paper one (apart from saving trees), is the search functionality.
Just like in Vista, it quickly brings back any stories that are relevant to what I want to know - it means I can cut out all of the stuff that I'm not really interested in at this time.
You'll see from the piccy on the left that I'm on the sport page - should I want to view more info, I can maximise the window and all the content will scale accordingly.
When I drill into a story that I'm interested (Man Utd are my team, so any news of a new goal machine up-front is important), I can quickly see other commands become available for my use such as re-sizeable text, printing, and perhaps the coolest one, "Speak this Article".
Looks cool, right? The voice that reads the text out loud is a bit quick at the moment, but it does get pretty much everything spot on, and is easily understandable. You can also use these drop down menu's at the top of the eReader to drill into specific sections even quicker. It even allows you to view the previous couple of days papers! Genius!
The Daily Mail eReader is still in Beta, but you can register for access here, and subsequently download the application. It weighs in at about 4mb.
These are just the first kind of applications coming out, and trust me, there are going to be some crackers soon enough. Check out what's possible by heading over to the Silverlight homepage, the Mix 07 University and the Mix 07 Community Page.
Really quick post - just thought you'd be interested to read a review of Longhorn Beta 3. The review is by Computerworld and covers topics such as Virtualisation, Server Manager, Terminal Services, Server Core, IIS7, Branch Office, Security Enhancements and Powershell. Some of my favourite quotes include:
"Windows Server Virtualization is the natural next step in Microsoft's virtualization story. With properly equipped hardware, you stand ready to enjoy a number of benefits that weren't possible before."
"So perhaps the second-most-improved area of Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3, at least to the administrator's naked eye, is in Terminal Services. Terminal Services has long been part of Windows on the server, but in this release it has taken on Citrix-like features that transform the functionality from a useful administration tool to an enterprise-caliber way to deploy applications to users."
"Server Core is the killer feature of Windows Server Longhorn. Imagine, if you will, the most fundamental part of Windows Server, finely tuned for performance, with all of the other stuff -- including, for the most part, the GUI -- completely removed. These headless machines can be deployed as infrastructure servers with few moving parts and, consequently, less to break. Welcome to Server Core."
"IIS 7 has come a long way from IIS 6. I first saw a demo of IIS 7 in early 2005 and was immediately enthusiastic about its possibilities, and I remain convinced it will become the Web server to beat once Windows Server Longhorn officially releases."
"Windows Server 2003 R2 made some incremental improvements to branch office support, but Windows Server Longhorn, at least in its current Beta 3 form, appears to take branch office support to a higher level. Those of you with vulnerability-plagued remote offices that need to be part of your domain should certainly take a look"
"There are numerous other security improvements within Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3, all of which are incremental and serve to further harden the base on which Windows on the server operates. Any security improvements are welcome"
"Think of Windows PowerShell as the command line on steroids, with extensibility that touches a lot of applications running on the server as well as areas of the server itself. With PowerShell, you get a command-line environment built on top of the .Net runtime and the .Net framework, which allows for much greater customization and flexibility of commands"
Read the full article here and download Longhorn Beta 3 for yourself here.
Now this is a really useful download for those of you who want to be able to index the content that is on a shared drives, or FAT drives. It's a free download from Microsoft.com, and after it is installed, go to the Start Menu, type "Index" and one of the results should be:
Click on "Indexing Options" and from there, you should be able to go to 'Advanced', and within the new dialog box, should be an option to add a UNC location:
Easy Peasy! :-)
Enjoy searching across your networks!
As I'm sure you are aware, last week, myself and James put on the first of two Vista: After Hours events, in Leeds. After the event, I had a brief conversation with Simon, from Simple-PC around Media Center in Vista. Simon informed me (I was so tempted to write 'Simon Said' then!) that he was having issues around connecting his Media Center Extender; the Xbox 360, to his Vista Media Center - the problem being that none of his content was present on the Xbox 360.
Off the top of my head, I couldn't think of what it would be, so thought disconnecting and reconnecting the Xbox 360 in the settings menu's of both the Vista Media Center and the 360 dashboard may do the trick, however, I also suggested that he check out if the content is actually being found in the physical Vista Media Center, as, after all, the Xbox 360 is just extending the physical Vista Media Center, so if there's nothing in there, there will be nothing in the Xbox 360 extended Media Center.
I couldn't give a much better response at that stage, as it was quite a strange scenario, but Simon went home and started cracking on it and, emailed me what he found:
"As you suggested I checked whether it was just the extender or in fact the media center itself and indeed it was the media center, on further digging I found that the music library was intact and that .bmp picture files and divx .avi files were also visible! So after 2 or 3 hours searching the deepest corners of the web I found the answer, hence the email at 3.45am!!! (I wasn't going to let it defeat me). The problem occurs on the installation of Nero and its showtime codecs which then remove registry keys for .jpg .jpeg and .wmv and possibly more which I haven't come across, within the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT directory, luckily I have another machine running vista without Nero and was able to export the keys across and reinstall to the registry, and like magic all my files have reappeared in Media Center."
So some of the files were present, such as the music library and some of the pictures, and also the DivX files, which wouldn't, by default, be playable on the 360 anyway, but it's interesting that Nero remove's registry keys for the other file types mentioned. This is quite a worrying situation, as Nero is very popular, and the typical non-IT savvy user isn't going to be able to figure out what the problem is, and even uninstalling Nero & Showtime would be unlikely to restore the registry settings that have been removed.
So, thanks to Simon for this information - Simon also writes a blog, which you can read here http://www.simple-pc.com/blog/ and, for reference, Simon found the solution to his problem on 'The Green Button' website, which is a community site dedicated to Media Center. The specific answer was found here: http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/thread/155289.aspx
Firstly, a MASSIVE thanks to everyone who came along to the 2 events that James and I put on last week in Leeds and Reading respectively - we had an absolute blast doing them, and from the feedback, many of you guys had a great time, and took a lot away from them - very much mission accomplished for us :-)
A few issues in TVP around the Microsoft domain network not liking James and I creating our own private networks for our media environment meant a few teething issues with connectivity between some of the devices and Home Server, but apart from that, we got through the event pretty much unscathed! My cherished Sony Vaio did decide to (almost) pop it's clogs in the interval, after I rebooted with a bootable USB key in, realised, performed a hard reset and then...nothing! No boot options, nothing. A demo of a 'System Repair' followed - I've never loved that start-up sound so much :-)
OK, so, what am I writing about? Well, firstly, to draw your attention to James's post on the content of the Vista After Hours event, should you wish to start writing that note to Santa, but also, to obtain a general consensus on the style of the event.
Those who have seen me present before will know, however much I love PowerPoint, I try to avoid it in my presentations and go with Demo Demo Demo. It's a format that, in my eyes, just works. I know James feels the same on this one - but what do you think? Is a radical shake-up of how Microsoft delivers business events needed? There should always be time for PowerPoint, but its the demo that ignites the imagination. Would you consider attending more events if they were as light hearted, but still got the messaging across? Can you remember a lot of the stuff we covered in the sessions compared with normal Microsoft sessions? I think one of the key things that James and I found was to make the sessions personal. Microsoft in the US does have a big say on the content we typically show in these events, but this was different - we sat down and spent a good few hours thinking 'What is cool in Vista' and more and more content kept coming - however, we also had to think of what is cool for everyone, not just us! - we then shaped it into a logical story and that is what you got - a personalised TechNet experience. Your feedback on this could really help to shape the future direction of our event presentations.
Anyway, I'm going to be moving across to covering Longhorn Server and Virtualisation soon, and ramping down on the Vista stuff, which is a shame, because I could talk about it all day, but these other products are incredibly exciting, yet a bit more business oriented, but fear not, that most definitely does not mean I have to go back to just PowerPoint! You will always get Demo Demo Demo from me!
I'm going to leave you with some of the feedback we've had - thanks so much to those who have emailed in and keep them coming - believe me when I say, it can make a difference.
"Definitely feel that the demo based approach is the way forward for these kind of events, really allowed the audience to get a feel for the technology."
"Hi Matt, great show you put on last night with James its a shame a couple of the demos didn't quite come together but it certainly gave an idea of what's possible and inspired me to try out a few more things with Vista - when pocket money allows (that, and a few more hours in the day!). Well done and I look forward to your next "after hours" event."
"I went to the After Hours in Leeds and I really really enjoyed it. Good presenting and showed off some of the really cool features. Also was very interesting to see the Games For Windows - Live parts."
"Didn't realise what Vista could do straight out of the box (new Vista user) and having the time to explore is a luxury. This session has given me all the signposts I need to get results, and now that I have seen Windows Home Server I am definitely going to install the beta I have downloaded."
"Good job tonight in Leeds, ever thought of stand up?" <- Love that one! :-)
"Thanks for the great event, I'll be checking out the Home Server"
"Very much enjoyed the event in Leeds the other night, and went home to learn more about home server"
"Just wanted to say I really enjoyed the first half of the event I even learnt a few things which I am pleased about."
"Matt – many thanks for an excellent evening, and the sandwiches were delicious!" <- Can't take credit for that one!
"Thanks to you and Matt for an enjoyable demonstration of Vista last night."
"I was writing to pass on my personal thanks for the excellent presentation you did on Thursday evening – the Vista after hours was most educational but particularly enjoyable which made it a great pleasure to attend. Not only did I leave the event feeling confident with Microsoft’s direction with the Windows platform, I felt that my personal time could also be complimented with Microsoft products and look forward to the new releases of Home Server – and will try and get my hands on an Xbox 360 so I can ditch my old XBOX 1st gen!"
I really do appreciate all of the comments, however short - if this is a style of presentation that people like, we'll make sure we do it in the future.
Oh, and for all those who fancy yourselves as a bit of a gamer...bring it on!
Final word - James and I will be creating a series of short movies on the Digital Home Experience, covering Media Center (hopefully no Bridget Jones and Coyote Ugly this time, hey James?), Home Server and the Xbox 360 / Games for Windows Live. Watch this space over the coming weeks.
James forwarded this article on to me a few weeks back, and it's been sat gathering a bit of dust in my inbox, but now is the time to respond. The article was found on the AppleInsider website (what were you doing on there James...?) and opens with "Four out of five computers within the workplace are not adequately equipped to make the jump to Microsoft's Vista operating system based on the software maker's stated requirements, one study shows".
I find this hard to believe.
The study did cover 145,000 machines, so not a small study, but still, I think there are a few flaws in the study. Let's take a look at the first paragraph, "79.9 percent of business machines do not match the recommended requirements for "premium-ready PCs". So, 80% of business machines do not reach the requirements for a "premium-ready" PC. OK, that's fine. But is "Premium", the minimum? No. When James and I presented at a trade show event a few weeks back, we highlighted that a Premium PC would give you a great experience:
It's important to note that these are not the minimum specifications to run Vista. These are what is required to give a great experience. 1GHz processor - how long ago were these around? My home machine, which has an AMD Athlon, 1.6 GHz, is the same machine I had before I left home to move to University. In 2001. I had an AMD Duron before that, which ran at 1.3GHz. In 1999. Vista will run on these machines. 1GB of System memory - admittedly, most PC's now will ship with 1GB, but older machines will not, hence this is a Premium PC, and not a 'Capable' PC. The graphics memory - 128mb. Is this such an issue for the small and medium businesses? If not, why test against it? Who's to say that, for example, 60% of the 80% that are 'Ill equipped' are 'Ill equipped' because they don't have an Aero-Capable graphics card? Something that will not impact their daily use of the majority of the Vista features to run their businesses.
40GB Hard Disk? Yes, it's a recommended minimum specification, but, Vista will install on smaller. I have an 100GB disk in my laptop, but it's split into quite a few partitions, and I have installed Vista on 2 of them:
Local Disk C and Local Disk D both have Vista installations on them, and a lot of other content too, hence the remaining disk space is lower - its clear to see that Vista will install on a machine that has a smaller hard drive than 40GB - this is a recommended minimum, not a minimum, and hence, perhaps should not have been included in the study.
DVD-ROM drive - did they test against this? Who knows. If so, they shouldn't have. DVD isn't the only way to deploy now. I've lost count of the number of times I've deployed via USB Stick, and now, using the new and improved Windows Deployment Services, available natively on Longhorn Server, or as a new role in the Service Pack 2 update for Windows Server 2003. DVD isn't the only way.
Audio? Not a biggie. Internet - fair enough, to activate, unless you are using KMS internally.
So, I've picked a few holes in their study (or at least I think I have!), but what about the minimum specification:
800mhz Processor will run Vista. Admittedly, the faster the processor, the better the experience, but if you have an 800mhz processor, should you be labeled as having a machine which is 'Ill Equipped"?
512MB RAM - OK, this may be a little more difficult as even today most laptops as a maximum will have 2GB RAM, and a few 4GB, so the memory thing may be a little more of an issue, but the important thing to note is that you can still have a good experience with Vista on 512MB Ram. Again, does this justify the machine being branded as being 'Ill Equipped'? I think not.
What if you do have 512MB and you want to push a little more ooomph into your system, buy a 2GB USB stick for about $10 and use the ReadyBoost technology to boost the performance of your system. Trust me, you will notice the difference.
So, that's a good experience, and obviously, according to the article, a good experience = 'Ill Equipped', but I disagree.
The definitive way to see if your machines are unsuitable (sounds far nicer than Ill equipped!) is to use a free tool we have called the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool. In a nutshell, "The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment solution Accelerator is an inventory, assessment, and reporting tool that will find computers on a network and determine if they are ready to run the Windows Vista™ operating system."
Like a popular brand of varnish, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you an inventory of all your hardware, even networked hardware, assesses them against different criteria, and produces a report that will include:
After collecting information about the computers on the network, the wizard compares the hardware and devices of each computer against the Windows Vista system requirements and assesses the readiness of each computer for Windows Vista. The readiness assessment includes determining the following for each computer:
All that, within a free tool. Surprisingly, it won't say "Machine A is 'Ill equipped'. If you want to test your home PC to see if it can run Vista, you can download the free Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.
So, in summary, I think the study isn't the most accurate representation of Vista adoption and hardware. Yes, Vista requires a bit more ooomph than XP, but for a good experience, which includes all the search functionality, mobility features, security and backup, the requirements are not much greater. As long as you remember that for a good experience, you need the specs shown above, you won't go far wrong. If you are buying a new PC, don't worry - your hardware will support Vista.
I'll leave you to raise your own opinions on the article, but in my opinion, I don't believe the situation is half as bad as this suggests...
Say, for example, I'm a busy kinda guy (I am, honest!) and I need to send out a mail shot to all the clients in our database. I'll use a mail-merge, and take the addresses straight from our backend SQL database. Simple, you'll say, just use the wizard which comes with the particular piece of document creation software you are using! OK, so I do. I'm using Word, from the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and you are using Writer, from OpenOffice.org 2.2.0. What if I tell you that I will be able to do it roughly 5 times quicker than you? Or maybe not me, but the software will...
Believe it - our man in the lab, Chris Parkes has done it, in a controlled environment, and has blogged about it. I'm not sure if he had Bunsen burners and a white lab coat, or those funky plastic glasses you get in the science labs, but nonetheless, the results make interesting reading....
It's important to note, Chris isn't trying to pick holes in other products, merely highlight the importance of time in completing essential tasks. Read on...
We've just finished the 2nd of 2 Vista: After Hours events, here at the Microsoft Campus in Reading, and one of the questions that we had (and trust me, there were flipping loads!) was around the Xbox 360 and it's 20gb hard disk. Now, we all know that when you get the hard disk home, and format it to clear the videos and stuff that's on there already, you are still only left with 13gb, out of 20gb. Why is that?
Well, I thought I'd have a quick scour around the web and I've found the answer. Turns out, those helpful guys from IGN have sussed it. Thanks to them for the picture too. So, in no particular order, the 7gb includes....
So, there you go. I'm still surprised that those things take up 7gb, and it's a shame that you can't remove the emulator etc and download when needed, as I don't actually own any none-360 games, but, there you go. It doesn't affect me too much as I still have plenty of space on my disk, but to those short of space, that extra 30ish % capacity could come in handy.
Not a massive post, but, a useful bit of trivia nonetheless.
Read the full article over on IGN.
We are offering UK partners the fantastic opportunity to talk directly with one of/a number of Microsoft Europe’s leading Technology Specialists in a series of online Q&A sessions. These sessions will seek to answer the nitty gritty questions you need to answer to transition your customers over to Windows Vista.
These sessions run from 9:00 until 10:00 GMT on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th of May, and also every day of the week at the same times, from the 4th to the 8th June.
The format of the sessions is over Live Meeting, so ideally, you'll have access to a phone, or some speakers on your machine!
If you are interested, they are completely free, and the details are: