Subject: Processors | December 16, 2011 - 09:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft
Intel was far from demolished when AMD's Bulldozer came to town. Users still clung to hope that Microsoft's Windows 7 was not optimized to take advantage of Bulldozer's multi-core environment. Vindication came sweetly with a knowledge base article and a patch from Microsoft confirming the issue and offering a solution. While they can still feel comfortable knowing they were right, the solution has been pulled from Microsoft's website without any announced reason. Who should we feel sorry for: those who didn't download it yet, or those who did?
To be entirely fair, Microsoft's knowledge base article was quite clear in its instruction to users regarding this hotfix.
A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problem described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.
Still, AMD users have another reason to be upset as if they needed one. The hotfix will come, and will come in completely stable form; it just looks like today is not that day. If you already received this update and have experienced technical difficulties, the comment form awaits.
Subject: Processors | December 15, 2011 - 10:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft
When AMD’s Bulldozer processors arrived, they were unable to best Intel’s fastest at most tasks. A number of users held out hope for Bulldozer; however, as it was discovered that Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system was not optimized to take advantage of the multi-threaded execution scheduling engine. While MS has implemented this optimization in the Windows 8 kernel, the current stable release has been without a fix until recently. The fix in question is available for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and can be downloaded here. It should be noted that service pack 1 is a pre-requisite to this hot-fix.
Conservatively, previous indications suggested such a fix would add a 5 % to 10 % performance boost in multi-threaded applications. That number is based on the estimates from around the web from people comparing benchmarks between Windows 7 and Windows 8 Developer Preview. If you are running a Bulldozer processor in your machine, be sure to apply this update and let us know how performance improves.
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2011 - 09:19 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fud, security, microsoft, windows
An interesting study that Slashdot has linked to today breaks down three months of infection data and crunched the numbers to see how the infections made it onto systems and which systems are the most vulnerable. Fully two thirds of the infections happened to users browsing with Internet Explorer, but you must keep in mind IE's market share. At this time last year half of all users browsed the internet with some version of IE and while that has fallen to around 40% this year it is still the most commonly used browser and will therefore have a greater representation in the sample of PC s tested. As long as you keep that in mind, you can then move onto disparaging the average IE user ... especially if it is still IE6.
As well, you can see that Vista has something to be proud of. Even with the lack of PCs using the OS it has almost as many infections as WinXP machines. As to the programs most likely to be used as an attack ... Java JRE sits at 37% with Acrobat just behind at 32%, leaving the much maligned Flash responsible for only 16%.
"Since Up to 85 % of all virus infections occur as a result of drive-by attacks automated via commercial exploit kits, CSIS has actively collected real time data from them for a period of three months. The purpose of their study is to reveal precisely how Microsoft Windows machines are infected with malware and which browsers, versions of Windows and third party software that are at risk. They monitored more than 50 different exploit kits on 44 unique servers / IP addresses. The statistical material covers all in all more than half a million user exposures out of which as many as 31.3 % were infected with the virus/malware due to missing security updates."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- RIM invites BlackBerry users into MS Office cloud beta @ The Register
- HP, Dell to launch ultrabooks by 1Q12 @ DigiTimes
- McAfee, IBM gobble rival security-intelligence firms @ The Register
- Retina Quality 2560x1600 HD Panels on Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks @ VR-Zone
- Synology and Y-Cam Grasshopper Bundle @ kitguru
- Interview with Nadeem Khanzadah of Jumbo Electronics @ t-break
- Win a Gigabyte GTX590 & 5x Battlefield 3 with KG & DABS
- D-Link DCS-1130 Wireless N Network Camera @ Computing on Demand
- HardwareLOOK & Thermaltake Joint contest
Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 03:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, Utility, ui, tweaker, microsoft, Metro, developer preview, beta
Are you trying out the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was released earlier this month and finding the new Windows Explorer Ribbon and Metro UI start menu frustrating? If so, Lee Whittington has just the tweaking utility for you!
A freeware tool developed for The Windows Club dubbed Metro UI Tweaker (for Windows 8) is the first third party tweaking tool for the upcoming operating system. It provides several tweaking options to make the transition to the Metro UI more palatable including the ability to completely disable (or enable) the Metro Start Menu and new Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer (which can also be easily hidden without the need for this tool via an icon in the corner). When disabling the Metro Start Menu and Ribbon, the Metro style Task Manager and new lock screen will also be disabled.
Such sweeping changes are not the only tweaks possible, however. The Windows 8 utility also lets you add power options including sleep, restart, and full shutdown to the Metro interface (when clicking on your user name’s picture), as well as adding any application or file to the Metro Start Menu.
Now at version 1.0, the Metro UI Tweaker is available for download from here for those adventurous enough to use a beta tweaking tool on a beta operating system. How do you feel about the new Windows 8 interface? Will you be checking out this tool? Let us know in the comments.
Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2011 - 10:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, windows 8, Metro, developer preview, microsoft
While some folks may be dissapointed that Microsoft's first public beta download was not released this week at their BUILD conference, we did get the next best thing; Microsoft released a developer preview build for 32 and 64 bit systems yesterday. The download page went live at 11 PM Eastern Time, and hosts three versions of the Windows 8 build available to the public-- despite the name an MSDN subscription is not required. The download page does hint that MSDN subscribers are able to access additional downloads, however.
The three available downloads include a disk image (.iso) with developer tools, a 64 bit Windows 8 disk image, and a 32 bit Windows 8 disk image. Of the three versions, the last two will be most applicable to the public and enthusiast users.
The Windows 8 Start screen
The Developer Preview with applications for software development work weighs in at a hefty 4.8 GB .iso and features a 64 bit copy of Windows 8, the Windows Metro SDK for applications, Microsoft's Visual Studio 11 Express, Microsoft's Expression Blend 5, and 28 Metro style applications. Because of the hefty download, you will need a dual layer DVD or USB drive if you plan on installing it on bare metal (single layer DVDs need not apply, in other words).
The next largest download is the 64 bit Windows 8 Developer Preview build that drops the development software and features only the 64 bit Windows 8 operating system and Metro style applications. This download weighs in at an easier to manage 3.6 GB .iso disk image. The minimum system requirements for both 64 bit builds include a 1 GHz or faster x64 CPU, at least 2 GB of RAM, 20 GB of hard drive space for installation, a WDDM 1.0 supported DirectX 9 capable graphics card, and a touch screen to utilize the touch functions.
The final download is a 32 bit version of Windows 8 with Metro style apps suited for older computers with less than 4 GB of memory or lacking 64 bit capable hardware. At 2.8 GB, this disk image is the smallest of the bunch.The Developer Preview. The minimum system requirements for this build are a 1 GHz or faster x86 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of available hard drive space for installation, a DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver support, and (I am embarrassed Microsoft believes this needs to be listed) a touch screen in order to take advantage of the touch screen functionality of the OS.
All three builds are of the English language variety and are available here for your downloading pleasure. Note that if you do choose to install the Windows 8 download on bare metal, you will need to wipe out your current installations, and a clean reinstall of your old operating system will be required to restore your system; therefore it would be prudent to at the very least make sure everything important is backed up before attempting the installation. For those less adventurous a free Virtualization program might be in order. Keeping in mind that performance will impacted by running it as a virtual machine, Virtual Box seems to handle Windows 8 very well using the Windows 7 64 bit settings after allocating 4 GB of RAM and the maximum amount of video memory. VM Ware and other paid solutions should also handle the operating system well enough for you to get an idea of Microsoft's vision for the operating system by using tweaked Windows 7 presets.
What features of the Windows 8 developer preview would you like to see tested out? After you've had a chance to check the operating system out for yourselves, let us know what you think of Windows 8 in the comments!
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2011 - 10:32 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gpu, hardware, Utility, windows, amd, Intel, nvidia
GPU-Z is a fine little Windows utility that, much like its CPU-Z brethren, can tell you all sorts of useful information about your graphics sub-system. The lightweight program does not require a restart, and weighs in at 922 KB. GPU-Z is distributed by TechPowerUp, and is now officially on it’s 0.5.5 version.
The new version adds support for a slew of AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, improved support for BIOS identification, and a new tab for a giveaway by graphics card vendor PowerColor. On the AMD front, the new version adds support for the companies line of A-Series APU graphics cores, AMD’s mobile cayman GPU “Blackcomb,” and various FirePro cards including the V8000, V3700, and 2460 (FireMV). On the Nvidia side of things, the new version adds support for the GeForce GT 530, GT 545, GT 560 Ti OEM, Quadro 400, Quadro 4000M, and Quadro 5000. Further, GPU-Z updated support for mobile versions of Nvidia cards, including the GeForce GT 305M, 410M, 520M, 520MX, 555M, and the GTX 580M.
The program further improves the BIOS readings of Nvidia cards as well as fixing a shader count detection bug on the Blackcomb mobile Cayman AMD parts. The ASUS MARS II GPU also receives support in version 0.5.5. PowerColor is holding a giveaway for a 6990 graphics card to a lucky winner. The new GPU-Z tab has all the relevant information as well as an entry form. Lastly, the program will now remember the last selected GPU selected from the drop down on multi-GPU systems.
The updated support is nice, and the lightweight program starts up just as fast as the previous versions. Do you use GPU-Z? You can download the new version here.
Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2011 - 04:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, operating system, microsoft
Windows XP is almost old enough that revisionist historians can have a crack at it without anyone speaking out against it. That is, it would be if not for the large number of users still using the operating system at their home and work. The decade old operating system has only now fallen below 50% of Windows' market share. More specifically, the slip in market share occurred between June and July where it fell 0.63% to a total of 49.94%.
The numbers are percentages of MS's total 87.66% market share.
In comparison, Windows Vista holds a much smaller 9.24% market share after dropping 0.28%. Microsoft’s most recent operating system, Windows 7; meanwhile, saw a gain of 0.74% to a total of 27.87% market share, which puts the new operating system well on its way to overtaking the XP juggernaut. Techspot has the full scoop on the market share situation, which you can read about here.
Are you still using Windows XP?
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2011 - 07:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, microsoft, branding
Microsoft and their Windows brand have always been synonymous where it comes to Operating Systems. As someone who grew up with Windows 3.1, I have grown up seeing Microsoft through the proverbial Window(s). As such, Windows has been a brand that has always been around, and one that I assumed would always be around. In a surprise twist; however, This Is My Next reports that Microsoft may be dropping the Windows brand for their future operating systems after Windows 8.
Look how far the MS OS logo has come. What does the future hold?
Windows 8 is already incorporating tile elements of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Xbox elements in the form of a re-branded Games For Windows Live service. It seems logical; therefore, that Microsoft would want to even further integrate their mobile, gaming, and computing platforms into one cohesive unit. This Is My Next reports that the future OS will present a single Operating System and UI features across all devices and platforms. They further quote Andy Lees in stating that the single ecosystem would facilitate consistency across all Microsoft powered platforms and “the goal isn’t just to share UI, but also core technologies like Internet Explorer.”
You can read more about the “Next Next” OS over at This Is My Next. What are your opinions on the proposed branding theme? Do you have any fold memories of the Windows brand?
Subject: Processors | July 13, 2011 - 02:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, windows, ostc, SBNA, sandybridge
In the first showdown that Phoronix tried, the Linux driver for Intel's HD3000 iGPU beat out the Win7 driver handily. That win was due to the OSTC Linux engineers at Intel doing a bang up job on the Linux drivers, while the Windows team lagged behind a bit. A few months have passed and the laggards on the Windows team have since released a major update to their drivers, necessitating Phoronix to repeat the test. Unfortunately for them the Linux team has also released improvements, specifically "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration". Can the Windows team retake the lead, or should you switch to OpenGL games on Linux? Read on to see.
"The new benchmarks going out today on Phoronix are looking at the performance of Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics with the latest Microsoft Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux drivers. Not only are we using the very latest drivers, but there is also a separate Linux test run with SNA, the "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration" architecture enabled."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- CPU Performance Comparison Guide Rev. 5.7 @ TechARP
- Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Sandy Bridge Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD A8-3850 Llano @ LostCircuits
- Overclocking AMD’s A8-3850 Llano APU @ Overclockers.com
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 5, 2011 - 11:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows, games
So I am a very avid supporter of PC gaming: I do not feel that I should pay license fees to a company to actively limit me. I feel that if people keep asking me whether HD-DVD or BluRay will win that there is no reason to have eight gaming platforms co-exist (more if you include Mac, iOS, Android, etc.). I feel that instead of relying on a cardboard coffin that will arrive in 1-2 business weeks, you or your friend should be allowed to fix your own hardware… or choose your own local small business computer store to deal with in person. I feel that it is much better to buy an extra GTX 560 every four years and have money left over for a meal than a multiplayer subscription pass that does not even let you run your own dedicated servers with admins (what cheaters? BAN!) So you can guess my reaction when I saw Microsoft roll Games for Windows Marketplace into Xbox.com.
Underlined for your convenience.
Now do not get me wrong, I was never much a fan of Games for Windows to begin with. Microsoft’s attempt to rid the PC of the stability stereotype was to push certification for all content on Games for Windows Live which worked very well for Fallout: New Vegas on the Xbox 360. Ironically the PC version was much more stable just after launch because the patch was stuck in certification on Xbox during the busy holiday season (lols!) The biggest problem with forcing certification is that would include mods as well (video, 3:10) and that is not something mod developers could really afford. Halo 2 Vista was one such Games for Windows Live game whose mod tools were so neutered that the provided tutorial level was impossible to create because jump pads assets were not provided nor able to be created.
Still, it seems odd to me for Microsoft to push so feverishly to roll PC gaming into Xbox branding when other initiatives like Steam are already showing the entire industry how to do things mostly right. It is possible that at some point Microsoft could roll Direct(X)box back in to Windows and simply create a canon home theatre PC (if Valve does not eat that lunch too); but if their plan is to merge Windows into Xbox then they are completely missing the point of why we would rather play a PC game with an Xbox 360 controller: because we choose to.
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