Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Windows 7 - A Rant

Windows 7 has really been getting on my nerves. There are things going on with it that shouldn't be going on with it, especially since you have to pay so much for it. And disclaimer, I do have a degree in computer science, so I know a good bit of what I'm talking about.

My current computing setup is triple. I have a relatively modern desktop running Windows 7, a six year old laptop running Debian stable, and a five year old iMac G5 running Mac OS 10.5.

Allow me to post the basic specs of my desktop and laptop to make the sins of Windows 7 more apparent.

Desktop, "Randgriz"
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 x2 3000+
RAM: 1.5GB generic
Secondary Storage: 420 GB across two SATA 3.0 Gb/s drives
OS: Windows 7 Professional, cost, free (courtesy of the university)

Laptop, "Finney"
CPU: Intel Celeron M 1.6 GHz
RAM: 1.5GB generic
Secondary Storage: 80 GB IDE drive
OS: Debian GNU/Linux Stable, cost, free (courtesy of the open source movement)
Window Manager/Desktop Environment: Windowmaker/GNUStep

Note that the laptop is clearly inferior in every way, shape, and form. I'm going to skip the petty little differences in user interface, bash vs. PowerShell, et cetera, and get to the real meat and potatoes of what's inexcusable.

Technical Issues
Occasionally I make the mistake of trying to use Windows 7 the way I use GNU/Linux. With Finney, I find myself able to run dozens of programs, both GUI and command line, simultaneously without any noticeable performance hit. Sure, my little system resources monitor will go a bit crazy, but the system is still perfectly usable. Typically, I'm running Firefox (Iceweasel, actually) with several tabs open, mpd (music player daemon) with MPDCon, a system resources dockapp, emacs, gnus, and maybe nethack or Dwarf Fortress under wine.

In Windows 7, god help me if I try to run more than two applications simultaneously. I wish I were joking. It takes upwards of 30 seconds to launch an application in the first place, and if I have more than about three windows open, I'm screwed. The system approaches complete unresponsivity. And if I want to install a program, well, I might as well go make a sandwich, because I won't be using the computer for half an hour.

Granted, Windows has always had admittedly bad resource management. Windows can't schedule IO worth a crap. Any and all significant hard drive access will slow most Windows systems noticeably, but this is absolutely ridiculous. This leads me to the conclusion that Windows 7 somehow manages to have even unbelievably crappier resource management than any operating system I have ever used ever. And I've used more operating systems than most people can name.

Second major technical issue, crappy drivers. So, sitting inside Randgriz is an almost brand new Linksys 802.11 b/g wireless card that is completely useless. Because Windows refuses to acknowledge that it even exists. It worked just fine when I booted Linux on Randgriz. Randgriz outputs video through HDMI to my HDTV. I have never had a problem with video. But the sound craps out frequently. It would seem that about once an hour, Windows 7 forgets that the video card is also a sound card. So I have to reach behind the TV, unplug the HDMI cable, replug the HDMI cable, and suddenly sound works again! What. The. Fbadword. That should never happen in any conceivable universe.

General Evility
Microsoft is a pretty evil company. Seriously. The entry for "Unethical Business Practices" in the encyclopedia should read, "See Microsoft." As if that wasn't bad enough, they're a huge supporter of software patents, the single biggest stifler of innovation in the modern era. But I digress.

I have Windows 7 Professional. Professional. And I like to play around with languages. It's a hobby of mine. But I can't change the system language on Randgriz unless I upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate. And even then only a measly 35 languages, unlike the dozens and dozens available on any standard Linux distribution.

Artificial feature restriction is nothing short of unethical, especially when it forces people to upgrade to the most expensive version of a tiered program for something that should be a standard feature across the board.

And that's not even going into DRM, security issues, et cetera.

I'm typing this on Finney. My duck is telling me that I'm using about a third of my RAM and hovering around 70% CPU usage with spikes up to 100%. I haven't even noticed. I'm contemplating switching the entire system to Esperanto just because I can.

I hate Windows 7 so hard right now. Thanks for reading.


Chris S said...

Wow 0_o I had a few expectations as to what the various problems would be, as I myself have become a user of Windows 7... unfortunately I do have to say that none of these were them. =D The reason I say that is that these problems don't at all duplicate on my own personal systems. I tried to post my own experiences on here but unfortunately my long winded self typed WAY too much. Me + Boredom + IT Talk = lots of typing.

I'll venture a guess to say that you and I are running the same versions of Windows 7 (*cough* MSDNAA *cough*). I have yet to bothered messing with languages as I'd probably just end up confusing myself if I switched it, so I would imagine that sort of issue would arise. One major problem I have run into is that if you try to push something graphics intensive in Windows 7 graphics mode, you WILL be sorry. The popup displaying that you should switch over to Windows Classic color scheme does not take top priority which means it sometimes gets hidden behind your now frozen and/or blacked out program. God help you. 0_o

Currently, I have 2 PCs running Windows 7:

CPU: 2.8ghz overclocked Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333
Storage: HDD1- OS hard drive with 3 partitions (80GB SATA 3.0)
HDD2- Programs hard drive (500GB SATA 3.0)
HDD3- Data storage hard drive (640GB SATA 3.0)
Video: EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 PCI-E Video Card
OS: Windows 7 Professional 32-Bit, Windows XP Professional 32-bit, Ubuntu 9.10

Laptop (Gateway P7807u FX):
CPU: 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo P8600
RAM: 4GB (2x2GB) 204-Pin DDR3 1066
Storage: HDD1: OS/Programs
HDD2: Data
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, Ubuntu 9.10

Luckily, for testing purposes I've had the joy of being able to run different OSs on the same machine to get a feel for which works better. Now, multi-tasking so far has not proved any sort of an issue on any of my platforms. This is, however, dependent on what tasks are running. Normally, on my desktop (2 monitors), I can keep a movie file, some game or another (usually EVE Online or Supreme Commander), and a few other things going. Now, if I open Firefox it all goes to hell. I'm an avid supporter of Firefox, but the memory leaks it suffers can be a real hassle sometimes. When my browser is hogging more memory than a MAJORLY intensive game like SupCom, there's a problem lol.
Drivers has been an interesting issue for me. On my desktop I was surprised at how well it integrated with my hardware (considering it is all custom built. Normally my Gigabyte motherboard gives XP and Ubuntu a run for their money). In fact, it even automatically picked up my RAID setup (before I dispensed of it because Ubuntu kept slaughtering ALL the data on my raid whenever I'd boot up. ;_; I had to choose been the raid and Linux. Linux won since I used it more). My laptop was a bit of another story. I had to load almost EVERY driver for it, though it did save some from the previous Windows Vista build it had on the machine. My video card was the most difficult to get situated, as it kept crashing continually. Apparently Windows 7 64 bit doesn't like Nvidia 0_o.
Performance wise Windows 7 beat out XP across the platform. For multi-tasking Ubuntu beat out both due to its lack of background processes and better resource management but failed utterly when it came to gaming performance testing (to be expected. I don't use it for gaming anyway). Also, using 3D-Mark benching, I managed to find that Win 7 performed faster than Win XP. In WinXP, my 3D-Mark rating was 15,382. In Win7 it was 16,740. BIG difference. 0_0 Added to the ability to use DirectX 10 and 11, 7 has become my main OS.

Chris S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S said...

Now, that said: here are my wonderful list of Win 7 issues. The first, and most annoying, is that in their infinite wisdom, microsoft forgot to test this OS against file systems made by its predecessors. Particularly, in this case, Windows XP. The two have no clue how to share AT ALL. If you were to setup a drive in Windows XP, put in all the information on it in Windows XP, and then switch to Windows 7 you will run into an issue where 7 believes it has no rights to even LOOK at the data on the drive, much less manipulate it. The only way to fix the issue? Take ownership. Now, this is a length process depending on the amount of info on the drive (my data drive had 450GB of crap on it at the time. Lengthy process :-P). So, I switch back to XP to see if everything is working peachy... NOPE. XP now believes it has no rights to view any data. Solution? That's right- take ownership. Now, I tried everything under the sun to fix it. I have the administrators full rights. I have the SYSTEM full rights. I specifically, in Win 7, found my XP user and gave them full rights. Nothing worked. I even removed the account security (which, in Win 7, is a joke and amounts to nothing more than a slow-down on the system. Turn it off) so that everyone no matter who they are should be able to look at it. Nada. Nothing. Eventually I gave up and concluded that if I wanted to look at something in XP I'd simply need to take ownership of it. What a hassle.
Secondly is program compatibility. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that some XP programs will not work with Windows 7 due to the new architecture and this is why Windows XP VM was put on there (though its also why I use triple boot :-P), but when my laptop can run an older program that my desktop can't, you have a problem. The perfect example for this is a free Korean mech (big robot) MMO called "Exteel". Designed obviously for the Windows XP architecture, I suspected I might run into some issues. Loading it onto my 64-bit Win7 on my laptop it ran FINE. Awesome! I load it onto my desktop 32-bit Win7: BLUESCREEN OF DEATH!. 0_o Well, I haven't seen that in years. Wonder what is up with that. ookaaayyy... lets google it. Sure enough, first thing I see: "If you are using 32 bit windows 7 don't even bother trying to play this. Upgrade to 64 bit, run XP VM or find a new game". o_0 EH?! How this worked out I have no clue, but it's been the story of my life with Win7 32. Tbh, it isn't the first or last program I suspect will give me such problems (an Oracle based problem caused me similar issues), so I've been tempted to actually purchase Win7 64 for this desktop just to be rid of 32 bit. It is becoming quite the annoyance.

My main job getting me through college has been computer repair. I'm one of those IT drones you see scurrying around to fix some computer or another or in the shop when someone's hardware fails. I have to say that all things considered, through all my encounters with 7 I have been somewhat pleasantly surprised. After the disaster that was Vista, I honestly expected to give up on Windows forever. I'd keep XP for my gaming needs but the moment a new OS came around capable of pushing games, I'd be happily on my way. Yet, surprisingly, here I am.

It does suck that the system is causing you such problems, though. I myself have not been able to duplicate your particular issues but I have found quite a few annoyances of my own. The way I figure it, at this point, if you aren't a game player then there isn't a lot of reason (besides some program compatibility) to run Windows at all. Linux versions like Ubuntu have become so ridiculously powerful that there is little left for Win 7 to even be halfway good for. Just my $0.02. =D