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Microsoft: Performance integral to Windows 7, IE8

Company has uphill battle in raising performance bar, particularly with Windows 7, says one analyst

By Elizabeth Montalbano
August 28, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Fixing performance issues in Microsoft's Windows desktop operating system and Internet Explorer browser are key development goals for the next versions of those products, according to Microsoft company blogs.

Serious performance problems with IE7 and Windows Vista early on alienated users and damaged the reputations of the products. Some IE users switched to Mozilla Firefox because of IE 7's frequent crashes and performance glitches, while Vista's bugs, incompatibility problems and other issues have been well documented.

Microsoft is paying close attention to performance in Windows 7 and IE 8 as it develops both products, the company revealed in dedicated blogs about each product, "Engineering Windows 7" and "IEBlog."

"We've re-dedicated ourselves to work in this area (performance) in Windows 7 (and IE 8)," says the Windows 7 post. "This is a major initiative across each of our feature teams. ..."

The company has an uphill battle to improving performance, particularly with Windows 7, said one analyst.

"I'm not surprised they're going to focus on performance," said Mike Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. "I'm somewhat skeptical how much improvement they're going to make at this point."

Cherry suggested Microsoft consider performance for Windows 7 the way it did security with Vista. When Microsoft made security integral to the operating system, it engineered Vista so that "every feature has a security attribute to it."

Similarly, Microsoft should make performance such a priority that "anyone checking any code into Windows 7 not only has to make sure it's the most secure code and the most reliable code, but they'd better be addressing the performance of the code as well," Cherry said.

While performance is made up of "many elements," the blog post said the Windows 7 team is focusing on six areas of improvement in Windows 7: memory usage, CPU utilization, disk I/O, the boot-shutdown-standby-resume feature, the base system and disk footprint.

CPU utilization, in particular, is a problem in Vista, and could use improvement in Windows 7. Cherry said he runs a 32-bit version of Vista on a PC with a 64-bit processor and 2GB of RAM. However, when he starts his Outlook e-mail client, it uses 100% of his CPU resources for more than a minute and a half. "It blows me away," he said of the problem.

The company blog post said a key engineering goal for Windows 7 is to "keep the CPU utilization low as that improves multiuser scenarios as well as reduces power consumption."

The focus of IE 8 improvements will be how to make pages and images load faster for "everyday" browsing. This will require improvements to scripting, the rendering engine and networking improvements, among others, the company said in the "IEBlog" post.

Microsoft has said it expects to release Windows 7 in 2010. The company has not provided a time frame for the final release of IE8, but it will likely will be a part of the Windows 7 release.

Microsoft released IE8 Beta 2 on Wednesday. (Read Computerworld's review of IE8 Beta 2.)

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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