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Metrics vendor defends Windows 7 memory claims

'Everyone thinks they're a performance expert,' rebuts Devil Mountain CTO

February 19, 2010 06:01 AM ET

Computerworld - Editor's note: The person quoted in this story as "Craig Barth" is actually Randall C. Kennedy, an InfoWorld contributor. Kennedy, who presented himself as the CTO of Devil Mountain Software, no longer works at InfoWorld. Given that he disguised his identity to Computerworld and a number of other publications, the credibility of Kennedy's statements is called into question. Rather than simply remove stories in which he is quoted, we have left them online so readers can weigh his data and conclusions for themselves.

The Florida firm that on Wednesday said most Windows 7 machines exhaust their physical memory, and as a result take a performance hit, defended its data and conclusions after naysayers dismissed its findings.

"Everyone thinks that they're a [Windows] performance expert," said Craig Barth, the chief technology officer of Devil Mountain Software, a performance metrics software maker. "They look at their PC and say, 'My PC doesn't do that.'"

Barth was reacting to the firestorm of criticism over his claim that 86% of the Windows 7 PCs among the 23,000 tracked by Blue Mountain's community-based (XPnet) exhibit signs of severe and sustained memory exhaustion.

Readers of Computerworld's story of Wednesday repeatedly said, sometimes stridently, that they thought XPnet's data was bunk. "Vague reports that a little-known outfit somehow has managed to get metrics on 23K machines, and has found their memory utilization to be abnormally high without explanation as to how, is not a reliable source," charged Micah Haber in an e-mail to Computerworld.

More than one reader accused XPnet of spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). "A good operating system will not have much free RAM at all, but instead will allocate the unused RAM to buffers and caching," argued Kevin Pieckeil Thursday. "Having only a few megabytes of 'free' RAM doesn't mean the system's memory resources are being exhausted."

Countless readers, including Haber, did just what Barth pointed out: They cited numbers from their machines. "Anecdotally, both of my machines, one having previously run XP, the other Vista, exhibit lower memory utilization under Windows 7," said Haber. "Both have 2GB of RAM, and usually are using between 38% to 52% of the total amount of physical RAM available."

Others were more blunt. "There is so much wrong with this article I don't even know where to start," said someone identified as "cregan89" in a kick-off comment on Digg . "I simply do not believe for a second the figure they give that '86% of Windows 7 computers use 90-95% of available RAM'," continued Cregan89. "So I'm going to go as far as to call this article a downright lie."

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