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General OS confusion

Excuse me if this is the wrong place to post this but I couldn't think of a better place. I just built a new system based around an Intel I7 CPU and an Asus P6T MB with 6Gb ram. I installed XP pro (32bit) and it really didn't seem all that much faster than the 5 year old Athalon based machine I'm replacing. In fact it suffered from random slow downs and stalls when accessing the CD drive or loading a Java heavy web page. I had a feeling that the problem was OS related. I downloaded the Windows 7 (64bit) from Microsoft wiped the primary drive and installed it. Night and Day. Wow is it fast now. The big problem now is that I can install the 2 main engineering Apps I use but neither are supported by their manufacturers and are very slow or unstable. not to mention that I don't want have my primary work computer based around a Beta OS that will expire and cease working in a few months. This leaves me with the question: Do I use XP 64bit or Vista 64bit. Vista reputation is what worries me. Most of the people I know that have had experiences with Vista have gone back to XP pro and I have to say that I have had no problems with XP in general. How far is Windows 7 from Vista? Will I regret going the Vista route?


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More about general confusion
  1. I use Vista64 Ultimate, and i love it.

    Go for Vista64, it works fantastic, I doubt you will have any problems.
  2. Best answer
    Well, Win 7 is Beta - From there there will be at least a Release Candidate build before the code gets locked. And generally speaking, you can't upgrade from Beta, to RC, to Release - You have to wipe and reinstall everything. So at some point, even if the Beta serves you well until Release, you'll have to wipe and reinstall.

    ***Be advised that some of the following statements represent one view in a quasi~religious war which has been raging with various degrees of intensity for the past couple years. Yes, Heretics from either side are happily burned by the Heretics on the opposing side.... with glee... and as a matter of routine.***

    Regarding Vista: The biggest complaint is that it's Not XP. Most often, people appear to (willingly?) confuse "Different" with "Bad" and use whatever changes they find as the excuse/justification to go back to the older OS. Well.. if that's what you're comfortable with, then fine. But the underlying reason is "I Don't Want To Be Bothered" rather than any real show~stopping failing. Common examples: Crying about User Access Controls when it takes all of 30 seconds to shut it off. Or not being competent enough to troubleshoot a faulty driver. Or blaming the operating system when the <10 year old whatever> doesn't work any more instead of getting out the crowbar and prying open wallet to update stuff.

    Yes, I use Vista x64 as my main OS. My personal opinion on the matter is that if you can't get Vista working properly then you should turn in your enthusiast card at the door on the way out because you're obviously too ignorant or lazy to have earned it. It's not that hard. It's just a little different than XP.



    Now: To the question at hand - If you can deal with having to wipe and reinstall the new builds from scratch and it's working properly for you in all respects, then I would think that continuing with Win 7 may well be the easiest thing. Just be aware it *is* still Beta. Things will change, and you may run into some quirkiness or items that just plain don't work like they should. If you have build 7000 it may be worth your while to reach out and get 7057 from "The Usual Places", if indeed that isn't what you've done already. A Release Candidate build is rumored for late April or late May, though it's unclear if that would end up on Technet/Connect where it would - as a matter of course - be instantly set loose in Torrent~land.

    Regarding your older apps: Check if/that it will work in a Virtual Machine. If so, then simply use the appropriate VM to provide the (XP?) envirionment it works best with. You won't be able to use Graphics acceleration, but I do not believe this would be an issue with most engineering software.

    ....I just built a new system based around an Intel I7 CPU and an Asus P6T MB with 6Gb ram. I installed XP pro (32bit)

    You do realize that address space limitations are such that any 32 bit OS is only able to take advantage of {4GB - addresses consumed by installed devices, Bios, etc}. The reason why is basic binary math: 2^32 = 4,294,967,296 bytes = 4 GB. After that, the operating system is unable to generate any more addresses to communicate to installed hardware. The current state of things is that the best one can generally hope for with a 32 bit OS is just north of 3GB worth of memory that's actually usable.

    Now, using the same math (2^64) gets us something like 16 Exabytes of potential address space. Microsoft has seen fit to limit their current releases to 64GB (x64 Basic) or 128GB (everything better than Basic). At that level, address space is pretty much a non-issue for PC's and workstation class machines because currently available hardware isn't able to support that much anyhow. But according to Microsoft, that limit is easily revisable upwards by simply resizing the allocation table.

    Anyways, if you want to actually use all the hardware in your machine then you *must* install a 64 bit operating system.

    Since you are essentially compelled to use a 64 bit OS to use the hardware you have, know that XP64's achilles heel is/was the limited driver support from 3rd party vendors. Whereas with Vista, Microsoft used their 'Windows Logo' program to pressure vendors into providing proper 64 bit drivers, and with good success. And also know that Microsoft have not changed the driver model between Vista and Win 7 - so Yes, you can use Vista drivers for Win 7. This is not true for XP64.

    Having said that, if you happen to have access to an XP64 disc and your stuff works otherwise, there's nothing preventing you from using that for the time being until Win 7 is released. Video drivers are freely available, and you should generally be OK with common devices. It's not like there won't be any security updates, because those aren't stopping, and regular people don't have service contracts so we have to support ourselves anyhow. Just know there will is no "upgrade" planned from XPx64 to 7x64. It'll need to be a clean install. So yeah - No dodging that particular bullet.

    Either way you go, a best practice for the current time would be to use a separate, and non-OS-tied drive for your data.


    (1) Some old installer packages still include 16-bit code. This code is not supported when running in 64-bit mode. This is an intentional limitation on the PROCESSOR side of the house:,,30_182_739,00.html

    (2) Applications that use kernel-mode drivers - for example, the copy protection in some games - must provide 64-bit native Authenticode signed versions. For the obvious security reasons.

    (3) Microsoft has... enforced.. programming "Best Practices" by eliminating the the ability to use some of the shortcuts which were possible when writing for an XP environment. So if a given piece of software was poorly written, it may not work. And please understand that XP64 and Vista 64 use versions of the same "Windows on Windows" system which plays a bit of registry and location 'traffic cop' magic when running 32 bit binaries on a 64 bit OS.
  3. Scott,

    That was exactly the answer I was looking for. Thank you. As much as I'm liking Windows 7 right now it seems like the smarter way to go is to use vista64 and follow the upgrade path to 7 when it is released.

    Thanks again.
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