(Very) Preliminary Windows Server 2008 impressions and Vista Multimedia Performance under battery power

Out of curiosity, I very briefly tried the new Server 2008 Release Candidate (freely available from Microsoft). I’ve been using Vista 64-bit since I need to see all the memory in my machine and, while it works mostly OK, there are some low-level scheduling issues with it – for instance, sound is really choppy on battery power, no matter what I do with the power settings, so I can’t use the thing to watch a DVD or listen to music on the plane. Many others seem to be having the same issues, despite the funky Multimedia Class Scheduler nonsense that Microsoft put in the OS that makes networking slower (great info here), even though older incarnations were not suffering from media playback issues under load. And no, if I disable the Multimedia Scheduler it does NOT work better, it actually gets worse, which means that the service is there to fix some other kludge-y issue Microsoft introduced with the scheduler or something like excessive power throttling of certain devices.

But, as usual, I digress. This is about Server 2008. What’s noteworthy is that Vista SP1 inherits the exact same kernel as Server 2008.

This will be a short entry, there are others online talking more about 2008. What I noticed:

  1. It’s light for a Windows OS. There’s no excessive bloat guys, the thing takes about 300MB of RAM with the default install, and more can be saved by trimming unnecessary services (of which there are very few).
  2. It’s fast. Under preliminary benchmarking, even the RC code (that probably has some features missing and extra debugging code) seems about as fast as 2003 after SP2 (unlike others that have been releasing benchmarks of, say, Vista SP1 in it’s pre-release form, I’d rather wait until the final code is out).
  3. Seems to work with most Vista drivers so, if you want to turn it into a workstation, you can. You can also install the Vista GUI if you’re so inclined with no adverse effects (aside from the ones that come with the Vista UI that is). Runs very smooth.
  4. Application compatibility is similar to that of Server 2003.
  5. The OS does NOT suffer from the same issues as Vista regarding media playback (I made sure I installed the Power Management driver and selected the same kind of PM scheme as Vista). Maybe a good omen come Vista SP1? We shall see.

The new management interfaces are nicely laid out, and selecting Roles for the server and adding or removing features as needed is very simple. It feels more like a well-integrated 2003 R3 rather than Vista.

I didn’t get to play with the new virtualization, it doesn’t seem to be in the RC code (though, reading some documentation, it seems as if it will have VMotion-like capabilities, which I will believe when I see).

UPDATE: 12/17/07

There is no more Vista multimedia performance issue on 2 separate computers. Some patches just released by Microsoft removed the issue (plus the issue of the mouse cursor stuttering). Interestingly, the patches had no mention of fixing said issues. I thought it was a fluke but having seen this fixed on 2 different boxes (one 32-bit, one 64) I don’t think it is.

For the Vista detractors: I’d advise everyone to wait until SP1 – as with most Microsoft releases. It’s no different. They’re actually getting better, NT4 was unusable until SP3 at least. Given the unreal amount of code in the system, I’m surprised it runs this well. They really need to slim it down. Supposedly, Windows 7 will be slimmer (http://apcmag.com/7668/beyond_vista_windows_7_what_we_know_so_far). However, it mostly targets the kernel and it was never the Windows kernel that was the issue (it’s actually surprisingly decent), it’s all the crud around it.


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