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Operating Systems and Servers News

Started by VelMurugan, Mar 17, 2009, 04:57 PM

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VelMurugan

Warning sounded over Win 7's XP emulation

A new Microsoft add-on for Windows 7 that will let some users run Windows XP applications in a virtual machine could create support nightmares for IT managers, analysts have said.

The company had announced last month that the add-on, called Windows XP Mode (XPM), will be available to users of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise versions once the new operating system ships later this year. Professional and Ultimate are the two highest-priced versions of Windows 7, while Enterprise is sold only through volume licensing agreements.

Analysts agreed that Microsoft needs to offer the add-on to help persuade users to upgrade to Windows 7, but they also noted that it could cause multiple problems for corporate users.

"This will help the uptake for Windows 7, because it removes one more gotcha, and that's never a bad thing to do," said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

Cherry added that Microsoft's decision to use virtualisation to provide backward compatibility is a nice "safety net" for users who lack access to Microsoft's Enterprise Desktop Virtualisation technology.

Michael Silver, an analyst at Gartner, echoed Cherry's take on what motivated Microsoft to offer XPM, but he added that it broadly expands support requirements. "You'll have to support two versions of Windows," he said. "Each needs to be secured, anti-virused, firewalled and patched. If a company has 10,000 PCs, that's 20,000 instances of Windows."

Silver also noted that the add-on might lead companies to neglect the important task of making sure their applications are compatible with Windows 7. "This is a great Band-Aid, but companies need to heal their applications," he said. "They'll be doing themselves a disservice if, because of XPM, they're not making sure that all their apps support Windows 7."

Silver added that while Microsoft is effectively extending the life of Windows XP by offering it as a Windows 7 add-on, it hasn't changed its plan to shift the older operating system out of mainstream support and provide only what it calls "extended" support only until mid-April 2014.

"[XPM] will give some a false sense of security," Silver warned. "What happens in 2014, when XP isn't supported anymore? I think companies will be much better off if they make all their applications run on Windows 7."

VelMurugan

Windows 7 beta made available to public

The near-final version of Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 7, has become available to the general public.

Microsoft will collect feedback on the Windows 7 release candidate over the next few months, fixing small issues. The company allowed developers and other testers to begin downloading the release candidate last week.

Windows 7 comes nearly three years after Windows Vista, which took five years for Microsoft to engineer but was regarded by some as underwhelming. Microsoft hasn't said when the final Windows 7 version will be released, although it's rumoured to be out before year's end.

Microsoft warned that it is not offering technical support for the Windows 7 release candidate, so those who install it are on their own. Users should be familiar with installing an operating system from scratch, formatting a hard drive and backing up data, among other skills, Microsoft advised.

In the Windows 7 release notes, Microsoft warns of several problems that haven't been resolved, including issues with its latest Web browser, Internet Explorer 8 (IE8).

Debugging JavaScript with the developer tools in IE8 could throw up a warning that a website is not responding, but that warning can be ignored. Also, some web pages may have misaligned text or missing images. Microsoft recommends clicking on the "compatibility view" button on the address bar as a fix.

Microsoft released the Windows 7 beta in Arabic and Hindi, but those languages have been replaced with French and Spanish in the release candidate. English is available for both versions.

"We needed to ensure certain features were tested for worldwide functionality, and Hindi and Arabic help us test a number of language-related features," Microsoft said.

The Windows 7 release candidate will only work for so long. It is due to expire on June 1, 2010. Three months prior, the release candidate will automatically shut down a person's computer after two hours.

The Window 7 beta expires on Aug. 1, and computers with that version will begin shutting themselves down after two hours beginning July 1.

Microsoft said that Windows Vista users will not need to reinstall their applications after upgrading to the Windows 7 release candidate. The company does, however, recommend backing up data as a precaution. Vista users will have to do a clean install, however, to go from the Windows 7 release candidate to the final version.

Windows XP users should back up their data and do a clean install of the Windows 7 release candidate.

To run the 32-bit version of the release candidate, a computer should have a 1 GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of hard disk space and a DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or higher driver.

For the 64-bit version, Microsoft recommends a 1 GHz or faster processor, 2GB of RAM, 20GB of hard disk space and a DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver.

VelMurugan

Intel delays Itanium chip again

Intel has once again pushed back the release of its next-generation Itanium server chip to the first quarter of 2010.

The Itanium chip, code-named Tukwila, was originally due for release by the middle of this year. Tukwila is being delayed for certain "application scalability" enhancements that Intel wants to make to the chip architecture, the company said. The chip maker declined to elaborate on the type of enhancements it plans to make.

During system testing, the company saw an opportunity to enhance the architecture for "highly threaded workloads where contention for system resources plays a dominant role in application scalability," said Patrick Ward, an Intel spokesman.

Itanium chips are 64-bit quad-core processors designed to run fault-tolerant servers that require high uptime. The chips use a different instruction set than x86 server chips, and are intended to compete with other server processors based on RISC architecture, like Sun's Sparc and IBM's Power chips. However, the chips have not seen much success, with only a few vendors like HP selling Itanium-based servers.

The Itanium is mainly designed for mainframe-based applications that require plenty of memory bandwidth, like scientific computing and financial transactions, said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat. Hewlett-Packard has made huge investments in Itanium and may have asked Intel to make particular design changes to meet the needs of its enterprise customers, he said.

"The Itanium processor is pretty much a custom solution for HP. HP has a huge investment in this, and they buy most of the processors," McGregor said.

But the delay could affect HP's ability to win new customers as competitive chips like IBM's Power continue "firing on all cylinders," wrote Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, in a blog entry.

"Delays to Itanium matter less to Intel and the server makers who use it (meaning HP first and foremost) than in the case of x86 Xeon, where a few months' delay can have a major revenue impact," Haff wrote. Customers for servers like HP's Superdome and NonStop value enterprise-class capabilities more than performance, he wrote.

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Itanium has been plagued with development problems that have delayed its release multiple times. Intel earlier this year delayed Tukwila's release to the middle of this year to add a faster interconnect and support for new technologies like DDR3 memory. The last Itanium chip, code-named Montecito, was released in 2006.

The delay however hasn't changed manufacturing plans for Tukwila. Tukwila chips will still be manufactured using the old 65-nanometre process, Intel's Ward said. Intel currently manufactures chips using the 45-nm process and will upgrade to the 32-nm process later this year. Intel upgrades its manufacturing process every two years to make chips faster, smaller and more power efficient.

Itanium chips are not volume chips like PC processors, and are mainly customised to meet the needs of server makers, McGregor said. Performance and reliability are a larger measure than size and power, and based on requests from server makers, extra transistors help improve system performance to scale application performance, he said.

During an investors conference last week, Intel's CEO Paul Otellini tried to build enthusiasm around Itanium by pointing out the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Sparc chip after Oracle acquired Sun. Otellini said customers could increasingly adopt Itanium servers as they abandon Sparc chips. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has however denied any plans to abandon the Sparc chip.

VelMurugan

Microsoft pulls out of anti-trust hearing

Microsoft has pulled out of a hearing over EU anti-trust allegations that it "shields" Internet Explorer (IE) from competition. The company has said that senior regulators would now be unable to attend.

The EU's Competition Commission had scheduled the hearing for 3-5 June, when Microsoft would be allowed to argue against charges made in January that the company has an unfair distribution advantage because it includes IE with its operating system.

Microsoft blamed an inflexible EU for the cancellation, saying that a scheduling conflict meant European decision makers would be absent, making any presentation a waste of time.

"The dates the commission selected for our hearing, June 3-5, coincide with the most important worldwide intergovernmental competition law meeting, the International Competition Network (ICN) meeting, which will take place this year in Zurich, Switzerland," Dave Heiner, deputy counsel for Microsoft, said in a post to a company blog. "As a result, it appears that many of the most influential commission and national competition officials with the greatest interest in our case will be in Zurich and so unable to attend our hearing in Brussels."

When Microsoft submitted a several-hundred-page written response to the EU allegations, it was also given the June dates for a possible hearing. The company immediately asked the commission to reschedule, said Heiner. The commission refused.

"The commission has informed us that 3-5 June are the only dates that a suitable room is available in Brussels for a hearing," he said.

Without senior EU and European officials able to attend part or all of the hearing, Heiner said Microsoft decided to cancel. "While we would like an opportunity to present our arguments in an oral hearing, we do not think it makes sense to proceed if so many of the most important EC officials and national competition authorities cannot attend," he added.

According to the commission, Microsoft's refusal to meet the scheduled dates means that the company has technically withdrawn its request.

The case against Microsoft stems from a December 2007 complaint by Norwegian browser maker Opera Software, which said that the US company's "tying" of IE with Windows gives it an unfair advantage. In January, the EU sent Microsoft its official charge list, called a "Statement of Objections."

The commission has hinted that it may fine Microsoft and force it to change Windows so that users are offered alternate browsers, such as Opera, Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome. The last two firms have joined the case as "interested third parties," which allowed them to see the EU's allegations and take part in the June hearing.

Although Microsoft added a "kill switch" to Windows 7 earlier this year that lets users block IE8 from running - the browser remains on the system - it has repeatedly refused to link that move to the EU action.

For its part, Opera has said it wants the commission to make Microsoft provide multiple browsers, including its own, perhaps via the Windows Update service that Microsoft uses to patch and upgrade its own software.

Admin(Portal)

It was an amazing thread Velu.  :confused

Thanks for this excellent and informative share.
  8)
A.SK in short

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