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Microsoft boss Bill Gates has dropped a hint about the next version of Windows.
He said Windows 7 could be released "sometime in the next year or so" during a Q&A session at a meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank.
After the event a Microsoft spokeswoman said the new version was scheduled for 2010 - three years after the January 2007 release of Vista for consumers.
Bill Gates Gives A Hint, Windows 7 May Come By 2010 [news.bbc.co.uk]
"the Vista Interface"
Live thumbnails are nice. I also enjoy the 'switch windows' button that lets you see live versions of every application you have running at once in a sort of 3D view.
The reason that this (and some of the other Aero features like transparency and smooth dragging) are possible is that the Desktop Window Manager holds all window data in memory instead of just a 'rendered' version of only the visible parts of the display.
It's also the main reason Vista uses so much more memory.
the way the title-bar/menu-bar/address-bar area has been messed around in Explorer
This threw me off at first too until I realized that it actually kinda makes going 'up' to the right folder easier than using the 'up arrow'.
I'm still a little lost with all the extra folders displayed on the side though, need to clean that up sometime.
The Hibernate feature is good for resuming where you left off without having to leave the computer on standby. I never used that on XP, can't remember if it was available.
Aero is nice, but that's not a major selling point in my book. Vista is a nice incremental upgrade from XP. I think MS did a decent job improving the user interface on this one. Sure, it takes a bit to get used to after years of XP, but I'm not averse to that.
In my experience Vista has been infinitely more stable than XP. I only reboot my Vista workstation when a software update requires it. I can let it run for months without noticing a slowdown, and it's never crashed on me. XP on the other hand gets gummed up and doesn't run smoothly after a while.
Looking forward, this new version of Windows probably won't toss out the UI improvements of Vista. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't a huge fan when I first started using Vista either. The fact that several of the UI changes actually save me time on a day to day basis have turned me though.
And why does it require around 256MB of video memory to operate Aero, that's 32-64 times more than is required by XP.
Before Vista was released, I heard Microsoft saying Aero would be available for XP. I guess they changed their minds as it hasn't emerged.
From what I know, Vista is radically different than XP in terms of rendering windows. There was a lot of hype about this before it launched. Basically it uses the graphics card to draw everything. XP and earlier versions of Windows use the processor. This enables windows to be rotated (there was a demo showing a video running smoothly in a spinning window with no loss of frames) and other special effects like page turns. Microsoft even showed how you could take an application like Calculator and stretch the window easily to make it larger, and all the buttons would be rendered perfectly.
Transparent windows also depend on the graphics card, though of course they can be done slower via the processor.
[edited by: Hester at 10:12 am (utc) on April 16, 2008]
Aero works by rendering every window whole into off-screen memory and then combines the images if each window to create the viewable image. On the face of it, that's a good explanation as to why so much memory is required, however...
In practice, only one window will normally need to be dragged at a time (the foreground window). This being the case, there is normally no need to buffer all the individual windows separately, all that is required is to buffer the combined image of all the windows behind the one that is being moved.
It would get slightly more complicated when topmost windows are involved, and it would be slightly slower when window focus changes, but it should require no more than about 16MB for a typical screen.
This being the case, there is normally no need to buffer all the individual windows separately
That's true if you're talking only about dragging one window around. However that's not the only application for Aero. My earlier post points out a couple, many more will develop.
256MB of video memory
To state the obvious, here in 2008, 256 megs of Video memory is no longer a large amount.
[Note: For some odd reason I'm not seeing all of the posts in this thread. I've been getting notices about new replies for the last 24 hours but cant't actually see any new posts between Bill's last post and Hester's post this morning. So If I'm repeating someone, apologies :-)]
Windows has used the hardware acceleration features of graphics cards since the early 90s.
AFAIK not to draw the entire OS - every window, every element. You couldn't have spinning windows with live video in them in XP. Or scalable applications where the entire contents of the window rescale in milliseconds. Correct me if I'm wrong.
You couldn't have spinning windows with live video in them in XPYou could if you wanted.
I recently bought a USB dongle to watch Freeview broadcasts on my laptop (Terrestrial Digital TV). When the software is running, CPU usage is about 15%. Spinning the resulting image is actually quite easy (far easier than decoding mpeg video anyway).
Some programs written exclusively for Vista won't run on XP because they use a slightly different file format (that XP doesn't recognize). Other programs may require Aero or refuse to work, but for the most part, any graphical application that Vista can run, XP can run too. (There is also some pretty impressive aero-emulation stuff for XP too).
Now imagine you stop using the processor to draw the OS, but shift it to the graphics card - hence the 256Mb requirement. In theory, wouldn't that make Windows a lot faster? So Vista should be super fast! But is it....?
Remember when something crashes and you can move the window around leaving a trail of repeated windows?That merely indicates that the programs responsible for painting the missing area has crashed (or at least, is not processing WM_EraseBkGnd messages promptly). This may no longer happen in Vista due to off-screen buffering, but indicates nothing else.
It is true that Vista can do some fundamental things that other versions of Windows cannot (easily) - live thumbnails is a good example. HOWEVER, this is down to the poor way Windows is written rather than something special in Vista. For instance, if you hit Alt-Print-Scrn, an image of the foreground window is placed on the clipboard. You might reasonably think that the Window is redrawn into an off-screen bitmap, but in reality, all it does is copy that portion of the screen that the window occupies (in Vista, this leads to dark smudges in the corners - the shadow).
Many common controls, such as buttons and edit boxes don't follow the rules. They may process WM_EraseBkGnd messages and WM_Paint messages properly, but often they simply draw directly to the screen. This probably accounts for Vista's ability to do several things that XP cannot.