Posts tagged with windows - page 2

Windows Experience Index on MacBook Pro 2GHz compared

I just got the opportunity to try out the latest version of VMware and thought I’d do a quick Windows Experience Index on Boot Camp, Parallels and VMware to see what the performance is like before my new MacBook Pro 17″ arrives (hopefully on Friday!)

When I installed Leopard on my machine I took the opportunity to carve out a dedicated 20GB partition again to put a fresh install of Vista on. As well as being able to boot natively this also now means I can run my single Windows partition switching between native, Parallels or VMware at will which admittedly drives Windows Activation crazy.

Host machine

Hardware MacBook Pro 2GHz “MacBookPro1,1”
Memory 2048MB DDR2 667MHz
Processor 2.0GHz Core Duo
Graphics ATI Radeon X1600 256MB
Disk 100GB 5400RPM
Operating system Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1

Configuration

Memory 848MB (Virtual machines only)
Disk 20GB Boot Camp partition
Operating system Microsoft Vista Ultimate Edition 32-bit

Testing notes

  • No other applications running in OS X or Vista
  • Full-screen mode
  • Vendors guest OS tools & drivers installed

Scores

VMware
1.1 62573
Parallels
3.0 5570 beta
Boot Camp
2.0 drivers
Processor 4.7 4.7 4.7
Memory (RAM) 3.9 3.9 4.9
Graphics 1.9 1.9 4.1
Gaming graphics 1.0 1.0 4.4
Primary hard disk 5.9 5.9 5.9
Overall 1.0 1.0 4.1

Thoughts

  • Processor: A little surprising given that VMware supports multiple cores but that Parallels doesn’t.
  • Memory: To be expected given that the VM was only running with less RAM.
  • Graphics: Disappointing and likely caused by the VM vendors graphics drivers not being WDM which based.
  • Gaming graphics: Very disappointing and caused by lack of DirectX 9 graphics support.
  • Hard disk: Like processor this is a pleasant surprise.

After my new 17″ MacBook Pro arrives (hopefully this Friday) I will produce another set of scores which should show how much faster the 2.6GHz is with all the options and let me compare like-for-like on the memory front.

I also want to run some Visual Studio 2008 build time comparisons (probably of SubSonic) because compilations are what really counts ;-) If you have any further suggestions for benchmarks, leave a comment!

[)amien

Font rendering philosophies of Windows & Mac OS X

Jeff Atwood asked What’s Wrong With Apple’s Font Rendering? and as I answered in the comments it comes down to philosophy:

The primary difference is that Microsoft try to align everything to whole pixels vertically and sub-pixels horizontally.

Apple just scale the font naturally – sometimes it fits into whole pixels other times it doesn’t.

This means Windows looks sharper at the expense of not actually being a very accurate representation of the text. The Mac with it’s design/DTP background is a much more accurate representation and scales more naturally than Windows which consequently jumps around a lot vertically.

Jeff and Joel both wrote follow up posts agreeing that it is one of philosophy but both are of the opinion that the Windows pixel-grid approach is the better whilst our displays are only capable of low dots-per-inch (DPI).

What they don’t seem to appreciate is the compromise this causes.

Here is an example of Times New Roman on Windows (left) and Mac OS (right) scaled over whole point sizes with sub-pixel precision:

Font scaling on Windows and Mac OS X

The two thing to note here arising from this “pixel-grid is king” approach are

  1. Windows does not scale fonts linearly as the rough line points out
  2. Windows scales the height and width but not the weight of the font

Neither of these may matter to a casual user but for professionals preparing material destined for high DPI (film or print) then it’s a world of difference. How can you layout a page on-screen and expect the same result on the page when the font isn’t the same width?

The issue is reminiscent of the “I hate black bars on wide-screen films” brigade who believe that the film should be chopped, panned, scaled and otherwise distorted from the artists original intention simply so that it fits better on their display.

Typography has a rich and interesting history developed and honed over centuries. It is a shame to misrepresent typefaces especially as the pixel-grid approach becomes less relevant as displays reach higher resolutions.

Update

Some additional comparisons and a note that the gamma differences between Windows and Mac will affect how you see the “other” systems rendering on your machine.

Further update (21 August 2007)

Thanks to Daring Fireball and ZDNet we’ve had a few more great comments which I’ve summarized here:

George thinks the philosophy idea is wrong because “What percentage of Mac users sit around all day doing nothing but pre-press work?” but as Fred points out Microsoft’s desktop-user optimized rendering ends up on images and videos all over the web, thus escaping the environment for which it was crippled.

George also claims that Vista’s rendering is improved, I can’t vouch for that one way or another but from looking at his screen shots the difference there could simply be the contrast level as adjusted by the ClearType tuner.

Nathaniel believes that it’s not Microsoft’s job to manipulate a typeface and that if you want on-screen readability then choose a font designed for that such as Microsoft’s own Tahoma or Apple’s Lucida Grande.

I’d go further and say that Microsoft’s own aggression in sticking to the grid kills font choice at the regular reading size of 10/11 point by optimizing everything to a generic sans or serif look:

Windows XP

Windows fonts around 11pt in ClearType

Mac OS X

Mac OS X fonts around 13pt in Medium (Best for LCD)

James points to an article called Texts Rasterization Exposures that proposes a combination of using vertical hinting only and calculating horizontally to 256 levels and has some convincing screen-shots showing the benefits. Probably too late for Leopard or Vista SP1 though.

[)amien

Windows font evolution

Vista and Office 2007 are interesting as they provide major user interface work that also includes new sets of fonts. I thought it would be interesting to show the evolution of the various styles.

Serif

Times New Roman has been the default typeface in Microsoft Word since version 1 and was originally designed for printing newspapers on high speed printing machines whilst still retaining legibility.

Curiously enough whilst Office 2007 provides a couple of new serif typefaces the default has switched to the sans-serif font Calibri although a number of the the themes within Office 2007 utilize these typefaces.

Serif font evolution in Windows

Sans-serif

The infamous Helvetica clone Arial primarily used for on-screen document-type work and even used in some applications user-interfaces throughout the years gives way to two new lighter fonts that like most of the new ‘C’ named typefaces rely on ClearType to look legible at small sizes.

Calibri is now the default font of choice for Word documents and will therefore probably become a familiar typeface in a short space of time.

Sans-serif font evolution in Windows

Monospace

Primarily used for programming and other environments that require it. At least all those programmers too lazy to try something else will enjoy Consolas as standard in Visual Studio 2007.

Monospace font evolution in Windows

User interface

The Windows user-interface switches to a new font once again despite large chunks of the Windows UI never making it past Microsoft Sans Serif (the scalable version of MS Sans Serif pictured below).

Interface font evolution in Windows

[)amien

My windows 64-bit experiences

Windows XP 64-bit has been on the market for some time and both Intel and AMD’s current processors are 64-bit. Even cheap office Dell boxes are coming equipped with the 64-bit Core 2 Duo. (This is the x64/x86-64/EM64T/AMD64 architecture which comprises of 64-bit extensions on top of the existing x86 32-bit architecture and not to be confused with Intel’s IA64 Itanium stuff or DEC’s Alpha 64)

You can run 32-bit Windows XP on these processors but if you want to use more than 2-3GB of RAM then you’ll need to switch to Windows XP 64-bit edition (or Vista 64-bit if you’re really brave).

With all this in mind I was a little surprised at the state of 64-bit Windows software when I finally got my hands on my first x64 machine. Here’s what I found.

Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Installing Microsoft SQL Server 64-bit (any edition) complained about a missing or corrupt sqlclin_x64.msi file which could leave you running in circles.

This problem occurs if you have the 32-bit native client already installed. Unhelpfully Add or Remove Programs describes both versions as Microsoft SQL Server Native Client regardless of whether you have the 32-bit or 64-bit version installed. The SQL Installer fails to check for the 64-bit version and throws this cryptic error message at you instead.

Solution: Remove Microsoft SQL Server Native Client.

Internet Explorer only sites that use Flash

There are a number of IE only web-sites that use Flash – Microsoft’s Online Learning is one such example. The problem is that Adobe have not made a 64-bit version of the Flash player available.

Solution: Create a shortcut to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\IExplore.exe to run 32-bit Internet Explorer for now.

Mozilla Firefox

There is no official 64-bit Windows version of Firefox although the 32-bit version runs just fine.

Solution: Try one of the unofficial builds although they are a little dated and there is no patching policy.

TortoiseCVS

There is no 64-bit version of TortoiseCVS and the 32-bit version will not run from the 64-bit Windows Explorer.

Solution: Install the 32-bit version and run from the 32-bit version of Windows Explorer (a pain).

A 64-bit version of TortoiseSVN is now available.

Note: If you like to be able to access TortoiseSVN from the File dialogs in Visual Studio 2005 you will also need to install the 32-bit version as VS 2005’s devenv.exe is a 32-bit application.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2005

Whilst the Profession and Team editions will let you write 64-bit applications Visual Studio 2005 itself is 32-bit only and has some additional performance and compatibility problems beyond those experienced on x86 32-bit Windows.

Service Pack 1 resolves some issues relating to debugging on 64-bit but leaves a whole host of other x64 issues unresolved including debugging SQL code.

Solution: None.

.NET Reflector

Fails to draw properly the debugging or lower left info pane. Curious considering it is a .NET application that shouldn’t care whether it is running on 32-bit or 64-bit architectures. So much for VM abstraction.

Solution: None.

This bug has been subsequently fixed.

Resources

Overall a very disappointing state of affairs.

[)amien