Mary Jo Foley and Windows pet peeves.

It was interesting listening to Mary Jo at the event Eileen got together last week. Mark has a good write up.

No two ways about, Mary Jo’s a PC:  there were a couple of comments she made which stayed with me one was that other companies  “can do things which Microsoft would get skewered for” and the other was that “Vista can’t seem to get a break.” Now I’ve been pretty open in my love of Vista since before it shipped. Mary Jo gets plenty of flak when she says anything positive about the product almost - entirely from people who have never used it. one of her pet peeves seems to be people who say “My apps don’t work” but when she asks which apps she never gets a response.

My pet peeves are “Vista is unreliable” and “Vista takes a long time to boot”. My answer to the slow boot is “why do you keep rebooting”. The only faintly reasonable answer I ever get to this is “To save electricity”. That conveys a misunderstanding of hibernate: hibernate powers the machine down stone cold, but it doesn’t require the OS to go through all the hoops of reloading from scratch. Even that way of working doesn’t stack up. The numbers usually quoted are 5W in sleep and 125W Powered up. So, go from a world where a machine never sleeps – it is either running or shut down, to one where it does sleep… I did some rough sums and found my machine runs about 80 hours a week (I use my laptop at home in the evening and weekends, and not exclusively for work) for simplicity I’ll say it sleeps all of the other  88 and never hibernates.  That’s 10 KWh for time the machine is running and 0.4KWh while it is sleeping. Put in perspective 1KWh of electricity from the UK grid creates 0.54Kg of CO2, so sleep creates 200g of C02 a week. The same as driving the average car 1KM, I could save that by parking at the entrance end of the Microsoft car park and walking to my building.

Still, it looks wasting 4% of my power consumption by using sleep instead of hibernate. BUT, sleep lets my machine cat-nap while I’m not using it. Do those cat naps save the 3.2 hours of full power running that would burn the same 0.4 KWh ? Absolutely. It probably saves it on a Saturday, and again on a Sunday, and a 3rd time during the working week.

I listen to people talking about the green priorities of their organization, but when ever I ask them what they are doing to get their desktop PCs to stop running screen savers for 100 hours a week I never get a proper answer.

As for unreliable, I have more reboots on my laptop because the battery occasionally bounces off when it is being lugged about in sleep mode than any other cause. The average is 6 days and 70 hours running between boots, but looking back over the stats two weeks between boots seems pretty standard. My home computer fares better. Since I put Vista on it back in June it has had one reboot which wasn’t down to applying regular patches (unplugging the TV tuner caused media center to get in such a twist I decided to reboot rather than fix it). That machine has a life which is much closer to that of a typical office machine. Unreliable ? PAH !

Comments (4)

  1. James ONeill says:

    Thanks Richard.

    I had a very bad experience with Nvidia initially – the drivers shipped with RTM were horrible. About 3 months afterwards there was an update and I have had no problems for the last year and a half. My laptop has a SATA disk and has been fine on that front from day one.

    I can understand that if a given bit of hardware doesn’t work then that can be a deal breaker… though it does rattle my cage a bit when people always blame Microsoft for that. I wish we’d be a bit rougher with OEMs sometimes, although the DoJ might have something to say about that .

  2. James ONeill says:

    Bryan, my point was that its foolish to worry about the last 5W when you can save that in plenty of other ways. Changing 1 light bulb in will save more.

    Vista’s sleep means it saves more Power during the day than it wastes by being in sleep overnight. But if you want to save the last 5W then use hibernate, that powers the machine down cold but resume doesn’t have to go through all the boot time tasks. Although Saving and reloading 4GB takes a while.

    Vista isn’t quick to boot, so the advice to is to use sleep. The argument that sleep wastes 5W doesn’t stack up because vista’s cat-naps during the working day more than cancel that out.

  3. Bryan says:

    Trying to turn Vista’s tardy booting into an argument for the environmental/CO2 reducing benefits of sleep and hibernation modes seems to be missing the point a little! I’ve got a two year old entry level MacBook and a one month old top end HP/Vista laptop with double the RAM and a 4GB ReadyBoost cache which cost a good deal more. I can boot the Macbook from cold, logon, browse the net and shutdown before the HP/Vista combo will give me a logon prompt and yes, I’ve followed your advice for removing unnecessary start-up apps and services.  

    On the Vista laptop, I feel I have to strike an unhappy compromise between wasting 5w in sleep mode or wasting mine or my employer’s time while I wait an unreasonable time for it to start up. With the Mac, I’m happy to power down completely because then I know it’ll be using zero watts and I won’t have to wait an unreasonable for it to start up.  

  4. Richard Milner-Watts says:

    Have to say I don’t really care about start up times or power consumption.  Until Vista is stable on motherboards with NVidia northbridges and sata controllers it won’t re-appear in my home.  To be fair the 30 Dell Vista desktops we bought have been fine, but the Vista/NVidia driver story is utterly horrible.  (In one afternoon of running Vista at home I had 8 BSOD’s, I spent 3 hours trying various solutions I found on the web, and then just gave up and went back to XP).

    Just my random 2 pence, a colleague pointed me at your blog for Virtualisation hints and tips.


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