23 Dec 2007

Vista SP1 to lie about RAM usage. Deliberately!

Most somewhat techie users know all about Microsoft and their recent Vista disaster.
One of the biggest problems is that they have about 16 different versions of it, and the average users doesn’t know which one to get.
They have

  • Vista Basic
  • Vista Home Premium
  • Vista Business
  • Vista Enterprise
  • Vista Ultimate
    (they also have a starter edition, and ‘N’ versions that they sell abroad)

That’s not all. Each version comes with a choice of either 32 bit, or 64 bit.
Basically 64 bit should be a bit faster, more stable, have improved security and, more importantly, they can address a full 4GB of RAM (and way more than that).
Because of the way binary works, the most RAM an operating system can use is 2^bits.
In a 32bit OS it’s 2^32, which ends up being 4GB (although most windows machines max out at around 3GB). Unlike Apple, they’ve been unable to combine both editions, letting the OS take care of bit problems. Because of this, almost every copy of vista sold is 32bit, which can’t use more than about 3.2GB. This used to be fine, but now that RAM is so cheap (I bought 4GB of RAM for my desktop for $80. At that price, does it really make sense to get any less?)

The issue is deeper though. Computer manufacturers want to boast of new machines that are faster and have more memory than their predecessors. The problem is, what good does more memory do you when your OS can’t use it.
If you right click on ‘My Computer’ and go to properties, it will show the amount of RAM that your computer can see. This is perfectly fine, but sometimes the ignorant consumer buys 4GB of RAM, and thinks there is a problem when their OS only reports 3GB.
So, what does the richest company in the world do about it?
Fix the problem at the core?
Enforce manufacturers to use 64bit?
nope. They just have their OS lie about it.
Starting next month, with the release of the first Service Pack for Vista, going to the properties of ‘My Computer’ will show you how much RAM is actually installed on your computer, regardless of whether Vista can actually even use it.
Isn’t this despicable? Now there will be even more clueless people who will be upgrading without any benefits.
Does Microsoft ever get anything right?
The only good thing ever to come out of Redmond is Office (Office 2007 is great, but I’m just fine using
I personally am running the 64bit version of Ubuntu.
Here’s a link detailing some of the other changes Microsoft are planning.