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64-Bit Versions of Windows Vista

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The differences between 32-bit (x86) versions of Windows Vista and 64-bit (x64) versions are more complex. But here’s the weird bit: Though virtually every single PC sold today is x64-compatible, virtually every single copy of Windows Vista that goes out the door on those new PCs is a 32-bit x86 version.

If you do manage to purchase a new PC with a 64-bit version of Windows Vista preinstalled— and yes, they are out there if you look hard enough—that PC will come from the factory with all of the 64-bit hardware device drivers that are needed to support whatever add-ons and peripherals ship with the machine.

Consumers who are building their own PCs or adding Windows Vista to an existing PC have an additional issue to consider that is outside of the basic capabilities discussion covered in this chapter: Should you purchase a 64-bit version of Windows Vista? After all, 64-bit versions of Windows Vista can access far more RAM than 32-bit versions (up to 128GB as of this writing, compared to less than 4GB of RAM in 32-bit versions). In addition, 64-bit versions of Windows Vista are nominally more secure than 32-bit versions. Does that mean that 64-bit versions of Windows Vista are “better”? Not exactly. Though 64-bit versions of Windows Vista are widely compatible with the hardware and 32-bit software that Windows users have been using for years, these products simply aren’t as compatible as 32-bit versions of Windows Vista. For very many people, compatibility is the most important consideration when it comes to upgrading their PC, because they want everything they’ve been using to continue working. Moreover, few people need 4GB of RAM today, let alone more than that.

Here’s my advice. Typical consumers should stay away from x64 versions of Windows for the lifetime of Windows Vista. There will be niggling hardware and software compatibility issues on Vista x64 because Microsoft requires hardware vendors to ship different drivers for the 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) versions of Vista. Guess which one is easier? Though hardware and software compatibility has already improved dramatically since Vista first shipped, typical users will be frustrated by the one or two incompatible applications or devices that are likely to appear. It’s just not worth it. Not yet. Put another way, if you have to ask—that is, if you’re unsure whether you should be using Vista x64—then the answer is still the same: You shouldn’t be running Vista x64. That said, Vista x64 is considerably more viable than it was when Vista first appeared; and it’s moving quickly into the mainstream, though it’s not quite there yet. Maybe by the next version of Windows.

For the coming year, gamers, digital-content creators, CAD-CAM workers, science and engineering users, and other power users who run into the 4GB ceiling in 32-bit versions of Windows are ideal candidates for Vista x64. These types of users understand the risks and limitations of the x64 platform and don’t need my advice anyway. Enjoy the headroom.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, 64-bit software isn’t magically faster than 32-bit software. That said, 64-bit PCs running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista and native 64-bit software can often outperform 32-bit alternatives, but that’s because you can add far more RAM to the 64-bit machine. Systems with massive amounts of memory just aren’t as constrained and can operate to their full potential.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition

An Overview of All the Vista Versions

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Back in 2001, life was easy: Microsoft released Windows XP in just two product editions, Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional Edition. The difference between the products was fairly obvious; and with its enhanced feature set, XP Pro was the more expensive version, as one might expect.

Over time, however, Microsoft muddied the waters with a wealth of new XP product editions. Three major product editions were added: Windows XP Media Center Edition, which received three major releases and one minor update between 2002 and 2005; Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which received two major releases between 2002 and 2005; and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, which took most of XP Pro’s feature set and brought it to the x64 hardware platform. Other XP versions, such as XP Embedded and XP Starter Edition, can’t really be considered mainstream products because they target specific usage scenarios and aren’t broadly available to consumers.
What follows is a review of the major Windows XP versions that Microsoft shipped between 2001 and 2006. In a moment, I’ll compare these products with their corresponding Vista versions:

• Windows XP Starter Edition (less-developed countries only)
• Windows XP Embedded (sold in embedded devices only)
• Windows XP Home Edition
• Windows XP Home Edition N (European Union only)
• Windows XP Media Center Edition
• Windows XP Tablet Edition
• Windows XP Professional Edition
• Windows XP Professional Edition N (European Union only)
• Windows XP Professional Edition K (South Korea only)
• Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
• Windows XP for Itanium-based Systems

All Windows XP product versions, except Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, were available only in 32-bit versions. For Windows Vista, Microsoft surveyed the market and came away with two observations. First, an experiment bifurcating the Microsoft Office product line into multiple product editions had proven enormously successful for the company. Second, customers were willing to pay a bit more for premium product versions, such as XP Media Center Edition, that offered extra features. Clearly, Microsoft’s experiences over the past few years led directly to the situation we have with Windows Vista: The company has created six core Vista product editions, two of which can be described as premium versions. (If you include the so-called N and K editions (for the European Union and South Korea, respectively), there are actually nine product editions. If you count the 32-bit and x64 (64-bit) versions separately, since they are in fact sold separately for the most part, there are 17 product editions. Add the (PRODUCT) RED version of Windows Vista Ultimate—which is available only with select new PCs from Dell—and you’ve got 18. Here’s the complete list:

• Windows Vista Starter
• Windows Vista Home Basic
• Windows Vista Home Basic (x64)
• Windows Vista Home Premium
• Windows Vista Home Premium N — European Union only
• Windows Vista Home Premium (x64)
• Windows Vista Home Premium N (x64) — European Union only
• Windows Vista Business
• Windows Vista Business K — South Korea only
• Windows Vista Business N — European Union only
• Windows Vista Business (x64)
• Windows Vista Business K (x64) — South Korea only
• Windows Vista Business N (x64) — European Union only
• Windows Vista Enterprise
• Windows Vista Enterprise (x64)
• Windows Vista Ultimate
• Windows Vista Ultimate (x64)
• Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED — Sold only through Dell on select Machines

Confusingly, you also have to choose how you’ll acquire Windows Vista. In addition to the most typical method—simply getting it with a new PC—you can purchase retail boxed copies of Windows Vista and other not-quite-retail versions of the software.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition

Windows Vista Service Pack 1

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There’s an old saying when it comes to Windows: business users won’t even think about upgrading to the new version until Microsoft ships the first service pack. For the uninitiated, service packs are a way for Microsoft to collect security fixes and other bug fixes into a single installable package. Corporations like service packs because they make it easier for them to keep up-to-date with the latest fixes; and if they happen to roll out a Windows version one, two, or several years after Microsoft first issued the OS, they can get the latest fixes in one whack. This can save a lot of time and effort.

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is the first major update to Windows Vista, a collection of bug fixes, minor functional changes, and other additions to Microsoft’s latest operating system. From an end-user perspective, there are no major changes in Windows Vista, but that doesn’t mean SP1 isn’t interesting. Indeed, Microsoft has improved Vista in many ways with SP1, including the following:

• Bug fixes: Windows Vista SP1 includes a collection of previously released and new security fixes, bug fixes, and other minor updates.

• A new kernel version: SP1 includes an update to the Windows kernel to bring the Vista kernel (version 6.0) up-to-date with the version in Windows Server 2008 (version 6.1).

• Kernel Patch Protection changes: The Kernel Patch Protection (“PatchGuard”) feature is designed to protect the Windows Vista kernel in 64-bit versions of the OS. However, security companies such as McAfee and Symantec complained that this feature kept them from integrating as tightly with the OS as they could in previous Windows versions, so Microsoft changed Kernel Patch Protection and released a set of APIs aimed at helping developers write code that interacts with this security feature.

• Instant Search changes: Microsoft changed Vista’s Instant Search feature to allow third-party desktop search product makers to more closely integrate their products with Windows Vista. In the initially shipped version of Vista, the Instant Search indexer ran at full speed even if a third-party product was installed, reducing overall system performance. In SP1, this has been fixed.

• Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) changes: Microsoft removed the annoying Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) and Non-Genuine State (NGS) mode for Vista installs in expired non-activated and non-genuine states. Now with SP1, even expired non-activated Vista installs will work normally, though users are notified every hour that they need to activate.

• Device compatibility: This is up dramatically, from a bit over 40,000 compatible devices at launch to just under 80,000 devices with SP1. The number of logoed devices devices that are certified by Microsoft to work properly with Vista—is also up dramatically, from about 2,000 at launch to over 17,000 with SP1. Improvements to Vista’s drivers aren’t limited to sheer numbers, either; changes to video, audio, and other drivers in SP1 have actually improved the battery life on laptops from several major PC makers by an average of 7 percent.

• Application compatibility: This has also improved significantly with SP1. While this area includes consumer-oriented applications, incompatible enterprise applications were the big deployment blockers during Vista’s first year. Microsoft and its partners remediated over 150 enterprise application blockers during the development of SP1: These are applications that previously prevented one or more corporations from upgrading to Vista.

• Reliability: This is better in Vista SP1, too, Microsoft says. The company’s telemetry data enables Microsoft to analyze various system disruptions in Vista, including such behaviors as nonresponding applications, application hangs and crashes, and system crashes. Compared to the release version of Vista, SP1 more than doubled the mean number of hours between disruptions, from about 17 hours to about 34 hours.

• File copy improvements: One of the biggest complaints users have had with Windows Vista concerns file copy operations, both locally on a single PC and over networks. Microsoft isolated the causes of these and provides the fixes in SP1. A number of areas are affected, including the performance of file copy operations and system responsiveness during these operations. According to the latest data, file copy operations are 44 to 71 percent faster with SP1 than they were under the original version of Vista. Microsoft has also improved the speed at which Vista resumes from Sleep or Hibernation in SP1.

• Security: This is another oft-discussed aspect of Vista, and Microsoft points to data showing that Vista is less vulnerable to electronic attacks than are rival operating systems and its own predecessor, Windows XP. SP1 includes a small change to the highly criticized User Account Control (UAC) feature in Vista and a change to BitLocker, enabling it to encrypt nonsystem disks.

• End-user changes: While Windows Vista includes no major end-user changes, it does include a few changes you might notice. In addition to the Instant Search changes mentioned previously, for example, Microsoft improved the built-in Disk Defragmenter utility so that you can now select which disk volumes (partitions) are defragged automatically.

• Administrative improvements: Windows Vista SP1 includes a number of changes aimed at the system administrators who deploy, support, and maintain Vistabased systems. Local printing from a Windows Terminal Services session has been improved; there’s a new version of the Network Diagnostics tool, available from the Diagnose and Repair link in Network and Sharing; and SP1 includes a number of Group Policy (GP) changes.

• Support for new hardware and standards: Windows Vista SP1 includes support for the extended FAT (exFAT) file system used in flash memory storage and consumer-oriented mobile devices, Secure Digital (SD) Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA), EFI network booting on x64 PCs, the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) remote access tunneling protocol, and DirectX 10.1, the latest version of Microsoft’s multimedia and gaming libraries.

As you can see by reading through the preceding list, SP1 does not dramatically impact your day-to-day usage of Vista, though it does of course add many desirable low-level improvements. This is in keeping with Microsoft’s traditional view of service packs, though nothing like Windows XP Service Pack 2, which was in many ways a major Windows update.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition

Installing and Configuring DHCP

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Installing DHCP in Windows Server 2008 is as simple as adding another role to a server. Some additional steps must be taken, however, to authorize the DHCP server. Back in Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft introduced the concept of authorizing a DHCP server. Microsoft did this because of the problem of “rogue” DHCP servers—servers that users would install on the network, and configure to hand out IP addresses, thus causing problems with production DNS servers. The problem with rogue DHCP servers was that IP addresses that were handed out would either:

• Overlap with existing IP addresses in the network, causing a conflict

• Hand out correct IP addresses, but possibly hand out other incorrect information, such as DNS, WINS, Subnet Mask, and Gateway information

• Hand out a completely incorrect range of IP addresses

• Create unnecessary traffic on the network

During the installation process, we will walk through installing the DHCP role, configuring DHCP settings, and authorizing the DHCP server. Let’s begin.

1. Choose Start | Administrative Tools | Server Manager.

2. Scroll down to Role Summary and click Add Roles.

3. When the Before You Begin page opens, click Next.

4. On the Select Server Roles page, select DHCP Server, and then
click Next.

5. Click Next to get through the DNS Server settings. This screen is verifying
the IP address of our DNS server, which will be passed to clients.

6. Click Next again to skip the WINS settings. If WINS was running (we will
discuss WINS later), we could select the WINS server here.

Next, we need to configure a DHCP scope. A DHCP scope is a range of IP addresses (as well as additional IP options, such as gateway, DNS servers, and WINS servers) that can be handed out by a DHCP server. In the first example, we are going to configure both an IPv4 and IPv6 scope.
Now, let’s configure our scope:

1. Click Add… to add a new DHCP Scope.

2. In the Scope Name field, type Internal Scope.

3. In the Starting IP Address field, type 192.168.1.200, or any IP range you have available on your network.

4. In the Ending IP Address field, type the end of your scope. We will use 192.168.1.220.

5. In the Subnet Mask field, enter the subnet mask of your network. Our subnet mask is 255.255.255.0.

6. Skip the default gateway for now, we will add this later.

7. Choose Wired as the Subnet type, but click the down arrow to see the Wireless option.

8. Verify that Activate This Scope is checked, and then click OK.

9. Click Next once your scope is added.

10. Determine what to do with IPv6 clients. We want to manage IPv6 clients through DHCP when necessary. To do this, select Disable DHCPv6 Stateless Mode For This Server and click Next.

11. Specify the IP address of an IPv6-enabled DNS server. To do this, enter the IP address of this server. If you recall, we set IPv6 options in the DNS section. Verify that our server’s IPv6 settings appear in the Preferred DNS Server IPv6 Address, validate it, and then click Next.

12. On the Authorize DHCP Server, you can specify the credentials of an authorized user, or just click Next.

13. Click Install to begin the installation.

14. When installation is complete, click Close.

Source of Information : Syngress The Best Damn Windows Server 2008 Book Period 2nd Edition

DHCP Servers and Placement

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The number of DHCP servers you need on a network is driven by the number of clients, availability requirements for the DHCP server, and the network topology. The number of clients a DHCP server can serve varies based on the hardware of the server and whether it provides multiple roles or is strictly a DHCP server. Most can provide IP addresses to thousands of hosts. Server hardware that will have the greatest impact on DHCP performance includes the network interface and hard disk. The faster the network interface card (NIC) and disk access, the better. In addition, multiple NICs will greatly improve performance, since NIC speed in no way compares to the speed of the internal PC hardware, and adding NICs literally relieves a bottleneck.

The availability of the DHCP services to the network drives multiple DHCP servers. You must have at least two DHCP servers. You might want to cluster the server if you have a large scope of addresses that are provided to a network segment.

The network topology will drive additional servers as well. This is something that must be reviewed and then planned. Ideally, a network should have a DHCP server on each segment, although this becomes impractical. Because you can configure routers to forward DHCP requests using a DHCP Relay Agent, you can place DHCP servers at any location on the network. Therefore, you should probably look at the unstable WAN links as the deciding factors for additional DHCP servers. A network that has a highly unstable satellite link to a location that has thousands of clients will require its own DHCP server. However, a network with a highly unstable satellite link to a location that has only a few clients will probably be better served by a statically applied IP address or alternate IP configuration used with DHCP from across the link.

Source of Information : Syngress The Best Damn Windows Server 2008 Book Period 2nd Edition

DHCP Design Principles

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DHCP is heavily reliant on network topology, and is heavily relied upon by the hosts within a network. For DHCP to function at an optimal level, client computers must be able to access at least one DHCP server at all times. When developing a DHCP approach for your network, you must consider several things first:

• How many clients will be using DHCP for IP addresses?

• Where are these clients located and what roles do they have?

• What does the network topology look like?

• Are there any unstable WAN links that might cause a network outage if DHCP clients cannot contact a DHCP server for an IP address lease?

• Are there any clients that cannot use DHCP?

• Are there any clients that will be using BOOTP?

• Which IP addresses are dedicated and must be held outside the IP address pool?

• Will you be using Dynamic DNS?

DHCP clients do not wait for the DHCP lease to be over before beginning renewal. Instead, they begin the renewal at the point when 50 percent of the lease is up. For example, when a client has a ten-day lease, then after five days, the client sends the DHCP Request message to the DHCP server. If the server agrees to renew the lease, it responds with a DHCP Acknowledge message. If the client does not receive the DHCP Acknowledge response, the client waits for 50 percent of the remaining time (7.5 days after the original lease was made) before sending another DHCP Request message. This is repeated at 50 percent that remaining time (8.75 days after the original IP address lease). If the client cannot renew the address, or if the DHCP server sends a DHCP Not Acknowledged response, the client must begin a new lease process.

DHCP has only a couple of design requirements:
• You should have at least two DHCP servers to ensure redundancy. You can use clustering to ensure availability, but also keep in mind that two separate DHCP servers at different locations in the network can prevent DHCP problems resulting from a network link failure.

• You must either provide a DHCP server on each network segment or configure routers in between those segments to forward the DHCP messages.

When planning the DHCP servers, the network topology comes into play. It is critical you place DHCP servers at locations most available to the computers that need IP addresses.

Source of Information : Syngress The Best Damn Windows Server 2008 Book Period 2nd Edition

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