Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 20th Jan 2007 18:32 UTC, submitted by jayson.knight
Windows Work by Microsoft's R&D group played a part in revamping Windows, a researcher said Friday, but not all the toil made it into Vista. Microsoft Research contributed to the SuperFetch effort, a feature within Vista that predicts which applications are used when, then pre-loads them so that they're instantly available. "As part of a long term set of projects, we want to teach the computer to learn from users to make the machine more proactive," says Eric Horvitz, a principal researcher with Microsoft's R&D as well as the president-elect of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. "We want to use the system's idle time to make things punchier."
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preload
by aent on Sat 20th Jan 2007 19:04 UTC
aent
Member since:
2006-01-25

Ah, just like preload in Linux. Glad Microsoft Research was able to find out one of the things Linux does ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: preload
by prymitive on Sat 20th Jan 2007 19:19 UTC in reply to "preload"
prymitive Member since:
2006-11-20

I think that it was implemented by MS in XP as prefetch, it was only improved in Vista, so linux got that after MS.

P.S. preload didn't make any difference for me.

Reply Score: 5

RE: preload
by John Blink on Sat 20th Jan 2007 22:23 UTC in reply to "preload"
John Blink Member since:
2005-10-11

Really? Why do apps still load slowly?

Reply Score: 1

algorithms...
by mcduck on Sat 20th Jan 2007 19:22 UTC
mcduck
Member since:
2005-11-23

algorithms... algorithms....

I suspect all the new algorithms (Google, MS) trying to make my computer faster, is infact the reason its getting slower and slower.

Reply Score: 5

RE: algorithms...
by ma_d on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:43 UTC in reply to "algorithms..."
ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

In Unix we deal with this by not rebooting. It's amazingly effective.

Reply Score: 5

RE: algorithms...
by Nutela on Mon 22nd Jan 2007 16:39 UTC in reply to "algorithms..."
Nutela Member since:
2006-02-09

And I thought HW was getting faster and faster... ow heck it actually does! .. duh

Reply Score: 1

Old stuff.
by Buck on Sat 20th Jan 2007 19:28 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

Wasn't there a Windows utility back in the day that did exactly that? Maybe not, but I can't get rid of the feeling that "it's been done"...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Old stuff.
by prymitive on Sat 20th Jan 2007 19:54 UTC in reply to "Old stuff."
prymitive Member since:
2006-11-20

You are probably refering to BootVis utility that enables to trace a system startup (running processess, disk I/O, cpu usage). Using this tool You can also manualy start placing prefetch files (prefetch makes a list of files that are used frequently, see %windir%prefetchlayout.ini) on disks begining, normaly windows does that every 3 days if I'm correct.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Old stuff.
by shapeshifter on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:01 UTC in reply to "Old stuff."
shapeshifter Member since:
2006-09-19

Maybe you're thinking of Cacheman from Outer Technologies.
Back in the Win95/98 days it was a utility with a bit of exposure. I never noticed much difference though.
Their Linkman product was much more usefull though.

And to Microsoft.
Stop coming up with all these pony tricks and cup shuffling tricks and write better quality and better designed code.
No amount of cashing and prefetching can make up for bad, bloated, and buggy code.
I'm sick of having my computer's resources being constantly stolen by Microsoft's garbage os.
Half a gig of ram and half dozen gig of disk space just for an os that has shiny title bars?!

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Old stuff.
by MORB on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Old stuff."
MORB Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, this idea has "over-engineering" written all over it.

Instead of cutting down the unecessary bloat and just optimizing their stuff (and I agree that there has to be some big improvement margin, seeing how much resources it takes to do so little), they want to build a complicated contraption to make the bloat more palatable.

This will result in useless complexity (and so in useless loss of stability because complicated things are harder to debug), and less predictable performance patterns.

I don't find them really good currently at making background things happen at a sensible time (I don't like when windows updater for instance start eating up my IO and CPU while I'm in the middle of a PvP fight in world of warcraft), and they don't seem too good at finding out which applications are more often used (I can't count the number of applications that I use daily which are labeled "rarely used" in the application manager).

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Old stuff.
by Phloptical on Sun 21st Jan 2007 00:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Old stuff."
Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

But it's the most secure and stable OS they've ever made....and it's so much better to develop applications...and the UI is gorgeous.....and did I mention the security?....

Reply Score: 2

...
by Hiev on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:00 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

So if I play Unreal Tournament daily, it will try to preload it every time I boot my computer?

I hope not.

Reply Score: 1

RE: ...
by prymitive on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:03 UTC in reply to "..."
prymitive Member since:
2006-11-20

Hey they got to fill Your ram with something, if not You would get a false assumption that You got enough of memory and You wouldn't buy more.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: ...
by sukru on Sat 20th Jan 2007 21:22 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
sukru Member since:
2006-11-19

Hey they got to fill Your ram with something, if not You would get a false assumption that You got enough of memory and You wouldn't buy more.

Unfortunately I'll have to disagree. A good memory manager tries to utilize available memory as much as possible.

Caching is not about bloat. If the OS has a good strategy, it can make your experience much smoother.

In other words: RAM is not there to sit idle. It has to be used.

Yet a good memory manager also has to know when to throw pieces out of cache. Otherwise a cache without a policy is a memory leak -- i.e: "premature optimization is root all evil".

Edited 2007-01-20 21:25

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: ...
by prymitive on Sat 20th Jan 2007 23:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ..."
prymitive Member since:
2006-11-20

Sure it has to be used but when You look at Vista and see how much ram does it eat just after booting and then You look at KDE/Gnome box (my KDE eats about 100MB with AIGLX and im client in tray), that You wonder what do they keep under the GUI that eats all of this.

Reply Score: 2

nedvis
Member since:
2006-01-02

Just one more "feature" making Windows even more disruptive and annoying.
I never liked the way Windows is guessing what would be my next step nor the way Microsoft is trying to make smart machines.
Is this one step closer to smart machines? I don't think so. It's rather a proof of Microsoft OS designers' awareness of OS bloat so this patch/technology/algoritm is there only to provide better user XP (experience) and hide design holes.

God save us from new Redmond "inovative" algoritms !

Edited 2007-01-20 20:03

Reply Score: 4

h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

God save us from new Redmond "inovative" algoritms !

God doesn't need to, you can save yourself.
Nobody forces you to use Microsoft's software. ;)

Reply Score: 5

jtrapp Member since:
2005-07-06

God save us from new Redmond "inovative" algoritms !

God doesn't need to, you can save yourself.
Nobody forces you to use Microsoft's software. ;)


But some would rather curse the darkness, than be bothered by flipping the switch.

Reply Score: 4

nedvis Member since:
2006-01-02

RE:to h3rman
Buddy, if you don't mind just take a look at my
profile here:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_1268040.html
And I'm posting this from my : uname -a
FreeBSD PCBSD.nedvisbsd 6.1-RELEASE-p11 FreeBSD 6.1-RELEASE-p11 #3: Wed Dec 20 18:51:13 PST 2006 root@PCBSD.nedvisbsd:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/PCBSDv1.3 i386

As you can see, I'm MS free already !!!

What Mr. Horovitz and Redmond Co. are trying to do is just episode #3 of what we have seen already in Windows 98: (remember C:WINDOWSAPPLOG folder with all junk collected in order for Windows hard-disk defragmenter
to reorder files the way they can be launched faster?
Do you remember walign.exe program for MS Office97 optimisation? http://support.microsoft.com/kb/191655 )

I'm sick of Redmond algoritms and I'm healing my wounds
in Unix/Linux cool baths.

Cheer!

Reply Score: 3

h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

+1.
So you did help yourself. ;)
And it makes you poetic too. ;)

Do you remember walign.exe program for MS Office97 optimisation?

Frankly, I never owned a Windows machine that I had to maintain myself (some day job typing on Win2k is not so relevant here), but I can imagine the sort of thing you're referring to.

... I'm MS free already !

There is, have to admit, some MS software on my digital camera and standalone DVD-player, I suspect. ;)

The problem with MS is that they live in a slightly different universe than us mortals. First, they take years to design a new version of their OS; then it's ready, and then they try to come up with tools (not eating resources themselves?) to predict what users might want to be doing when, so certain programs can be preloaded.
Which, in itself BTW, if successful, would be a nice piece of engineering.

"Most processors are idle at any one time," says Horvitz. "We want to take all this idle time and bend it to speed things up. Think of it as like balancing a portfolio over time. The goal is to make lesser-powered machines seem more powerful. To bend time and space."
[emphasis added]

I see. So what about all the power-saving technologies that Intel, AMD, etc. have come up with (PowerNow and whatever they call it), underclocking CPUs and saving energy and battery life in that way, will "SuperFetch" get in their way?
I bet it will.
Yet another Windows "service" to disable, I guess.

Reply Score: 4

I think it's great
by RandomGuy on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:41 UTC
RandomGuy
Member since:
2006-07-30

I got a similar idea a couple of years ago and always wondered if any OS had already implemented it.
The crucial part is, of course, to make the algorithms smart enough not to try to load every program you've used in the last month. They have to give it a low priority, too, otherwise it would kill responsiveness.

Oh, and of course they should not send the personal usage patterns back to MS - which is unfortunately what they probably intend to do...

But the idea itself is great. They could even use the position of your mousepointer to determine the next "targets" and preload (parts of) them if you used them a lot recently. Just compare coldstart/warmstart times of common apps, it _would_ make a difference.
But it has to be done in a smart way so that it does not spin up your hdd and fans.
I mean, usually I have about 200Mb of unused Ram (on linux, don't know the numbers on Windows) and that could be used to preload quite a lot of small to medium sized apps.

Not everything is bad just because it's from MS.
Well, the implementation usually is but they still got some good ideas.
Not saying they were the first to get them ;)

Reply Score: 4

not the holy grail
by l3v1 on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:50 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Prefetching to make the system more responsive ? Good, still a poor excuse after producing OSes which are exponentially bigger and slower every time. I don't really care how much an app takes to load, what matters is how it runs after it loaded. And using idle cpu times to produce more heat and eat more power just to be able to start apps faster is not something which could be convincingly presented as a result of complex scientific research, or is it.

Reply Score: 4

Good thing
by tacit_one on Sat 20th Jan 2007 20:54 UTC
tacit_one
Member since:
2005-12-09

The idea is at least interesting. "User action prediction" is a kinda funny reflection of cpu "Trace prediction" in the os. ;)
At least it is funny when your computer askes you "hey man, don't even think to start that Program right now - i know you're thinking about that. But wait - i need to perform some heavy computations now" ))))))
Anyway, if Microsoft can provide some API support for this purpose - i believe that many win32 applications will use it to load/unload their data on-demand. And Microsoft will get one more small lock-in-api.

Reply Score: 2

Does it help the apps that are running?
by cerbie on Sat 20th Jan 2007 22:49 UTC
cerbie
Member since:
2006-01-02

I don't see a problem with load times. Even FF and OOo load quickly enoough for me, now. Not counting severe fragmentation, I don't see this as too useful for people who care for their PCs. I also figure I've got 1GB of RAM (I'd have gotten 2 by now, but I'll have to swap RAM when I upgrade, so I'm trying to hold off) for apps I use a lot to stay open. Only a leaky website causes me to close FF (and then I just start it again), and if I use OO or something else like that, I'll leave it up until I start running low on free RAM.

OTOH, I think it could help a lot of people that have normal machines from big vendors, where there's typically a ****ing hourglass getting to a file's context menu, among other laggy things. It will probably help hide the crap on there causing such problems by reducing HDD thrashing when loading the apps, by doing so before the user wants it. Bloat to cure symptoms of bloat: I love/hate it!

Now, what I would consider excellent were if it were to analyze file access based on application execution, and use that to rearrange and set up loading of the files on the hard drive (or at least as close as it can manage). So that it would set up everything firefox.exe opens (including DLLs) when it runs, and everything not fairly random (cache, actual data you're opening) would be set up in order on the HDD, and loaded when FF was run, so it would be there when FF needed it. This would give similar benefits to SuperFetch, but for any application and at any time (and very extent-like). If a typical app could be loaded with only a few HDD seeks, it would be almost as good as if it were already in RAM. When that little light is almost solid for nearly a second, it's not application size that's slowing it down; it's random placement.

Reply Score: 1

Doesn't this cross the line?
by erdizz on Sat 20th Jan 2007 23:29 UTC
erdizz
Member since:
2006-06-07

At certain point additional complexity results in not more features but more weird behavior.

Reply Score: 2

Ask the user
by Nycran on Sat 20th Jan 2007 23:34 UTC
Nycran
Member since:
2006-02-06

Call me weird, but wouldn't it better to let the user decide what programs they want to prefetch, and when? A little UI that allows you to say, "On mon-fri, pre-load application x & y, but on the weekends pre-load a & c", would be far less complicated and frustrating than a smart algorithm. This way the user can turn it off, or completely change it as required. Why not let the user be in control of their experience?

Reply Score: 1

Remember the Win98 days?
by Phloptical on Sun 21st Jan 2007 00:46 UTC
Phloptical
Member since:
2006-10-10

When you defragged, it asked whether to defrag, and reorder the most used programs first? One of the many "features" I turned off after the install was complete. Don't know if it was on by default in 2k/XP, but if I could turn it off, I usually did.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Remember the Win98 days?
by nedvis on Sun 21st Jan 2007 06:45 UTC in reply to "Remember the Win98 days?"
nedvis Member since:
2006-01-02

Yes, I remember the days and I still wonder were those algoritms useful or not. Like: reorder files by file name , by file extension or by whatever the order should be. ( Remember Norton Speed disk ? )

And guess what: whatever you do no fruit at all , unless you measure file system performance by some very veeeeeeeery accurate measurement tool. But then Microsoft still have had a toy to play with on my and your computers using/stealing our CPU cycles for free without even telling us what they've done.
""The combination of Intel's Application Launch Accelerator technology and key advances in the Microsoft Windows 98 operating system will significantly shorten the time it takes for software applications to load from the hard disk drive," according to a prepared statement from the two companies. Windows 98 is due in mid-1998."

http://news.com.com/MS+to+license+Intel+software/2100-1001_3-203764...

So don't blame Microsoft; this time Intel was in charge with "great idea" of application launch time acceleration.
As far as I can understand, the problem IS in file system ( or maybe with slow hard-disk read-write throughput ) but, then, FIX THE FILE SYSTEM and do not steal my CPU cycles.

Reply Score: 1

Why the negativity?
by MollyC on Sun 21st Jan 2007 16:26 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

I really don't know why all of you are trashing and/or belittling this feature other than it's a Microsoft feature. I think many of you trash Microsoft regardless of what they do. No matter what they implement, you're predisposed to hate it, indeed you *want* to hate it, so you do. Which makes threads like this painful to read.

So many here come off like they're God's gift to OS design, that they're so much smarter than anyone else, that they can dismiss in two minutes what someone else spent many man-hours on research and development. According to the article, one of the guys behind this is "Eric Horvitz, a principal researcher with Microsoft's R&D as well as the president-elect of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. " This guy is not an idiot, but to read this thread, you'd think he couldn't even tie his own shoe laces.

Anyway, here's an idea:
Re-read the same article, replacing the words Microsoft/Vista with Apple/OSX or Linux, and see if you still think that it's so horrible or lame.

I do think that if this article had been about OSX or Linux many of you guys would be praising this feature to high heaven.

Reply Score: 5

The Clip?
by pfortuny on Sun 21st Jan 2007 18:59 UTC
pfortuny
Member since:
2006-02-05

You seem to be trying to write a letter...

This gives me the creeps:

The PC camera detects that you look like using Office....

Just kidding

Reply Score: 1

so what will be in cache?
by netsql on Sun 21st Jan 2007 19:22 UTC
netsql
Member since:
2005-09-09

MS Office and IE have more priority over Open Office and Firefox?

I see.

.V

Reply Score: 1

The way to make Vista faster...
by jo42 on Mon 22nd Jan 2007 16:20 UTC
jo42
Member since:
2006-02-20

...would be to make it smaller and less bloated than XP.

As it sits, Vista looks like it was designed in a conspiracy with the hardware manufacturers to sell more hardware.

Reply Score: 1