posted by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Dec 2008 10:58 UTC

Thom
After reviewing your "rebuttal" article, I find that you seem to agree with the core point of my original piece:

"In all seriousness, Microsoft has been very clear that when it comes to under the hood, there won't be many changes between Windows Vista and Windows 7. There will be optimisations to improve performance, but nothing drastic."

So, now that we've established that we both agree that Windows 7 is *not* a major upgrade to Windows Vista (at least as far as "under the hood" is concerned), we can move on to the first major objection in your "rebuttal" text:

We do not differ on your conclusions per se, but on the methods and data that you based your conclusions on. I don't know if you could call Windows 7 a major release - I think that a massively reworked interface and a system-wide multitouch framework that all applications automatically make us of kind of already justifies the 'major' moniker, but it's obvious that compared to XP > Vista, Vista > 7 isn't as wide a leap.

"First of all, the number of threads running within a kernel says absolutely nothing whatsoever about how many changes have or have not gone into the kernel..." (note: emphasis on "whatever" preserved from your article).

Wow! That's a bold statement for someone who (I would assume) does not have access to the Windows 7 source code! The truth is that, without walking the NT kernel source tree, there is simply no way to *conclusively* make such a statement one way or the other. That's why, in my article, I make a point of establishing the history of this metric and how - over the 16 years I've been working with the NT code base - it has proven to be a good, externally-accessible indicator of kernel churn.

So my response is: There is no way that *either* of us can state *conclusively* that the thread count metric does or does not express change at kernel level. But then again, I never claimed that it does - only that history shows the value changing significantly from major version to major version. Combined with various statements made by Microsoft on the subject, this lack of change - when viewed in the context of the aforementioned history for this metric - would seem to support my own conclusion about Windows 7 being so similar to Vista as to warrant a "point release" or "R2" moniker. A conclusion, I might add, that you have already tacitly agreed to (see first quote above).

The problem is that the "thread count" metric is flawed - it is flawed today, and it was flawed ten years ago. I love analogies, and looking around in my living room, and listening to The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta on LP, let's take my LP collection as an example. I don't know the exact count, but I have round and about 200 LPs. It's a nice collection, mostly old stuff that I inherited from my parents (since I have an LP player, and they don't).

Let's assume I'm going on a buying spree tomorrow. I buy 20 new LPs, so now I have 220 LPs. However, I also sifted through my collection, and found 20 LPs that are too scratched to listen to comfortably - so I throw those out. So, now I'm back to the same old 200 LPs.

You run LP-Infoworld.com, and you monitor the various LP collections in the world. You are standing outside my window, and you counted the number of LPs yesterday, and you do it again after my buying/removing spree. You are standing too far away to notice the specifics of each LP, but your count remains the same: 200. From this, you draw the conclusion that my LP collection is still the same, and that nothing has changed - despite me buying 20 new ones, and throwing out 20 old ones.

It doesn't matter if this analogy takes place ten years ago, or today. Counting the number of threads, or LPs, doesn't tell you anything whatsoever other than - surprise - the number of threads (or LPs) in Windows/my LP collection.

Careful with those "absolutes," Thom. You'll find they have a habit of painting you into a corner. :-)

I never made any absolute claims - contrary to your " Windows 7 = Vista because the number of threads is similar". I don't contest that the number of threads is the same, nor that Windows 7 = Vista - I contest the fact that you arrived at this conclusion based on nothing but counting threads.

Thom

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