Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th May 2009 20:43 UTC
Windows SuperFetch is a technology in Windows Vista and onwards that is often misunderstood. I decided to delve into this technology to see what it is all about, and to dispel some of the myths surrounding this feature.
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Lipstick on a pig?
by license_2_blather on Tue 12th May 2009 03:35 UTC
license_2_blather
Member since:
2006-02-05

Disclaimer: An anecdote does not data make. YMMV. Widely.

I was looking at a friend's Vista laptop, 3 GB, decently if not extravagantly spec'd. It was kinda slow, and the disk would thrash for minutes after the desktop appeared. I was trying to find out what was hitting the hard disk and when, using my trusty optical detectors, so I turned off Superfetch. Lo and behold, the post-desktop thrashing stopped and the system's responsiveness improved.

Conclusion? Superfetch ain't always so super.

I've found that high-performance OSes tend to use efficient algorithms, and as little code as practical, in providing a sound implementation of the basics -- disk I/O, memory management, and the like. Microsoft, on the other hand, went the Rube Goldberg route, apparently compelled to build a rather complex caching scheme which tries to predict what you will do.

Well, software is never all that great at that (and I often can't stand Microsoft's presumptuousness in trying to do so). So I have to ask why? Is it because Microsoft knew Vista was going to have performance issues, and was desperate to do anything to make it appear that that was not the case (even if that something, in cases like mine above, amounted to nothing more than good advertising buzzwords?) Vista, with this "superior" system, is not faster than XP on either machine I've tried both OSes on (not my own -- helping others decide which OS to use. Both folks chose XP.)

FreeBSD and Linux, which generally stick to doing the basics well, both wipe the floor with even XP on my personal hardware. I can't imagine what the disparity would be with Vista, but I refuse to purchase Vista outright (maybe I'll download the Win 7 RC and try that).

Unfortunately it's not just Microsoft that's afflicted with this. I've about had it with turning off "quick launchers" from Adobe (Acrobat), Apple (Quicktime), and even OpenOffice (though OpenOffice at least makes it doable without using other tools). It appears that writing tight, efficient code is a lost goal, if not a nearly lost art, and that's sad.

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