Another computer post (sorry about all the car ones!)

November 14, 2009

So, I noticed that I have mainly focused on cars for the last few blog posts. I need to do a computer one…

Sadly, there is always a lot more car news than computer news that interests me. That is probably because there are so much more changing in the automotive world than the computer world. Computers go through huge changes maybe once a quarter – a new CPU (chip or architecture), a new graphics card (again, a revised chip or a brand new architecture) or some new form factor or technology that shakes things up.

So, what will this be about? Maybe an opinion piece on things that have changed in the last few months– CPU’s, GPU’s, even OS’s. For future reference, I am an AMD fan, but not totally against Intel. Intel has very, very good products, they are all just out of my price range. When your maximum amount for a CPU is under $250, you want the most bang for your buck, and that has always been an AMD CPU for me. Intel’s Core i5 and i7 will beat almost any AMD CPU, but the cost is so significant, it’s not worth it for me.

Just like with graphics cards – ATI (an AMD company) just seems to make much more sense than nVidia’s lineup. More power efficient, with a smaller size/performance, and seemingly more standards compliant (DirectX 10.1 is a good example – ATI started supporting it the moment it came out, but nVidia said it didn’t matter) I just like ATI more. Oh, and did I mention that ATI single-handedly made it where I can afford a powerful graphics processor? The days of $600 GPUs are over – hope nVidia banked all that money, because they are going to need it.

All right, now OS’s – I liked Windows Vista. I started using it right before Service Pack 1, and enjoyed it. I didn’t see the need for XP anymore. Then Microsoft got smacked around pretty badly from Apple, and some of it was deserved, and Microsoft listened. How crazy is that? They listened to what was being said, and they acted – and the result was an awesome OS – Windows 7. With a new taskbar, and therefore a new way of interacting with the system, Windows 7 is a huge leap forward in interfaces. Making the system simpler is going to change things.

But people probably don’t realize Windows 7 would never have happened without Windows Vista. If we would have skipped Vista, 7 would have been just as big a flop – the reason for this? Drivers. Drivers are the software “programs” written by device manufacturers to help that device interface with the OS. Vista had a new driver model that was much, much different than XP’s – and was kind of hard for manufacturers to get used to. In fact, some never did (cough, Creative, cough). Scanners, webcams, soundcards, they all seemed to pose a huge problem for manufacturers to get figured out in Vista. So, with 7, Microsoft either wrote the driver themselves, thereby taking the worry away from the manufacturer, or helped the manufacturer write a new driver. Software was the same way – Vista had multiple compatibility problems with certain software – 7 fixes that. What 7 doesn’t fix, Microsoft tried their best to fix with XP mode – so those older programs that won’t run in 7, but run in XP, you can install in XP mode and still interface with it in 7. Very smart to me….that’s it for now. Need to post a computer blog accomplished.

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