Windows 7 Boosts Hyper-Threading Support

Microsoft says its new OS is designed to take full advantage of multicore processors.
Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 7 operating system offers improved support for hyper-threading, according to a company official.

Windows 7 screen shot
(Click for larger image and for full photo gallery)

Bill Veghte, Microsoft's senior VP for Windows development, said the software maker has been working closely with chipmaker Intel to bolster Windows 7's ability to get the most from hyper-threading -- an architecture where processing is divvied up among multiple processors or cores.

"The work that we've done in Windows 7 in the scheduler and the core of the system to take full advantage of those capabilities, ultimately we think we can deliver a great and better experience for you," said Veghte, speaking earlier this week at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Los Angeles.

Windows 7's improved hyper-threading support could be good news for users of processor-intensive applications, such as 3-D games and graphics programs. The catch is that the applications themselves must be written in such a way as to take advantage of hyper-threading. To date, only a small percentage of apps include that capability.

Also this week, Veghte said that Microsoft is working hard to ensure that Windows 7 doesn't suffer from the compatibility glitches that plagued Windows Vista upon its release in January 2007.

"At the Release Candidate, we had over 10,000 commercial companies -- this is hardware and software -- 10,000 companies participating and developing on Windows 7 and committing their support," said Veghte on Monday. "We need to make sure the ecosystem is really, really ready."

He added: "This is something we spent huge, huge cycles on, and is something that at a personal level is one of the three biggest things where I've been putting a lot of time around making sure that we've got the right quality milestones."

Vista's compatibility problems were a major reason behind its failure to build momentum in the enterprise market, where software and hardware compatibility are a major factor in customers' purchasing decisions.

Ultimately, only a handful of Fortune 500 companies upgraded their business PCs to Windows Vista. Most have stuck with the older Windows XP operating system.

Veghte said he's confident the problem won't repeat when Windows 7 rolls out later this year. "We are very, very close" to achieving full Windows 7 compatibility with virtually all major hardware and software players, Veghte said.

Veghte disclosed that Microsoft expects to finish work on Windows 7 by about mid-August and make a final version of the OS available to consumers and businesses in time for this year's holiday season. The company is counting on the release to help it recapture momentum in the computer operating system market.

Microsoft recently reported that Windows sales slipped 16% in its most recent fiscal quarter.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing