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Sep 28 2009   3:40PM GMT

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on Windows 7 Reliability

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Anybody who reads this blog for any length of time will quickly observe that I’m a nut about Windows reliability, and very interested in how the OS measure same. Starting with Vista, and continuing in Windows 7, there’s even a reliability monitor that keeps track of how systems do over time. Here’s a snapshot of the woeful state of my current Windows 7 production machine, which likewise gave me reliability fits before I upgraded to Windows 7 RTM on August 8.

Bad-boy P35 Quad Core PC has rotten reliability

Bad-boy P35 Quad Core PC has rotten reliability

On the other hand, here’s a snap from another machine I work on regularly, my Dell D620 notebook PC, which is a solid as a rock and shows it like a champ in this display:

The D620 earns "perfect 10s" across the calendar

The D620 earns perfect 10 on reliability

I could show a similar display for Windows 7 on that machine, but because I actually *run* Vista on it all the time, I prefer to show the Vista display.  The D620 runs a dual-boot configuration, and I occasionally boot it up in Win7, but it’s my primary Vista machine for some Vista classes I teach online for HP.


All of this information comes by way of preamble to demonstrate my profound and abiding interest in Windows Vista and Windows 7 reliability topics. Like Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, the author of this blog on ZDNet “Windows 7 reliability scorecard – looking good!” I too have come to believe that Windows 7 is very reliabile, to the point of being noticeably more reliable (and less finicky about hardware) than Vista, and more resistant to and resilient in the face of device issues, glitches, and failures. Like Kingsley-Hughes, I can count the number of bluescreens Windows 7 has thrown on both hands (and this after running the OS on no less than a couple of dozen systems from low-powere Atom-based netbooks to extremely high-end i7 based “monster desktops”). And I must confess that I deliberately provoked at least three of those bluescreens while working on chapters on error recovery and crashdumps for the recently-published book Windows 7 in Depth to which I contributed 9 chapters in its latest revision.


In fact, switching to Windows 7 on my production machine, and observing ongoing flakiness and bad scores in Reliability Monitor convinced me to spring for a new motherboard for that machine. After a while, Windows 7 even told me that my problems with that motherboard originated from errors on the PCI-e bus, specifically related to the x16 channel to my high-end graphics card. That’s a lot more than Vista ever told me, and only confirmed my desire to rebuild that machine ASAP. As I write this blog in fact, my partner Toby Digby is coming over with a temporary replacement machine to take over the production role, while he carries off all the pieces and parts necessary to recast that flaky machine with an SSD as its primary system drive, a nice, new better-ventilated Antec 900 case, and a switchover from a collection of older smaller drives to a pair of brand-new 1 TB Samsung SpinPoints. At this point, I’m hoping for the best!

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  • DreamU
    My WIndows 7 desktop matches your 'woeful' graph pretty well. Today, Windows Explorer stopped working once and I have had to hit the restart button on the computer once. Even Control-Alt-Delete won't work when Windows Explorer stops. (Well, after 45 secs Task Manager may come up but then the whole screen turns white). Yesterday, the system told me Adobe Flash 10 was going to make my system slow - Windows Explorer stopped working right after that message. I think the most I've gone without a glitch is 4-5 days. If I could be guaranteed of a flawless restore to Vista I would restore Vista.
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  • Ed Tittel
    The graph on that machine has now improved substantially. I still get the occasional--and odd,very odd--IE 8 and/or Explorer "stopped working" message. But right now that machine is averaging about 7.5 as its reliability index, and my biggest source of problems is the pctsSvc.exe hub for Spyware Doctor with Antivirus. On my production machine, where I've switched to Norton, my reliability index is bouncing between 8 and 9 which is acceptable. I hope your system will settle down and start to behave as well. This is actually better than Vista on identical hardware, so I'm sticking with Win7. Thanks for posting, --Ed--
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