While Service Pack 1 for Windows is right on track for delivery by the end of March 2011, Microsoft is continuously kicking the operating system up a notch.

An illustrative example in this regard is KB 2454826, an update designed to boost the performance of Windows 7’s underlying graphics platform.

According to the Redmond company, in addition to speeding up the UX, the refresh is also designed to touch up the functionality associated with the graphics platform.

The software giant also revealed that enhancements have also been delivered in relation to XPS printing and the Media Foundation.

“This update contains the following new functionality, performance improvements, and solutions to issues: More »

Have you ever run out of battery power on your mobile PC during a meeting or a class? Have you worried about running out of power while waiting to meet with a client? Have you asked yourself how much longer your battery will last? Sufficient battery life is a persistent challenge for mobile PC users. But Windows offers several ways to help maximize the battery life of your mobile computer.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to take advantage of Windows settings to manage power more efficiently. I’ll also introduce some non-software related tips that you can use to extend battery life.

Optimize your power settings

Windows 7

Windows 7 has two default power plans:

  • Balanced: Automatically balances performance with energy consumption on capable hardware.
  • Power saver: Saves energy by reducing your computer’s performance where possible.

Change your power plan

1. Click the battery meter icon, located in the notification area on the Windows taskbar.

The display and hard disk on your mobile PC are the two biggest consumers of battery power. By choosing a power plan (called a power scheme in Windows XP) you can extend your battery life. A power plan is a collection of hardware and system settings that control how your mobile PC manages power.

2. Select either the Balanced or Power saver power plan.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista has three default power plans:

  • Balanced. Offers full performance when you need it, but conserves power when the computer is idle.
  • Power saver. The best choice for extending battery life. The cost? Slower performance.
  • High performance. Maximizes system performance at the expense of battery life.

Change your power plan

1. Click the battery meter icon, located in the notification area on the Windows taskbar.
2. Select the Balanced, Power saver, or High performance power plan.

Windows XP users

Windows XP includes two power schemes that were created specifically for mobile PCs.

  • The Portable/Laptop power scheme minimizes the use of power to conserve your battery, but adjusts to your processing needs so that the system speed is not sacrificed.
  • The Max Battery power scheme minimizes power use but does not adjust as your processing demands change. You should use Max Battery only in situations that require minimal processing, such as reading documents and taking notes in a meeting.

Use a power scheme designed to maximize battery life:

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

2. In Control Panel, verify that you’re in Category view, and then click Performance and Maintenance.

3. In the Performance and Maintenance window, click Power Options.

4. On the Power Schemes tab of the Power Options Properties dialog box, click the arrow under Power schemes, and then click Max Battery.

5. Click OK.

You can also create a custom power scheme to suit your specific needs. You can create as many custom power schemes as you want.

Take advantage of low-power states

The different versions of Windows provide the following battery-saving states:

  • Windows 7: sleep and hibernation (which is like deep sleep)
  • Windows Vista sleep and hybrid sleep (which is a combination of sleep and hibernation)
  • Windows XP standby (which is like snoozing) and hibernation (which is like deep sleep)

Sleep (Standby)

In a sleep state (standby), your display and hard disk turn off, and all open programs and files are saved in random access memory (RAM) your computer’s temporary memory rather than to the hard disk. Information stored in RAM is cleared when the computer turns off, so it’s a good idea to save your work before placing your system in standby mode. Otherwise, you may lose data if you lose power, you swap batteries, or your system crashes.

Sleep (standby) is particularly useful when you’re using your mobile PC intermittently during the day. For example, when driving between clients’ offices during the day, put your computer to sleep or on standby to maximize the life of your battery and maintain quick access to open programs, files, and documents. When you want to use your computer again, it wakes up quickly, and your desktop is restored exactly as you left it.

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Although a PC used for writing doesn’t need to be a high-performance computer, its performance can be improved by a good partitioning scheme. The biggest boost comes from my Paging partition on drive H, which is found on my second physical disk. I use this partition to boost performance in the following ways:

Move the paging file there. A well-known method for improving performance on a Windows-based computer is to move the paging file (pagefile.sys) from its usual location on drive C to its own separate partition on a separate physical drive.

Keep the Paging partition small (4 GB). By default the initial size of your paging file is 1.5 × RAM and its maximum size is 3 × RAM. So if your computer has 1 GB of RAM, which is pretty good for a desktop productivity computer, then setting your Paging partition to 4 GB gives you more than enough room for your paging file without wasting disk space that could be used for other purposes like storing data. More »

Microsoft is optimizing Windows 7 in order to increase performance, and, in this context, the dispatcher lock is one of the components that has got cut off . According to the Redmond company, fewer hardware locks are synonymous with boosted parallelism, namely a new level of efficiency when it comes down to taking advantage of modern processing architectures. This is valid for Windows Server 2008 R2, namely Windows 7 Server, and, naturally, also for the Windows 7 client, since the two operating systems share the same code base.

“With Windows 7, the dispatcher lock is replaced with several finer-grained synchronization techniques, thus effectively distributing resource contention. The main benefits for applications include increased system performance and more optimal use of available hardware resources,” Phil Pennington, Windows Server Technical Evangelism, revealed.

Evolving from Windows Vista, Windows 7 is embracing the many core CPU world, delivering the promise of enhanced performance through the advantage represented by parallel computing. However, in order for Win7 to be tailored to many core processors, the platform’s kernel had to be freed from past relics such as the dispatcher lock. More »

When you get a new PC that contains the latest specifications offered in the market, you will always be thinking of speed. Normally, a new PC will perform up to par but if you notice, at some point it will deteriorate and slow down.

A lot has to do with the programs you install and use. The more programs you have on your PC, the larger the load will become. A PC user cannot help but install as they wish the programs that they have and normally it eats up space and adds to the usual processes that a standard computer has to run.

Once that happens, you can notice a decline in system performance. You may even think you have a worm or a virus inside. But while that would be a good conclusion, do consider the fact that there is such a thing as overdoing it when it comes to your computer capacity. No matter how large the hard drive may be, it remains that processors and memory chips also have their limitations. More »