Should Microsoft make it easier for users to tweak Vista for better performance?
As a rule I'm more than happy with the performance of my systems, but there are times (.... gaming .... gaming ...) when there's no such thing as having too much power. Once you start messing about with apps like Fraps which show you clearly just how much performance you're getting out of a game, the desire to get better and higher frame rates starts to take over.
The problem with having the desire to achieve higher and more consistent frame rates is that this can adversely affect the common sense region of the brain and you start taking risk, both with hardware and software. You embark on an overclocking frenzy of components such as the CPU, GPU and RAM, cautiously at first but after a while you're chucking extra voltage into delicate silicon with utter abandon. Same goes for software. Services running in Windows are looked upon as performance roadblock no matter what their purpose is and you spend hours enthusiastically disabling services. Unless the that tiny common sense node of the brain kicks in at some point and urges you to be restrained, this all ends with some vital component releasing the magic blue smoke and having to reinstall Windows.
Over on InformationWeek, Alexander Wolfe posts a request for a new feature in Windows:
This one's actually an interesting proposal, which I haven't seen elsewhere. It keys off a great site called BlackViper.com, run by a guy who describes himself as an unemployed 35-year-old who "enjoys computers." (Hey, somebody give this guy a job.)
He apparently enjoys Vista enough to have posted a really interesting, detailed discussion of Vista configuration settings. The idea is to turn off unnecessary services with an eye toward boosting system performance.
Anyway, my take-away is that Microsoft should have built-in performance settings, which you can select by clicking on them in, say, the sidebar. So there could be "full Vista (aka a complete but slow configuration), "reduced" (say, diagnostics turned off), and "screaming" (just the basics).
I'm not a big fan of BlackViper. It's nothing personal, it's just that I've got a large collections of emails from people which go something like this:
"The other day I was on BlackViper.com and now my system won't boot up."
It's not that the instructions on the site are poor or ambiguous in any way, it's just that messing with services is a lot like messing with the registry - things can go real bad, real fast.
Wolfe's suggestion is a good one and could be a really useful feature for those who want the maximum performance from their system. Not only would this be useful to gamers but also for those doing demanding work such as video rendering or audio conversions. There'd have to be limits and it would be nice if there was a visual reminder on-screen for the duration that the unnecessary services were disabled but it would be useful because people wouldn't have to go delving into the bowels of the OS to make changes.