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Windows Operating Systems Software Bug

MS Responds To Vista's Network / Audio Problems 528

Posted by kdawson
from the designed-that-way dept.
quirdan writes "With the discovery last week of the connection between Vista's poor networking performance and audio activities, word quickly spread around the Net. No doubt this got Microsoft's attention, and they have responded to the issue. Microsoft states that 'some of what we are seeing is expected behavior, and some of it is not'; and that they are working on technical documentation, as well as applying a slight sugar coating to the symptoms. Apparently they believe an almost 90% drop in networking performance is 'slight,' only affects reception of data, and that this performance trade-off is necessary to simply play an MP3."
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MS Responds To Vista's Network / Audio Problems

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  • Typical (Score:4, Funny)

    by Etrias (1121031) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:08PM (#20363577)
    Remember folks, this is a feature, not a bug.

    Two plus two is five. War is peace. Rinse, repeat.
  • by Boa Constrictor (810560) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:09PM (#20363589)
    I suppose this explains why MS has been so reticent to start afresh with the codebase until now. Even basic things are buggy and it's costing the reputation of the latest roll-out.

    Pushing Vista too early is only going to hinder long-term deployment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even basic things are buggy and it's costing the reputation of the latest roll-out.

      Pushing Vista too early is only going to hinder long-term deployment.

      Only among the geek crowd, who don't want Vista anyway. The "general public" doesn't care. The computers they buy new come with Vista, and that's what they will use.

      • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @07:52PM (#20366475) Homepage

        Only among the geek crowd, who don't want Vista anyway. The "general public" doesn't care. The computers they buy new come with Vista, and that's what they will use.


        Yeah, but the general public doesn't pay MS's rent. Corporate licensing and OEM deals are where the money comes from, and those are both in serious trouble right now in that nobody with more than a few hundred desktops considers Vista even remotely acceptable. Granted, by the time Vista SP2 is out in 2010, they may have fixed a lot of this stuff.
    • Re: Deployment (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:02PM (#20364061) Journal
      Maybe they don't care at all about deployment of Vista.

      We harp on MS a lot, but they ARE clever in certain ways. Suppose someone is thinking Big Picture in some kind of twisted sense. They can play a variant of GoodGuy/BadGuy by having a "Sacrificial OS" every 8 years. They're somehow getting us to pay for their beta testing. They HAD to get Vista out, period, and rely on their patented brand of bluster to get through it. They were getting serious heat from inactivity. I bet someone got utterly crushed when they had to switch codebases during that dev setback.

      I barely heard of Win Me - consecutive tips told me to get Win2000, which lasted me through 2.5 OS changes from MS. Then in the early days, I saw a lovely crash&burn act on XP *SP2* until everyone repaired their firmware. I even had some flash devices that I had to return until the factory shipped ones with newer firmware.

      Now XP is their heavy duty workhorse while they experiment with their new codebase. Suppose just for a moment that Vista NEVER works... but what they learned from Vista SP1 gets applied to Windows 7 (anyone got a codename yet?). Then maybe by 2010 all the results of history on the media scene will be in, maybe they will back off from DRM, and take some other focus. If they don't screw it up, Vista will be that smile in techie's forums, Windows 7 will be the new 8 year workhorse, and off we go ever after.

      Having cash flow the size of a country must be fun.
      • Re: Deployment (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gatesvp (957062) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @10:09PM (#20367317)

        Good "conspiracy theory". Ever heard of Singularity [microsoft.com]? Whole OS written in C, Assembler and Managed .NET. They've end-of-lifed FoxPro and VB6, I'm sure that ASP will dying. They've started moving big chunks of Office 2007 to .NET so it's probably just a matter of a few years before they're ready to dump everything into managed code and start rolling out Singularity (Windows 2010?).

        You're really not that far off, people have been "waiting" for Vista, but this is really a throwaway OS, nobody is using it and it's not like business is "clamoring" for even this version. Heck many Enterprises have just finish rolling out XP. The new WPF and WCF will surely be functional under Singularity, and Enterprises are just now moving to Managed Code applications (check out the market for ".NET developers"). MS won't die away if this Vista "fails", so we're probably all looking at a Managed Code future in 2010 or 2011 :)

    • by coryking (104614) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:22PM (#20365855) Homepage Journal
      Actually, the TCP/IP stack is a rewrite. Assuming this bug is somewhere in the TCP/IP stack, this is a prime example of why you should *not* rewrite.
  • Back in 1994... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:13PM (#20363639)
    Back in 1994, I bought a Power Macintosh 7100. One of the first PPC chips, about 66MHz, and running a positively archaic operating system.

    I still have the machine, and drag it out from time to time. When this story broke, I pulled it out of storage to test it, and see how it compared. With a 10/100 ethernet card in, running the mac's System 7.5.3, it could successfully play an MP3 while transferring, and it made no difference whatsoever to send or receive speed over the network.

    Take note Microsoft: 1994, 66MHz, System 7.5.3, more than 13 fricken years ago.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      That's pretty impressive. I remember having a 486 DX4 100, and not being able to play MP3s on it because they would skip too much. However, what I do remember is finding an MP2 encoder, and enconding my files into MP2, because that could play without skipping. Maybe it was just bad software or something, because this was probably around 1996-1998. I think that the machine should be capable of decoding MP3 files, but for some reason it didn't work.
      • It's possible you were using too many ISA devices in your 486. I had a DX4-100 as a server for a while and it wasn't able to transfer files and play music at the same time until I changed all the devices to PCI, and then it worked fine.
      • MP3 (MPEG 1 Layer 3) and MPEG2 audio are pretty much the same, with slight differences in the profiles. MPEG2 is likely to sound slightly better at stream rates over 224kbps. Otherwise the decoders take the same amount of CPU.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Poromenos1 (830658)
      Don't take this as an attack, but your comment is rather sensationalist. What difference does it make that your 13 year old PC plays mp3s over the network? It's not like MS is 13 years behind, it's a BUG. Hell, XP is fine, you don't see me saying "Watch out, 2007 MS, 2004 MS has you beaten!".
      • Re:Back in 1994... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:44PM (#20363913)
        Yeah, but uh... Microsoft's answer is that it's a nescessary trade-off for good sound performance. If they acknowledged it as a bug there wouldn't be such a bitch-fest going on.
      • What difference does it make that your 13 year old PC plays mp3s over the network? It's not like MS is 13 years behind, it's a BUG.

        13 years is almost 9 Moore generations ago. Wikipedia seems to think that a new Core 2 Extreme can run about 250 times faster [wikipedia.org] than his CPU. What kind of bug could possibly account for over two orders of magnitude slowdown in the new system, and what lack of engineering oversight allowed it to happen?

        If he'd said that XP on his P4 was faster for certain activities, OK, I could chalk that up to fine tuning issues and a bit of optimization. This isn't anywhere near that simple.

    • by Reaperducer (871695) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:03PM (#20364067)
      Geez. Even the Commodore 64 can play MP3's. [wikipedia.org]

      Windows can't compete with a 1 Mhz computer made in 1992 with 38,911 BASIC BYTES FREE
      READY.
      []
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lars T. (470328)

        Geez. Even the Commodore 64 can play MP3's. [wikipedia.org]

        Windows can't compete with a 1 Mhz computer made in 1992 with 38,911 BASIC BYTES FREE
        READY.
        []

        Yeah, if you plug an SD-Card reader into the C64, and then a DSP-board onto that reader which then accesses the SD-Cards, completely bypassing anything original to the C64. I'm to lazy to check whether you can still use the 10MBit Ethernet card at the same time.

    • One poster has already pointed out one part of why your argument is oversimplified (cooperative multitasking).

      In fact, Mac OS 7/8/9 are still hard to beat for soft realtime, because you can basically control the machine exclusively for as long as you want, giving access back to the OS only when it's convenient. If there are no other processes running (you've killed the Finder and aren't running anything but your app) it's impressive for audio etc.

      There's another big reason, too. Your M601 based PowerMac did
    • by Mex (191941) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:46PM (#20365491)
      Yes, but does it have AERO? Fuck no! Windows Vista wins, yet again! ;)
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:13PM (#20363641)
    That was the response of a MS tech regarding a defect that a bunch of us found in one of their C libraries some years ago. They must have had that guy train his successors.
    • I couldn't begin to keep track of how many times I've heard that one in the industry. 'X is broken'. 'Well, our new architecture can't theoretically acheive X anymore, so it's a design limitation, not a bug'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by koh (124962)
      Wait a minute. Could this be done to limit streaming capabilities? It is the main side effect after all...

      • by Nate B. (2907)
        That was my first thought upon reading the original article last week.

        I would almost bet that this was a concession to RIAA during Vista's design phase. I would also bet that they were counting on this particular "feature" going unnoticed until XP was cleared out of the sales channels and Vista had gained acceptance as the OS of choice amongst MS' vendors.

        And there are people that want to accept MS into the FOSS community with open arms? MS apparently no longer regards its customers as its first priority.
  • ITS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:15PM (#20363659)
    To say nothing of traditional multithreading, how do they explain how the entire OS could be run on either of my cores, but just networking and multimedia can't run together on both of them without some kind of tradeoff?
  • REally? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:19PM (#20363693) Homepage
    Apparently they believe an almost 10% drop in networking performance is 'slight,' only affects reception of data, and that this performance trade-off is necessary to simply play an MP3.

    Interesting, VERY interesting. This either means that Microsoft Programmers are incredibly incompetent or they are hiding something. I can take a really old Linux kernel (or windows 98 install) on a Pentium 233 mmx processor and see less than 0.05% drop in networking performance while playing an mp3. In fact I dont see that drop playing 2 mp3's at the same time while transferring large amounts of data over 100 base T. I do this daily on my whole house mp3 jukebox that is linux based, it has 2 seperate sound cards that plays 2 different mp3 files while I upload another 60-80 mp3 files I corrected the data tags on. I do not see the performance hit of 10% on hardware that is at least 20 to 30 times slower than the typical Vista machine.

    What are they hiding?
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      But an old Linux kernel or Windows 98 aren't the big beast OSes that Windows Vista is. I recently bought a laptop (Celeron M 1.6 GHz, and 512 MB of RAM). Vista runs extremely slow, but I installed Mandriva and the thing runs really fast. The short answer to all this is that MS Windows Vista is a big hog of an OS, and slows things down way more than it really should. Linux and MacOS seem to be getting faster with every release, meanwhile, Windows seems to be getting slower. I really think they are in ka
    • Re:REally? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by doodleboy (263186) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:36PM (#20363849)

      What are they hiding?

      That it's caused by the DRM subsystem.

      • Re:REally? (Score:5, Informative)

        by arivanov (12034) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:46PM (#20363931) Homepage
        Good thinking.

        If it accessing the onboard TPM this is quite likely. I cann bet that they smacked a few global locks around those accesses just in case to ensure that a silly race condition in the access will not allow someone to break through the precious DRM. PC TPMs are disgustingly slow so every access leads to a fairly long period when interrupts are not being serviced. As a result the system capability to process interrupts drastically decreases whenever the DRM subsystem has been activated. Add to that some priority to multimedia and the picture will be exactly as observed.

        This is all hypothetical of course, but it more or less makes sense. I would not be surprised if that is the case.
    • by langelgjm (860756)
      So is it a 10% drop or a 90% drop? The summary says 90, but you've quoted 10. I could live with one of those, though I shouldn't have to.
    • Re:REally? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by myrdos2 (989497) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:05PM (#20364075)
      Napoleon: "Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."

      Me, after using Vista: "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."
    • Re:REally? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:21PM (#20364181)
      Maybe we should start using the slashtards tag. Did you even bother to click on the link? Hell, the article is written in the ADD-style of "dummy quotes." The author doesnt even present the full email! In short, what was left out is that MS has acknowledged the bug but the tech wrote that there is going to be some kind of performance hit. Its not like MS wrote "THIS IS NOT A BUG. GO AWAY." Contrast:

      "Please note that some of what we are seeing is expected behavior, and some of it is not. In certain circumstances Windows Vista will trade off network performance in order to improve multimedia playback. This is by design."

      "In most cases the user does not notice the impact of this as the decrease in network performance is slight. Of course some users, especially ones on Gigabit based networks, are seeing a much greater decrease than is expected and that is clearly a problem that we need to address."


      In other words they see a bug especially on gigabit connections.

      Now back to yoru regularly scheduled bitching and "ZOMG my calculator gets better performance" fact-free discussion.
      • Re:REally? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:05PM (#20365131) Homepage Journal

        "Please note that some of what we are seeing is expected behavior, and some of it is not. In certain circumstances Windows Vista will trade off network performance in order to improve multimedia playback. This is by design."

        In other words they see a bug especially on gigabit connections.

        Yes. The bug is that the audio system has any correlation whatsoever, however minor and imperceptible, with the frickin' network stack, and even moreso that this is expected.

        It's not expected behavior. I don't care how much they jump up and down and cry that most people won't notice, this is bullshit.

        Me: Every time I get in my car, a hammer pops out and hits me in the jaw, painfully.
        GM: That's a bug. It shouldn't hurt so much.
        Rational observer: WTF?

        There's no lost context or missing information. The facts are that MS is OK with the idea that an MP3 reduces your network throughput. There's really nothing else to say in the matter. That one admitted fact alone is enough to declare it defective by design.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          The bug is that the audio system has any correlation whatsoever, however minor and imperceptible, with the frickin' network stack

          The audio driver waits for an interrupt signalling that there is space in the playback queue to add some more data. The network driver waits for an interrupt saying that a receive buffer is full. They are, at the lowest level, both interrupt servicing systems. They both sit (in most operating systems) on top of some kind of interrupt abstraction layer. The APIs are not related, but at the driver layer (where the problem is), they are.

  • by mishehu (712452) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:21PM (#20363709)

    First, we have not seen any cases where a users internet performance would be degraded, in our tests this issue only shows up with local network operations.

    So I see! All that matters is the Internet performance of the average user, which is probably what, less than 5Mbps anyway! How silly of me to think there would be a problem with say... trying to access a corporate file server to work with say really big data files? Wow, I'm really going to recommend Vista to my clients now!

  • by biomech (44405) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:22PM (#20363717)
    Oh, I see,

    as in "slightly pregnant" or "slightly dead"??
  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan,stine&gmail,com> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:33PM (#20363829) Homepage
    FTA:

    "The connection between media playback and networking is not immediately obvious. But as you know, the drivers involved in both activities run at extremely high priority. As a result, the network driver can cause media playback to degrade. This shows up to the user as things like popping and crackling during audio playback. Users generally hate this, hence the trade off."

    Granted, I don't want my audio stuttering, but the idea that the CPU can't keep up because of file transfer is insane. Maxing out an ethernet connection doesn't take much CPU. Even if we put the audio at a very high priority, I don't see how that would immediately degrade ethernet performance by 90%. I could accept no more than about 5% in a worse case scenario.

    To be fair if I renice rhythmbox to 18 and transfer a file, things go to hell. Renicing to 10 clears it up. I saw no degradation of speed. Apparently Debian can do file transfers at full speed while playing an mp3 on a rather old PC*. Something isn't right here...

    *Athlon XP 2400+, 1GB DDR
    • by freeweed (309734) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:24PM (#20364223)
      a rather old PC*

      *Athlon XP 2400+, 1GB DDR


      Holy shit, get off my lawn x 1 billion!
    • by Xtravar (725372) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:32PM (#20364311) Homepage Journal
      Generally, audio goes through many buffers before being sent out to the device. In Vista, perhaps all audio is streamlined as high-priority.

      For example, when audio recording, you don't want to use Microsoft's typical sound system - you want to record using ASIO which goes through less buffering and latency. If you record using the regular sound system, you end up with perhaps 100s of ms of lag, which is a bitch when you're trying to record to a metronome.

      As some AC above noted, Linux only has a direct audio IO path when using jackd. Otherwise, everything is buffered a plenty.

      So I think it has nothing to do with CPU power, and more to do with "Vista is a real-time multimedia machine!" When you're interrupting a LOT to be attentive to the audio device, this is going to interfere with the network, whereas if you just interrupt less regularly but send larger amounts of buffered data you don't have that problem.

      *Fair warning, my facts may not be 100% accurate, but I think this is the gist of the problem.
  • FTA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flummoxd (1017734) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:41PM (#20363891)
    "In certain circumstances Windows Vista will trade off network performance in order to improve multimedia playback. This is by design."

    I know we've been over this before. But for whom are we 'improv[ing] multimedia playback'? Is it really an issue in 2007, to perform a network transfer and play an MP3? Or is it Vista's "secure audio path" that is responsible for this? Remember, this is the same Vista that polls your hardware every few ms to check if you're playing 'premium content'.

    I know not everything bad Microsoft does is done with forethought and malice (..) but really now. After reading the 'cost analysis of Vista content protection [auckland.ac.nz]', can you not understand the apprehension? If some "multimedia" (albeit not 'premium content', but who's counting) is played, other parts of the system deliberately go into a 'limited' state? After reading that, does it sound like a bug to you?

    "But as you know, the drivers involved in both activities run at extremely high priority. As a result, the network driver can cause media playback to degrade. This shows up to the user as things like popping and crackling during audio playback."

    I call shenanigans.

    Even if this is a legitimate "bug", i.e. the Vista testers were actually experiencing crackling audio while performing high bandwidth network transfers, who made the conscious decision to throttle the *network* instead of fixing the audio path and audio drivers? Windows XP had no problems performing high-bandwidth transfers and using the sound simultaneously. Besides normal operating system scheduling there was no 'throttling' of any device A when any device B activates. This is Vista content protection backfiring, plain and simple.
  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:42PM (#20363901) Homepage Journal

    Nobody could expect Microsoft to come up with an OS that does two things well at the same time. That would be multitasking. We're decades away from the invention of computers that can do that.

    Networking is overrated also. It's probably just a fad that will fade away once we all get high density flash storage for our sneakernets.

    Music? If you wanted to do artsy iLife stuff like that you should have bought an iFruit.

  • Or something by that name is probably what is responsible for this behavior (I'm in Ubuntu right now, which I'm noting is running games better than XP and way better than Vista...)
  • If common sense was dynamite, could anyone in Redmond blow their nose?
  • What a Load of... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:05PM (#20364079)

    Apparently they believe an almost 90% drop in networking performance is 'slight,' only affects reception of data, and that this performance trade-off is necessary to simply play an MP3.

    What a load of utter Crap! If such a trade-ff was ever necessary, then we would have been seeing it in Win XP as well, and obviously we don't.

    Vista networking is broken! Try copying over files from your XP machine on a mapped drive if you don't believe me. And audio/video functions in Vista are equally broken. And I bet its for the same reason: Kiss-Up To Hollywood DRM.

    Microsoft has caved to the almighty Hollywood dollar, and with Vista you're pwned more than ever!

  • by Tom (822) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:11PM (#20364117) Homepage Journal
    You see, they couldn't stop people from cracking DRM and copying music. And they couldn't stop people from going online and sharing their music. But, Billy has one last ace up his sleave: You can't do both at the same time! There! Ha!
  • All MP3 Players? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:13PM (#20364135)
    So does this affect all Windows media players (e.g. WinAmp), or just WMP? Could be a great argument to jump ship to non-MS software.
  • by GoldTeamRules (639624) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @03:46PM (#20364463)
    We bought at our company. It was just ridiculous the number of times programs crashed (photoshop cs3), how slowly development environments ran (Java, Eclipse), and how terrible disk I/O was.

    Remember, this was supposed to be an UPGRADE. Honestly, it is just terrible. Vista on a laptop is simply awful. These were brand new HP laptops with 2GB of RAM.

    Vista offers nothing. It is an utter waste of time to attempt an upgrade at this time. With Vista and IE7, the shine is definitely off of MS. There is nothing in the MS product roadmap that is even remotely interesting to me at this point.

    MS competitors have never had a better time to take advantage of MS market position than they do now. The hole is wide open.

  • I didn't believe it (Score:5, Informative)

    by rantingkitten (938138) <kitten@@@mirrorshades...org> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @04:12PM (#20364665) Homepage
    So I ran my own test.

    I transferred a 3.5 gigabyte file from my Ubuntu Fawn laptop to my Vista Ultimate workstation. Both are dual-core Intel processors; the Ubuntu laptop is a T5600 @ 1.83ghz, and the Vista workstation is an e6600 @ 2.4ghz. They are connected through a normal Belkin with a 100mbit ports.

    (Amusingly, the file in question was a Vista Ultimate ISO.)

    While the transfer took place I opened Vista's task manager and looked at the network utilization graph. Steady at 38% with almost no deviation. I let that go for a minute.

    Then I played an mp3.

    Immediately the utilization went to 27% and held steady. As soon as I stopped the mp3, it shot back up to 38%.

    I did this all with WMP at first, thinking that'd be it. To double-check I ran my usual player, Winamp, with the exact same results.

    Here is a screenshot [crashnet.org] of the network graph. Every single one of those dips you see was me playing an mp3. Disgusting!

    Thinking that just maybe the problem was disk usage, I did two things. First, I forced a defrag on Vista while the transfer was underway. Network utilization was unaffected. Next, I tried streaming music from my own darkwave station [mirrorshades.org] (and then shamelessly plugged in on slashdot). Network obligingly dropped to 27% even though streaming shouldn't use the disk.

    I'm convinced. This is a seriously messed up issue and I hope to whatever diety that Microsoft rectifies it quickly.

    For the record, Vista has managed to annoy me a lot less than any previous incarnation of Windows, at least in userland, once I turned off the UAC crap. And I like some of the little extras that it does. But from a technical and administrative standpoint, this is highly obnoxious, and I'm pretty appalled.

    I do have to say, though, that until I went out of my way to test this, I had never noticed the difference, and I'm a technical guy. The average user would probably never notice the difference under any circumstances. That does not excuse this type of idiocy, but it may explain why MS chose to do this. Just a guess.

  • by NekoXP (67564) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @04:31PM (#20364831) Homepage
    Absolute bullshit. Microsoft are right here. They've admitted there's a bug in it - something is definitely wrong if the re-prioritizing of tasks is causing that much of a performance hit.

    But, the practice of tuning the system such that audio playback is constant and stutter-free by sidelining other components is VERY common in system design. Sometimes it is built directly into hardware - you dedicate fewer, faster lines to audio and slower and buffered to the networking. When audio skips you are FUCKED. When network traffic stalls, TCP - and in fact UDP and most other protocols layered in some fashion over Ethernet or ATM - is actually designed to handle it by retransmission.

    A 90% drop is ridiculously high, but it IS keeping your audio system fed with data reliably. Perhaps it just needs some extreme fine-tuning. It's certainly the case that a PCI Express audio card because of the high overhead would not be fed data fast enough (PCI Express is high bandwidth but not low-latency) if a PCI Express networking device was pushing data around. We've had this stuff before on Creative cards, where the PCI latency and bus mastering has been tweaked such that the PCI chipset holds the bus for "far too long" causing problems with the rest of the system. But in the end there are not that many TRULY elegant ways of doing it.

    Every system bus is contended at some point, and if the contention shows VISIBLE or AUDIBLE artifacts, then the user will be pissed off. That means, display corruption, legobricking of MPEG data, audio skipping or looping, you cannot have this on a high quality multimedia system, however, 100mbit/s transfer rate really is just fine when it comes down to it. Not perfect considering you paid for something 10x faster, but still, not all that bad for multimedia performance.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GaryPatterson (852699)
      It is a bug, and it will (or should be) fixed, but don't defend it as reasonable. Linux doesn't have this problem, OS X doesn't and XP certainly didn't. It's completely unreasonable to see network throughput degraded when playing music. It's not just imperfect, it's complete crap.

      This came up last week, so we're waiting for a fix from Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alioth (221270)
      But the audio system is incredibly low bandwidth. The decoded MP3 is, at its heart, is 32 bit words (16 bits per channel) hitting the PCI bus and sound system at 44.1khz - i.e. 1.4 megabits per second. That's bugger all. You could stream a CD uncompressed over most broadband internet connections today without a stutter. An 8 bit Z80 CPU could push data down its bus at 1.4 megabits per second without even working up a sweat - give a Sinclair Spectrum, made in 1982, enough RAM, sure it wouldn't be able to dec
  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:51PM (#20365537) Homepage Journal
    My suspicion is:

      A) Networking stack in Vista is rewritten, for example, IPv6 is native, IPv4 is optional.
            http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/columns /cableguy/cg0905.mspx [microsoft.com]

      B) Audio stack is re-written, allowing for the new mixer, where each app has its own volume control (and some DRM, but that's not relevent to this issue)
            http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=71 3073 [avsforum.com]

      C) the Thread scheduler is changed in Vista
            http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues /2007/02/VistaKernel/ [microsoft.com]

      D) Appears to only affect Gigabit and above networking.

      item C is possibly the key to this bug, I'm sure the Networking people did lots of perfomance testing, and so did the Multimedia people, as well as the Kernel folks... But, perhaps the full ramifications of the Thread Scheduler could not have been tested in every other combination.

      The basic problem is that Multimedia playback changes the thread scheduler, which affects EVERYTHING. it could have been "Inkjet Printing while playing audio fails", "cannot hot-swap IDE drives while playing audio", "an open audio application blocks hibernate if brand XYZ laptops"... by chance, gigabit networking performace was affected, not because of any direct link.

      Whats needed is for all performance or reliability minded software to be tested both normally, and while playing music in the background (or just with a program that turns on MMCSS, and then does nothing else). Just like when running under a debugger, multi-core machine, virtual machine, etc. different timing, thread deadlock, and race conditions may be found.
  • by Rui del-Negro (531098) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:10PM (#20365715) Homepage
    The summary says "Apparently [Microsoft] believe an almost 90% drop in networking performance is 'slight'". But here's what the article actually says:

    "In most cases the user does not notice the impact of this as the decrease in network performance is slight. Of course some users, especially ones on Gigabit based networks, are seeing a much greater decrease than is expected and that is clearly a problem that we need to address."

    If the alternative to Microsoft FUD is Anti-Microsoft FUD, I'm not sure we're much better off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zero__Kelvin (151819)
      Empirical evidence shows that there is a 90% performance hit. Microsoft says the performance hit is slight. The fact that Microsoft doesn't openly state the empirical evidence does not invalidate that evidence, a fact which you seem to have trouble grasping. The article summary alludes to this, but you need to posses the ability to think for yourself, rather than letting an M$ spin shill do your thinking for you. Maybe RTFA and then THINK before criticizing the person who submitted the article, espe
    • by Joce640k (829181)
      There shouldn't be *any* decrease!

      People have been doing simultaneous sound/networking as long as I can remember and this never happened before.

      Audio playback shouldn't even register as a tiny blip on a modern CPU (and neither should networking!)

      And...there's people with quad core machines who get the problem. How do you explain that?

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:17PM (#20365811) Homepage
    Whenever I want to play an mp3, I just turn my gigabit NIC up to eleven.
  • Truth in report (Score:3, Insightful)

    by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @10:08PM (#20367313) Homepage
    OK, what's with the selective quoting of the Microsoft response? The article header tries mightily to make it seem like Microsoft thinks this problem is not much of a problem. It also tries to imply this is happening to everyone, all the time, and Microsoft could care less.

    However, reading the actual Microsoft response gives a completely different take on things. Microsoft realizes that this behavior, while having good intentions, is causing issues. Far from being some unfounded bug, there is a real purpose behind why the slowdown is occurring, namely a focus of multimedia scheduling performance trumping all. They are going to address these issues, not ignore them, but you wouldn't know it from the article teaser.

    I have Vista on one of my PC's. I find it slower and more or less undesirable compared to Windows XP64 on my other boxen. It's there largely for me to get familiar with, as we're all undoubtedly going to be dealing with it soon and for a long time to come. You may be able to avoid Windows in your personal computing, but you'd have to live in a tiny bubble indeed to go through a work day without interacting with a co-worker, client, or customer who isn't on a Microsoft product of some sort.
  • by Liquidrage (640463) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @11:27PM (#20367819)
    The obvious answer, and the best one found in the articles, is this is an issue with priority.

    I can drop my file transfer ability by using my USB TV-Tuner that installs itself as above average priority.

    In tryin to give better audio quality it's effecting other areas of the system.

    Wow! Yet ever other post is a stupid conspiracy piece of crap.

    Get a freaking clue before you post. And if you're still wondering why it's a Vista issue and not a XP issue at this point call you grandma for tech support instead of the other way around because you're not qualified to think apparently.

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