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Doug's Mailbag: Win 7 Issues, Azure's Cloud Cost

While the general consensus is that Windows 7 is a winner, here are some problems readers have found with the newest Microsoft OS:

We are keeping Windows XP for now because of the strange behavior of Windows 7. On our test machine, when someone logs off and another person logs on, the Internet refuses to work. Just a white screen in the browser. You have to restart the computer for the Internet to work again. Some programs seem to take a coffee break because they will launch only half the time. Other programs get tired of working after an hour and decide to lock up. In managing some files, when I try to select more than one file, Windows 7 decides to copy the files to the same folder as a "copy of" file. Where's my sledge hammer? With many other frustrations and all the weirdness and glitches in Windows 7 we will stick with Windows XP until Microsoft can get it right.

Thanks for asking about this. I was starting to think that I am the only one experiencing some Win 7 weirdness. Largely, though I love Windows 7. But something is clunky sometimes (at least on the 64 bit platform).

  • Outlook white screen: Outlook will launch into this "infinite loop" state once in a while when opening a new message. I thought that I had narrowed it down to some Outlook plug-ins, but I continue to see this behavior twice a month. When this happens, it will ask to restart. You can let it restart, but the only think making it go away entirely is a reboot.
  • Random shutdowns of Visual Studio 2008: this happens about once every three weeks.
  • Launching of IE 64-bit set from Outlook embedded links: even though I have IE 32-bit set as my default browser (see no Flash plug-in for IE 8 64-bit), clicking on links people send me via e-mail will launch the 64-bit IE.
  • Invalid file handle on applying tags to multiple files: Go to your pictures library, highlight 50 pictures and attempt to put the same tag on all of them. You will get a file handle error every time. I have reproduced this on multiple boxes, so I know it is not just me.

One reader gives his thoughts on Azure's pricing plan:

I just had to chime in with my two cents on Azure pricing...

In the beginning (when Azure was first announced at PDC), Windows Azure captured our imagination! Cloud computing for the rest of us. A true pay-for-what-you-use system. The Amazon model was to let you license a virtual PC and you could deploy your services to this virtual instance. The upside to the Amazon model is simplicity. The downside is overhead. It's likely that the OS on your virtual machine is going to consume more resources than your service. That's where the Windows Azure model was exciting. You host your service, not your OS.

They have not followed that model (as far as I'm concerned) and now you have to pay for "Instance Hours," which is how long it's been deployed (not CPU hours as you might expect). I learned this the hard way when I had two "Hello World" instances deployed for 3 months.

Much to my chagrin I owed Microsoft a few hundred bucks! They were gracious to refund most of that, but only after weeks and weeks!

While everyone is coming down on Microsoft for its pricing model and SLA (you need two instances to get any SLA), their pricing is still congruent with Amazon. The criticism lies in the fact that it has taken them so very long to decide what their pricing is going to be, and the big misunderstanding of "Instance Hours" vs "CPU Hours."

Counting bandwidth, transactions, storage space, connections, etc. are just the best metrics we have for determining fair usage. I do not consider "Instance Hours" fair usage, however.

What IT professionals need to understand is that the cloud is not about saving money on a server -- it's about saving money on an infrastructure. The infrastructure includes good SLAs (Service Level Agreements), IT management costs, software costs and bandwidth costs.

You never have to worry about upgrading the OS or database, a server going down or running out of bandwidth.

Azure is somewhat competitive on its rates, but not as much as I had hoped.

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Posted by Doug Barney on 07/07/2010 at 1:18 PM


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