Reviews

Windows 8 Developer Preview on Fujitsu T4215 (Updated)

Update: My Fujitsu T4215 has been upgraded to Windows 8 Pro 32bit. Everything works as expected but battery life doesn’t seem improved from Win7.

This is a quick note of my thoughts on the new Windows 8 Developer Preview on my souped up Fujitsu T4215 Convertible Tablet (launched 2007).

*** Summary ***

Windows 8 DP looks great @ Build 2011 because they are using fairly modern hardware (don’t need to be the fastest). When running on legacy hardware without Touch, even with a Digitizer, the experience is not so great. These are hardware problems & it’s not something software can solve easily. SO? Go buy new hardware! 8)

*** Quick specs ***

CPU: Intel T7200 2Ghz (upgraded from T5600 1.83Ghz)

Memory: 4GB

HDD1: WD 160GB 5400RPM (some drive I had lying around)

HDD2: Kingston 64GB SSD with Full Disk Encryption enabled

Input: Keyboard/Touchpad/Digitizer screen

*** Boot-time ***

HDD1: 9 sec

HDD2: 7 sec

Not quite the 3 sec boot up shown by Emily Watson. Reason is probably because the BIOS is too old & together with a motherboard that does not support UEFI, dooms my Tablet to boot using legacy IBM PC mode.

You need a modern system with newer chipset + a SSD to achieve the 3 sec boot up.

*** Memory footprint: 630MB on boot up with TabletPC extensions enabled. ***

Better than Windows 7 by a fair bit

*** Windows Experience Index ***

CPU/Memory/HDD : 5.2

Graphics/3D : 3.2

*** Drivers ***

Intel INF + Graphics : Latest available but actual installed driver dates back to 2009

Fujitsu Motherboard BIOS extensions : Latest available for T4215 on Windows Vista and dated late 2007 Windows 8 detected all other drivers natively

*** Findings ***

— Older hardware like my T4215 is not modern enough to run the full Windows 8 Experience. Running normal apps etc., it can keep up when my WD Scorpio Black 7200RPM HDD or a SSD is installed, but Fast Boot & Touch experience is not as the developers intended. This means that I cannot use the Metro Interface even though I have the Stylus.

The situation is unlikely to change unless a new input scheme is hatched because a Stylus only allow 1 point of touch while Metro works best with multi-touch. This means that a Stylus works more like a mouse than as a touch device.

Boot up is faster than Windows 7 even taking into account logging into your user account.

— Windows 8 new UX (this will change by a fair bit when Win8 is launched (mid?) next year)

The old Start Menu is completely gone & replaced with the Start Screen so at the moment it feels disjointed when using just Keyboard/Mouse. I would rather they leave Start Menu there when you click the Windows Icon & show the Metro start when you Touch the bottom Left corner of the screen. That way the transition is smoother. As a Keyboard Mouse user, I’m already starting to feel like a second class citizen.

Microsoft has defended this move in this recent article. It does make sense & I admit I did not spend a significant amount of time to “acclimatise” but I’m one of the 1.2% who uses Jumplists so I’d appreciate if Microsoft develop that secondary tiles concept. A good compromise is probably to switch between Start screen & Start Menu based on the input mix and also allow users to set it in Control Panel.

Many of the apps & the OS itself is compiled in Debug mode so performance ain’t so great. For example, the Weather app, on my WEI graphics score of 3.2, the background video is choppy. When released it should be much better. Under the Hood, Microsoft has done a lot of groundwork & it shows when you use the system. No crashes or BSOD, background tasks are started & completed without user intervention or any slowdown in performance, everything is smooth & seamless. Much of the architecture has been changed & rearranged to minimise Kernel/Drivers/Services footprint & UI impact, allowing the UI to take center stage. Even at this stage, Windows Update is working, allowing Microsoft to smoothly transition developers from DP to Beta to RC without the hassle of reinstalling the whole OS.

It also allow programmers from different backgrounds to tap into the powerful Win32 API, now called Windows Runtime, all using a single familiar IDE in Visual Studio 11. New Tools like Task Manager, Control Settings, Windows Refresh, etc. also enhances the basic day-to-day operations & maintenance of your piece of equipment to improve productivity or simply to enjoy your PC without having to worry about background stuff.

The only problem now is how to find these little gems without resorting to Search all the time! I think the Apps Hub should be part of the Charm bar & Metro Start bar instead of going into Search.

*** Conclusion ***

Microsoft has completely casted away the uncertainty the DOJ had caused them & have gone back to basics. Windows 8 as it is now is already a much better Windows 7. Lower memory footprint, tighter CPU control on Apps & even Windows itself. 3D accelerated UI across the board, nice addition of information incorporated into even simple things like File Copy, all makes Windows 8 very nice to use if you have Touch.

With Keyboard Mouse & Stylus only + legacy hardware, the experience is more mundane. It’s still very nice but it lacks the WOW factor seen in the Keynote videos. Make sure you buy a laptop with a Touchscreen or Tablet to get the most out of Win8.

Hint: Windows 8 will run on any of the Windows 7 tablets on the market like Acer Iconia W500, Asus Eee Slate EP121, Fujitsu Q550, etc.

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Solutions

Windows wouldn’t hibernate with Error Event ID 45: volmgr

Just to share my 3-day battle with Windows 7 32bit Pro after it was installed on the Kingston V+100E Self-encrypting SSD 64GB.

To be fair, the problem has little to do with the Kingston SSD actually. There may be incompatibility with Truecrypt 7.1 & Self-encrypting SSD, or it could be old registry entries left-over from my old encrypted HDD but I didn’t investigate further since I’ve solved my hibernation problem.

Update at the end of this article!

*******************************

System:

OS: Win7 32bit Pro (New install, not upgrade)

Laptop: Fujitsu T4215 with CPU upgraded to Intel T7200

HDD: WD Scorpio Black 320GB (Truecrypt 7.1 System FDE) -> Kingston V+100E 64GB (Self-encryption)

Drivers: (All updated to latest from manufacturer)

********************************

Everything seems to work well until I run Easy Transfer to transfer my account from my old HDD to the new SSD. My old WD Scorpio Black was encrypted using Truecrypt 7.1 so there were active Truecrypt registry entries which I’m not aware of & few people seem to know about. Google it & you would’t find many entries if any.

Hibernation will always fail with black screen. When KB/Mouse is touched, the login screen is shown. Event Viewer will show Event ID 45 Error caused by volmgr on \device\harddiskvolume2 (which is my C:\). What’s cryptic is the error is a crash dump driver error. What has crash-dumping in volmgr.sys got to do with hibernation?

A lot in fact, after kernel-mode drivers had crashed or unloaded, the only way the NT Kernel could do stuff is through special filters apparently. So to activate Hibernation, the Kernel has to unload everything & dump everything in RAM to HDD. What if you’re running Bitlocker or Truecrypt, which are software-based encryption?

The Kernel has to filter the RAM data thru these small programs so the Hibernation or Crash dumps are encrypted as well, else there’ll be a security risk. dumpfve.sys for Bitlocker & truecrypt.sys for Truecrypt 7. Unfortuntately I don’t see this documented anywhere. (I did not search SourceForge though.) I found out when I was hunting in the registry.

This registry key is where I found the offending entry.

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl -> DumpFilters

In it, I found “dumpfve.sys” & “truecrypt.sys”. Now I did not install Truecrypt in the new system so the only way is thru’ Easy Transfer.

OK, fine, so I install Truecrypt 7.1 to make sure the proper files are installed. But after rebooting, Windows BSOD & I couldn’t see any crash dump! It may be that active Truecrypt registry is still there thinking the SSD was encrypted. Well I can’t have that! So I did a System Restore & booted up. I then remove the truecrypt.sys entry in all Registry keys, adjust my pagefile size, enabled crash dump 128KB & enabled hibernation with “-size 100”.

Hit the Hibernation button & it WORKS!!!

After that, whatever changes I did to pagefile.sys & crash dump size did not affect Hibernation.

So for those of you who have hibernation problems with Event ID 45 from volmgr. Check your crashdump filter.

Now I still need Truecrypt to access the old encrypted WD Scorpio Black, so what I did was to install Truecrypt in “Portable” mode & run the .exe files instead of an installation. Done!

Update (19/3/2012):

Recently I cleaned the registry of all entries with Truecrypt & install the latest 7.1a version & Windows did not BSOD so I’m a happy camper again. Seems like Truecrypt doesn’t leave many entries in Windows itself, which is a GOOD thing!