2 Bits, 4 Bits, 64 Bits A Dollar

With the release of Vista in all it’s incarnations, most manufacturer have started placing some version of the new Microsoft OS on machines by default. Many sites have reviews of Vista, so I’m not here to bore you with another one. So why are we talking about it? Because you don’t want it. Find out why after the jump.

The partnership between Autodesk and Microsoft is the source of much speculation, some of it bordering on conspiracy theory. AutoCAD is tied at a pretty low level to the OS and Internet Explorer to the chagrin of many IT managers. Pretty much any derivation from the recommended workstation and server configurations puts you in unsupported land.

Autodesk also maintains a number of large testing environments. These include machines of all sorts including Macs. Autodesk produces a large number of products that run on OS X so it’s important that they understand what’s happening. It’s also important that they don’t make their partners look bad.

With the release of the 2008 products, Vista will be a supported OS out of the box, but supported is completely different from optimized. C3D is written to make use of every available resource, and the simple fact is that Vista demands more from the workstation does, limiting resources available to applications.

To that end, some testing has been done that will never see the light of day. In a lab environment, C3D runs considerably faster in an XP environment than in a Vista one. Equal machines, equal tasks. How much faster? Up to five times faster in certain tasks! Of course, no one wants to say the new OS is slower, but damn, that’s a big difference to me.

The real kicker is that 2008 is much faster than 2007. This release is the first where fit and finish could be truly listed as a task for the development team. Corridor modeling has been recoded to use .net for assembly creation, and many other low level operations have been optimized. Comparing 2007 and 2008 on the same hardware, I’ve been blown away by the improvements. But you’ll never see them if you jump to Vista at the same time, they’re all negated by the OS bog.

Oh and since I mentioned 64 Bit, here’s some information from the horse’s mouth:

The installer for Cannon blocks the installation on Vista 64. Cannon must be installed on a 32 bit OS. This holds true for all the AutoCAD vertical products for the 2008 release.

Peter Funk, Autodesk Inc.

Moral of the story? Just say no to Vista. You can still get XP on your machines, just not from Best Buy. Talk to your vendor and optimize for the tasks you do, not for the geegaws of the Aero display!


  1. governa says:

    It is also important to note that when installing Civil 3D 2007 on Vista, it will only run in compatibility├é┬ámode. Moral of the story is still the same, just stay away from Vista until we get our apps to be “certified” on it in 64 bit.

    Just my two pennies anyway.


  2. Art O'Connor says:

    Actually, I was able to get C3D 2007 to run just fine in Vista Business (XP2 compatibility mode). In fact, on the same computer, it actually appears to run slightly faster in Vista. The key is to lean Vista out. By default, Vista hogs a lot of resources. Start by getting rid of some of the video pigs – change Vista to run in the “performance” mode, get rid of the side bar, change the background to plain black. Then tackle other items, such as indexing (turn it off), automatic updating (not just Vista, but also antivirus and other programs – instead, manually update each morning when you first log on, while you get that cup of coffee), screen savers (instead set power options to turn off the monitor), etc. Check the Startup Folder – I don’t have anything in mine, but everybody from Adobe to Autodesk wants to put accelerators in RAM. Then run msconfig (yes, it is still in Vista). Check the Startup tab. In the Autodesk products, go to the Communication Center and set it to manually update. Remember, every automatic option that you enable is a TSR that runs in the background and uses up resources. OBTW, always do a clean install when upgrading to Vista – get rid of all that old corrupted code in XP. Start with a clean slate.

    Ed Note: You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to get it working, Art! I have to question how many users would go to those lengths. And while it might seem faster, in a controlled environment with clean installs, XP simply kicks the crap out of Vista for now. We’ll all have to wait and see how it shakes out. JW