Aquarium Blog

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Windows Server feedback

Some time ago I found that Microsoft created this site for receiving feedback on their Windows Server products. The sole fact that this site exists is a great advancement for them. But when I took the time to fill a form with my most outstanding complain, I only received a very polite answer, with some links to some not so useful information. As a result I am not sure the people processing the feedback have their "ears" too open, and in sum, I am not too convinced they are letting us help too much.

Here is the text of the feedback I sent:

Description of the scenario:

During file operations like copy, compress, uncompress, encrypt, decrypt on large files (i.e. more than 100MB), the OS often gets unresponsive. It is impossible to regain the control of the computer either to cancel the operation or for the server to perform any other background or interactive task. Also, UI often stops refreshing during those operations.

Current workaround method (if applicable):

I just try to avoid these operations during busy work hours. When there is no choice, I start the operation, and I go for a walk or coffee! I have looked at Windows Resource Manager, but I couldn't find any help for me on it.

Value or impact to your organization:

As with almost anything else, we could be more productive if we could just use the computer all the time.

Suggested solution:

I don't know if the problem is related to IO overloading the CPU or just due to some flaw in the task scheduling code. Anyway, there are should be some way to automatically throttle the resource usage of file operations. In addition, maybe a priority slide control along the progress bar in progress dialogs would be of help. A way to set a default priority would be useful too. It looks like there should be a general QoS approach to this kind of problem.


Thinking a little bit more about this, I think the File Server role has become a commodity a long time ago, and as a result, it has been disregarded, not only by Microsoft but by everybody else. Of course Windows Server 2003 is a faster and more scalable file server than previous versions, but the set of functionality in this domain hasn't changed for a while.

For instance, from a previous life, I know about the existence of some file server "optimizations" like "opportunistic locks" that are really bad for some old fashioned shared file applications (even for some Microsoft products like Visual Fox Pro), but still the only way to fine tune a file server in this regard (or almost in any other) is to touch the registry (there is no Management Console for the File Server role) and all changes are global to the server, when it could be very convenient to be able to tune each share independently.

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