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Tech journalism is dead to me

by Brandon on April 11th, 2008

Gary Morgenthaler of Business Week is the latest in a series of tech journalists to really disappoint me.  Why?  Just look at his latest rubbish posted on Business Week’s website today.

Consider the following paragraph and tell me that bias and sensationalism haven’t taken over tech “journalism.”

With last year’s arrival of Vista, Windows has swollen to 1 billion bytes (a gigabyte) or more of software code. The “Mach” kernel of the Mac OS X, however, requires less than 1 million bytes (a megabyte) of data in its smallest configuration, expanding modestly with the sophistication of the application.

So the iPhone kernel is smaller than all of Vista and its included applications.  Sound the alarm, get the president on the line, this is huge news.

What Gary forgets is that the CPU of my Dell workstation is hundreds if not thousands of times smaller than an entire Mac Pro.  I think, advantage Dell.

Of course I’m joking, these comparisons are absurd.  Yet in the very next sentence Gary piles on the bull crap.

This bloating has saddled Vista users with increased costs and poor performance on average computers.

If you look at Apple’s own website, they state that Leopard requires 9GB of available disk space to install.  Not surprisingly, this is almost exactly the same amount of space required for Windows Vista.  But how can that be?  Windows is bloated!  OS X is not!  We know these things, and working backward from this knowledge we can’t possibly come to the conclusion that they’re both just about the same size.  So why bother with the facts at all when you can work backward from what you want to be true?

The facts, in fact, are even worse for Gary’s argument than you might think.  You see, while Leopard and Vista require about the same amount of disk space to install to, one of them does have a far larger kernel image than the other.

The more portly of which is by far OS X.  I just rebooted my Macbook into Leopard to see just how large the kernel was.  The Mach kernel alone, which is only part of the OS X kernel, is 10MB in size.

So how big is the 64-bit Vista kernel on my desktop machine?  4.5MB

But this is hardly a fair comparison.  After all, that’s the size of a 64-bit Windows kernel.  We can’t reasonably compare it to a 32-bit Mac OS kernel (there is no 64-bit Mac OS kernel at the time of this writing).  So what about the 32-bit Vista one?  That weighs in at a massive 3.4MB.

Alright, the sensationalist “journalists” have won me over.  Come on NT guys, 3.4MB?  In 2008?  What’s with all the bloat?

From → Other

15 Comments
  1. Brandon permalink

    There have been so many OSX is better than Vista articles, I’m not surprised. On campus there is always bad talk of Vista. A lot of mis information is tossed around, and a lot of hatred. Microsoft has done something horribly wrong, I have not met one person who likes Vista. Someone claimed “I heard Vista has so many holes in it, that anyone who know basic hacking skills could compromise your machine”. I’m fairly certain that is incorrect. I also here people complaining about CPU usage on idle, someone claimed it used 80% on idle. Everyone complains about Vista people slow to boot, 2 minutes on average, and I’d have to say that can be true. The most common phares I’ve heard is “Vista is sh&@!”.

    I’m in the college of engineering, so may people have an interest in computers, and that seems to be the general opinion. I really do not know what Microsoft can do to change that image, I think nothing. Windows 7 is where Microsoft’s clean slate starts. I think Vista was alright, but I feel like the minority on campus, I really think that is how it is.

  2. Greg permalink

    It always cracks me up when people who don’t know a kernel from a web browser claim the Windows kernel is “bloated”. BTW, Brandon, how do you figure out the size of the kernel?

  3. I was referring to the size of “ntoskrnl.exe”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ntoskrnl

    Technically, you could include ntdll.dll and maybe even the HAL if you wanted to, and it would still add up to only 5-6MB total.

    On the Mac I was counting the size of the “mach_kernel” image. My understanding is that this binary only represents part of the total OS X monolithic kernel, but I am no OS X expert.

  4. Greg permalink

    OK thanks, I see. For some reason I thought you were talking about the size in memory, but this makes more sense :-)

  5. I find myself defending Vista on a regular basis. Most people who claim that Vista is an awful product have not even used it; their opinions are simply the regurgitated reviews of these tech journalists. I try my best to correct any misinformation that I come across.

  6. James permalink

    I’m typing on a new Dell Vostro 200. (2.2 GHz, 3 GB RAM, integrated graphics) The system cost around $900 with a monitor.

    The machine has thus far performed beautifully for office work and web browsing. It is extremely responsive and most applications open in around a second. (

  7. James permalink

    3 SuperFetch)

    Perhaps gaming performance would be different, but I am loving it for what I use it for!

  8. I’d really like to see a kernel of 1 billion bytes in action… lol :D

  9. Soum permalink

    The gem: “While Microsoft struggles to bring a kernel-based “Windows 7″ to market…” Makes me wonder if he knows what a kernel is? Or even what an Operating System is, except for “that thing you see when you turn on the computer”?

  10. Rob permalink

    I find these arguments so funny! :)

    I too hear a lot of Vista-bashing. And my only response has ever been “I don’t know what the fuss is about”. I have not had any major problems.

    Sure, I needed a new rig, but I needed a new rig anyway.

    I love the Vista look, it runs REALLY well, I find the system more responsive than XP (not a fair comparison I guess because the machine is a lot more powerful). But it does exactly what I want it to do, when I want it to do it.

    Your Start++ makes it even better ;) And vastly improved indexing in Vista makes finding media quickly a cakewalk, something that can be a real pain in XP when we are talking thousands of files.

    IMHO:
    – It looks great, its much more of a pleasure to work in.
    – I have had no performance issues, only improvements.
    – Yes it needs a more powerful system. But I needed a new one anyway.
    – I have found it more stable than XP. With the recent hardware issue I had (see my blog) Vista handled it a lot better than XP.
    – UAC isn’t that annoying, and I have had instances where it has protected my machine.
    – I don’t care for OSX, since I have no reason to move to it. I get everything I need and more in the MS camp. I don’t need a MacBook Pro/Air for a sense of self-worth. :) I have a wealth of applications for pretty much any task I need to undertake, and I know I can collaborate with everyone personally and professionally without any problems :)

    I like Vista, a lot. And looking forward to Seven. Really keen to see what comes of the Singularity project (Windows 10/11 Maybe?). Would be great to see the “Windows” kernel completely replaced, all the “bloat” removed, and then a new, refined Windows released that wipes the floor with OSX and Linux and their old kernels.

  11. Phil Sweet permalink

    When Windows Millennium Decade Edition (Windows 7) is released, these same “tech journalists” will complain that it’s too bloated and users should stay with Vista.

  12. erick permalink

    Kernel size of OSX and windows means little as they are both microkernels and load lots and lots of modules at runtime, expanding their size. Linux and unix tend to use a monolithic kernel, which can lead to a single file greater than 100mb in some cases, or it can be be quite smaller than that. My custom compiled netbsd kernel is 3.4 MB and it’s monolithic, which means that 3.4mb is what it is at run time, it has all the drivers it needs at that size. Comparing sizes of microkernels makes little sense unless you track down the modules they call and include their weight as well.

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