As you know, since Microsoft released the widely available Vista
February CTP (Community Technical Preview), build 5308, they’ve let a couple of
interim builds slip out the door: 5352, 5365 and, just last week, 5381. These
builds have only gone to small groups of hard core testers with the goal of
vastly improving the operating system in order to make Beta 2 a spectacular release.

Microsoft has been hinting for some time that Beta 2 will be
released at the end of May. Coincidentally, Microsoft is also preparing its
annual Windows Hardware
Engineering Conference
(WinHEC) for May 22-25th,
during which we’ll learn more about the new hybrid hard drive (HHD) technology
and how it relates to Windows Vista’s ReadyDrive

Considering that the last big news out of Redmond had to do
with the delay of Windows Vista, I would think that Microsoft would want to do
something spectacular in order to overshadow that embarrassment. What better
way to move on than to use WinHEC, which occurs in
neighboring Seattle, to not only introduce HHD, but also to announce the
release of Beta 2? Just imagine the headlines if at WinHEC
Microsoft could provide a demo of Windows Vista Beta 2 running on an HHD system
and be able to show off ReadyDrive all at same time.

The launch of the hybrid hard drive (HHD) for ReadyDrive

In the April 13th edition of the Windows Vista Report,
Vista: ReadyBoost, ReadyDrive,
and SuperFetch, oh my!
” I told you about
three new Windows Vista performance enhancing features. As I explained in that
article, ReadyDrive is essentially the new kid on the
block because it relies on a hard disk technology that is still emerging called
a hybrid hard drive (HHD). Such a drive is literally the combination of
traditional hard disk and flash memory. ReadyDrive
gets its boost due to the fact that flash memory has faster read/write access
times than a mechanically operating hard disk and the two can work together
with the flash memory working on the frontline intercepting and dispatching data
and then later accessing the hard disk.

It now looks like we’ll be hearing all about the benefits of
ReadyDrive at WinHEC. According
to a recent
article in the Korea Times
, Samsung Electronics, which is the sixth largest
hard drive maker in the world, and Microsoft will be ready to show off a
version of an HHD at WinHEC.

The benefits of ReadyDrive stand
to add very dramatic improvements to several facets of the Windows Vista
operating system. For example, a desktop system will be able to resume from
hibernation mode much faster if the data is being retrieved from flash memory.
In a laptop, flash memory will be able to handle the majority of the hard disk
related tasks and the hard disk can actually sit idle until needed, which will
greatly decrease battery consumption, thus providing more computing time per

According to the article, when Windows Vista is installed on
an HHD, the boot code will actually be stored in static flash memory, which
means that Windows Vista could very well be able to boot up in matter of
seconds rather than minutes.

In other related news

After reading about ReadyBoost and
SuperFetch, a Windows Vista Report reader sent me an
e-mail and asked me about a program called SystemBoosterXP
that claims to pick up where Windows XP’s Prefetch
feature left off and asked me if this might be a good way to tide over until
Windows Vista and SuperFetch are available. The Web
site reads like a get rich scheme advertisement and sounds too good to be true.
However, the program was mentioned in a recent edition of
PC World
as an add-on that brings Windows Vista features to Windows XP and
is available
for download
on CNET’s

I’ve downloaded and installed it on one of my test systems
and plan on testing it for a while to see how it works. However, in the meantime,
I thought I would see if anyone out there has used SystemBoosterXP
and, if so, would care to share your experience or any other information.


Microsoft has been preparing two major events for the end of
May–the release of Windows Vista Beta 2 and its annual WinHEC,
where they plan on unveiling a working version of the new HHD technology. My
bet is that Microsoft will not only unveil HHD at WinHEC,
but that they’ll use the event to kick off Beta 2 of Windows Vista. As always,
if you have comments or information to share about the Beta 2, WinHEC, HHD, ReadyDrive, or SystemBoosterXP, please take a moment to drop by the
Discussion area and let us hear.