Having kind of reached a dead end with XP64 I thought I might as well move forward instead and see what the score was with Windows 8 on the DAW performance front. I decided to use the windows 8102 developer preview build since I had it on a back up drive and having read somewhere that they had apparently extended the full user activation period till the first couple of months or so of 2013. However after installing it and trying to activate it doesn't seem to be the case at all for this particular build to have expired as far as full activation was concerned. So I'm using it in its none activated mode for it to be running a bit like how a none activated windows 7 OS runs minus thew nag notices.

After a whole slew of the usual antics of uninstalling everything that wasn't essential for DAW use ie. disabling unecessary processes, removing all unecessary apps, setting up the core apps and finally installing all the core drivers I could finally begin the pre-workspace caching process.

Looking good so far, everything remained incredibly fast without the slightest hint of lag. So far the workspace caching process seems to be how I used to be able to do things when I used to run it all in XP32 with the actual ability to do so to have seemingly degraded over time, even in windows 7 I wasn't able to get close to anything like the same kind of performances that I'd briefly had chance to get used to. But with this build of Windows 8 developer preview full system performance seems to have been re-instated and I was even actually able to listen to tracks in the workspace without them stuttering or pausing whilst the workspace was still caching several other tracks at the same time from a huge queue on the preliminary use of the work session in a fresh host OS install!

What exactly is going on?

playing 4 tracks at the same time whilst quickly switching between multiple scene slots and caching several audio tracks at the same time from a massive queue for the first time on the initial load up of a workspace in a fresh install without even the slightest hint of a stutter or audio drop? Impossible you say? But it did in fact Used to be possible when I had a working copy of XP64 on a machine for the first time for a month or so. Then it lost the ability over time for some unexplainable reason. The same feat was pretty much impossible in Windows 7 and don't even mention Vista, it was just awful for laptop based DAW purposes in being so damn heavy. 8 seems to competantly handle the very same feat without even breaking a sweat upon initial testing thus far. Whether that's maintained is yet to be seen. 

It's not so much of a big deal that I'm not using the most recent consumer preview build of Windows 8 with all the latest and more recently added GUI mods and features since its the untainted faster performing base of the OS for running DAW apps in combination with the Zero 4 mixer reliably that remains the same that I'm more interested in as far as DAW performance is concerned. The main thing is that the 8102 preview build of Windows 8 seems to provide a more stable, lighter, faster and smoother operating environment then all the official post release versions of XP64 and Windows 7 64 that I've used on a DAW in testing thus far! 

This also means that I can't afford to risk any overly dodgy unofficial mods for fear of screwing up my most reliable DAW rig built on a preview build of Windows 8 thus far at this current stage of testing!

Taking longer then expected...

I've not been able to fully test it yet on a multi-track workspace for any prolonged period of time, I keep falling asleep whilst waiting for the workspace to fully cache. Yes the initial caching process does take that long for this particular Ableton workspace. Strange thing is everytime I wake up the machine is switched off and not in any kind of sleep or hybernation mode, then when powering on, booting up and loading everything back up it starts the whole workspace caching process all over again as if it had never been cached to begin with. 

Additionally once the caching process is completed the drive then needs to be defragmented in order to reduce the amount of read time on files from the cache folder (about 20 to 25GB in size with many seperate files) in order to significantly reduce the chances of system pauses/stutter. The actual preliminary caching process for the workspace does create a lot of file fragmentation within the caching folder which strangely Ableton doesn't handle well at all beyond a certain threshold of fragmentation, this is also despite Ableton itself creating the actual file caching folder like that to begin with! Normally once the preliminary workspace caching has been completed (with additional manual defragmented) it doesn't need to be done again unless some kind of drastic change causes the work session caching folder to be wiped. 


Ok, so I just realised that the W8 - 8102 build of the developer preview in its unactivated state will shut itself down every 2 hours of active use. Just feckin' great, meaning that if I want to retain the better DAW performance for this particular hardware setup I'm going to have to move over to the consumer preview of 8 or whatever the most current usable build of 8 is. Unless that is I can find a way to fully activate this 8102 build. Having tasted its performance capabilities I couldn't really bare to go back to the wall punching/table smashing fustrations of trying to run it on 7 any longer as the viewing spies drop in and out to constantly cause the zero4 to fuck up everytime I use it. How the fuck do you completely block these people??? If not for the sake of actual privacy (as should be the case) at least for the sake of making the actual rig work/function like its supposed to without constant disruption. With XP 64 being extra fussy these days the consumer preview build of 8 seems like the only option. But from what I hear setting up the consumer preview is nowhere near as free of fuss and straight forward as the developer preview build. Why don't they just release 8 now, I'm sure they've already got the final finished version somewhere which no doubt had already been completed a number of years ago which many insiders gleefully used as we continued to struggle with trying to use 7's gradually demishing bare metal performance as an OS for this specific purpose whilst XP64 was made more and more difficult to acquire. Now even after finally getting hold of a copy of XP64 it seems my DAW audio hardware no longer works with it despite having done so previously. I reckon if the developer preview build of 8 had been out in the wild since 2007 I reckon there'd be a group of elite DAW users using a trusted optomised/modded varient of their own for even better DAW performance then it already seems to give beyond Windows XP 64 and 7's limitations for such purposes. The reason for many professionals sticking with customised optimised versions of XP 64 instead.