Vista’s ‘virgin stack’ to speed up your torrents

Windows Vista has a brand new Network Stack. According to tests conducted on both Windows XP and Vista, the new stack might actually speed up BitTorrent transfers by an estimated 10%.

Windows VistaWe’ve been hearing a lot about how Windows Vista has a brand new ‘Network Stack‘. As I understand it, a Network or Protocol Stack is basically a set of gates that data must pass through when travelling to your computer from a location in the outside world (normally the Internet or LAN). The Network Stack is the part of the operating system that has direct access to your computer’s hardware. Programs running in the OS make use of it to send and receive data to and from the outside world. Your BitTorrent client is one of those programs.

The Network Stack present in Windows XP and Server 2003 was originally developed in the early 90s and “modified and enhanced over time.” Microsoft claimed in 2005 that Vista’s brand new Stack would deliver higher throughput and increase network performance for most users around the world.

Long Zheng of istartedsomething conducted some tests to find out if Microsoft’s claim would hold true.

He writes, “I performed 4 tests to prove/disprove their claim. I used a tool called iperf, which measures the maximum TCP bandwidth. I ran this tool 10 times for each operating system, half on a wired 100Mbit ethernet connection, and half on a 54Mbit Wifi 802.11g connection.” He goes on to say, “the results are clear, Windows Vista definitely improves TCP/IP network thoroughput.”

According to his estimates, BitTorrent transfers in Windows Vista are up to 10% faster than in Windows XP. And it’s not just torrents, but every other network/Internet activity will benefit from the new Stack as well, including http transfers, online games etc.

This would normally be considered good news, but a new Network Stack is almost certainly an unsecured one. Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte talked about ‘Vista’s Virgin Stack‘ on a recent episode of Security Now, the popular pod/netcast. Apparently, flaws that were fixed in the last decade in Windows 95 have arisen once again. We can only imagine how vulnerable computers running Vista may be, and wait for crackers (hackers with evil intentions) to do their thing and see what happens.


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