I have a cheap laptop with Vista Home Basic (VHB) on it. VHB doesn’t include the fancy interface, Aero Glass, that is the hallmark of the Vista OS. Which is fine, I don’t need that — I think I’m more comfortable with the way I’ve been using Widows since ’97, anyway.
So, lately it’s been getting sower and slower. Like, I’d hit the “Start” button and the “rolling donut” (the little icon that tells you the PC is working on something and you should wait a while) would pop up for 15 seconds, and then the start menu would open and I’d click something and the rolling donut would come up for another 15 seconds and then the window for the program I’ve just opened would come up and there’s that rolling donut again and 30 seconds later the program window fills and I click something and the rolling donut comes up again…
So I’m looking through the processes and I see “dwm.exe” and it’s using over 50 MB — more than anything but Firefox (which is a huge memory hog, we all know). I Google it and turns out it’s the “Desktop Window Manager” and all it does is the “glass” effect in Aero Glass. I’m not using Aero, though, since WHB doesn’t have it. Right?
Turns out, wrong. I checked the “Personalize” setting and apparently the color picker, which I had used to change my window frames from the default light blue to a glossy black, causes dwm.exe to work overtime, because as soon as I reverted to the default the whole system picked up. The Desktop Window Manager dropped 49 of those 50 MB of memory it was using, and seriously windows started flying open.
The upshot is, if you’re using Vista Home Basic, and your system is running slow, make sure you’re using the Home Basic display settings. Even though it doesn’t technically include Aero Glass, it apparently includes some parts of Aero, and they can consume a lot of resources.