Randall to Thom:
The kernel count metric is not "empty," and threads aren't interchangeable
The flaw in your analogy is that you're assuming you can simply interchange kernel functionality like you can swap LPs -- except that to do so in NT's case would be to irreversibly change the aggregate "tune" of kernel "collection," with the net result that legacy applications and drivers would start breaking all over the place. So any such changes to the collection would have to be extremely subtle so as not to fundamentally alter the "beat." Which is exactly how I'm describing the Windows 7 kernel changes, which were so minor, the Windows core team assigned Windows 7 a point release moniker (i.e., Windows NT 6.1).
To expand on your analogy, any attempt to significantly increase the functionality of the NT kernel would require more than a reshuffling of the LP deck. It would necessitate the introduction of new LPs (threads) to support this expanded capability while maintaining the existing collection mostly intact in order to preserve the original tune (i.e., backward compatibility). Clearly, this has not taken place with Windows 7, but would almost certainly need to take place in any major OS update that continues to support legacy code.
Which brings me to my second point: You're dismissing established precedent. Every major update of the NT kernel has introduced additional threads in support of the new functionality provided. So while thread count may not be conclusive proof that only minor changes have taken place, it's a heck of a good place to start looking. And in the case of my article, that's exactly what it was: An empirical starting point that helped me quickly establish a set of assumptions (i.e., Windows 7 = Vista R2) that I then sought to further qualify through additional analysis and testing.
But I can understand your confusion. To the untrained eye, the kernel thread count metric may seem empty. But to someone who was working with this platform professionally while you were still finger painting in primary school, it says an awful lot. It tells me this is a minor, as opposed to major, update. It tells me that, barring a complete dismissal of legacy compatibility, no significant new functionality has been introduced. And it tells me that any performance optimizations made will deliver, at best, modest gains -- a supposition I later proved during benchmark testing.
BTW, I hope that LP collection of yours includes at least a few classic American bands: Boston, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin. Maybe a little Tom Petty. Please tell me you're not into techno or some kind of Euro-trash fluff. That stuff's a waste of good rack space. :-(
Thom to Randall:
Aha! You fell into my logic trap: Win 7 has better threads, despite the static count
My analogy isn't flawed. It's merely designed to be incomplete, so that I could lure you into the trap described below.
Who said anything about interchanging LPs? You assumed interchanging, but I might have bought the exact same worn-out 20 LPs I threw out! I would get better sound, less static, no skipping … my world wouldn't change and turn pink with ponies and rainbows all of a sudden, no, but I would get a much more pleasurable listening experience.
And counting my LPs still wouldn't reveal those improvements.