We can draw some interesting conclusions from these benchmark results. The first and most obvious is that Microsoft has obviously worked hard to cut system boot times, as Microsoft previously promised.
We don't reboot our PCs anywhere near as often as we once did, but a fast boot up time is still appreciated, and a PC that arrives at the logon screen or desktop quickly makes a good impression on both Microsoft and OEMs.
Hybrid boot, UEFI firmware and better use of sleep will make startup under Windows 8 even faster.
Next there's the fact that, as far as the synthetic and gaming benchmarks go, the differences between Windows 7, the Windows 8 RTM, the Consumer Preview and the Release Preview are negligible. It usually takes AMD and NVIDIA some time to optimize and perfect their drivers for a new operating system, with drivers having to mature for several months before we see similar performance between the new operating system and the old one.
This time around it seems that things have settled down quickly and that we're seeing performance that is on a par with a mature operating system. We can assume that as time goes on the graphics card makers will be able to squeeze more performance out of the operating system.
This is good news for anyone who is planning to make a swift switch to Windows 8 but also for those who want the best performance possible from their hardware.
We're also seeing quite an improvement when it comes to audio and video transcoding. This is something I've come to expect from Microsoft. It's an area that Microsoft seems to put effort into improving, and that trend continues with Windows 8. As we take more photos and video and handle more content, the ability to process them faster is welcome all round.
The higher than expected PCMark 7 score for the Windows 8 RTM, Release Preview and Consumer Preview compared to Windows 7 is interesting. Normally, I would be suspicious of such a difference between, and would be tempted to put it down to a bug with the benchmark tool. However, given that the bulk of the improvement was made up by an increase in the "creativity" score, and the fact we've seen an overall improvement in multimedia handling in other tests, I believe that this improvement is indeed genuine.
When I tested the Windows 8 Consumer Preview back in April I was concerned about the results I saw from the Heaven 3.0 test. The minimum FPS scores I got from this test seemed to suggest that when the frame rate dropped in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it dropped further than it did under Windows 7.
Translating this into real world gaming, it would mean a poorer visual experience under Windows 8. However, it seems that this is an area that Microsoft has been working on, and in the Windows 8 RTM version I'm not seeing the same frame rate drops as I was seeing with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
From a performance perspective, I've very pleased with the way that Windows 8 has turned out. While there are no major performance differences between the Windows 8 Release Preview and the newly released Windows 8 RTM version, performance seems solid, and in areas where the platform lagged behind Windows 7, Microsoft seems to have put in the effort to close the gap.