Windows 7 beta 1 performance - How does the OS compare to Vista and XP?

Windows 7 beta 1 performance - How does the OS compare to Vista and XP?

Summary: How does Windows 7 beta 1 compare to Vista and XP in terms of performance? That's a question that's been hitting my inbox regularly over the past few weeks. Let's see if we can't answer it!

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Special Report: Windows 7

How does Windows 7 beta 1 compare to Vista and XP in terms of performance? That's a question that's been hitting my inbox regularly over the past few weeks. Let's see if we can't answer it!

Important note: Before I go any further I feel I need to make a point, and make it clear. The build I’m testing of Windows 7 (build 6.1.7000.0.081212-1400) is a beta build, and as a rule beta builds are usually more geared towards stability than performance. That said, the performance of this build should give us a clue as to how the OS is coming along.

Rather than publish a series of benchmark results for the three operating systems (something which Microsoft frowns upon for beta builds, not to mention the fact that the final numbers only really matter for the release candidate and RTM builds), I've decided to put Windows 7, Vista and XP head-to-head in a series of real-world tests to find out which OS comes out top.

The tests

There are 23 tests in all, most of which are self explanatory:

  1. Install OS - Time it takes to install the OS
  2. Boot up - Average boot time to usable desktop
  3. Shut down - Average shut down time
  4. Move 100MB files - Move 100MB of JPEG files from one hard drive to another
  5. Move 2.5GB files - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from one hard drive to another
  6. Network transfer 100MB files - Move 100MB of JPEG files from test machine to NAS device
  7. Network transfer 2.5GB files - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from test machine to NAS device
  8. Move 100MB files under load - Move 100MB of JPEG files from one hard drive to another while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  9. Move 2.5GB files under load - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from one hard drive to another while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  10. Network transfer 100MB files under load - Move 100MB of JPEG files from test machine to NAS device while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  11. Network transfer 2.5GB files under load - Move 2.5GB of mixed size files (ranging from 1MB to 100MB) from test machine to NAS device while ripping DVD to .ISO file
  12. Compress 100MB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  13. Compress 1GB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  14. Extract 100MB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  15. Extract 1GB files - Using built-in ZIP compression
  16. Install Office 2007 - Ultimate version, from DVD
  17. Open 10 page Word doc - Text only
  18. Open 100 page Word doc - Text and images only
  19. Open simple Excel doc - Basic formatting
  20. Open complex Excel doc - Including formula and charts
  21. Burn DVD - Win 7 beta 1 .ISO to disc using CDBurnerXP
  22. Open 10 page PDF - Text only, using latest Adobe Reader 8
  23. Open 100 page PDF - Text and images, using latest Adobe Reader 8

These series of tests will pitch Windows 7 build 7000 32-bit against Windows Vista SP1 32-bit and Windows XP SP3 32-bit. The scoring for each of the tests is simple. The winning OS scores 1, the runner up 2 and the loser scores a 3. The scores are added up and the OS with the lowest score at the end wins.

Next -->

The test systems

I've used two desktop systems as the test machines:

  • An AMD Phenom 9700 2.4GHz system fitted with an ATI Radeon 3850 and 4GB of RAM
  • An Intel Pentium Dual Core E2200 2.2GHz fitted with an NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS and 1GB of RAM

The results

Here are the results of the tests for the two systems:

02-01-2009-12-34-11.png

02-01-2009-12-35-16.png

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the more I use Windows 7 the more I like it. Sure, we're looking at a beta build here and not the final code, so things could change between now and release (although realistically final code ends up being faster than beta code). Also I still have some nagging issues relating to the interface, and some concerns that the UAC changes will break applications and other code, especially installers, but overall Windows 7 beta 1 is a robust, solid bit of code.

Sure, Windows 7 is not XP, and never will be (thankfully). And if you're put off by things such as activation and DRM, then Windows isn't the OS for you (good news is there are others to choose from). But if you're looking for a solid OS then Windows 7 seems ready to deliver just that - a fast, reliable, relatively easy to use platform for your hardware and software.

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Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Microsoft, Software, Storage, Windows

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455 comments
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  • Im guessing

    that you did not post exact times so as to get around the no-benchmarks part of the EULA? Unfortunately how much better one is compared to the other matters. Is it insignificantly faster? a small amount? or huge amount?

    Giving first second and third tells us that they improved the OS a bit, but not how much. Perhaps you can get around it by stating: Windows 7 is the benchmark to which you compare the other OSes. so 7 times do not get posted, and the ratio for the other two compared to 7 gets posted. For example: it takes XP 1.4 times the time 7 takes to boot?

    Not sure, maybe even this is pushing it.
    isulzer
    • Re: Im guessing

      It's an interesting way of getting round the EULA. What I take from it is not that 7 is better in just compressing, or file operations, or installation etc. but that there have been across the board improvements, and this is a very good thing.

      Couple this with the fact that no beta software has ever been as fast as the finished product and I think we'll be looking at a very fast, very stable OS indeed. Can't wait for the public beta!

      What I do find extremely interesting is that on the newer equipment Vista comes second, and on the older it is pretty much the same as XP overall (again, using the scoring system to get an overall impression of the system, not necessarily individual scores of individual tests). This tends to reflect the post-SP1 shift in opinions I have observed that has occurred which is that Vista is not actually a bad/slow/buggy/insecure/incapable OS, it's just had extremely poor word of mouth (also heavily influenced by a very vocal minority I note - over the past couple of years I have seen the same things referenced between groups of sites - A says problem X exists, B reports A has said this, C blogs that B has said it, D picks up C's blog and puts out a note on its RSS feed, this gets picked up by A who says "look, someone else with the same problem!". Gotta love the one-click-to-publish ethos of the internet!

      Sorry, got a bit off topic there.

      @AKH: would you consider a more technical set of tests using the same scoring system (i.e. not actual benchmarks, but just an overall impression)? Disk activity when idle for instance, smallest memory footprint (I'm going to guess Vista will come bottom on that one, XP first, 7 second, but you never know, XPs memory management isn't as sophisticated is it?).

      Keep up the good work, it was an interesting read!

      And Happy New Year!
      Ben_E
      • The beta is public

        [i]Can't wait for the public beta[/i]

        Perhaps you meant RTM?
        Anyway, you can download the current beta and try it yourself.
        tikigawd
    • Most interesting read in a long time

      These were some very important measurements - very interesting reading. I really look forward to reading a final version when you can actually post times.

      I think the only other thing I'd like to see is if you could add a 64 bit to 32 bit performance comparison - should probably be very close but it would be interesting to know.
      boed
    • Great post to give us an idea

      Even if the margins are slim, this at least gives us an idea of what to expect. In other words, performance hasn't suffered at all. It looks to be as good or better in nearly every category. This is good news.
      BillDem
    • RE: Windows 7 beta 1 performance - How does the OS compare to Vista and XP?

      @isulzer lot higher likelihood that with their search results tied to phone access that they are coming closer
      to the line. Many media outlets have been pared down as well as the phone companies. The day is coming,
      and google may have to spin off something to
      stay within bounds of the law. Lets hope it's the search engine, or everything else.
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  • RE: Windows 7 beta 1 performance - How does the OS compare to Vista and XP?

    On the burn DVD score for both machines you have 2 OS's with the same score
    planruse
  • RE: Windows 7 beta 1 performance - How does the OS compare to Vista and XP?

    These comparisons are not particularly meaningful. Did the number 1 scoring OS beat the number 2 by 1%? 10%? Enough to make a difference in real world usage? How many times was each test run? How much variation was there in the results? Were the rankings the same across both machines?
    ThisIsNotMyUserName
  • Congratulations Adrian, epic post.

    This is exactly the kind of comprehensive test I have been looking for. You'd think there would be more like this, as often as it is repeated that XP is faster than Vista, I don't suppose these bloggers have just been repeating what they heard, you think?

    This will be one of the hottest and most linked stories out there. I'll be linking it myself. So, Kennedy has his one benchmark he is beating to death and you have 23 on two very different systems and three OSes. Wonder why Kennedy hasn't attempted to bolster his belief that Vista is a bloated monstrosity from hell with more than the one test? Perhaps he has and the others weren't 'suitable' for public release?
    eggmanbubbagee@...
    • Not so fast! Seems we have another MS cronie!

      Adrian would have you believe his testing was complete, however there are two very important area's he didn't test at all. 1 Graphics apps like DirectX and Non-DirectX graphics like Auto-CAD, and 2.Gaming, another area the Microsoft cronies like Adrian would have you totally forget about. While using Vista you can expect a 10-25% performance hit in these area's and I see there was no practical testing done here, so why would you expect Windows7 to be any better, especially when it's already know MS will be distribution DirectX 11 which is again incompatible with may, if not all, of the current Video cards.
      vmeck@...
  • RE: Windows 7 beta 1 performance - How does the OS compare to Vista and XP?

    Useless test. Your test shows Vista is faster than XP. Great, except thats not why everyone hates it is it? After 8 years there are 1,000's of programs that work with XP but not the over bloated Vista. Now we all understand these companies want to invest billions in another Microsoft adventure with no profit in it for them. It's alredy dead before it's released and we know that. But it's fast...
    aeryos
    • dead wrong

      except for some proprietary apps that are up to the companies themselves to update, if they so choose, and some very old hardware, Vista is nearly 100% compatible with XP and closing what gap is left everyday - in fact, the usual complaint against Vista now is that it is slow and 'bloated', as you yourself said - well it seems it isn't slow at all and as for bloat - so what if it takes up more HD space or a marginal amount of extra RAM? XP was written for machines with 128 to 256 meg of RAM and 5 gig hard drives more than seven years ago!

      Face it, Vista isn't the POS you thought and hoped it was and you just can't accept it.
      eggmanbubbagee@...
      • wrong again?

        I personally have nothing against Vista itself. It's harder to fix but then I get paid more then. But I have reverted many vista computers to XP for my customers because they cannot use it. As for bloated and slow that easy to fix, but my point is there are alot many more proprieary apps out there than you seem to realise that companies are using in their line of work. As for me I reverted my wifes Vista Laptop back to XP because it couldn't find the pictures on my camera. XP saw them no problem.
        aeryos
        • re: wrong again?

          What you're talking about are bad programs, and
          liabilities. Those programs should have been updated.
          The cost of using them can actually be greater than a
          total rewrite, which usually enhances the quality of
          the older programs too.

          Also, Microsoft's VirtualPC is free and it runs
          Windows XP, Windows 2000, and even NT4 pretty well. If
          you're not going to update old programs, eventually
          this is the way you'll have to go. Running
          Windows XP in 2012 will be like running Windows 98
          today, and that doesn't sound like too much fun for
          the IT guys, or the guy who has to pay them.
          thomastmc
        • Fixing problems?

          You had to do a reinstall of an Operating System to solve the problem of a missing camera driver?

          No-wonder you pressure your clients into installing XP as you are obviously incapable of the most basic "fixes" on Vista. Little wonder you claim it to be harder to fix.

          Forgive me for being blunt, but I find it hard to believe you are turning down more money in your job for fixing Vista problems.

          Do you charge by the hour? How long does it take to install XP, reinstalling all the applications and transferring the data over compared to installing a camera driver.

          I think personally you are a troll.
          Bozzer
          • Fixing problems?

            Hark,

            Him gives troll a bad name.
            eargasm
        • They are stupid for using those apps

          If they are so "proprietary" that a simple OS change within the Microsoft OS system from XP to Vista breaks them.

          Frankly, those companies should be HOWLING AT THE FREAKING MOON for these people to fix those apps so that they will work both on Vista and XP.

          And usually, the reason those apps won't work: bad software design, i.e. they need administrator rights, which NOTHING OUTSIDE OF AN INSTALLER or TWEAKING PROGRAM SHOULD NEED.
          Lerianis
          • MOSTLY true, most of the time..

            There are times, however, when it isn't.

            Case in point: Quickbooks versions prior to 2006...

            Back in 2001, Microsoft published a litany of programming practices that said that passing information between modules by way of the registry is a big NO NO.

            Intuit ignored that. Up until Vista was released, their software kept on passing stuff between the modules by way of the system registry (And we wonder why the registry goes FUBAR...)

            So Vista comes along and Microsoft clamped down on those bad practices - like writing willy-nilly to the registry. Suddenly older versions of QB no longer work - even in Administrator mode.

            So, Intuit had to do some major rewrites to their apps to fix the problem.
            Wolfie2K3
        • Yes, wrong again.

          <i>I personally have nothing against Vista itself. It's harder to fix but then I get paid more then.</i><br><br>
          It's no harder to fix for most professionals whose job it is to learn everything about the OSes they work with regularly. Did you think once you learned XP (and it appears it may not have been at a professional level) that would be it and you'd never need to work hard or learn anything new again? That is unbelievable. <br><br>
          Do you even realize apps can be installed using XP compatibility mode? My guess is your camera has an XP driver and you simply don't know how to install an XP driver on vista.
          <br><br>
          Isn't it time people who obviously haven't a clue about Vista or MS products in general stop posting garbage. <br><br>
          xuniL_z
          • hmm

            have you ever thought Vista wasn't harder to fix but the problem might lie somewhere else closer to home?
            DonBurnett