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Is Windows 7 Faster Or Just Smarter? 619

Barence writes "The Windows 7 unveiling garnered largely positive coverage, with many hands-on testers praising it for being faster than Vista. But is it actually? To find out, this blogger ran a suite of benchmarks to see just how much quicker Windows 7 really is — and the results weren't quite what he expected. 'The actual performance gap between Vista and Windows 7 is ... nada. Absolutely nothing. Our Office benchmarks and video encoding tests complete in precisely the same time regardless of which OS is installed. [...] It's tempting to see this as a bit of a con. They've sped up the front end so it feels like you're getting more done, but in terms of real productivity it's no better than Vista."
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Is Windows 7 Faster Or Just Smarter?

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  • Trick Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:43PM (#25705907) Journal

    Is Windows 7 Faster Or Just Smarter?

    I don't like either of those options, how about "just more of the same Microsoft software?"

    I understand the article points out that they went with simply a "more responsive interface" paradigm (Web 2.0/AJAX, anyone?) and probably didn't really fix any serious problems. But at the same time this headline reeks of either marketing or hilarious lawyer type questions. Examples:

    • "Yes or no, has Steve Balmer stopped beating his wife?"
    • "Is Linux Just Awesome or Totally Awesome?"
    • "If I were to tell you the fact that Windows 7 developers dine on human flesh at their desks to start each day anew, how would you react?"
    • "How can you afford not to use Linux?"
    • "Is Internet Explorer 7 slower or just less secure?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes or no, has Steve Balmer stopped beating his wife?

      Yes, I asked her last night -- he stopped around mid-June.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:49PM (#25706017)

        Yes or no, has Steve Balmer stopped beating his wife?

        Yes, I asked her last night -- he stopped around mid-June.

        Please, it's a simple yes or no question. We don't need details or explanations, if the witness would just stick to the facts we could move forward.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by nschubach ( 922175 )

          This is a new world we live in. We have to know more information about it so we can cater a program specifically to you for fairness and equality. If we don't gather specific information about the events, race, sex, sexual preference and hair color of the persons involved, how are we to make sure they get an equal* resolution.

          * equal in used in this context is shorthand for "fair and equal according to the person involved"

          (there goes my Karma...)

        • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @10:59PM (#25715431) Journal

          Yes or no, has Steve Balmer stopped beating his wife?

          Yes, I asked her last night -- he stopped around mid-June.

          Please, it's a simple yes or no question. We don't need details or explanations, if the witness would just stick to the facts we could move forward.

          Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?" said the lawyer. Farmer Joe responded, "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the......." "I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'" Farmer Joe said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..." The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

          By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie." Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her - how are you feeling?"

          I'd give the attribution but I forgot where I found this. Apologies to the author, wherever you are.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Who is June?

        And why did he stop part-way through beating her?

        This is a can of worms!

    • Worse than that. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:51PM (#25706071)

      They don't define "faster" to include the response time of the interface.

      But most users DO include the interface response time in their opinion of which is "faster".

      I think Microsoft made a big mistake with the "fade in" menus. Just turning them off gives the user the impression that you've made their machine "faster". Even though email works at the same speed as before. As does Word. As do their games.

      • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:23PM (#25706747)

        But most users DO include the interface response time in their opinion of which is "faster"

        Indeed, and that's a pet peeve I have with Linux. I use Linux - a lot. Heavily on servers at work (but generally CLI only there), and then at home I have a Linux Mint desktop that I use in addition to my Mac and Windows systems.

        I love the concept of OSS, and for someone who when they were growing up saw a compiler as something that cost hundreds of dollars, the whole concept of having such a nice development environment is just amazing.

        That said, while actually going from point A to point B probably isn't any slower, the interface just makes the system feel draggy. All the little pauses and and graphical oddities when moving a window around just take their toll, but the actual OS is fine (as obvious when I try to do something like say, compress video or something, where the Linux system holds it's own quite nicely).

        Hopefully Wayland will take off and help in that regard. Mac OS X has shown what a slick, responsive UI can do for a Unix-like backend. It just sucks that it's tied down to only a subset of available hardware.

        • Re:Worse than that. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Paradigm_Complex ( 968558 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:00PM (#25707495)
          Err... which Window Manager are you using? One of Linux's greatest strengths is it's plethora of options. If your running compiz-fusion on top of gnome, then yes there may be some slow down. Try something like openbox and then try to tell me with a straight face that the interface isn't responsive.
          • Re:Worse than that. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:19PM (#25707803)

            I'm using Gnome with Metacity. The problem isn't the window manager itself though. That effects the general menu system and window decorations and such. For instance just opening/closing tabs in Firefox (an operation independent of your window manager) feels much slower in Linux because you hit close and there's a bit of "clunky" period for a fraction of a second where you see everything happen that you shouldn't. The tab lingers for a brief instant after pressing the button, then disappears, the tab listing blinks out for a split second and updates, and the window content blinks quickly and then updates again. In Windows or Mac the same operation is much more seamless. I hit close, and everything instantly appears right. While there probably isn't much appreciable time difference involved between the start and finish of the operation, there's a clunkiness that gives the appearance of a slower system.

            BTW, I've used fast window managers before. My favorite used to be WindowMaker which I programmed in heavily. However, I've gotten past that phase. My computer is many times faster, and Windows and Mac give me a fairly responsive UI with all the menus and such of a modern system. Shaving off that functionality (which I do want) to supposedly regain performance that I'd already have with another platform isn't a viable option.

            • Re:Worse than that. (Score:5, Informative)

              by kcbanner ( 929309 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @04:21PM (#25710211) Homepage Journal
              I also notice this problem with Firefox under linux. One way that I partially resolved it was with changing my gtk theme. Change to one that uses the generic gtk engine...not a fancy one like clearlooks or murrine or something. Some gtk engines are coded badly and lag a bit. Although it doesn't completely resolve the issue it speeds it up a bit...I have always wonder why firefox seems slower on linux than windows...I thought it was just me being crazy, but I guess not.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dannys42 ( 61725 )

          Unfortunately, in some cases, UI responsiveness directly affects actual performance.

          I was surprised to discover one day that running builds with lots of compiler output in a gnome-terminal (I believe KDE's terminal was the same) was significantly slower than running it in a text console. (Actually it was a Windows friend who was pointing out one of the deficiencies in Linux, but that's another story).

          Anyway, turns out xterm is still probably one of the best X terminal programs out there, especially in term

          • Re:Worse than that. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:23PM (#25707861)

            You're very right there. I always use xterm or rxvt (which is also very fast) for my terminal windows. Konsole and the Gnome Terminal are both much, much slower.

            As a side note though, it's the screen updates that kill your performance. I get similar problems when compiling over an SSH session where network latency limits how much can be written out at a time. My little fix there is to simply redirect the output to /dev/null. That way the regular text doesn't have to be sent back (speeding up the process), but error text (which is written to a different buffer) is still shown. emerge --sync on my Gentoo boxes runs noticeably faster when doing this.

            • Re:Worse than that. (Score:4, Informative)

              by Erikderzweite ( 1146485 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:48PM (#25708453)

              man screen, it does wonders on ssh especially on a slow line.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by dannys42 ( 61725 )

              Oh you're right it was rxvt not xterm that was indeed the fastest. Here's some simple performance numbers I got:

              yes | dd of=/tmp/y.txt bs=1024 count=10240
              10485760 bytes (10 MB) copied, 0.271632 seconds, 38.6 MB/s

              (for calibration purposes)
              dd if=/tmp/y.txt of=/dev/null
              10485760 bytes (10 MB) copied, 0.0366388 seconds, 286 MB/s

              gnome-terminal: dd if=/tmp/y.txt
              10485760 bytes (10 MB) copied, 22.3385 seconds, 469 kB/s

              xterm (jump): dd if=/tmp/y.txt
              10485760 bytes (10 MB) copied, 57.5998 seconds, 182 kB/s

              konsole: dd

      • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:48PM (#25707283) Homepage

        Can't be too surprised about that - most people are much more concerned about the apparent UI responsiveness than whether they'll shave a few seconds off of a video encode. And given that most people see Vista as very slow and unresponsive, Microsoft would do well to change that perception unless they want to be known for the TWO biggest software disasters in the 21st century.

        • by mR.bRiGhTsId3 ( 1196765 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:19PM (#25707805)
          Realistically though, how could a change in operating system really affect the speed of video encoding, unless the process scheduler is absolutely abysmal (which I'd think it wouldn't be by this point). Since the tasks listed aren't part of vista. As someone who isn't flabbergasted by the concept that a CPU can't crunch numbers faster than itself, this isn't particularly interesting. It just shows that the Windows team is actually optimizing the important parts of the system they have control over.
        • by chazd1 ( 805324 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:47PM (#25708441) Homepage

          Having worked in marketing and well as puely technical roles it is clear as a bell what is going on here.

          When new product uptake isn't up to projections the marketing dept. has a few options. One of the options in its arsenal is to "relaunch". Windows 7 is clearly a "relaunch" of Vista. With all the development time and Money put into Vista don't think for a second that they can develop yet another code base in a fraction of the time. It is the same product with a different name.

          Relaunches are used when there is a perceived problem in the marketplace and the engineering dept.says the product is sound.

      • Re:Worse than that. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:29PM (#25708011) Journal

        I have always stripped out all the "enhancements" except shadows under the fonts on the desktop, and always used "classic" gui for this exact reason. I also configure NO system sounds. It isn't about "faster", it is about "more responsive". My XP looks like 95. As for Vista, never bought it, never will. The wife has it on a laptop with modest amounts of eye candy settings, and I can't stand to use it. The OS is supposed to run applications, it isn't supposed to be k3wL. ~~~~

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gilgongo ( 57446 )

        True story:

        I worked at a place once where they had a bunch of Macs running System 7. People used to complain that they were dog slow, and indeed they were compared to the Win95 boxes we had because, hey, they were about three years older.

        In an effort to at least show willing when asked to "do something" - I'd turn off extensions and stuff in an effort to get them to run a bit better. One day, I turned off the default menu "flashing" on a couple of machines to see if that made any difference. That was the on

    • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:04PM (#25706357)
      Reminds me of the old Amtrak ad: "Passenger safety - fast service... take your pick."
    • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:42PM (#25707145)

      "If I were to tell you the fact that Windows 7 developers dine on human flesh at their desks to start each day anew, how would you react?"

      "That explains everything!"

    • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:44PM (#25707219) Journal

      I understand the article points out that they went with simply a "more responsive interface" paradigm (Web 2.0/AJAX, anyone?) and probably didn't really fix any serious problems.

      I can't believe that no one here has made the obvious connection yet: Microsoft is copying yet another Mac OS feature: *TEH SNAPPY* []!!!

  • by should_be_linear ( 779431 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:46PM (#25705943)
    Can I play mp3 *and* copy files on Windows 7 ? I have old Quad-Core system only.
    • by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:06PM (#25707573) Homepage

      Depends, that capability will only work in 5 different versions of Windows 7:

      Windows 7: Super Extreme Edition
      Windows 7: Slightly Extreme Edition
      Windows 7: Spectacular Edition
      Windows 7: Excellence Edition
      Windows 7: Better Than Average Edition

  • Productivity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:47PM (#25705965)

    The productivity would actually increase if the front end speed increased since it would allow the user to interact faster etc. The other tests such as encoding etc are really CPU and application dependent and not very much OS dependent, so it's not really a fair test.

    • Re:Productivity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:54PM (#25706169) Homepage

      Exactly what I was thinking - For most Windows users, the user is a major bottle-neck. By simply responding more quickly to them and allowing them some time to react (even if the system isn't fully ready to react to their next input), you can certainly improve performance. While there are a lot of users that do care about encoding time and Office benchmarks, most users just want IE and Outlook to let them start typing quickly so that they can forward on the latest news regarding Bill Gates paying people for testing their new e-mail system or letting their voice be heard by voting on "Am I Hot or Not?"

    • Re:Productivity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BlowHole666 ( 1152399 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:00PM (#25706283)

      The productivity would actually increase if the front end speed increased since it would allow the user to interact faster etc. The other tests such as encoding etc are really CPU and application dependent and not very much OS dependent, so it's not really a fair test.

      Umm encoding is not all CPU and application dependent. Maybe you forgot what an OS does. It schedules when a program executes, where it is located in memory etc. So if Vista puts a program in different places in memory rather then linear or it has a different caching model then windows 7, the execution time will be different. Also if vista does not let the program execute as much as windows 7 the execution time will be different.

      • Re:Productivity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:58PM (#25707459) Homepage

        This is very true, but a slow UI is what most people will complain about. If someone fires up handbrake, sees two passes of h264 encoding with 30min+ remaining per pass (and that's what I see on my 8-core/10GB system, so most people will be looking at 2-4x that), they'll put that down to it being a slow application. If they go to click a menu item in Handbrake and there's a perceptible delay, they'll blame the OS.

        Is either bit of blame entirely fair or correctly placed? Nope. But that won't stop 99% of computer users.

    • Re:Productivity (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:09PM (#25706467)

      I agree. I would like to see the same tests run on XP and see how much of an improvement it offers. I would imagine some, but not a whole lot.

      I installed a leaked copy of Windows 7 on a test box and the UI is definately more responsive...not a huge difference but noticable. The dwm.exe (Dreaded Windows Manager, is what I call it) for the UI uses a hell of a lot less memory than it did before. But aside from that, some minor dialog box changes, it just seems like Vista to me. Which is fine, I haven't had any real issues with Vista in the last year now that stable hardware drivers exist for pretty much everything. Granted I don't try to run it on crap systems with less than 2GB of RAM, either. Although my 7 test box only has 1GB of RAM.

      I'm waiting for a version with the new taskbar to come out, to see if it's actually worth a squat or not. Oh, they did put the fancy ribbon UI on paint, wordpad, etc. Updated calculator, too. I guess they figured it was time to update them since they remained pretty much the same since 3.1....

      • The specs you casually throw out are just astounding.
        Granted I don't try to run it on crap systems
        To use Dell as the brand, you mean I can't run it on a Dimension/Vostro?? I've GOT to spec Precision boxes?

        with less than 2GB of RAM, either.
        Granted 64-bit is *the* future, WTF is consuming all those resources? I'd guess it's some DRM/crypto nightmare, but I don't know.

        Although my 7 test box only has 1GB of RAM.
        Only? I've got a Thinkpad T42 running Debian Lenny and KDE4 will ALL of the eye candy on 512MB R

    • by IdahoEv ( 195056 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:22PM (#25706731) Homepage

      If they've sped up the front end consistently, then I would be very happy.

      My primary complaint with Vista is how long UI operations take. Opening windows, dragging them around, launching applications etc. all seem to take place in something approximating geologic time.

      Once I have a high-performance app open (say a game), the game itself runs pretty quickly. It's the getting there that's a problem.

    • Re:Productivity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:39PM (#25707093) Homepage

      Ok, in that way then Windows 2000 is 100 times more productive than Windows 7.

      They will impress me when they get the responsiveness of Windows 2000 on a 2 core modern machine. It's freaking lightning fast.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darinbob ( 1142669 )

      A fair test would exercise the paging and memory system more. Maybe some interprocess communication. Such as having several active applications running, foreground and background, and seeing how fast they get their job done or you can switch between them. Get a long running compiler build in the background (Visual Studio for that mix of computation and visual fluff and memory bloat) and Word in the foreground, Firefox, an Excel spreadsheet, Outlook, Matlab, etc.

  • Smarter not harder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Narpak ( 961733 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:47PM (#25705967)
    To quote the pointy haired boss "Work smarter not harder".

    Personally I'll stick with Homer Simpson's motto: "If something is hard to do, then it is not worth doing." Which is my rule regarding installing new Microsoft Operating Systems.

    Just to throw out one more gem; "If it isn't broken it doesn't have enough features yet." Which seems to be Microsoft's golden rule.
  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:48PM (#25706007) Journal

    Video encoding is a terrible metric for "productivity" since it's something the computer can do on it's on while you go get tea. It's pretty much CPU and memory bound. The underlying OS shouldn't be doing anything but getting out of the way.

    But UI "tricks" are an improvement. If find it easier to start your video encoder, or can do other resource-light things while the video encoder is running at a small cost to the actual encoding speed, then you're making better use of your meat co-processor. Which really is a "productivity" gain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      Video encoding is a terrible metric for "productivity"

      Unless you are encoding it live, straight from the camera.

    • AGREED! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MadCow42 ( 243108 )

      For the average user, a lot of time is wasted waiting for the UI, or being afraid or unable to do other tasks while something "heavy" is going on (like reading email, surfing, etc.).

      If the system still has the same horsepower, but I'm better able to actually multi-task without slogging through a molasses interface, then it's a huge improvement.

      It's just not worth trying to type an email sometimes when it takes 6 seconds to update the UI after each keypress... maybe doing so will slow down your build in the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Video encoding is a bad metric for "productivity" but it is a
      very good means to test how well a system will continue to
      respond under high load. If transcoding craters your system
      then that's a problem. This particular task might not represent
      a "productive" part of your normal workload but it's probably
      a good stand-in for something that is.

      Personally, I like the fact that I can keep my system completely
      busy and not be bothered by it. If I have my own "cloud" at home
      this means that all machines on the home net

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cnettel ( 836611 )
        But the tests didn't consider context-switching time, I/O response time or anything like that during the encoding. They just ran the test and timed it, so you have no idea of differences in general responsiveness of the systems while doing this. One would even expect a slight tendency of lower single-task performance at the cost of e.g. keeping more general data in the file system cache to remain responsive at the very moment the user decides to do something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vjmurphy ( 190266 )

      "..then you're making better use of your meat co-processor..."

      There's a joke in there, but I'm not touching it.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:49PM (#25706015) Homepage

    I was under the impression that W7 would have a modified kernel , but if it is nothing more than the Vista kernel warmed over with the same core libraries then nothing much will change so I guess no surprise there.

    As is the way with MS , they update all the eye candy first to get the drooling masses interested , then they get down to the core stuff where it really matters later on - ie the exact opposite way round to the way it should be done.

    • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:59PM (#25706269) Journal

      they update all the eye candy first to get the drooling masses interested

      Frankly, I don't believe the drooling masses exist. The only people I see pretending to be drooling over MS's second-rate eye candy are the pundits that they're bribing with cash and free equipment, and they really don't sound convincing.


    • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:15PM (#25706589)

      The lipstick on a pig aphorism comes to mind.

      W7 is the Vista that Vista could have been. But that may be damning with faint praise.

      The sheer obesity of Vista could easily have been improved upon. Somewhere, there is a coder army taking instructions from an idiot. They need to find that idiot and fire that person. Even Gates was better at direction.

  • by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) * on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:50PM (#25706053) Homepage Journal


    For comparison, the PC Pro benchmarks complete around 22% more quickly on XP than on Vista, as detailed in my feature "Memory Laid Bare" (issue 169, p122).


    Wouldn't suppose they'll have an "LTS" version of XP, supporting it past the already-stated cutoff....

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:51PM (#25706059) Homepage

    I really wouldn't expect significantly different scores for something like an office suite or media encoding. Once the OS gives the process all the memory and CPU time it needs, that's basically it. Maybe for games where there could be significant differences in the DirectX flow, but not in general.

    But as the article notes, throughput isn't everything. The "up front" speed and how long it takes for a button push to result in action is equally important if not more so. The responsiveness of applications is something an OS can have a significant impact on, and is probably the most important thing for making the computer -feel- fast, and thus giving a better user experience. Hell I've long considered responsiveness to be justification enough for dual-core processors even when a user isn't multi-tasking or running multi-threading apps. So if it's a good enough reason to get a whole second core, it's a good enough reason for an OS upgrade.

    It does sound kinda cagey that they're making this one of the main reasons to get 7, rather than improving Vista. But whatever, it's all academic to me.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:51PM (#25706081)

    I'm no fan of Windows. But improving UI responsiveness, does greatly improve user throughput when using a system - partly because the user can do what they need to do more quickly, but also because there are fewer jarring moments where you are brought out of the process of creation to have to wait on the computer to finish something. These small interruptions can add up to a big loss of focus over a day.

  • I don't understand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:52PM (#25706091) Homepage Journal

    If it SEEMS faster, what does it matter what the actual internal speed is? As long as it passes the "God damned piece of shit just give me my web page!" test (as long as you don't say that it's ok) why does a benchmark matter?

    I'd rather have a slow app that felt fast than a fast app that felt slow. Our work connection is slug-slow, the annoyance is much more of a productivity drain than the actual (lack of) speed.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:52PM (#25706095)
    I dunno about most of you, but I do consider a nippier interface to be an improvement in productivity. For the vast majority of Windows users, the thing they want to see improved is those moments lost "when they click a button and nothing seems to happen", as the article author puts it. That is time that has been taken from me. If I get those moments back, and the performance of the trivial CPU tasks involved in actually reading and writing files are kept the same, then yes, my productivity has improved.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 )
      Not just those moments... but the moments following it that involve Ctrl-Alt-Del and a lot of cursing at your machine.
  • by CaptainNerdCave ( 982411 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:53PM (#25706131)

    considering the biggest complaints that users have about vista is that it is SO SLOW (read: responds slowly), i think microsoft may be going in the right direction (if i understand their changes correctly).

    the biggest issues with vista haven't been it's performance in crunching numbers, the problems have related to how fast it seems to be. which brings up an interesting question, was much work really needed when consumer computers are quickly becoming powerful enough to actually run vista smoothly?

    at the risk of being modded down... i think vista is a good os, with some tweaking. BUT, only if it's the 64bit version, 32bit is crap. furthermore, microsoft has done a great job combining 64 and 32bit functionality, i applaud that

    • Thank OLPC (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      was much work really needed when consumer computers are quickly becoming powerful enough to actually run vista smoothly?

      We can thank Nicholas Negroponte for this. His One Laptop Per Child project inspired the mainstream PC industry to develop similarly low-powered, low-priced subnotebook computers called "netbooks". Windows XP and Ubuntu run better than Windows Vista on the small CPU and small RAM of these computers.

  • A Con! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:53PM (#25706133)

    So let me get this straight: Windows 7 is only faster than Vista. It doesn't manage to also make third party programs written for Vista magically faster as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:53PM (#25706135)

    Since 1995 I've had a chance to play with each beta and RC release of Windows, from 98 to Vista. They always run faster than the final release. I've no idea why.

    Most recently, I played with Vista at the RC stage on a very modest notebook computer (1.6GHz Celeron, 512MB memory) and it ran like a dream. I then switched back to Linux, my personal OS, and then read all the reports upon the release of Vista criticizing it for being slow and cranky.

    Upon buying a new notebook complete with Windows tax, I was able to see that -- sure enough -- Vista (even SP1) was pretty slow.

    I just don't know what microsoft do to their software before boxing it. Maybe they pour molasses into it.

  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:54PM (#25706153) Journal

    They've sped up the front end so it feels like you're getting more done, but in terms of real productivity it's no better than Vista

    I take exception to this. Obviously, if the video encoding tests were written well, there will be little speedup. But if a window environment "feels" faster, you actually DO get more done. There is less frustration in waiting, and you can generally multi-task much easier.

    There was recently a discussion of a faster X server []. Frankly, I get plenty done on the old "slow" X server, but if one feels faster, it will actually eliminate a lot of brainpower consumed by waiting on a context switch.

    There was recently a discussion on a faster Linux boot-up [], which preloaded your configuration as you're typing your password, and had lots of other fast features... But that doesn't actually speed up Linux, in terms of encoding video. It just makes it "feel" faster.

    I like OSS, but I see lots of bad tags being made. Unfair comparisons are simply unfair comparisons. You can't hail a nice feature in one OS, and discount exactly the same feature on a different OS. Without being hypocritical, anyway.

  • Productivity. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:55PM (#25706187) Homepage Journal

    Okay here is the big question.
    Do many users need a faster PC?
    On a clean Windows box when are you waiting on the computer?
    I am not talking about games, scientist, or people using CAD/CAM.
    I am talking about the average user?
    Now when you are waiting how often is it an IO bottle neck?
    Waiting for a program to start, waiting for a file to download or some other function like that.
    The real answer is that for the most part PCs are quick enough.
    Video encoding isn't something that the average users does yet. It will be in the future but right now not so much.

    • Re:Productivity. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:17PM (#25706633) Journal

      You're right. However, you're missing an important point: Hardware and software vendors implicitly collude to create a continuous captive market demand for their products.

      Windows version "x" won't run acceptably on anything less than a 2GHz processor with 4GB RAM--time to upgrade your computer!
      Video card "y" only has drivers available for Vista--time to upgrade your OS!
      Support for application "z" has been dropped, and the new version requires more RAM and Windows 7--time to upgrade everything!!!

      Honestly, find a modern computer which can run Windows 2000, and you'll have a blazing fast machine. XP isn't _much_ slower, and has the advantage of newer device support.

      Strictly speaking, an OS shouldn't have "features" from the user's point of view. Gluing a GUI to the OS was arguably Microsoft's first act of truly evil genius. Same thing with the web browser. THESE ARE NOT OPERATING SYSTEM FUNCTIONS, but they help increase the hardware requirements (and the hardware requirement delta between versions), and hence sell hardware, which sells software, which sells...

      In a just world, Microsoft would have taken the code base for Windows 2000, added support for 64-bit multicore processors, newer hardware and so forth, tweaked the UI a bit (XP has some clear advantages--and some clear disadvantages), and LEFT THE REST ALONE! Most of the serious code changes between versions have been for no reason except adding "features" (i.e. stupid crutches and applications), which slow things down.

      But hey--it's all about marketing, sales, and profits. That's the reality of the industry.

      *and maybe explicitly--who knows what goes on behind closed doors?

  • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:59PM (#25706257)

    They've sped up the front end so it feels like you're getting more done, but in terms of real productivity it's no better than Vista

    Improving the front end is overdue and welcome.

    Under Windows 2000/XP (have not touched Vista yet) I have often wondered why the Windows Explorer takes ages to show a directory, even if the actual content at the displayed directory level is only a few dozen elements. Maybe it scans all subdirectories for whatever arcane reason?

    I strongly suspect there is a lot that can be optimized there, and if Windows 7 finally got around to it, this would be a good thing.

  • Progress, right? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsvk ( 624784 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:59PM (#25706267)

    If the UI is now snappier and more responsive so that the user feels more happy with his user experience, isn't that still good progress even if in reality the speedup is only subjective? Everything that makes the user more content using the product is good, right?

  • Of course a snappy UI is a huge deal. Users spend a lot of time navigating before they actually run anything. And, keeping the UI snappy even when the CPU is under heavy load is an especially important user experience requirement.

    There's nothing illegitimate or sneaky about optimizing the hardware to better serve the user.

  • by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:06PM (#25706399)

    That would cut MS any kind of slack. I hate their ugly guts (and boy, all guts are ugly, but theirs...: just imagine winnt's kernel code).

    That being said, if the thing is faster in the iface, its a faster experience and that is that.

    Those are seconds saved.

    Its just stupid to hit them for doing something better, especially if you see what they are coming from: i mean, it cant be that hard to make something feel better than, for christ sakes, VISTA.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:12PM (#25706535)

    One of the problems with Vista was hardware upgrades. Every new cycle of Windows requires some hardware upgrades for the new version. Unfortunately for MS, the 5 year gap between XP and Vista hurt them. Combined with MS not defining the real requirements of Vista meant that most people trying to upgrade their 5 year old machine would end up in disaster.

    These are MS recommended hardware for Vista Ultimate/Business:

    • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
    • 1 GB of system memory
    • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
    • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with

    Compared to XP Pro requirements:

    • PC with 300 megahertz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system);* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
    • 128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
    • 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space*
    • Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor

    Now both requirements are really inadequate to use the OS fully. The difference is with only 3 years between 98/XP, it was easy for users to upgrade their CPU, motherboards, video cards without much infrastructure changes. For the 98/XP upgrade it was only 3 years and most users only needed more RAM. If users did require hardware upgrades (CPU, video card), these were readily available. Need a faster Pentium/Athlon in 2001? Go down to BestBuy. The 5 year gap between XP and Vista meant that some hardware upgrades were not easy or even possible. Need a faster Pentium/Athlon in 2007? They don't make them anymore. Ebay is your only real source and even if you upgrade to the fastest one, your system will be slow.

  • Joke? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:26PM (#25706831)

    Of course video encoding and the same old office build won't be affected by the OS.

    What people want to be faster is booting up, logging in, connecting to networks, detecting hardware and installing drivers, and running those damn .msi installers.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:31PM (#25706953) Homepage Journal
    The reason Windows 7 is getting good reviews is because Microsoft is bribing reviewers with free high-end laptops. [] If a software company handed you a $2,000 computer, wouldn't you have a few nice things to say about the operating system preloaded on it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume ( 732728 )
      Y'know, having briefly been part of the freebie-grabbing online reviewing circuit, I've got to say that it just does not matter. Serious journos are so saturated in free tat that it becomes utterly meaningless, while the half-rate bloggers running home excited at their free laptop are unlikely to make much of a PR impact anyway. Ultimately free stuff just devalues the product in the reviewer's mind. It's the all-expenses-paid promo junkets that worry me more.
  • by AnalPerfume ( 1356177 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:30PM (#25708041)
    They'd fix Windows so it didn't need a reboot after every freakin' update. Even if you have a fast boot time (which Windows does not even come close to either) it still leaves workers twiddling their thumbs while it does it's thang. It makes it even more insulting when you keep getting the annoying reminders which eventually have the "reboot later" option greyed out, giving you no choice but to stop what you're doing for a few minutes. Even then, what happens if that latest "critical update to IE" breaks a driver and your system won't boot?
  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @02:34PM (#25708117) Homepage

    Only the "front end", not the programs run under it?
    You mean, Windows 7 is only faster as an Operating System, and doesn't magically make arbitrary applications run any faster!?!? OUTRAGE!!

    How exactly is changing operating systems supposed to improve video encoding performance?

    Yes, I did RTFA. I see that their tests ran faster on XP. WTF?

  • Dialogues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday November 10, 2008 @03:18PM (#25709037) Journal

    Q: How do you like how much faster the DRM is in Windows 7?

    A: I don't know because I'll never use another OS that has DRM built in.

  • by SirusTV ( 1001138 ) on Monday November 10, 2008 @04:44PM (#25710565)
    I have been using Windows 7 for 6 days. I hated vista after the second day of using it (in beta) Gave it another shot a month after it came out (still hated it), tried after sp1 (still hated it). So when I went to try Win 7 I was really hoping I wasn't going to hate it, and I didn't ... for about 3 maybe 3.5 days. It was so much faster, full motion thumbnails in the taskbar even if the app was a movie or 3d game (imagine browsing around the intarwebs with WoW in the background and not worrying to check back to the window every 30 seconds to make sure you haven't died. Then it happened. It would often lag while there wasn't anything really running, the hard drive would chug non stop as if it was defraging (doesn't stop unless you restart). Media center wouldn't work with my 360 (wtf MS?). I was often left wondering what in the world my computer was doing and why it wasn't doing only the things I wanted it to do. Finally about 30 minutes ago it happened. I rebooted after installing andlinux and I got a black screen of no boot death. I'll be going back to a custom iso of Winxp SP3 thank you very much.

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