Posts Tagged ‘Windows 7 Performance’

Fast First Impressions of Windows 7 Gold

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

I’ve got to eat a little crow on this one. When Windows 7 RC1 came out, I began to detect a trend I’ve seen with many other Windows development cycles — the layering on of bloat. RC1 was noticeably slower to me on several machines. And let’s be honest, Windows 7 is going to be slower than XP on XP-era hardware. I began to suspect that come shipping time, Windows 7 Gold would be even slower than RC1.

Admittedly, I’ve been running Windows 7 Gold in the best-case scenario: I clean installed it on a late Vista-era 64-bit machine with plenty of processing power, 4GB of RAM, and very good video. I’ve been using it since a couple days after RTM. And here it is: Windows 7 Gold is pretty sweet. It’s fast, it’s well thought out, there are lots of nice touches. It’s too early to call this, but I think it’s going to be very reliable too, like XP has been.

Allow me a little digression that will get back to why I like Windows 7 in the end. My first and primary Win 7 test machine was set up as a dual-boot with 64-bit Vista Home Premium. I used Paragon Software’s Partition Manager 9 to repartition the drive to make space to dual-boot Windows 7 beta and RC1, wiping the prerelease code between each install. When Win7 RTMed, I went through the same process, but decided to give Win 7 a bit more partition space. Partition Manager 10 was out (with improved 64-bit support), so I ran that instead to change the partition size. I was able to install Windows 7 without issue, but within a couple days the Vista partition headed south. And nothing I did could resurrect it. And then when I went to reinstate my Acronis True Image Home backup of the Vista partition stored on an external USB drive, that too was corrupt.

My supposition: Even though Partition Manager 9 was supposed to support 64-bit, it could only do so from its boot disk. I think the problems dated back to the original partitioning. Partition Manager 10’s boot disk can’t do full-fledged partitioning any longer, either. And that was the last straw for me. I did some research and switched to Chengdu Yiwo’s Easeus Partition Master Professional edition, which set me back $31.96. Even though Easeus doesn’t technically support Windows 7, my Vista partition was gone by then. The Easeus support forums showed that many people had used it successfully with Windows 7. I didn’t have much to lose. So I installed it in Windows 7 and it worked like a charm. I formatted the Vista partition just for grins and then deleted it and resized the Win 7 partition so that it took up all available space. (Side note: Partition Magic users will be *very* familiar with Easeus Partition Master’s UI.)

The repartitioning effectively transformed Windows 7 from Drive F: to Drive C:. Plus there was no boot manager, since it had previously resided on the Vista partition. And this is what the whole exercise was for: I wanted to see how Windows 7 would handle this situation. It wouldn’t boot on its own, of course. But when I inserted the Windows 7 Gold disc and let it do its thing, the Repair facility is especially well crafted and understandable (not that Vista’s was vastly different). It fixed the problem without even a glitch.

Something like that gives you great confidence in your OS. In all regards, Windows 7 has left a favorable impression on me. If Vista had been Windows 7, who knows, I might not be typing this on a Mac right now. That’s how good Windows 7 is.

But I don’t want to leave a false impression. That horse really has left the barn. There’s no contest for me between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard. It’s Snow Leopard. But Windows 7 is the most impressive OS Microsoft has ever produced.

Fast! Win7 RC1 in 32-bits on 2006 XP Hardware

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

A quick update to my ongoing Windows 7 RC1 performance assessment: It’s faster than Beta 1. It’s not just faster on high-end Vista hardware in 64-bits. I installed the 32-bit version of RC1 on my 64-bit hardware: Fast! More importantly, I installed Win7 RC1 on my circa-2006 Dell Inspiron notebook with a 2.0GHz Core Duo and 2GB of RAM. Again, it was fast. Not as fast as XP, but noticeably faster than Win7 Beta 1. Vista runs only so-so on this particular piece of older hardware.

I have a Lenovo 2.0 GHz Core Duo that’s even slower than the Dell. I’ve had Vista on that machine both in beta and in the final version since it shipped. That’s my next Win7 victim.
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Surprise, Surprise: PC World Agrees on Win7 Performance

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Since Windows 7 Beta 1, I’ve written several times right here in this blog that Windows 7 is only marginally faster than Windows Vista. Finally, some independent lab-based testing from PC World that supports me on that point:

Speed Test: Windows 7 May Not Be Much Faster than Vista – PC World

— Scot

Windows 7 RC1 Review: A Real-World Analysis

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

I’ve been working with the Windows 7 RC1 (release candidate 1) for about a week and a half now. Barring unforeseen bugs, I doubt at this point that Microsoft is more than four months away from the release of Windows 7.

Not based on any information from the software giant, my bet is that Microsoft will release to manufacturing (RTM) some time in August. Microsoft is going to want to prime the pumps as early as possible for the holiday season this year. The earlier it ships, the more time it gives OEM PC makers to put together an array of Windows 7 models that are well designed for the new operating system.
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Testing 64-bit Vista and Windows 7

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

This story was significantly updated with added detail during the first 2.5 weeks after it was launched. Those additions did not fundamentally change the thrust of any of the original points I made. They were aimed at clarity, added support for points made, and the addition of new details as I’ve continued to use Windows 7 Beta 1.

If you’ve been reading Scot’s Newsletter of late, you’re probably aware that I’ve been giving Windows 7 a close look. Several of my stories have been about Windows 7 performance. Since I’ve been more critical than most on that point — using what I consider to be typical hardware for Windows XP users (the vast majority of Windows users) — I decided that I needed to approach the question of Windows 7 performance from a different perspective.
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Microsoft: MinWin and Performance Changes in Windows 7

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

In following up my earlier post, More About Windows 7 Performance, I asked Microsoft this question last weekend:

Have there been memory footprint, background services refinement or elimination, or other performance/reliability changes made to the core of the OS that is Windows 7? We’ve been told in the past that the kernel has not been changed from Vista. But Windows 7 is supposed to run properly and well on netbooks. And reviewers all over are saying that Windows 7 is faster. The enterprise guide (online) says that performance is a key tenet for Windows 7. What has been changed in Windows 7 that makes it faster, more reliable, or gives it a smaller memory footprint?

I also asked whether Windows 7 contains “MinWin,” the somewhat romanticized slimmer, componentized version of the Windows kernel, an effort that began with the Windows 2003 Server product. Speculation about the inclusion of MinWin in Windows 7 was fueled by stories like this one in Softpedia.

Microsoft, through its PR agency, released the following brief statement to me as its only meaningful response. The company is gathering information for the press about Windows 7 technical changes and is not prepared to give me an interview on that subject yet. Redmond offered this basic statement about MinWin and the notion of major kernel redevelopment for Windows 7, for now:

“MinWin isn’t anything formal. It isn’t even necessarily a thing as much as it is a design tactic. It is an informal word describing the goal to increase the componentization of the OS through combining common binaries within the core of the OS. This is something that was first mentioned in 2003 and the idea has evolved to present day. So the basic answer is no, Microsoft didn’t create a new kernel for Windows 7. Microsoft is refining the kernel architecture and componentization model introduced in Windows Vista. This means our ongoing efforts that started with Windows Vista will increase the independence of individual components without changing the functionality of those components. This makes it possible for Microsoft to make future changes to specific components more quickly than before because the effects of those changes will be better isolated. These changes will increase engineering agility, and keep the user experience intact without application-compatibility issues.”

Here’s how I read this statement: Microsoft’s biggest concern in saying that Windows 7 has a revamped kernel is that enterprises will be concerned about software-compat and even possibly device-driver issues. That was one of the big enterprise sticking points for Vista. The overriding marketing message from Microsoft has to be that Windows 7 will be compatible with software and drivers that run well on Vista. The “design tactic” that MinWin describes is a pretty major revision to the Vista kernel. I applaud the design direction, though. It makes total sense, and it really might reduce compatibility issues. I also believe that performance may well be improved by this “refining of the kernel architecture” in the final release of Win 7.

What’s more, performance has to be a strong underlying design goal for Windows 7. Code bloat and performance slow-downs have been an essential part of the Vista experience for millions of end users — and that has been a large factor in lackluster Vista sales. The word of mouth hasn’t been good. Microsoft has conceded, internally at least, that it has to make Windows 7 perform more like a sporty car than a four-cylinder pickup truck. It’s the message within the message, but it’s more of a consumer message. As such, Microsoft is probably content with the early performance buzz it’s getting from the public beta. But I suspect we’ll hear a lot more about Win 7 performance as we get closer to the ship date. But I would caution you not to be too sucked in by the gee-whiz “reviews” of Windows 7 we’ve seen to date.