Windows XP vs. Vista: The Benchmark Rundown

Our Windows Vista coverage began with a hands-on diary by MobilityGuru's Barry Gerber, followed by an assessment of gameplay under Windows Vista by graphics presidente Darren Polkowski, as well as a complete feature rundown of Vista. Barry took the new operating system and its look & feel with a grain of salt, while Darren was disappointed because OpenGL support was dropped along the way, meaning that Windows Vista currently offers horrible performance for graphics applications utilizing the Open Graphics Library.

We are sure that mainstream users will appreciate the improved usability of Windows Vista, and the average office/multimedia user will likely never notice the lack of OpenGL. However, a chapter on the overall performance of Windows Vista requires more dedication. In particular, two things require an in-depth analysis:

Basic Windows Vista Performance
How does Windows Vista perform compared to Windows XP? Will applications execute equally quickly, or will they even run slower due to the new features and the AeroGlass interface? Windows Vista Performance Enhancements
With SuperFetch and ReadyBoost, Windows Vista introduces two features to make use of today's technology in order to improve the user experience. This means that more application data should be actively cached into all available memory (SuperFetch), whether that is physical RAM or a USB Flash memory device (ReadyBoost). Microsoft's goal was to create balanced performance by removing delays in everyday work.

This article deals with basic application execution under Windows Vista Enterprise, which is representative of the other editions. We put together a high-end test system and performed a comprehensive benchmark session both with Windows XP Professional and with Windows Vista Enterprise to see if there are differences. And indeed, we found that there are some...

Software And Vista

Although the main Windows Vista core has undergone lot of modifications, many of your applications will work with Vista. There is, however, no guarantee. You should definitely try any essential software on Windows before you upgrade.

Process scheduling and thread pooling have been improved in Vista; a deadlock protection mechanism and hardware partitioning for virtualization support were added, together with many more features.

We tried lots of different programs under Windows Vista Enterprise, and came up with a list of software that definitely works.

Call of Duty 2 Far Cry F.E.A.R. Unreal Tournament 2004
Adobe Acrobat 8 Adobe Photoshop CS2 Autodesk 3DSMax 8.0 AutoGK 2.4 Hamachi KeePass 1.06 LAME MP3 Encoder MainConcept H.264 Encoder Miranda Messager 0.5.1 Microsoft Office 2003 Microsoft Office System 2007 Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Thunderbird Nokia PC Suite Ogg Vorbis 1.1.2 OpenOffice 2.1 Picasa 2 Putty Skype 2.5.x and 3.0 SmartFTP 2.0 Sungard Adaptive Credit Risk Calculation 3.0 SonyEricsson PC Suite 1.30.82 SQLyog 5.22 Symantec AntiVirus UltraEdit 32 12.10 WinRAR 3.70 XviD 1.2.0
3DMark 06 Cinebench PCMark05 Pro SiSoft Sandra 2007 SPECviewperf 9.03

In other cases there were some issues.

We found Vista updates for the Futuremark benchmark programs 3DMark and PCMark, as well as the popular data compression tool WinRAR. Lots of video-related software such as DivX could no longer be installed; new versions are required. The popular audio player WinAMP 5.32 throws up an error at startup, yet it works properly. Quake IV can still be executed, but the installation program did not work. Applications that run their own memory management won't benefit from Vista's SuperFetch function. For example, Adobe Photoshop takes care of creating a temporary work file every time it launches - Vista has no access to this process and cannot speed it up.

There are some types of software that you should only use if they have been specifically designed for Windows Vista: firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software needs to be Vista-Ready.

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