Windows 7 Beta Performance Preview
Since its release, Windows Vista has gotten a fair share of controversy and criticism. The move to a new driver model rendered many legacy hardware products, like printers and scanners, obsolete while the Vista-only DirectX 10 API has never quite lived up to lofty performance expectations. Microsoft has taken the brunt of this criticism and made a pledge to not make the same mistakes with the follow-up to Vista, Windows 7. They are attempting to take what worked with Vista and drop what didnít, as they make overall system enhancements that range from performance to interface usability. Today we are going to take a closer look at the performance of Windows 7 to see if it compares to the venerable XP or more along the lines of Vista.
Windows 7 is still in the early beta stages, so we urge our readers to keep this in mind when looking at the numbers. Drivers are being updated pretty frequently, so there is a lot of room left for improvement between now and when Microsoft finally releases 7 down the road. For instance, during our week long testing period, we were notified via Windows Update of 2 separate ATI driver releases. Microsoft hasnít officially announced when 7 will be released, but rumors range from Q4 2009 to early 2010. It appears that Microsoft is attempting to get 7 into the market as soon as possible, as they try to repair their reputation after the lukewarm reception of Windows Vista.
Windows Vista was to be a huge leap in performance and security, with an improved 64-bit infrastructure over WinXP x64 and increased stability due to its revamped driver model. Microsoft, after receiving large amounts of criticism for the vulnerability of XP to worms and Trojans, implemented a number of features designed to prevent the execution of unwanted code. User account control was the biggest addition that aimed to prevent inexperienced users from running malicious programs without warning. Windows Defender and Windows Firewall were enhanced to create an impenetrable wall of security that strived to prevent global infections, such as the Blaster virus that infected a huge install base of XP machines.
Unfortunately, Vista did not turn out the way Microsoft had originally envisioned. Native audio acceleration was gone due to the removal of kernel mode driver support, and hardware that had worked under XP was now useless as manufacturers were unwilling or unable to provide updated drivers.
The UAC constantly queried the user for almost every little system change and the Windows Firewall blocked both the good and bad applications, creating a nightmare for ISPís attempting to diagnose connection issues. Above all else however, the supposed performance improvements that were meant to be unleashed with DirectX 10 didnít initially materialize; in fact users instead were left with systems that underperformed comparable configurations running Windows XP. To top it off, the graphical enhancements from DirectX 10 were so subtle, they hardly offset the performance hit that occurred when running with it enabled.
Now Microsoft has unleashed the public beta of Windows 7 on to the market, so letís get right into the numbers and see where it stands at this early stage.