“Linux, you have a go” – Microsoft

I strongly recommend against a move to Vista. It does not seem to be a very popular move today and there is a possibility of Linux finally gaining ground, but only if it becomes easier\better than Windows XP to use. Unfortunately, Vista seems to be a major step BACK. Microsoft surely is losing ground with the things on the anvil and it is possibly in the best interest, to avoid it – at least for some time. We shall see how things unfold. This is an opportunity for any Linux distribution to come and fill the void created by Vista. It CAN be a very natural move from XP to Linux, but, we shall have to wait and see. Vista is not ready\usable, for sure, until at least the first service pack is released and at that time, things will have to be reevaluated. For starters, Vista does not come to par with Windows XP on a number of benchmarks, as shown by the following reviews’ conclusions:

Windows Vista Performance Guide(Anandtech)

Vista vs. XP

Among those that won’t become switchers, Microsoft’s own worst enemy is itself, as it needs to prove that Vista is a worthwhile upgrade to XP when XP is already so refined. For many users in the consumer space, Vista is simply a version of Windows where (to borrow a quote from Field of Dreams) “If you build it, they will come.” These people will get Vista on their new computers and they’ll like it because it is good, but having never had the chance to decide if they didn’t want it.

For everyone else who does get a choice, more often than not we believe the choice will be Vista. As we’ve stated before it’s not perfect, but it’s quite good. There are some very good reasons not to use it in some cases (system requirements, compatibility, and OpenGL performance), but for those machines that the above do not apply to, there are numerous useful features in Vista that warrant an upgrade if you find that you’re the kind of person that will use them. Vista’s SuperFetch and Search technology are both reasons enough to migrate from XP, as they easily improve productivity and performance.

Vista is a worthy upgrade and an even better choice as an operating system for a new computer. At the same time there’s still ample room to grow; hopefully we’ll have even fewer complaints once Service Pack 1 is released later this year. Hopefully Microsoft will spend some time improving features as opposed to simply bug fixing, though, as right now some of the design decisions still need work.

Windows XP vs. Vista: The Benchmark Rundown(Tom’s Hardware)

Conclusion: K.O. For Windows Vista?

Windows Vista clearly is not a great new performer when it comes to executing single applications at maximum speed. Although we only looked at the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Enterprise, we do not expect the 64-bit edition to be faster (at least not with 32-bit applications).

Overall, applications performed as expected, or executed slightly slower than under Windows XP. The synthetic benchmarks such as Everest, PCMark05 or Sandra 2007 show that differences are non-existent on a component level. We also found some programs that refused to work, and others that seem to cause problems at first but eventually ran properly. In any case, we recommend watching for Vista-related software upgrades from your software vendors.

There are some programs that showed deeply disappointing performance. Unreal Tournament 2004 and the professional graphics benchmarking suite SPECviewperf 9.03 suffered heavily from the lack of support for the OpenGL graphics library under Windows Vista. This is something we expected, and we clearly advise against replacing Windows XP with Windows Vista if you need to run professional graphics applications. Both ATI and Nvidia will offer OpenGL support in upcoming driver releases, but it remains to be seen if and how other graphics vendors or Microsoft may offer it.

We are disappointed that CPU-intensive applications such as video transcoding with XviD (DVD to XviD MPEG4) or the MainConcept H.264 Encoder performed 18% to nearly 24% slower in our standard benchmark scenarios. Both benchmarks finished much quicker under Windows XP. There aren’t newer versions available, and we don’t see immediate solutions to this issue.

There is good news as well: we did not find evidence that Windows Vista’s new and fancy AeroGlass interface consumes more energy than Windows XP’s 2D desktop. Although our measurements indicate a 1 W increase in power draw at the plug, this is too little of a difference to draw any conclusions. Obviously, the requirements for displaying all elements in 3D, rotating and moving them aren’t enough to heat up graphics processors. This might also be a result of Windows Vista’s more advanced implementation of ACPI 2.0 (and parts of 3.0), which allows the control of power of system components separately.

Our hopes that Vista might be able to speed up applications are gone. First tests with 64-bit editions result in numbers similar to our 32-bit results, and we believe it’s safe to say that users looking for more raw performance will be disappointed with Vista. Vista is the better Windows, because it behaves better, because it looks better and because it feels better. But it cannot perform better than Windows XP. Is this a K.O. for Windows Vista in the enthusiast space?

If you really need your PC to finish huge encoding, transcoding or rendering workloads within a defined time frame, yes, it is. Don’t do it; stay with XP. But as long as you don’t need to finish workloads in record time, we believe it makes sense to consider these three bullet points:

  • Vista runs considerably more services and thus has to spend somewhat more resources on itself. Indexing, connectivity and usability don’t come for free.
  • There is a lot of CPU performance available today! We’ve got really fast dual core processors, and even faster quad cores will hit the market by the middle of the year. Even though you will lose application performance by upgrading to Vista, today’s hardware is much faster than yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s processors will clearly leap even further ahead.
  • No new Windows release has been able to offer more application performance than its predecessor.

Although application performance has had this drawback, the new Windows Vista performance features SuperFetch and ReadyDrive help to make Vista feel faster and smoother than Windows XP. Our next article will tell you how they work.

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