Windows Vista never was particularly speedy in most people's eyes. Whether it deserved the reputation or not, the word on the street was that Vista was both slow and bloated.
Given that, it's no wonder that improving performance was one of Microsoft's design goals with Windows 7. Many reviewers have said that the new operating system feels faster than Vista. In our extensive PC World Test Center evaluations comparing the two, we found an increase in speed, though the overall improvement wasn't dramatic.
We installed Windows 7 on five computers (two desktop systems, two laptop PCs, and a netbook), and put the systems through our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite, which consists of a number of tests that assess a machine's performance in popular, real-world applications. We also ran timed tests to measure how the two OSs affected boot-up and shutdown times, laptop battery life, and launch times for several common apps. (For more information, see "Windows 7: How We Test.")
The verdict? Windows 7 makes some performance strides over Vista, though in some cases we saw no clear-cut winner, and in one area Windows 7 lagged considerably behind its predecessor.
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