Is Windows 7 M3 Build 6801 Really "Vista R2?"


InfoWorld 's Randall C. Kennedy has put Windows 7's Milestone 3 pre-beta build 6801, a freebie from last month's Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference, through a variety of benchmark tests , and isn't all that impressed:

As I reported on my Enterprise Desktop blog, the more I dug into Windows 7, the more I saw an OS that looked and felt like a slightly tweaked version of Windows Vista.

At his blog, Kennedy complains that Windows 7 is:

Just as slow as Vista...Just as consumer-focused as Vista...Just as confusing as Vista...

Kennedy cites these similarities:

  • The number of execution threads in key subsystems is almost the same in Windows 7 as in Vista
  • Benchmarks of Windows 7 and Vista Ultimate SP1 using the DMS Clarity Studio tools suite show almost identical results
  • Similar amounts of RAM are used by Windows 7 and Windows Vista

From these facts and visual similarities between Windows 7 and Vista, Kennedy concludes :

Bottom line: So far, Windows 7 looks and behaves almost exactly like Windows Vista. It performs almost exactly like Vista. And it breaks all sorts of things that used to work just fine under Vista. In other words, Microsoft's follow-up to its most unpopular OS release since Windows Me threatens to deliver zero measurable performance benefits while introducing new and potentially crippling compatibility issues.

Is Kennedy right? Here's what I think is the problem with Kennedy's performance analysis: he's comparing a pre-beta with a finished product that already has one service pack under its hood, and he's complaining that the pre-beta he tested isn't any faster than its mature predecessor. In my experience, this is actually outstanding performance for a pre-beta.

I'm the author of two books on Windows Vista and I have contributed to several others, and as a consequence I was using various beta versions of Windows Vista from early 2006 on. Those releases of Vista were almost unbearably slow on my HP dv5000-series laptop, but the same computer running Vista Ultimate SP1 is now much faster when performing the same or even more complex tasks. Day 1 performance of Windows Vista was way better than with the early betas, and it's even better now with SP1, and yet a pre-beta of Windows 7 is already reaching comparable performance levels. I'd have been thrilled with this level of performance on the betas of Windows Vista I ran, and we're still many months away from a production release of Windows 7.

Although I haven't had a chance to try Windows 7 yet, many reviewers online and readers have tried the pre-beta of Windows 7 and like it, reporting better speed than with Vista and high overall satisfaction , whether running it as a native OS or within the limitations of a virtualized environment.

So, what should you believe? Hopefully, by the end of 2008 or in early 2009, you'll be able to make up your own mind by installing the public beta of Windows 7. In the meantime, hit Comment and tell us your experiences with Windows 7 (good, bad, and ugly).

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