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Windows Vista beta 2 application performance

Windows Vista beta 2 application performance

There's been plenty of lively chatter lately about Microsoft Vista's hardware requirements, software compatibility issues, bugs, and more. Hey, it's a Microsoft operating system. And it's in beta--an easy target! (But try publicly poking holes in the Mac OS, and the hordes will come after you with torches and pitchforks.)

We've already seen that the current Vista beta is not very battery-friendly for laptops. Hopefully, the final version will have more robust power-management features. Otherwise, future Vista users are in for some boring cross-country flights. But this begs the question, how does Vista's performance hold up with regular applications? We're glad you asked!

We loaded Windows Vista beta 2 (build 5384) and Windows XP Professional SP2 on a 3.2GHz Pentium 4, with 1GB of DDR2 memory running at 664MHz and an ATI Radeon X850 XT graphics card. We ran a few of CNET Labs' home-brewed tests on the two operating systems to see if we could discern any significant performance differences between XP and Vista. The results were surprising.

iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Windows XP Pro SP2
Note: Time in seconds

Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Windows XP Pro SP2
Note: Time in seconds

3D games testing: F.E.A.R.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Windows XP Pro SP2
Note: Scores in frames per second

We expected to see "beta bloat" hamper the overall performance of the Vista beta, but that was not the case. Vista and XP both ran our iTunes encoding test in the same amount of time. Even more surprising, Vista was actually almost 6 percent faster than XP on our Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test. The F.E.A.R. scores were close but not identical. The takeaway from the F.E.A.R. scores, however, is that at least for this one game, DirectX 10 is not only stable, but the current DX 10 beta version is showing comparable performance to DX 9.

This testing only scratches the surface and in no way is meant to be definitive. But it is promising. For more on Microsoft Vista, check out CNET's Windows Vista: Everything you need to know about Microsoft's next OS.