ancient vista computer Now that Vista SP1 has been released there’s no surprise that performance tests and benchmarks are going to start flooding the Internet, and not surprisingly XP takes the crown in most of the cases. ZDNet has gotten the ball rolling (here and here) with their test results:

Looking at the data there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn – Windows XP SP2 is faster than Windows Vista SP1.  End of story.  Out of the fifteen tests carried out, XP SP2 beat Vista SP1 in eleven, Vista SP1 beat XP SP2 in two of the tests, and two of the tests resulted in a draw.

There’s one inherent problem that I’ve seen with several of the tests so far. Testers are putting the two operating systems up against each other using the exact same systems. No harm, right? Well, there’s a natural progression of technology that would obviously make you think that running XP on the same system as Vista will always result in XP being faster.

Obviously as time goes on the operating systems will take advantage of the system resources that are made available, and if they didn’t there would never be any need to upgrade to a new computer. I remember when I was running Windows 98 thinking that in 10 years we’ll be able to hit the power button and the computer’s bootup sequence would take just seconds because processors would be so fricken’ fast. Here we are about 10 years later, and the bootup times are about the same as they always have been simply because the software grows along with the hardware. Otherwise we might see Windows fit on a few floppy disks.

What I would like to see is someone running XP on a system that was released one year after XP was made available, and then comparing it to Vista running on a similarly priced new system. Or maybe running each of them on a computer that only meets the minimum or recommended requirements for each operating system would be even better. Then these tests would mean a little more to me.

To me these comparisons are like looking at the performance of a video game that was released back in 2001 and putting it up against a game that was released in 2007… using the same hardware. You would obviously expect to see the game from 2001 to do a lot better, but the one from 2007 will likely be better in the graphics compartment.