Responsiveness

Unfortunately, Vista feels slower. A recent report by an independent research institute, Pfeiffer Consulting, dismisses Vista’s Aero effects as “eye-candy”, and says that Vista suffers significantly from “friction”. Friction, in OS terms, is a performance problem that slows down common tasks such as creating folders, opening windows or a menu.

Pfeiffer benchmarked both XP and Vista, and found that, “on average, Windows Vista was 20% slower than Windows XP in the menu latency benchmarks”, saying “this lag is clearly linked to the Aero interface”. And that’s not all. Pfeiffer found “opening folders and deleting elements also show Windows Vista/Aero at a clear disadvantage over Windows XP”. Those eye-catching Aero enhancements are to blame. Take the way windows in Aero fade into view: “Amusing at first, the additional lag obviously adds to the perceived (and measurable) User Interface Friction, and can become annoying over time”.

There are times when Vista’s enhanced looks can be a good thing, though. Take , for instance. Most will be prepared to forgive Vista a few microseconds lag in return for a live preview of the application they want to switch to. But, in most cases, Vista feels slightly slower to react than XP. Everything from copying files to simply opening the Start menu takes a bit longer and, while it isn’t noticeable in isolation, go from a Vista PC to a similarly specified XP system and you’ll find yourself flying through menu systems rather than constantly staring at the irritating “wait-a-minute-while-I-catch-my-breath” blue mouse cursor.

So a 10-0 drubbing for Vista? Not necessarily. Search performance in Vista is massively superior to XP’s and, even if speeds are the same, the search box at the top of virtually every Explorer window in Vista makes searching incredibly fast. You should also consider Microsoft’s habit of releasing scene-stealing service packs. SP2 arrived for Windows XP and turned it from a good operating system into a great one. SP1 is due for Vista early next year, and there’s no reason to suspect it won’t do the same. But, until then, Vista is still a pleasingly usable operating system.

XP – 8
XP rarely leaves its users waiting, offering almost instantaneous navigation through its menu systems and various folders.

Vista – 6
Those irritating half-second waits for menus to open gives Vista a sluggishness that didn’t afflict its predecessor.

Main page
Usability and interface
Security
Gaming and entertainment
Mobility
Networking
Business
Bundled apps
Performance
Responsiveness
Conclusion

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