Windows Vista SP1 performance in CNET Lab

The long-awaited Service Pack 1 update for Windows Vista brings with it a number of significant bug fixes and other improvements. Microsoft promises that with it you will also see a number of noticeable performance improvements as well. In our initial round of testing, we saw a mixed bag of results: we saw a few […]

The long-awaited Service Pack 1 update for Windows Vista brings with it a number of significant bug fixes and other improvements. Microsoft promises that with it you will also see a number of noticeable performance improvements as well. In our initial round of testing, we saw a mixed bag of results: we saw a few notable performance improvements under some conditions as well as significant performance degradations in others. For the most part, however, we saw little difference in performance between Vista and the Vista SP1 update.

As we dug a little deeper into Microsoft's claims, we discovered that many of the performance improvements being touted aren't actually directly attributable to SP1. Many of the claimed performance improvements, such as improved boot-time, are actually more a function of improved third-party drivers and applications that are benefiting from a year's worth of programming for Vista and from the programmers getting continued feedback and guidance from Microsoft. So as long as you have been diligent about keeping your Vista system current with the latest Windows updates and third-party drivers, you likely already have many of the potentially performance improving enhancements.

That's not to say that there aren't any potential performance benefits in SP1. An area of Vista the Microsoft developers spent a great deal of time trying to improve was file copying. Under some scenarios, copying files with Vista took longer than with XP. Under other scenarios, Vista, gave the impression that Vista was taking longer to copy files than XP, by not dismissing the copy dialog box sooner. Much of this has to do with the mode in which these file copies are taking place. XP uses a cached I/O mode; Vista uses a predominantly un-cached I/O mode; and Vista SP1 is back to almost always using a cached I/O mode for file transfers. (For an in-depth, under-the-hood discussion of all this, see Microsoft employee Mark Russinovich's blog entry titled Inside Vista SP1 File Copy Improvements. Among other things, Mark is credited with discovering the rootkit on Sony BMG audio CDs in 2005.)

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Microsoft, Windows Vista, Service Pack, SP1, Vista SP1, Performance, Review