I wrote this in response to an article I saw regarding the relative speeds of Windows 7 and Vista.
I have a venerable 2.8GHz P4 with Intel RAID on 2x160GB HDD and a gig of RAM which I bought in 2003 or something… I only upgraded it once to a 256MB NVIDIA 7600 as I was running it as a Tiger Hackintosh for a couple of years. It really flew on Tiger, but I had a real Mac (albeit a G4) which was slower but much less flakey and so went back to the trouble free XP.
I then made the mistake of BUYING A BOX COPY (sheesh) of Vista Ultimate. My first ever Box OS purchase. My poor machine really felt its age since it would no longer play back HD videos smoothly, so the box went back to XP again and served as my main Playback device for my Projector for a couple of years.
On hearing all the Windows 7 brouhaha I decided to retry Vista with SP1 and about 75 incremental upgrades and put office 2003 and Zend Studio back on.
To be frank, It wasn’t as slow as I remembered it. It was as if the patches were just enough to allow my old faithful to climb back on to its feet.
And Aero’s 3D surfaces for each application actually meant the interface was MORE responsive and Mac Like since each app didn’t have to redraw when brought to the front. With the RAID disks, even 1Gb of RAM was usable (although multitasking slowed it much sooner than in XP).
I found myself honestly enjoyin using Vista for the last month or two and not missing XP, even when I had to really struggle to find any of the randomly shuffled functions.
Last month, I forced myself to make what I promised is the last upgrade to this machine and got 2GB RAM. My old faithful suddenly sprang to life… After a couple of days of heavy use, the memory was full, but it appeared to be about 1.5GB of cache! Office opened instantly (once I turned off min/maxing animations) ! I mean that literally. It was definitely faster than XP in general use and although 1080P HD Vid playback still stutters, my Leopard C2D Intel iMac w/ 4GB of DDR2 can’t match it for general interface response speed!!
So, to cut a long story medium, I installed the Windows 7 RC on the 2nd of May(!!!) expecting wonderful things… Firstly, the interface and colours remind me of a certain open source OS. Light, simple, breathy. Everything is simpler. I haven’t scratched my head as much as I got accustomed to with Vista, for sure.
However, I NOTICED NO SPEED INCREASE for my particular workload of Zend, Office and a Trial install of Illustrator CS4, indeed Office felt marginally slower which corroborates what was mentioned in the article. Instantaneous was replaced with a slightly annoying Almost Instantaneous, but not quite sort of feeling.
Still, benchmarks aside W7 is definitely less offensive to use than Vista.
In conclusion, then, I think it’s all about expectations. I was expecting molasses for Vista and got syrup – It felt good. i was expecting water for W7 and got slightly warmed syrup – I felt cheated and actually missed Vista’s moody dark interface.
Windows 7 is not much faster than Windows Vista but of course, YMMV.
Disclosure: I’m a “slider” rather than switcher, finding my Windows use fading out since 2005 on the release of the Mac Mini. My SOHO now consists of 6 Macs and only 3 PCs (one of which is a netbook). I now basically use Windows for Office 2003 compatibility and a label printer that refuses to talk Mac.
BTW, Vista Boot Camp on an Aluminium Mac 24″ w/ 4GB of RAM is THE FASTEST Office 2003 machine I have ever used. It’s shockingly instantaneous! If I had time, I’d install W7 on it, but I can’t be bothered.
We have a nice selection of Macs all now updated to 10.5.5 without fanfare.
Each machine is quite different and has a very different selection of software installed and hardware connected.
- Mac Mini (Intel 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo) – Mac OS 10.5 Server
- Server version of Mac OS X
- External Firewire storage
- USB Memory Card Reader
- iMac 24″ (Intel 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo)
- Vista under Boot Camp
- Various large video and graphical editing packages.
- MS Office
- Firewire 800 RAID storage
- USB Card Reader
- Firewire Scanner
- Graphical Pen Tablet
- 12″ Powerbook (PPC 1.5GHz)
- MS Office
- Power Mac G4 Cube (PPC 1.4GHz)
- MS Office
- Zend Studio for Eclipse
- Entropy PHP on Apache Package
- Graphical Tablet
- iMac 15″ (PPC 700MHz, dome shaped effort)
- MS Office
My iMac has gone back to Apple for an inspection and hopefully, a new screen.
I backed up my 24″ iMac using Time Machine and formatted and secure erased the HDD, reinstalled the factory supplied Tiger install before sending it back to Apple.
Just for old time’s sake, and just scientific curiosity, I played with the Tiger installation (10.4.9) for an hour or two before switching it off and shipping it back.
I’ll state my final impression right up:
I could not believe how much progress Leopard has made and how much a retrograde step it was moving back to Tiger!
There, I said it. For all the (all the? a bit of an overstatement, perhaps, when compared to Vista) bad press that Leopard received, Tiger is a bit of a dog to use compared to Leopard for all the things I tend to do, and I have gained a new level of respect for the newest, occasionally troubled OS.
The old sidebar is much less useful than the new one, and the dynamically scaling icons to fit extra stuff in appears a bit unnecessary. As for speed. Crikey, it was much slower than I remembered, often beachballing when performing a task.
It seems that every time I double clicked on a network share the computer would beachball. How did I live with that?
Then up would come the prompt for the computer I was connecting to. After entering the password, The drive mount selector would appear. I’d double click on that only to have the icon mount on the desktop, the finder.
Repeat for each mount and with eight mounts, things start to get out of hand!
Tiresome, tedious and not at all intuitive.
Then there’s the strange Network icon that appear with an alias to my server that when you click on it throw an error saying the original file cannot be found etc. etc. do I want to fix it…
As for stability, I’d forgotten how finicky the Disk Utility was when it came to mounting my four drive raid combi on Firewire. It locked up immediately and permanently on opening and preventing me from logging out. It then required me to forcibly turn off the computer and restart, with the Firewire drive switched off.
Nearly a year after launch, Leopard is rock solid. OK, so a few apps have memory leaks, but I can now leave my Leopard Server running 24/7 only restarting for updates and patches.
There was some good bits to Tiger though
The lighter, more translucent appearance of Tiger was fresh and bright, like an Apple Store, after the dull grey of Leopard and the blue apple and rounded corners of the menu bar are much softer and more gentle.
Also, shadows subtly handled in Tiger, with delicate, subtle shadows rather than the the crazy-arsed SHADOW!!! that surrounds each window in Leopard.
There was less memory usage off the bat.
The Calendar application had its sticky inspector panel, which required only one click to edit each entry. The thrice damned Leopard Calendar drives me up the wall! Bring back the drawer is what I say!
All in all, I’d give Tiger a respectable 8 and Leopard a superb 9 out of 10!