Windows 7 And Windows Vista: Performance Compared

Windows History

The following chart lists the consumer Windows version since Windows 95. System requirements are based on our experience and do not equal Microsoft’s official requirements, which are lower, but often result in serious system performance issues.

Version
Code name
Introduction
Key Features
Requirements
Comments
Windows 95
Chicago
August 1995
32-bit preemptive multi-tasking with 16-bit kernel, long file names, new shell, 32-bit disk access

486 CPU

8MB RAM

120MB storage
Internet Explorer 3.0 and FAT32 file system added later, USB support added later (OEM SR2 – Detroit)
Windows 98
Memphis
June 1998
first to use WDM (Windows Driver Model), Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)

Pentium CPU

32MB-64MB RAM

210MB storage
Second Edition (SE) in May 1999
Windows ME
Millennium
Sept 2000

.Net framework supported,

Windows 2000 TCP/IP stack with NDIS 5.0, System Restore, DirectX 7.1, compressed folders, USB mass storage

Pentium II CPU

128MB RAM

320MB storage

With Internet Explorer 5, Media Player 7, Movie Maker, DOS mode dropped,

Dubbed “Mistake Edition” by PC World
Windows XP
WhistlerOctober 2001
Windows NT 5.0 architecture, product activation, faster, user switching, multiple editions, 32- and 64-bit

300 MHz CPU

256MB to 1GB RAM

1.5GB-2.5GB storage

Internet Explorer 6,

SP1 in 2002: USB 2.0, 137+ GB HDDs
SP2 in 2004: new Firewall
Windows Vista
LonghornNovember 2006
Aero GUI, new Explorer and shell, Sidebar, Indexing, SuperFetch, ReadyDrive, ReadyBoost, User Access Control, IPv6 support, DirectX 10, virtualization support

800 MHz CPU

1GB RAM

15GB storage

DX9 graphics

Internet Explorer 7, Media Player 11, DVD Maker, simple file and media sharing, .net framework 3.0, Backup and Restore

Extras such as BitLocker encryption
Windows 7

Blackcomb/

Vienna
October 2009
Performance benefits, new Superbar taskbar, multi-touch support, home group networking, SSD/TRIM support

1 GHz CPU

1GB-2GB RAM

20GB storage

DX9 graphics
Extras such as Calendar, Mail, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery available through Windows Essentials (free)


While Windows Vista introduced a number of improvements over Windows XP, Windows 7 was primarily designed to be “more user-centric” (Bill Gates), faster, and more broadly compatible. Still, there are several enhancements that should be mentioned.

Touch (referred to as multi-touch technology) and handwriting recognition have been improved, which should come in handy for tablet PC and keyboard-free PC solutions, such as kiosks, ATMs, and the like. Windows 7 also implements heterogeneous graphics card support, which allows users to run multi-monitor setups with completely different graphics processors (such as one card from Nvidia and another from AMD). The WindowsSecurityCenter, which wasn’t very popular, has now become the WindowsActionCenter. It includes security settings and general system management. Instead of the old taskbar, which allowed users to add application shortcuts, we now have application “pinning” into the Superbar, which helps simplify access to common applications and reordering of task buttons.

Windows 7 also implements the TRIM feature. This is a valuable add-on for solid state drive (SSD) users, allowing the operating system to tell the SSD which blocks are no longer needed. This is important because SSDs can write only 4KB blocks at a time. Deletion requires much larger block sizes. Once the SSD knows which blocks can be flushed, the entire write process of read, erase, modify, and write can be done much quicker and eventually help to maximize and maintain SSD performance.