On McAfee’s advice, we opted to test application installation times with the expanded .msi executable for LibreOffice 3.4.3 running under Windows PowerShell with Administrator rights. PowerShell’s UI looks much like a command prompt, and our command reports back with the exact time spent on file installation. Note that the /qn argument suppresses all of the usual installation pop-ups for which you inevitably click the Next button.
The standout surprise here is GFI Vipre Antivirus. We expected all application installs to be slower with AV running than on our clean configuration since AV products all run in the background, monitor file unpacking, and add resource overhead. Honestly, we’re stumped as to how GFI achieves this, but the company does stake much of its product marketing on speed. We suspect that subsequent image re-installations and test averaging might have yielded numbers closer to that of the clean image, and what we’re seeing might be a statistical outlier. Still, even at parity with our clean time, GFI blows away the rest of the field on app installation performance.
Perhaps not surprisingly, AVG and Microsoft deliver our next best times. Compared to Kaspersky, Microsoft, and Symantec, our two free AV products are considerably simpler and more pared down in their feature breadth. Perhaps an abundance of analysis is leading to installation paralysis? Certainly, installing an office suite to a 5400 RPM hard drive in under three minutes is nothing to sneeze at, but the other way to look at this is that Symantec added 60% to our application time. If you tend to do a lot of program loading, this could be a concern.