Chapter 5. Performance

Windows 7 is, shockingly, the first version of Windows to actually outperform its predecessor. Isn’t that one of the signs of the apocalypse?

7 starts faster, opens applications faster, and shuts down faster than Vista ever did. It even outperforms XP on the same hardware.

Traditionally, Microsoft adds more features (and more bloat) to each successive Windows release, betting that the hardware—processors, memory, chipsets—will always improve quickly enough to catch up. But at best, this means that performance is more likely to plateau rather than improve, and that’s only if we consumers buy the latest high-end machines each time a new version of Windows comes out.

Perhaps the long delay between the releases of XP and Vista made us all so complacent as to assume that Vista wouldn’t be any slower than XP. Perhaps that’s why Windows 7 seems so fast by comparison. But try loading Windows 95 on a Windows 7-class PC, and it will make 7 seem like a lumbering ox. Better yet, consider the Google Chrome OS, which is said to boot in under seven seconds.

Some of Windows 7’s magic performance reversal is simply sleight of hand. Windows Explorer in 7 loads up more quickly only because it no longer sorts the active folder right away, whereas Vista waited to sort the files before showing you anything. Either way, you’re waiting.

But why the wait at all?

The short answer is that Windows 7 has been given more to do. On the surface, there’s the Glass interface, covered later, which ...

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