Each new software version brings with it a silent promise that it will be better than the last one and most people switch to it instantly. But Windows Vista changed all that. For whatever reasons, be it the vast difference between Vista and XP, popular reluctance to switch or performance issues with Vista that dragged along, it was very poorly received. As a result, computer manufacturers were forced to sell new systems with XP or at least offer a downgrade option. Even as service pack 1 was released adoption was still less than stellar, especially in enterprises, prompting Microsoft to launch creative marketing campaigns (And a little Mac-bashing) in an attempt to sway public opinion, none of which seemed to have an effect, except being a topic of discussion and mockery on tech forums. You are probably wondering what type of improvements Windows 7 would offer over Vista or legacy Windows XP. Is Windows 7 just Vista with a facelift, or has Microsoft learned from its mistakes and delivered a product that Vista should have been from the start that will restore its battered reputation and stop its revenues from plummeting further south?
Windows 7 performs better than Vista and is also faster than XP, although XP, with its lightweight core remains more capable for devices with limited memory and outdated graphics. Vista is just outright sluggish. Windows 7 is better optimised for multi-core CPUs and includes a number of tweaks to make the best of the latest hardware. It delivers excellent results, beating or coming close to the performance of the lightweight XP in just about every category. Working on light applications comes at par with XP and working with processor and memory intensive applications is a breeze when compared to both Vista and XP.
Memory management and cache usage
With Vista, Microsoft introduced a new technology called SuperFetch for caching applications and speeding up boot times. This feature preloads frequently-used applications into RAM, so they can be accessed quicker when they’re needed. The SuperFetch feature in Windows 7 differs significantly in approach and cache memory usage from its counterpart in Vista. Under Vista, the caching of applications starts immediately at boot-up. In Windows 7, SuperFetch gets a delayed start and eventually also allocates much lesser RAM to it. This means Windows 7 uses lesser resources without affecting performance and launch time of applications. The cache usage is also lower as compared to Vista.
Windows Vista had promised optimised TCP/IP, but didn't live up to the hype. There were new features like option to set up ad hoc Wi-Fi networks using the Network Setup wizard,WPA2 encryption, remembering settings for different LAN connections and the Network Map displaying a graphical view of all your network connected devices, but internally it was no major improvement over XP and file transfer speeds were even lesser than XP generally. No amount of user-friendliness can mask the difference in speed. Windows 7 takes Vista's plethora of features and adds HomeGroups. But that's not it; the performance difference is noticeable. Transferring large files is significantly faster than even XP. The option of setting up a HomeGroup, which although limited with other Windows 7 machines, make networking simpler and managing a home server easier. Troubleshooting solves most basic problems without requiring any input from your part and you don't have to call tech support over minor problems like IP conflict and a disabled DHCP.
There are plenty of reasons to like Windows XP, but security isn't one of them. Microsoft still releases patches and security updates for XP and will continue to do it till April 2014, but it sill lacks internal security developments present in Vista and enhanced in Windows 7. Agreed, Windows Vista's UAC is annoying and bugs you with too many notifications, but it ensures that your system is not meddled by third-party software applications. The utility is improved in Windows 7 and allows you to customise it with multiple security levels and choice of getting alerts or disabling them completely. Windows 7 also comes with BitLocker, an encryption tool which was not there in any previous version of Windows. Unfortunately, this feature only comes with Ultimate edition of Windows, and other editions of Windows 7 and Vista users will be in the same position as XP. In Windows 7 and Vista, system services are more isolated and run with fewer privileges, reducing the damage that malicious code can do. A new TCP/IP stack offers improved encryption and authentication options, and Address Space Layout Randomization loads system files as random memory addresses, making it far harder for basic malware to exploit key system functions. Windows 7 borrows Vista's advances and allows you to customise so it scores above XP and Vista. Its Windows 7 > Vista > XP in terms of Security.
One of Windows USP is its gaming abilities. Even though Vista came out long time back, XP remains the choice of platform for most game developers and almost every major release is made to run on it. Vista can handle almost all of them with some requiring you to run in Compability mode and some working better than they do on XP. There is no shortage of compatible gaming accessories for both XP and Vista alike. While Vista added support for DirectX 10 gaming, Windows 7 comes with DirectX 11 - a graphics and sound standard which delivers better image quality, new effects, 3D and improved performance shour your graphics card is Dx11 compatible. Windows 7 also does not have any performance issues like Vista and utilises RAM better both XP and Vista. If you have a mid range spec-ed computer, Windows 7's gaming performance will impress you with higher frame rates in general. While it cannot handle older DOS games like XP, we would still go with Windows 7>XP>Vista for gaming because once game developers start utilising Dx11, games will come alive in full 3D glory on your computer.