The Vista Performance Problems

This report from Nov 2nd 2008 is now updated on November 11th 2008 with results for Win XP using 3GB of memory plus Service Pack 3.

Microsoft is presenting for its software developers, developers, developers a serious performance problem with Vista. Take the situation with Adobe and its CS4 line of products including the ever popular Photoshop CS4. The following are a set of benchmarks done for Photoshop versions CS3 and CS4 on Vista with 4GB of memory and Windows XP (in 1GB and 3GB memory versions).

Comparison of PhotoShop CS4 and CS3 on Windows Vista versus Win XP
Task Vista CS4 Vista CS3 WinXP CS3 1GB WinXP CS3 3GB
Load 12MPixel Image
3 sec
5 sec
2 sec
3 sec
Smart Blur -30, 25, High
20 sec
23 sec
16 sec
14 sec
Surface Blur – 9, 15
10 sec
11 sec
7 sec
5 sec
Filter Gallery Start
4 sec
4 sec
2 sec
2 sec
Cutout Filter
2 sec
1 sec
< 1 sec
< 1 sec
Curves adjustment
2 sec
1 sec
< 1 sec
< 1 sec
Exposure adjustment
15 sec
14 sec
8 sec
5 sec
Selected area Gaussian Blur
1 sec
1 sec
1 sec
< 1 sec
Save As TIFF-LZW format
4 sec
4 sec
3 sec
4 sec
Merge HDR phase 1
65 sec
61 sec
45 sec
18 sec
Merge HDR phase 2
32 sec
42 sec
18 sec
8 sec
Note fastest times are in bold and are with CS3 on Windows XP either with 3GB of memory and Service Pack 2 or 1GB of memory and Service Pack 2

Now these readings have been fairly carefully taken but I found there to be a great variability among the timings on Vista despite the facts that a)Photoshop was the only app running; b) all the tray apps and services had been stopped and c)identically the same photo was used in all the tests – a 12MPixel JPG taken with the new Nikon D90 camera. But to give an example Smart Blur operation varied between 22 and 17 seconds on Vista CS4 tests and 26 to 21 seconds on Vista CS3. In contrast, the Windows XP tests were relatively consistent with no variation in the Smart Blur timings and the widest range being the Merge HDR tests of 48 to 42 seconds on the first phase. Note that CS3 on Win XP with 3GB had the fastest performance of all – with longer operation like HDR processing, Photo Merge and complex layering effects showing 20-50% improvements over 1GB Win XP and 2-4 times faster than on Vista.

So the table shows the problem that Adobe has. Photoshop CS3 on Windows XP with only 1GB of memory and a run-of-the-mill Intel video card is clearly outperforming Vista with 4GB of memory and a ATI 512MB dedicated memory card . And Photoshop on Vista has 32 and 64 bit versions, a faster frontside bus, more disk free space, and a newer video card with 512MB of dedicated memory at its disposal.

So Adobe has to now work out methods to get the performance of Photoshop on Vista up to scratch. So Adobe is pushing the video card connection and urging users to download special drivers depending on what video card you are using. Also, as noted they offer a 64bit version of Photoshop (I could only see small improvements in speed using 64bit Photoshop. But the writing is on the wall, Vista is not only not People Ready with its significant learning curve, frequent security interference and still troubling hardware and software compatibility issues – but it also gives away a 20-40% performance advantage to

So while Redmondians are getting mad because they feel that Vistas new security and “Wow” factors are getting underplayed – all those developers, developers, developers that want to sell upgrades to their products on Vista have to deal with not just Vista-Misses-the-Mark problems but some serious performance hits vis a vis Windows XP as well. All Microsofts Windows PC Developers, Developers, Developers and the consumers that have been shafted into having to buy Windows Vista would really appreciate it if CEO Steve Ballmer would really get mad and start throwing some chairs at the performance and usability deficits in Windows Vista instead of having his minions lecture consumers about all the work they have done to make Vista a big Bow Wow.

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