Windows 7 Vs. Windows XP

Since the release of Windows 7, there have been a ton of comparisons between Windows 7 and Windows XP. While it may not be fair to compare the latest OS from Microsoft to their 10 year old OS, but comparing to Vista doesn’t seem to make much sense….we all know how well accepted it was.

Windows 7

Microsoft Windows 7

Most of the independent comparisons will show mixed results. In other words, will upgrading your older Windows XP PC to Windows 7 make it perform better? Well….maybe. Keep in mind these are controlled benchmark comparisons looking at CPU useage, caching, memory consumption and launch times.

Like most of you, I’ve read these comparison results and tilted my head at them like a dog listening to a strange sound. It’s not that I don’t understand them, but I figure their controlled environments have sullied their results…if that’s even possible. Quite frankly, my experience has been that Windows 7 breathes new life into old machines. I had the opportunity to put my beliefs to the test again last week when I got my hands on an older HP 2140 netbook running XP with sloth like tendencies.

I remember thinking when this model first came out that it was a pretty neat netbook. As with all technology there have been great improvements in processor speed, on board memory, and hard drive options in the netbook class of computers since the release of the 2140. And, quite frankly, the 2140 running Windows XP now in my hands runs like a tired horse in the mud compared to an HP 2102 running Windows 7.

HP Netbook Running Windows 7

This is a pretty stock machine with the original 1 GB of memory and 160 GB hard drive. If I recall correctly you could get these with either Windows XP Home or a couple of flavors of Windows Vista. Given that Vista was just a fat OS, I can only imagine how much slower it would run with that floating that on top of DOS. On the other hand, upgrading the OS is precisely where I went to see if I could get more speed out of this 2140. As previously mentioned, I have had nothing but good luck with Windows 7 since its release and truly believe it is everything Vista was touted to be…only thinner.

I dug out the USB DVD drive, hooked it up to the netbook, and inserted the Windows 7 Pro installation disk. Of course I did not click the upgrade button. I tried going down the upgrade path once before and after it was all said and done the final installed OS looked like Windows 7, but retained all the slow reflexes of Windows XP.

Once I reformatted the hard drive, the Windows 7 installation went off without a hitch. I’m still amazed and how quickly it installs compared to operating systems of the past. Literally fifteen minutes after I plugged the DVD drive into the netbook, I had a fully functional copy of Windows 7 up and running.

The slow part of this upgrade was getting all of the applications back on the machine. Since this was someone’s personal computer it had all kinds of fun stuff to be reinstalled, which brings about the inevitable hunt for serial numbers, original installation disks, and the subsequent downloads of application updates.  This took a couple of hours.

Now for the vindication of my beliefs. Netbooks have never been touted as being big performers in the realm of video playback, but this little guy performed like a champ under Windows 7. I ran WMV files in Windows Media Player as well as a full movie in iTunes. Not a hiccup anywhere along the way.  I then launched Gimp and did some photo editing on some very large files. The real time previews were working great and everything jumped right up and ran full speed.

I’m the first to admit that XP was a great OS and was speedy for its day. However, I think it got slower over the years with all of the security and service pack updates. This very well may happen to Windows 7 over time as well. But for now, if you want to speed up your older PC without necessarily upgrading the internal hardware, Windows 7 gets my vote for the first place to start.

You’ve been a good friend XP, but it’s time to move on.