While many of those who have played around with the early version of Windows 7 have noted that it feels pretty zippy, especially for a pre-beta version, InfoWorld says early benchmarks show the software is just on par with its predecessor.
On the one hand, this could be seen as bad news, considering Microsoft's efforts to position Windows 7 as better performing. At the same time, this is a pre-beta version. Early releases often lag in performance since optimizations tend to be among the later steps in operating system development.
For its part, Microsoft is encouraging folks to withhold judgment.
"Microsoft consistently encourages people to hold benchmark tests until software is finished and ready for broad release," Microsoft said in a statement to CNET News.
I've been using Windows 7 for a couple of weeks on a loaner machine from Microsoft (a Lenovo X300). It does feel considerably faster than my work machine, but that's a several-year-old IBM ThinkPad T42. And, as a colleague points out, a new Windows image often feels fast, until you load all of your usual add-ons and third-party software on top of it.
I will say, the new Windows has been incredibly stable for an early build. I used it a bunch at PDC and WinHEC and am currently using it as my main machine. Most things I have tried are working, including the software I use every day, such as iTunes and several IM programs.
On the not-so-hot list, I haven't gotten it to work with my Sprint wireless broadband card. I also haven't been able to connect to CNET's VPN, meaning I've been using Outlook Web Access as opposed to the real thing. But to me, the testament to Windows 7 is that I still want to use it, even though Outlook Web Access is way less convenient than Outlook itself.
I'll be interested to see if Microsoft continues in the right direction with its broad beta, which is slated to be released early next year, as well as whether it hits its internal goal of shipping Windows 7 in time for next year's holiday shopping season.