Microsoft recently released RC2, the supposed last test release for the long awaited Windows Vista, so I quickly downloaded it and installed it on the test machine we have in the TechRepublic Labs. The installation went very smoothly with no real problems. But something interesting happened when the installation was finished and the machine loaded Windows Vista for the first time.
I've related in previous blog entries about my interest with the performance scores of this machine with previous beta versions of Vista. For example, as you can see in the screen capture below, under Beta 2 of Windows Vista, the test machine - a respectable 3.0Ghz Dell, scored a 3.
Naturally, the first thing I did was to check the performance rating of the machine under RC2. Much to my amazement, the score went up. The exact same machine with no configuration changes now scores a 4 as you can see here:
On most of the primary sections the results were identical. The Processor base score increased from 3.7 to a full 4.0. The memory speed increased by .1. The biggest increase was in the disk transfer score which jumped from 3.8 in Beta 2 to 5.3 in RC2.
So what's going on here? One argument could be made that Microsoft has gone a long way to tune drivers and has optimized code since releasing Beta 2. Therefore the exact same hardware would naturally score better than it did before. Or could it be that Microsoft received negative feedback about the scores that people were receiving on their test machines and purposely tweaked the ratings?
RC2 certainly does seem a lot snappier and faster than previous releases. Therefore, it's probably more the former. However, Microsoft's reputation precedes it. Remember that legend has it that the motto for DOS 2.0 was "DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run". There are lots of other examples of Microsoft tweaking things for their own purposes.
In either case, we've got RC2 up and running in the TechRepublic Labs. Watch for more Vista content as the final release inches ever closer.