Today Microsoft launched the public download of the Windows 7 Release Candidate. PC Games Hardware has been working on an extensive review since last week. This test reveals how well the RC is doing.
Windows 7 RC (3) [Source: view picture gallery]
The Release Candidate of Windows 7 is a big step towards the final version of the operating system since according to Microsoft the RC already offers all features. The release of the final Windows 7 version is expected in late 2009. PC Games Hardware is observing the development of the new operating system since especially for gamers Windows 7 could be a better Windows XP replacement than Windows Vista has been up to now. If this will really be the case cannot be said until the RTM (the final version) of Windows 7 is released, but the RC gives a good impression of what to expect. Windows 7 Release Candidate: Improvements
Windows 7 is an advancement of Windows Vista. Among other things the Kernel has been heavily overhauled (keyword: Scheduler) and is said to provide better support for multi-core systems now. The graphics driver model WDDM has been upgraded to version 1.1, because of what Vista drivers are not compatible to Windows 7. The Desktop Window Manager, who is also responsible for the Aero surface, has access to the WDDM 1.1 and now supports optional DirectX 10.1. According to Microsoft this can reduce the memory usage per window by up to 50 percent. The SOAP Network API, an interface that makes web services easier, has been integrated for programmers. Many users will be happy about the new User account Control, which will be less annoying in Windows 7 than it has been in Vista. Windows 7 Release Candidate: Test system
For the comparison between Windows 7 RC x86 with Vista SP1 x86/x64 and XP x86 we use a quad-core AMD system. A Phenom II X4 955 BE (3.2 GHz) and 4 GiByte DDR3 RAM on a MSI 790FX-GD70 motherboard are the base for our test system. Furthermore we use a Radeon HD 4870/1G. The operating systems are installed on a Western Digital Caviar SE 250GB (WD2500JD) with 7,200 rpm and 250 GB overall capacity. For performance tests we use the games Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9 and 10), Race Driver: Grid and Fallout 3 as well as the applications Cinebench R10, 7-Zip and Paint.Net (64 Bit versions if possible). We also checked boot and copy times.
Windows 7 Release Candidate: Boot time
Microsoft says that Windows 7 starts faster than Vista. To reach this goal only important system services are loaded. Additional services are activated later on. During our tests Windows 7 (45 seconds) was really faster than Vista (48/54 seconds), but still slower than Windows XP (33 seconds). We recorded those results with the tool "Boot Racer”. Windows 7 Release Candidate: Application Benchmarks
If possible we used the 64 Bit versions of Cinebench R10 and Paint.Net, accordingly high are the results of Vista SP1 x64. The tests for Windows 7 x64 are not finished yet and will be delivered as soon as possible. The application benchmarks Cinebench R10, 7-Tip and Paint.Net don't reveal big performance differences.
Windows 7 Release Candidate: Game Benchmarks
In the DirectX 9 mode of Far cry2 there aren't big differences between the operating system - they are only 1 fps apart which is within measuring tolerance. But in DX10 mode the Windows 7 RC can show its strengths: Far Cry 2 DX10 runs two to seven percent faster than on a Vista system. The Win 7 RC also took the lead in Race Driver: Grid; the difference to windows Xp and Vista is one to four percent. In Fallout 3 the Windows 7 RC 1 is on the same level as Vista x86.
Windows Release Candidate: Conclusion
The Windows 7 Release Candidate hasn't been running on the test system for long so time will have to tell how the new operating system will work in long-term usage. But the benchmarks reveal that Microsoft can't do wonders with Windows 7. The Release Candidate is (up to now) stable, fast and compatible to most applications. The end of Windows Vista will definitely be introduced with Windows 7, but it is still uncertain if Windows XP will phase out, too.