Mac OS X Lion over Windows 8 or Vive-Versa??

Everybody is interested to see what would happen if we compare the performance of a very early version of Microsoft’s upcoming desktop OS with Apple’s released one, and we thought you would be, too. Windows 8 is far from finished, but its creators have made bold claims about performance. I’ve already compared the Windows 8 Developer Preview with Windows 7, which presented its own challenges.
Comparing with Mac OS X introduces even more hazards. On one hand the version of Windows 8 we test with here, the Developer Preview is far from finished—it’s not even ready to be called a “beta”—and code optimization is usually among the last tasks in any software project. On the other hand, we have Apple’s fully baked and optimized Mac OS X Lion, which has been a released product for over six months. Add to this that Lion is finely tuned to mesh with the Apple hardware it runs on, compared with Windows, which must run on a huge array of different hardware combinations from many vendors.
Despite all the warnings, as you’ll see, Windows 8 was surprisingly up to the challenge. And indeed, some of Windows 8’s developers’ big claims are that it will take up less memory, run fewer CPU processes, and boot faster, all of which should add up to better performance.

The time it takes to get your computer up and running can make the difference between getting that idea down or information retrieved in time or not. To determine the startup time for each OS, I started the stopwatch (actually an iPhone) at the point of choosing the OS from the multi-boot menu (arrived at by holding the Option key after pressing the start button) and stopped it when the desktop displayed and was functional. My results here were quite shocking: Windows 8 booted faster on the MacBook than OS X Lion did! Of course, Lion is a bigger OS with more tools and features at this point, so there’s probably a good reason for this. The difference was 31 seconds for Lion, and 26 seconds for Windows 8 Developer Preview.

For shutdown times, the opposite state of affairs prevailed: OS X Lion shut down completely in under 3 seconds, while Windows 8 took 16 seconds. I ran the stopwatch from the time of choosing the equivalent of the “really shut down” choice in each OS to the time the laptop’s motors all went quiet. It would seem that if Lion is loading more code into memory, it would need more time to save state and so on for shutdown. And Windows 8’s developers have made claims about much more efficient state-saving for that OS’s shutdown, but the numbers don’t lie: Mac OS X Lion has a far more efficient shutdown procedure.
In another surprise, Windows 8 bested Lion slightly on this test. Since the benchmark is mostly designed to rate the hardware, any slight improvement is a feather in the OS software’s cap. Windows 8 showed a nearly 17 percent edge over Lion.
These tests confirm that: Windows 8 is no slouch – so far. It feels snappy on pretty much any hardware you throw it at. And here we are at a very early stage in its pre-release. It speaks well that the nascent OS can hold its own against a mature, fully optimized, hardware specific OS like Lion. It’s worth mentioning again that it’s early days yet, and we can’t possibly know how much more code Microsoft is going to add to Windows 8 in the next few months, but we can hope that they don’t add too much to bog it down before release. It certainly seems that their strategy this time is in the opposite direction, towards honing it down.


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