First, let's get something out of the way. Most of what's really new in Windows 8 relates to the Metro touch interface, which is Microsoft's biggest bet on this OS generation -- a bet that's risky but necessary given the company's lack of presence in the growing tablet market. This is also how the folks at Redmond have figured could give a needed boost to its smartphone business (“Windows everywhere”), which is well behind market leaders, iOS and Android.
This review is based on my experience with Windows 8 using a desktop, so I've been treating Windows 8 like most computer enthusiasts will: as a direct upgrade from Windows 7 on my custom-built machine, just like I did with Vista, XP, 2k, and other previous Windows releases.
Back when Vista first arrived I remember comparing how it performed to XP and being extremely disappointed with the results. Vista was generally rough around the edges and that included drivers, so gaming and productivity applications were more often than not slower in the new OS. Microsoft's PR machine has been hard at work over the past few months, trying to explain the numerous improvements Windows 8 has received on the backend. The good news is that it shows.
For comparing Windows 7 and Windows 8 we will measure and test the performance of various aspects of the operating system including: boot up and shutdown times, file copying, encoding, browsing, gaming and some synthetic benchmarks.