Some days ago I blogged about a questionable performance test of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista. The same organizations just tested the performance of Windows XP SP3. The "Researchers" wrote that they measured a "performance boost" of, well, 10%.
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I don't know if 10% could be called a "performance boost". I am pretty sure that you won't be able tell the difference during normal PC work. What I find more interesting, however, is that they used the same machine from their Vista SP1 performance test.
I have been criticizing before that it doesn't make much sense to test the performance of Vista on a machine with less than 2GB RAM. Some readers have raised doubts about my assessment. So I want take this chance to clarify my point.
Imagine someone tried to find out if Service Pack 1 for Windows XP improved the speed or not. The "researcher" has a laptop in his "research lab" which runs just fine with Windows NT 4.0. It has 128MB RAM which is more than enough for NT. Since he would like to know if he could run XP on this laptop after SP1 has been released he runs his test on this machine.
I think you don't have to understand much about Windows to predict the result of this test. Of course, XP will get hardly off the ground with 128MB RAM and no service pack in the world could change this. There were about 5 years between the release of Windows NT 4.0 and Windows XP and Microsoft needed the same time to develop Windows Vista.
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So the situation is exactly the same. If you really want to know if a service pack is helpful for the performance of an OS or not, then you have to use adequate hardware for your test.