With Windows Vista, Microsoft revamped many features and piled on a lot of functionality that Windows XP didn’t have — among other things improving security. An unfortunate side effect of this, though was that Windows Vista was much bulkier than Windows XP and more battery hungry. As a result, up until October most netbooks used Windows XP.
With Windows 7, more new features were added, but this time a more disciplined approach concerning OS bulk was taken, helped, in part, by a large public testing phase. Windows 7 was trimmed down from Vista both in memory and install size, and many of its critical metrics (boot time, etc.) approached the high bar set by Windows XP.
However, Microsoft still fell a bit short of the eight-year-old OS in a couple of critical metrics. According to numerous testers one of the biggest failures is in battery life on netbooks. According to recent tests, it isn’t even close — Windows 7 delivers much worse battery life.
Versus the grizzled veteran XP, Windows 7 averaged 47 minutes less battery life in testing by Laptop. In some models, such as ASUS 1008HA, the deficit was almost an hour (57 minutes), cutting the battery life by approximately 16 percent (roughly 1/6th). Further testing by Liliputing and jkOnTheRun confirmed the lower run times.
A recent comparison by CNET between 64-bit Windows 7 and competitor Apple’s OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, run on MacBooks with Boot Camp showed Windows 7 to trail behind Snow Leopard in battery life as well. It also was bested by Snow Leopard in boot time, shutdown time, multimedia encoding, and multitasking tests.
Looking on the positive side, it is a marked improvement that Windows 7 can run on the majority of netbooks — a feat Vista couldn’t pull off. However, its disappointing to see that for all the hard work Microsoft poured into the operating system, that it still can’t beat a well-designed product it made almost a decade ago.