Windows 7 is shaping up to be a great performer, judging by early benchmarks from the first beta release. ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has tested the beta in 23 real-world tasks, from network transfers to Excel file handling, and he claims it already outperforms both Windows Vista and Windows XP overall.
The blogger admittedly obscures his actual benchmark results, so there's no way to tell exactly how much faster Windows 7 might be. You'll only find numerical scores for each OS in each test. Still, Windows 7 apparently beat its forebears in 21 out of 23 tests on both a Pentium system with 1GB of RAM and a Phenom PC with 4GB of RAM—that's got to count for something.
If Microsoft hasn't updated its schedule recently, Windows 7 should start hitting stores and pre-built PCs before the end of this year. A Microsoft executive recently confirmed that the company will focus its sales efforts on Windows 7 for the 2009 holiday season, and some hardware firms (including AMD and Asus) also seem to expect a 2009 launch.