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WorldBench is a good way to get a feel for how SP1 affects real-world Vista performance. This benchmark uses scripting to assess the performance of eight major Windows applications, from Firefox 2 to 3ds max 8, in a variety of different usage scenarios. We'll start with the overall score, which rates a system based on how well it runs the entire suite of WorldBench applications tests, then we'll look at how each app fared on its own.

Yes, Service Pack 1 is one whole WorldBench score point faster than the release-to-manufacturing version of Windows Vista. Before we draw any hasty conclusions, though, let's first have a look at individual application performance.

Productivity and general use software
The following results cover WorldBench's desktop productivity application benchmarks. These tests should do a good job of mirroring day-to-day usage scenarios like web browsing, word processing, or multitasking with a CPU-heavy app in the background.

Microsoft Office productivity

Firefox web browsing

Multitasking - Firefox and Windows Media Encoder

WinZip file compression

Nero CD authoring

Individual apps show more pronounced changes, but we see no clear pattern emerging. SP1 is sometimes faster, sometimes slower, and sometimes the same as the RTM version.

Users working in Microsoft Office or authoring CDs and DVDs in Nero will see slight performance benefits from SP1, but those running Firefox 2 either on its own or with a copy of Windows Media Encoder doing its thing in the background will see a slight performance decrease. As for folks extracting files with WinZip, they should see no changes.

Of course, we ought to point out that differences are smaller than 5% in all of these tests. As such, users may be hard pressed to notice any performance increases or decreases at all.