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SiSoft Sandra's Stream
SiSoft Sandra's Stream memory benchmark is up first. Ideally, we want to see identical values for each OS, as this is really just a straight up memory bandwidth test. There's really no reason for our OSes to differ here, but we'll check just to be thorough.

FPU-wise, the OSes are identical.

With ALU scores being essentially identical, we know that none of the OSes are constraining things on the memory bandwidth front. This applies for both the high-end and low-end systems, which differ both in amount of RAM and memory bandwidth.

With that formality out of the way, let's get onto some more interesting tests.

ZD Winstones
First up for our real world tests is ZD's Winstone suites. These tests are important for two reasons: First, they represent the kind of usage you would likely find in a real work environment. Additionally, they should provide a good counterpoint to InfoWorld's tests which indicate that, at least with Office XP, business tasks are much slower in Windows XP. The Winstone suite, however, uses Office 2000 and a much more diverse set of tests.

Our high-end machine sees a steady and measurable increase in performance going from Windows ME, to Windows 2000, to Windows XP. While the margin of WinXP's lead is small, it's certainly outside the margin of error. WinME falls just below 2000 in performance, a possible sign of its aging 9x core.

On the low-end machine, the results are less dramatic. The Business Winstone test isn't that taxing to begin with, and it's likely the 256MB of RAM in our low-end box that's keeping XP and 2000 from putting in better performances. Still, despite their larger footprints, the two NT-based OSes don't lose any ground to WinME.

The more demanding Content Creation test sees our high-end machine pull off a slightly more decisive victory in XP than it did in our Business test. Windows ME really suffers here; it seems the 9x core just can't keep up with the higher demands of the Content Creation test.

Even on the low-end machine, WinME scores well behind the other OSes. WinXP takes a bigger lead over 2000 with this test, making it the clear performance leader on both hardware platforms.