ZDNet’s Ed Bott has done some benchmarks that show a pretty dramatic improvement in network file transfer speed to/from Windows Home Server and the RC version of Vista SP1. Previously, he blogged about five ways to improve startup performance with Windows Vista.
I know that it is fashionable to complain about problems with Vista, how slow it is, etc. It seems obvious that Vista was not quite ready last November, but I have seen a pretty steady improvement over the past year. The truth of the matter is that if you run Vista on decent, newer hardware, it performs quite well. It also helps if you know what you are doing, as far as configuring and maintaining your machine.
I have Vista Home Premium on my year-old, cheap Toshiba A135 laptop that I use for teaching. It has a 1.73GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 5400rpm SATA drive, and integrated graphics. It runs Aero quite well, along with SQL Server 2005 and VirtualPC 2007.
I have Vista Ultimate on my main gaming machine, which has an ASUS motherboard with a Nvidia 650i chipset, and Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 CPU, 2GB of RAM, two Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm SATA drives with hardware RAID 0, and a new XFX 8800GT video card. This machine (which is pretty modest by gaming standards), runs Vista extremely well. Newer, graphically intensive games like Supreme Commander and World in Conflict run very well, even at 1920 x 1200 resolution.
Of course, I actually make an effort to understand and maintain my machines. I regularly defragment the drives with Perfect Disk 8, and I stay up to date with BIOS updates, driver updates, etc. Vista is far from perfect, but I have had pretty good luck with it.