Another much more detailed and elaborate benchmark comes from AnandTech, which professionally benchmarked Vista SP1 after its release, and concluded that it improved boot/shutdown times and fixed the extremely aggravating and utterly brain-dead "file copying bug," a bug that contributed to a large degree to the overall feeling that Vista was slow. They also note that Vista's performance had improved steadily during the first year after its release, with bug fixes, patches, and other updates.
There are countless other reviews and reports that clearly state that Vista has improved over time, but I won't detail them all. These articles are mostly published after the release of SP1, so they do not take the patches and updates since then into account. These are just some random plucks off the Net; there are many more.
Add to this my own personal experiences -- I run Vista on my Aspire One netbook these days, something which would've caused me nightmares during the RTM days. In addition, even some of the most avid Vista detractors on OSNews have admitted that Vista has indeed seen performance improvements since its release.
I'm ready to move to the next point on your list.
Randall to Thom:
Win 7 performance tests show it's the same as Vista -- so where's the change?
On the subject of benchmarking, if you take a moment to step outside your personal experience space of gaming and enthusiast computing, you'll discover that real-world performance means more than frame rates and 3DMarks. It means the ability to process potentially complex workloads efficiently and without undue penalty from the supporting operating system.
This is why Windows XP has lingered so long in enterprise computing circles, while Vista has been soundly rejected: Because Vista placed such an undue burden on systems that it made it nearly impossible to support the complex workloads that make up the typical enterprise computing stack.
Simply put, it overwhelmed the hardware available at the time of its launch, forcing customers to choose between wasting CPU upgrade cycles on superfluous features, like DRM and content protection, or putting them to work improving the performance and end-user experience of their business-critical applications. And I think we can all agree on where IT decided to focus those finite resources.
Here's a statistic for you: At a fundamental level, Windows Vista is 40 percent slower than Windows XP on common business productivity tasks.
This isn't conjecture. It isn't speculation. It's cold, hard fact based on extensive testing of both OS and their respective recent Service Pack iterations: Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1.