Users gripe about Vista start-up, shutdown speed

Speed issues a disappointment for Vista fans

Windows Vista users are complaining on Microsoft's support forums about long start-up, shutdown and application load times compared with Windows XP.

The users, who sound pro-Vista for the most part, have vented about a variety of speed issues on Microsoft's Performance & Maintenance forum. "I have XP and Vista running side-by-side [but] I twiddle my thumbs waiting for certain apps to load up on the Vista machine while the load is instantaneous on the older XP machine," wrote a user identified as William. "I've tweaked it as best as I could with the info available and I am still very disappointed."

Wrote another user, Kris: "Recently I upgraded from XP to Vista [Home] Premium. When I start the laptop and I see the last BIOS info and Vista starts loading, then I have to wait a full 6 (six!) minutes before I can open my first application (for example Outlook or IE or whatever)."

Some accepted the slower speeds as the price of admission for getting the latest and greatest from Microsoft. Said Jon: "XP is undoubtedly quicker than Vista. I don't think there will be a way around that. You'll never get extra functionality, without some performance cost, assuming the same hardware."

Suggestions from other users, including some tagged as Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, ranged from adding more RAM to running Vista's Performance Information and Tools control panel to diagnosing possible problems. Replies to such messages, however, typically claimed 2GB or more of memory, and said no problems were reported by the operating system.

Start-up and shutdown times were particularly grating to some users. "Takes about 10 minutes to boot, then 5 minutes after login before you can use it," said user Bengt. "If no improvement I have promised my family to return to XP. But I want Vista!"

One user had a worse tale to tell. Martin Racette wanted to know if it was normal that Vista took more than an hour to shut down and to restart.

Others, at least, kept a sense of humour. "I've compared it to a Commodore 64 loading programs from tape, but I think the Commodore was faster," said Steve Franks. "I'm currently writing this on my other PC, because nothing has happened on my Vista machine for about 15 minutes."

Users, software reviewers and some analysts have dinged Vista for its high-powered hardware requirements, and a lawsuit filed last week took that very tack. Head-to-head comparisons between XP and Vista start-up and shutdown times, however, remain anecdotal.

Thus, it was no surprise that Microsoft denied that Vista is slower to boot, reboot or shut down. "Start-up and shutdown times will vary based on the configuration of the PC by the OEM," said a company spokeswoman today. "But we have seen, based on both internal and external measurement and testing, that most Windows Vista users experience very quick responses when using sleep, shutdown or restart.

"In fact, the majority of users will have start-up and shutdown times that are faster than they would have been with Windows XP," she added. "If users take advantage of Windows Vista's default sleep setting, they can achieve two-to-three second resume times."

Microsoft has positioned Vista's new sleep mode -- a hybrid state that combines Windows XP's separate hibernation and standby modes -- as the default setting, essentially conditioning users to not power-off their PCs. Some have reasoned that the move was made to mask Vista's long boot and shutdown times.

Although Microsoft has not admitted as much, last December, Jim Alchin, then the head of Windows, while describing sleep mode, said: "The bottom line is that because there is no reboot, the PC can respond much more quickly."

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