First, a comment: I learned something when doing these boot tests. The more you boot Windows 7, the faster it boots. For example, in my tests, Windows prompted me for "control-alt-delete" to login after about 2 minutes. After a few tests of "boot, login, shut down, power on, boot, login, ..." Windows took less than a minute to prompt me to login. That's very interesting.
It's odd, but I suspect it's marking something as recently-used and is effectively able to "cache" stuff even though it's coming up from a cold boot every time. A neat trick - but if my suspicion is correct and Windows is relying on some flag to indicate something can be loaded without processing (or whatever it's doing) I wonder if this could be used to hijack a Windows system.
But let's get down to business - how long does it take Windows 7 to boot?
My method: Our desktop support folks at work installed my laptop with a "standard" image of Windows 7. It's the same config that just about everyone in our office uses for Windows 7. But I'm doing these boot tests when I'm at home, over the weekend. The system has previously been booted, so if there are any one-time scripts that the system needs to run, I suppose Windows has already done so.
I used a digital stopwatch to record my timings. To remove the question of how long it took the laptop to check memory (POST at boot) I always started the timer from the BIOS "select my boot device" menu, starting the stopwatch at the same time I hit Enter on the boot device I wanted. I'm most interested in how long it takes to boot the system (from BIOS), login, bring up Firefox, and display a web page (Google).
Here are the major milestones for Windows 7 (Dell D430, booting from the hard drive):
- From BIOS to login prompt: 2 minutes, 3 seconds
- Login prompt to desktop: +53 seconds
- Desktop to web page: +15 seconds
That means Windows 7 takes about a minute longer to boot, login, and get to work than Windows Vista - say, for the first time you login each morning.
From an earlier post, here are the times for Windows Vista (same hardware, same hard drive):
- From BIOS to login prompt: 36 seconds
- Login prompt to desktop: +42 seconds
- Desktop to web page (Firefox): +46 seconds
And to compare, the same for Linux (same hardware, booting from a USB flash drive):
- From BIOS to login prompt: 40 seconds
- Login prompt to desktop: +15 seconds
- Desktop to web page: +12 seconds
To answer my question from the previous post: Is Windows 7 slow? The answer is definitely yes.