Windows 7 boot time shenanigans

According to a recent CNet article, it seems that Microsoft has been a bit deceptive with their claims that Windows 7 boots faster.

The claim is from a company called Iolo Technologies:

[Iolo’s] lab unit found that a brand-new machine running Windows 7 takes a minute and 34 seconds to become usable, as compared to a minute and 6 seconds for Windows Vista. Iolo notes that it measured not the time it takes for the desktop to appear–which can be as little as 40 seconds on a fresh installation of Windows 7–but rather the time it takes to become fully usable “with CPU cycles no longer significantly high and a true idle state achieved.”

I’m not the least bit surprised that Microsoft would take the deceptive, underhanded path here, and make Windows 7 look like it boots faster even while the rest of the “booting” is still going on in the background making the system relatively unresponsive. Much of the rest of the computer-using public, however, falls for this kind of thing hook, line, and sinker.

I have no access to a computer running anything more recent than Windows XP Media Center Edition, so I cannot unfortunately lend my personal insight there. (Some of that is by choice: I hopped off the Windows train at Windows 98, and my next new PC will come preloaded with a GNU/Linux distribution called Ubuntu which is an offshoot of Debian. I’m running Ubuntu on this rather geriatric PC (800 MHz Celeron, 256M RAM, 20G drive) that I am using to write this, and if I’m careful about what I run it’s not too bad. Certainly much better than the Windows 98 it left the factory with.)

What I can tell you, is that with just about any operating system and GUI released as free software, what you see is what you get. The desktop or login screen comes up, and that means the system is done booting. Microsoft would do well to adopt the same model of transparency, or drop their deceptive claim that Windows 7 boots faster when in fact it probably does not.

I am definitely curious as to how fast Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) and Debian
5.0 (lenny) would boot on the same hardware Iolo Technologies used for their
test. I have never actually timed the boot procedure on this PC, but I have
nothing to really compare it to so it may not be that relevant.