So that's the objective testing done and what can we conclude? Well there's not a huge amount to take away from these figures (much to my chagrin considering the amount of testing and headache that was involved). There are definitely examples where Windows 7 proves to be faster than Vista and there are few situations where the roles are reversed, but the case isn't strong enough to say Windows 7 is out and out faster than Vista. Except, of course, when it comes to boot times. Here, Windows 7 has a clear advantage.
As for comparisons to XP, it's again unclear but in a different way. In some areas, like the small file transfers, XP still has a clear advantage, but then it flip flops between being the best and worst at mp3 encoding and file compression and consistently falls behind in other areas.
When it comes to subjective testing the picture is considerably clearer. Windows 7 feels fast. Seriously fast! Faster, possibly than even XP. Opening menus, flipping between windows, clicking on items in the taskbar, minimising, maximising, performing searches, opening folders filled with thousands of files, all of it happens near instantly. Of course, opening a game or some other large program still takes a while, but the difference it makes having all the little bits and bobs you use everyday work orders of magnitude faster than on Vista is something one really can't dismiss.
There are of course many other factors involved in your decision of whether to buy Microsoft's latest OS; what new features does it have, are they worth the upgrade, is it too expensive, will I hate the new interface, and Andy will be addressing all these shortly in his full review. However, if you were worried about Windows 7 because of the disastrous performance of Vista then you can rest assured that performance is highly unlikely to be an issue.