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Visual Studio Face-to-Face battle

Yesterday Visual Studio 2010 was released. This is very exciting, however from the moment I played with very first preview versions I had concerns regarding the performance of it code editor. So today I had some time to perform small face-to-face battle between different versions of Visual Studio – 2005, 2008 and 2010 (Sorry, I did not found VS2002 to test).



I used very slow machine with 256Mb of RAM running Windows XP as a reference for comparison. First of all I installed each one of those programs. I used customized installation to install only C# programming modules.

Then I tested cold start (first application start) and hot start (average of 5 forecoming starts), creation and opening of new console application project. And finally the real world test. Typing in, compilation and run of “Hello World” sample. This includes opening of context menus, tools and options.

I used “Hello World” sample from MSDN for type-in experience. Just for reference, I used small program I wrote to calculate typing speed (this takes into account that most of text is generated by the same macros and shortcuts e.g. “cw”)


  VS2005 VS2008 VS2010
Installation 10 min 20 min 40 min
Cold start 1.2 sec 3.9 sec 28 sec
Hot start 0.3 sec 1.3 sec 4.5 sec
Start new project (Ctrl-Shift-N) 0.2 sec 3.2 sec 2 sec
Create new Console Application 16 sec 3 sec 24 sec
Clear working screen (Ctrl-A + Del) 0.4 sec 0.2 sec 1.2 sec
Type in “Hello World” 41 sec 56 sec 1 min 43 sec
Average type rate 93 wpm 68 wpm 35 wpm
Average UI response (how long it takes to open menu/hint) 0.7 sec 1.6 sec 3.5 sec
Installation/Uninstallation disk delta 40Mb 60Mb 2.3Gb*
Memory footprint (for this project) 6Mb 17Mb 65Mb
Disk space required 1.4Gb 2.6Gb 3.9Gb

* Can anybody from DevDiv, please, explain me why when I want to install only C# (this is the only checkbox marked during custom installation), you install for me:


There are some new and pretty eye-candies for VS2010, also support for newer compilers and interpreter. However, my final verdict is “I disappointed”…

I feel a big degradation of productivity between following versions of Visual Studio. In terms of speed, responsiveness and ability to perform everyday developers’ tasks. That’s right, that there are new features, but we should remember that the main purpose of this program is to support writing code.

I hope that MS DevDiv will take this into account and review it understanding of how development environment should be. I, personally, stay with VS2008 without .NET 4.0 (I have my special opinion about this version of .NET, which worse separate post)

If you old enough, you should remember HomeSite. It was beaten by editor named Notepad.exe (or it variants and alternatives) for HTML developers because of it unresponsiveness and unnecessary cumbersomeness of this program. Running after features killed the main purpose – write effective code fast and correct. This how I forecast the future of Visual Studio. Pity me…

 My hopes

P.S. Sorry, I did not write here for a while. This because of a lot of exiting things I did for the last two years. I promise to write more. Frankly! I swear, I will try to!

UPD 14-Apr: For all people have comments about my production environment and a validity of my measurements there, please see how it looks on my work machine (E8400, 8Gb RAM and NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT)

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48 Responses to “Visual Studio Face-to-Face battle”

  1. Myke Says:

    It seems like you might be missing the point. A 256MB old computer isn’t typical anymore. Technology has always been about trade-offs. When resources were more limited, many nice-to-have features were sacrificed for performance. Now that the typical machine has more memory, more hard drive space, and faster processors, these features are now possible, and yes, they take up resources. We’re talking about vast developer experience improvments, such as the pseudo-javascript compiler for javascript intellisense, JIT background compilation, multi-core parallel operations, better database management, profiling, multi-threaded debugging, more plug-in hooks, modeling capabilities, etc. etc. etc… If anything, these features are a major improvement in developer productivity. And since most developer machines have the resources, why not enjoy more convienience when trying to deveop today’s vastly more complex applications?

  2. Pablo Alarcón García Says:

    “I used very slow machine with 256Mb of RAM running Windows XP as a reference for comparison”

    I expect much better results with a machine from this century :)

    Seriously, VS2010 performance is dependant on much more RAM and even the graphics card has an importance because of WPF.

  3. Enoalife Says:

    Only what i can say: upgrade you config, for better comparison.
    When left VS 2005? And VS 2010. Think unfair comparison.
    Install at my config not more 15 min.
    Cold start not more 15 sec, Hot not more 10 sec.
    I think VS 2010 better other old VS, but worse VS6 (which I consider the best :))

  4. Tamir Says:

    @Myke, @Pablo, @Enoalife
    I intentionally used slow machine to assure the correct measurements and show extreme differences.
    For my both work machines (Lenovo W500 and desktop with E8400, 8Gb RAM and NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT) I am getting very similar results. Delays in menus and source code making for VS2010 are visible, it is very bad experience to check every time that code I’m typing being actually typed.

    Also usually I have 4-6 IDEs opened and some of them in debug state. Overall experience that VS2008 is at least twice faster than VS2010 for my everyday tasks on the same (strong) machine :)

  5. Tom Says:

    Thanks for telling it like it is, Tamir. I’m worried about performance in this new version too. Although I agree that it’s not terribly useful to see this kind of comparison on such a weak machine – 256MB of RAM? It’s a miracle it even starts up at all. :)

    You’re right about the install though. What’s up with all that crap being installed? I sure as hell don’t want any SQL Server installed on my machine and will go to great lengths to remove it if I can. If the VS2010 installer doesn’t give you any way to avoid installing SQL Server, that’s just dumb.

    As for VS6.. well.. it’s widely acknowledged both within MS and outside, no VS release can ever surpass that one. :)

  6. Gils Says:

    I agree that the configuration was a little biased. But I think Tamir is right. VS2010 is less stable and less productive than VS2008 which is less stable and less productive than VS2005. And I’ve used them all on their “intended” machines (during the year they were published)

  7. arnshea Says:

    I like the web installer as a quick way to only download the components I need.

    I’m LOVING the Help Library Manager.

    The installer is much simpler than previous installers.

    On the other hand, I was a little suprised at how many additional dependencies were brought in even though I only intended to install VC# and VC++ (e.g., lots of SQL Server dependencies even though I deselected SQL Server).

    2 reboots down, 1 more to go (after help installs).

  8. Joe Says:

    If you’re using a machine that doesn’t meet the minimum recommended requirements then it sort of invalidates the results. Is this really your main development machine?

    VS2010 has been very good – especially with large solutions and large files. Much better than previous versions.

  9. Tamir Says:

    I answered on this here. No, this is not my dev machine :) I used this only for reference in order to validate results.

  10. Bob Says:

    I am afraid the only thing that you were able to validate was how much of an idiot you are. You seriously had to conduct testing to find out that the older IDE’s use fewer resources than the newer IDE’s ?
    Instead of played Microsoft critic and thinking that you are really cool because you are bashing Microsoft like every other loser who writes a tech blog, I suggest working on you grasp of the English language. You might trying providing content that is useful and not a bunch of whining about something that you probably can’t afford in the first place.

  11. Jonathan Says:

    I am upset alvin ashcraft linked this. I experienced the exact opposite. Yes I read your “i really do have more modern machines i tried this on” statement but your results as far as performance is just not true. It installed in less than 5 minutes for me. Using it and coding wiht it has been a blast and cannot wait for it at work. And if anyone is rebooting, it’s time you update your 8 year old OS.

  12. Heckler Says:

    Maybe you should first buy an English dictionary to help you with the big words like “exiting”, or maybe code a new spell-checker!

  13. IanET Says:

    You might want to re-measure again in a week or so after the OS prefetcher has had a chance to optimize a few things (as it would have done for your 2005 and 2008 installs). It might not help but it can sometimes make a big difference.

  14. Mario Says:

    The use of what might seem like a crippled system as a starting point is often one of the best ways of getting an easily readable metric of performance.

    I would have used a system with considerably more RAM and a decent graphics card, but would have employed the slowest processor I could find for the test as was done here (nasty and mean spirited bashing on the part of some posters here, not at all warranted).

    That sort of arrangement makes it easy to decern obvious differences in performance.

    I’ve been using 2010, 2008 and to a lesser degree 2005. 2010 is markedly slower than the other releases. That is the reality we are now faced with when switching to products that use newer tech that will eventually be burned into metal.

    WPF uses a form of display list technology. When it’s supported at the hardware level, 2010 will be a much more pleasant working environment. 2010 is also doing much more with each keystroke.

    The bottom line, you have to have a multi-core system with lots of RAM and a high end graphics card to run at the performance level you can get with 2005/2008 with significantly weaker hardware.

    64Kbytes of RAM used to be enough to run all sorts of “high end” systems back in the mid seventies. It’s probably not enough to run your toaster today.

    Welcome to the future.

    Thanks the evaluation! I for one think your observations are quite reasonable.

  15. Dani Says:

    Well, I must agree with the writer.
    VS2010 is much slower than 2008.
    and I’m using an I7 machine, with 3GB ram.

    I hope SP1 will fix these issues, and MS should keep the track of making software that can run on old computers (like 7…)
    b/c – this is the real deal.

    Tamir – did you meant here:
    which worse separate post
    Which worth separate post ?

  16. Gus Says:

    This is so pointless. I am sorry you spent quite a bit of time doing this comparison. Why didn’t you include Notepad? It would by so much faster than all of the VSs.

  17. Kari Shaffer Says:

    I am afraid the only thing that you were able to validate was how much of an idiot you are. You seriously had to conduct testing to find out that the older IDE’s use fewer resources than the newer IDE’s ? Instead of played Microsoft critic and thinking that you are really cool because you are bashing Microsoft like every other loser who writes a tech blog, I suggest working on you grasp of the English language. You might trying providing content that is useful and not a bunch of whining about something that you probably can’t afford in the first place.

  18. Michael Thuma Says:

    I agree with you on the tons additional things that come with the installation … did I order this – no?

    Don’t complain the ViEmu works and this is the most important thing;) Nothing else matters.

  19. shankar dakolia Says:

    Ok nice post I have updated machine for visual studio 2010 but what about my client machines they are not ready to upgrade their machines rather than you can see delphi is much faster to develop and the applications developed also run faster on normal config machines

  20. shankar dakolia Says:

    you can’s force everybody just because vs 2010 needs higher hardware it is OK for heavy applications but what about small applications developed in vs 2010 that gives very slow performance on older or normal hardware

  21. Chris Lovett Says:

    You report extremely slow times for VS 2010 because it was “thrashing” on lack of memory. You would be able to get older version of VS to thrash also if you give them less that the recommended minimum memory. It would be interesting to see what happens when you give it at least the recommended minimum. I’ve been using VS 2010 for serious development since it was released and I have found it to be ok, and quite stable also.

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