I ran across an article recently comparing the performance of a 1986 Mac and a 2007 PC. Of course the new machine would totally blow away the old one on a number crunching benchmark, but when it comes to the most mundane benchmarks — time to boot, launch Microsoft Word, open a file, do a search and replace, etc. — the old Mac pulls ahead slightly. Software bloat has increased at roughly the same rate as Moore’s law, making a new machine with new software no better than an old machine with old software in some respects.
The comparisons in the article resonate with my experience. I expect administrative tasks to be quick and number crunching to be slow, and so I’m continually surprised how long routine tasks take and how quickly numerical software runs.