Matlab R2015b introduces important new performance features and includes support for MinGW compilers on Windows. This latter point is important since Visual Studio and Intel compilers are large, bulky paid installs.
The new JIT engine in Matlab R2015b compiles ALL Matlab code, not just some Matlab code like prior releases. That’s right, just like C or Fortran, all Matlab code is run through a compiler. Matlab is still slower than lower level languages, but a massive performance leap has been enabled with R2015b. Matlab is now orders of magnitude faster than GNU Octave for typical looping operations, where Octave has been struggling to get their JIT compiler working.