Monday, December 19, 2005

Microsoft Denies Changes in Vista Graphics

Mary Jo Foley says that Microsoft Denies Changes in Vista Graphics. My last post was in response to the TechWorld article that spawned the Mary Jo Microsoft "report". I never read the article as if MS was changing Vista suddenly to pull the graphics subsystem out of the kernel. Instead I read it as if they ALREADY had to improve stability compared to Windows XP, that it was designed that way to begin with. I wonder how many people read it like I did vs. how many MS thinks read it like? Microsoft reponse channeled through Mary Jo says the TechWorld report is wrong, but the MS response is a bit misleading. I think it goes out of its way to suggest that more is business as usually in Vista with regards to graphics as compared to XP than is in motion. The Windows Longhorn Display Driver Model - Details and Requirements PowerPoint I linked to off of Microsoft's site makes it pretty clear that there is significant change to DirectX and the driver model in Vista when compared to XP. DirectX 10 is the native version in Vista and requires new hardware, so I think this should be read as for the "advanced mode" cards I blogged about in my last post. Those DX10 APIs are not backward compatible with any previous version of DirectX. Previous versions of DirectX are "implemented" on Vista. Here is a nice summary post with links to the info that came out of PDC05. Download the slide decks that this article is linked to. These decks where used during the PDC and re-iterate much of the information in the slide deck I linked to above, but with some interesting new details. The Vista Desktop will use Direct3D from DirectX9! This is on slide 16 in the PRS311_Balaz.ppt deck. So this is the "existing DirectX APIs", but its really Direc3D from DirectX9 Extension. This is what "implemented" means because they took the DX9 stack and it runs side by side with the DX10 stack, but they made D3D9 work with the new driver model, with the division of driver labor in user mode and kernel mode. What's really interesting is that MS thinks this is serious enough to issue a press release through Mary Jo. Graphics in Vista are not business as usual compared to XP, and this is what got a lot of people excited on Thursday, including yours truly. The level of change compared to XP and the way Vista has been designed to work has escaped a lot of people's attention, and I think once people started to realize this, they are either scared of MS getting this right (check) or scared what it means to there existing hardware and games. I have been saying since the PDC03 that Longhorn was going to be so huge a change you are going to want new hardware to support it, and this information only reinforces that view.