At long last the light is at the end of the tunnel. After a several year development period, the longest for any single consumer version of Windows, the end is near for Windows Vista. While it's clearly not ready to be delivered in to the hands of users quite yet, Vista is finally at a point where we can begin talking about what will happen, and not what may.

Although Microsoft uses the Release Candidate nomenclature for Vista builds 5600 and above, including build 5728 we're looking at today, the reality of the situation is that the shipping version of Windows Vista will not be these builds or even a few builds down the line. Given the complexity of an operating system, there are still messy quirks and bona fide bugs in these release candidates, and it's going to be at least another month before we're talking about Microsoft having released a final version, and even then there will be a good amount of post-launch patching to be done as Vista ends up in the hands of the ultimate bug hunters, everyday users.

With that said, this is the first time that we can say without flinching that Vista is in an acceptable state for general use. Compatibility on the x86 version is remarkably improved over what we saw earlier, and in our testing we only managed to come up with a single program - non-commercial at that - that simply wouldn't function correctly under Vista no matter what. Otherwise, everything could be made to work under Vista given enough cajoling, which is an enormous feat given the amount of under-the-hood work the operating system has received compared to Windows XP.

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User Account Controls have not changed much since build 5472, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Like Windows overall, UAC is usable at this point, and not nearly the nuisance it was as of Beta 2. It still has rough spots, and we'll get to that in a bit, but at this point enthusiasts are the only group that will have problems with it.

Hardware support and in-the-box drivers are also coming together, no doubt due to the portability of drivers between Vista and XP in most cases. A quick run-through of our lab turned up only two pieces of hardware that weren't supported under Vista: a Hauppauge TV tuner that had three of the four drivers it needed, and our PhysX card, both of which should have full support soon. All things considered, this will likely be the least-painful Windows transition on the driver front, as vendors have been on top of the few key kernel/driver changes for a while.

At this point we've been using RC1 for nearly a month, and the newer build 5728 for over two weeks, and while we're ready to switch back to XP until Vista is completed due to some video issues, Vista is ready to be taken seriously.

What Lies Ahead & the Test
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  • Griswold - Friday, October 6, 2006 - link

    What a pathetic comment.
  • flexy - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    lol at your reply :)

    I am NOT going into the age-long debate "Ati has so bad drivers" discussion anymore...we could've had that YEARS ago in Radon 8500 your biased blahblah just hasn't any base and just shows you're a n00b :)
  • VooDooAddict - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    I wish taht the article expanded more on the issue of lack of Hardware sound processing for older games.
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    Basicly put (someone correct me if im wrong here) MS moved away from all hardware based rendering of sound and put it into the OS. Im guessing its a directx 10 thing is why they did it..but Im sure Creative is pissed.
  • Missing Ghost - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    If creative is pissed than it must be a good thing.
  • michal1980 - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    creative sucking or not. M$ taking away ALL and ANY hardware accelration for games SUCKS.

    Creatives solution/monoloply is not the best, but given the fact that in general (90%) of the people buying an extra sound card do so for gaming, and creative for better or worse has 100% of the gaming market, locking creative out is a BAD thing.

    So we had problems with creative and there drivers and bloat.

    Answer me this? what do we have now? A M$ controled SOFTWARE SOUND SOLUTION!!!. EAX is not perfect, but alot of games use it, and when the do, it is GOOD!.

    Now were are left with ONBOARD Sound!!!. YAAA thats a step in the right direction? phhhf sorry hardware sound, even creative owns most onboard sound solutions. (Yes there was sound storm, but that was generations ago now).

    I'm not a creative fan-boy, I wish there was more then one 'real' sound card for gamers.


    Be a fanboi, Hate Creative. But this is not good for sound. (and yes there are ways around it, be geez, M$ just KILLED creative).

    And yes creative knew about it for a long time. However I don't know if they really saw what happened until way too late.

    So you Creative Haters, You won, lets all enjoy crappy on-board sound now!. YAAA, on board is soo cool.
  • squeezee - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    Basically they've changed the whole audio subsystem completely. As part of this change they have also moved DirectSound3D to a pure software implementation with no way for the hardware to directly interact with it. This is particularly effects games which use Directsound and EAX since the EAX effects are performed in hardware.

    However other APIs can still take advantage of hardware acceleration, such as OpenAL.
  • flexy - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    well..giggle..the creative programmers get PAID for writing drivers, right ? :)
    New APIs/implementations need new drivers, maybe even new HW if the old one is not capable. This is NOT necessarely a BAD thing !

  • Hulk - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    Because right now that seems like the only reason to consider upgrading. And even then we're going to have to wait for the "64 bitness" to show us some goods.

    Then again I've resisted every MS OS update and when I've finally updated I always wished I'd done it sooner!

  • Spoelie - Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - link

    Vista comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit flavors, you can choose which one you install.

    I also resisted switching before, but never really regretted it ;). I'm guessing Vista won't get on here before the first service pack - the gaming performance and mem usage is too horrid at the moment. Or maybe that'll get fixed with better drivers / tweak guides.

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