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Some vista related mumbling...

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So, while I wait for my report to print out, I thought i'd fill this space up with some general rambling.

I've got a lot of "real" work to do this month, but I'm planning on distracting myself (can you do that?) by getting to grips with Direct3D 10 and Windows Vista (and trying not to make any more n00b moderator mistakes).

Windows Vista
I've got Vista 5270 installed on my machine, I'm on the Vista beta program as well as an MSDN subscriber so I'm spoilt for choice here. Despite the rather chaotic install (which left me wondering if my machine would ever work again) it's an absolutely huge improvement over 5231 (October CTP). I'd go so far as saying that 5231 was unusable for me whereas 5270 is usable provided you ignore the odd bugs/quirks.

A few things I like:

User Interface: I'm not really talking about the AERO glass thing here, more the actual GUI design and layout. As I see it, there hasn't been many design/layout changes to windows since '95 - within reason, you could probably sit down to any one of 95/98/me/2k/xp and be able to know your way around the system.

With Vista they seem to have changed a lot of things and actually thought about the interface a bit more. It seems to be a continuation of the "Show Common Tasks" pane that you can get in XP. Lots of things are cross-referenced, and common settings are exposed as simplified screens. Opening "properties" from the desktop no longer goes directly to the Display CP applet - it shows a friendly window exposing 4 of the basic things you'd want to change (theme,background,screensaver,something).

However, it's not gone all n00b-friendly as you can turn most of it off and it's only one-click back to the "classic" style. I like it.

Windows Defender: I haven't stressed this one yet, so I'm not sure of all the details. Security is ridiculously tight now - and I like that. Any application that starts will spawn a "permit" or "deny" message box - it seems to be difficult to get a new process starting without you knowing it.

The part that made me smile was when installing a utility (forget what now) I got a big pop-up warning saying it was trying to modify the registry - would I like to allow this process to access it? Clicking the balloon showed the gory details and explained why it might be bad to let a 3rd party application write to the registry.

Only downside is that it can get tedious to keep permitting/denying things. I'm hoping they'll fix that.

System Assessement Tool (WinSAT): A neat feature that allows to to benchmark the hardware in your system. It's relevance seems to be a hot debate on a number of forums, but either way I think it's good. I'd so much rather buy products (and more importantly, as a developer, sell products) where my requirements were just a number. Buyers with a "3" machine can handle all 0,1,2 software, if I sell some "5" software then they know out right that they shouldn't waste their money on it.

A neat trick is that it seems to have a way of suggesting how to increase your number. So in the aforementioned example, I could get suggestions as to upgrades to turn my "3" machine into a "5" machine.

Okay, to balance it out, some things I don't like:

Needs a higher resolution screen: I can't put my finger on it, but I seem to have more desktop space under XP. I'm happy with 1024x768 with XP, yet I could happily go for much higher under Vista.

Skinned software looks terrible: XP software works fine under Vista, but if it uses any custom "skinning" (e.g. MSN Messenger, MS Office, Visual Studio) then it immediately sticks out like a sore thumb against AERO Glass.


(click to enlarge)


Direct3D 10
I installed VC8 and the December SDK last night, meaning that I can run (albeit very slowly) Direct3D 10 applications.

Time permitting, I'll cover any progress in this very journal.

I spotted this thread in the OpenGL forum today - so far they've been friendly towards a DirectX person (I was wondering if i'd get chased off with flaming torches and pitchforks after what phantom posted [oh]).

It got me thinking - theres an obvious transition period coming up. Nothing special to computing, but people get very edgy around change - despite constantly moaning, people generally seem happy and peaceful if the status quo is maintainted ([rolleyes]).

  • Direct3D 10 will be Windows Vista only
  • Direct3D 10 requires a new generation of hardware
  • Direct3D 9.0c will, it seems, be the last update for XP
  • I don't see any sane reason why or how the DX team would "back port" D3D10 features into D3D9.

    With that in mind, a few other interesting observations:
  • From a D3D perspective, IHV's wouldn't need to release D3D10 compliant hardware till the end of the year.
  • D3D10 compliant hardware will, presumably, appear as a turbo charged D3D9/SM3 part under XP. Thus what you can code on a 6800/7800 is probably about the limit of what D3D will ever do for XP
  • Theres a distinct feature set difference from 9->10, which means you either design engines as "lowest common denominator" or you run two "breeds" of technology and dynamically switch. Neither is easy.

    Where it gets interesting is with OpenGL. Not my thing to be honest. Based on the aforementioned post, it would seem conceivable (with approval from the IHV's) that "D3D10 features" will be available under WinXP IF you use OpenGL. It also means that, IHV permitting, OpenGL might get a run on D3D programmers by having hw/drivers/extensions before we have Vista/D3D10.

    It also adds an interesting dynamic - instead of having a D3D9 engine and a D3D10 engine for XP and Vista respectively, you could have an OpenGL engine for XP and a D3D10 engine for Vista so as to get a similar feature set.

    We live in interesting times. The next 18 months or so will be facinating from a graphics/games programming point of view.
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    Just to see if people are actually reading all of my journal entries, you can have a cookie if you read/reply to this [lol]

    My printing took 30 minutes to complete [oh]

    Jack

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    What about Win9x apps? Plain old programs without the XP, Vista or custom skins, do they look/run OK?

    I'd like a chocolate chip cookie please [smile]

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    Quote:
    I refuse to reply.

    Too late, you already did. Now eat the damn cookie!



    Quote:
    Well, that's an impressive amount of text to think up and write in 30 minutes.

    Well you have accused me of being a robot before... [rolleyes]

    Quote:
    Now you hand me my cookizzle!

    Google only knows of one cookizzle, exactly how you plan on eating it is a problem I'll leave to you [oh]



    Quote:
    How does one get their hands on a beta copy of Vista?

    I don't think you can join the beta program at the moment (this is the page to check though). MSDN subscribers have access to most of the same builds as the beta testers.

    Quote:
    What about Win9x apps?

    I haven't tried. Vista won't pick up any XP-installed applications, so I've not actually tried many 3rd party apps. I shall see if I can find out though [smile]

    Quote:
    I'd like a chocolate chip cookie please

    Why certainly:



    Here's a selection to choose from if you want 2nd's [grin]



    Cheers,
    Jack

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    "Fascinating" perhaps, from many perspectives, but as far as I'm concerned it's gonna suck hard. My team will be in the delightful position of starting a major project that crosses the Vista/DX10 barrier in terms of time, and we'll have to decide on whether or not to try and cross the barrier in terms of our engine technology as well. On the one hand, we could release post-DX10 with a DX9 engine and risk being perceived as yesterday's technology (which, I fear, is going to happen an awful lot among the considerably massive crowd of gamers that knows some acronyms but doesn't understand the flow of technology). On the other, we could try to target DX10, risk a considerable setback in having to adapt our engine technologies, and then get shafted by a suboptimal market penetration.

    Releasing a "passé" DX9 engine is almost certainly the lesser of two evils, but our forums are definitely going to be a "fun" place for a few months around that time.

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    Quote:
    Any application that starts will spawn a "permit" or "deny" message box - it seems to be difficult to get a new process starting without you knowing it.

    Ick. I hope to hell I can switch this off, or at least that they tweak it so that implicitly started applications (user double clicks on icon, or launches via shortcut) doesn't do this. For the most obvious part to most people, security at Microsoft is in danger of looking like them just saying "Are you sure you want to do that".

    Quote:
    The part that made me smile was when installing a utility (forget what now) I got a big pop-up warning saying it was trying to modify the registry - would I like to allow this process to access it? Clicking the balloon showed the gory details and explained why it might be bad to let a 3rd party application write to the registry.

    Not different to what a lot of spyware scanners do now, but still ick and a half. Was the installation allowed to continue while this was prompted? I wonder if this same behaviour is exhibited with a silent install?

    Man, I wish I had enough to afford the right MSDN subscription to check it out for myself...

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    ApochPiQ - sounds like an unfortunately familiar story to me [oh] Doesn't make it any less worse though. I'm wondering if Direct3D (and it's D3D9Ex Vista part) will become the transitionary tool of choice.

    A D3D9 codepath for XP and then an extended codepath that pushes an NV-7800 to it's limits and stretches the SM3 feature set for all its worth. At least early on, pushing SM3 to its limits will probably still have that necessary "wow" factor.

    Quote:
    Quote:
    Any application that starts will spawn a "permit" or "deny" message box - it seems to be difficult to get a new process starting without you knowing it.

    Ick. I hope to hell I can switch this off, or at least that they tweak it so that implicitly started applications (user double clicks on icon, or launches via shortcut) doesn't do this. For the most obvious part to most people, security at Microsoft is in danger of looking like them just saying "Are you sure you want to do that".

    Yup, I know what you mean. A few people have suggested improvements to it. My personal choice was a "Always trust this vendor" or a "Trust this vendor for the remainder of this session"... I've got no problem with it asking me once [smile]

    Quote:
    Not different to what a lot of spyware scanners do now, but still ick and a half. Was the installation allowed to continue while this was prompted? I wonder if this same behaviour is exhibited with a silent install?

    I don't actually remember - it's only happened once. I'll keep an eye on it next time.

    Quote:
    Man, I wish I had enough to afford the right MSDN subscription to check it out for myself...

    I suppose it's gotta be a bit annoying seeing all this stuff about Vista and not being able to get it yourself [headshake]

    You got any connections with a company that'll have a licence? Academic instituion?

    Cheers,
    Jack

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    (and trying not to make any more n00b moderator mistakes)


    Beware the power of the ban-hammer. I suggest you take it back to Mordor and throw it in the lava flows of Mount Doom before it corrupts you absolutely.

    Seriously though, congrats on becoming a moderator.

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    Anyway, my forum > your forum [razz]


    yes, thats because your silly little forum is filled with questions about more than one API [razz]
    and you've some old OGL posts from back when the two forums were one [razz]
    and you probably have directplay questions so I win! [razz][razz][razz]

    *koff*

    On a more sensible note, I wonder if my college could be talked into letting me grab a copy of Vista via the MSDN-AA, I'm gonna be reinstalling stuff next week anyways, might as well shove that on as well.. (200gig boot harddrive, even at 40gig per OS I can install 5 OSes...)
    I wonder what version Vista is at on MSDN-AA..

    Also, wrt the engine thing, I wonder if this might infact help OGL when it comes to competing against D3D. If the ARB and IHVs get their act together and get some extensions out (as ARB/EXT) which exploite the newest D3D10 stuff via OpenGL then it would be easier to make a XP/Vista cross engine with only one code base, you'd only have to switch render paths.

    Ofcourse, this only makes sense for new projects and would require the ARB to tell us wtf they are planning in the near future, but for products which require both OS support it could be a viable way to go.

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    Quote:
    yes, thats because your silly little forum is filled with questions about more than one API [razz]
    and you've some old OGL posts from back when the two forums were one [razz]
    and you probably have directplay questions so I win! [razz][razz][razz]

    Yes, yes... okay, i'll let you win this time. [grin]

    Quote:
    I wonder what version Vista is at on MSDN-AA..

    I could be wrong, but my understanding is that all the MSDN subscriptions are at the same level/version, it's just what subset of features you can get. The latest build has been on MSDN for about 3 weeks now, so you might be lucky..

    Quote:
    I wonder if this might infact help OGL when it comes to competing against D3D
    Can't we all just be friends? One big happy family and all that...

    Seriously though - it does seem that OpenGL has, at the very least, a good opportunity. But it seems to rely on the "power that be" making the most of it...

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