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).
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)
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]).
With that in mind, a few other interesting observations:
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.