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Confused with opengl terms and glut?

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I am in the process of learning to use opengl and some things confuse me. I am currently using windows vista and I am confused with some of the terms and names with opengl. I read on opengl.org that opengl was not depreciated on vista but I was wondering what do the the versions of opengl mean? I see on there website it says opengl 2.1 but on opengl.org it says vista uses 1.4. what do the versions mean as well as does the windows version support shaders and other technologies supported by 2.1? I also read that most proper opengl applications are done with native apis even if they are cross platform such as win32 but most books I read use glut and so do most tutorials. I am looking at opengl super bible. Can you use glut with most applications or do you need to step up to the native apis when learning? Thanks , I put this in the for beginners section because it seemed more basic then the opengl section.

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Windows Vista has included support for OpenGL 1.4, which is implimented as a translation layer which accepts OpenGL 1.4 commands and then translates them into Direct3D calls. Microsoft initially offered this technology as a way to integrate windowed OpenGL programs into their compositing window manager (aero) built on Direct3D.

Since then, Microsoft has made certain information available to graphics vendors which allows them to integrate their own, updated OpenGL drivers into Aero. In short, Vista can support later versions of OpenGL just fine, all you need is hardware and drivers which support those later versions and an appropriate version of the OpenGL SDK.

Similarly, previous versions of windows only came with included support for OpenGL 1.1 (though it was native GL, not a D3D translation engine.) which graphics vendors were able to extend by including updated OpenGL support with their drivers.

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It means that OpenGL, up to version 1.4, will work out of the box on Windows Vista. If you go beyond 1.4, to say 1.5, 2.0 or 2.1 -- Then you'll have to rely on vendor implementations, which come with all graphics cards. I'm not sure which version of the headers Microsoft is supplying with their Vista SDK, but its probably been updated to 1.4 as well. You'll need a new openGL SDK, and possibly an extension wrangler, both of which are freely available online.

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