Welcome to Vista. Now buy new hardware.

Aaah, this takes me back.

Install new version of Windows, discover that now some of the hardware for which you paid good money does not work any more, and will not ever be fixed. Buy new stuff, sucker. Thank you for playing.

Actually, one of the problems listed in the PC Perspective piece is exactly the same as it was back in the Win98-to-Win2000 days. Apparently positional audio won't work in many games in Vista, ever.

The same thing happened when people with Aureal Vortex-2-chipset sound cards upgraded from Win98. The sound card still worked, but only in stereo mode, and that was the end of it, no matter how hard you tried.

The Vortex 2 had much better sounding positional audio, then, than any alternative. It still sounds good today. But you've got to run Win98 to hear it.

(There might have been Win2000 drivers eventually, except that Aureal went bankrupt around the time Win2000 was coming out, after a legal battle with... Creative. Their assets were then bought by... Creative, who had no particular interest in the Vortex chips. And now, the wheel turns...)

To be fair, the parallel's not really a perfect one. Games that supported the Aureal 3D sound API and also the newer and crappier Creative one could be returned to proper functionality, back in 2000, if you bought a Creative sound card to replace your Vortex 2. Today, games that support both Creative's now-mature but still-somewhat-crappy API and the newer OpenAL standard should Just Work on your existing Creative card. Regrettably, though, the grand total of commercial games that support OpenAL at all appears to be 77, including some big names but excluding many others. Those others will have 3D sound on Vista only if they're patched to support OpenAL, which is Not Bloody Likely for nearly all of them, but is I suppose a bit more likely than it was back in 2000.

Ryan's complaint about his print server now being a paperweight reminds me of what Win2000 (and every other NT-series Windows version) did to ATA CD changers like this one. They were and are very cool pieces of hardware - six discs in barely more space than a standard single-disc drive! - but they were killed dead by WinNT and later. Win2000 expected you to manually mount and unmount the discs, rather than just switching 'em automatically like Win98 did. It was much faster to use a single disc drive and carry the rest of your CDs around in a wallet.

Microsoft have a Vista version of their Hardware Compatibility List ("currently only compatible with Internet Explorer 6 and above"), and an Upgrade Advisor you can run to see if there's stuff in your PC that's explicitly non-Vista-compatible. Anybody who is for some unfathomable reason thinking about getting Vista at this early date (what, you want to be absolutely totally tip-top ready for DirectX 10 games the very day they come out?) should, at least, run the Advisor.

On drilling down into the HCL to see what Creative sound cards are listed, I note that the answer appears to be "none". There's a small list of chipsets, not one of which is from Creative. So I suppose you should be grateful that your Creative card makes a noise at all.

The Advisor will also not save you if the insoluble problem that's waiting for you is that the print server on the other side of your house will never work with Vista. And it won't say a thing about software, including your non-OpenAL games.

4 Responses to “Welcome to Vista. Now buy new hardware.”

  1. KevinL Says:

    For what it's worth, Creative have released a bit of a workaround for the fancy-pants X-Fi cards. It's a bit of software (http://preview.creativelabs.com/alchemy/default.aspx) that installs a custom dsound.dll and an ini file that re-routes DirectSound calls to OpenAL. Reminds me a bit of the 3dfx wrappers that were around a few years ago.

    Me? I'm sticking with XP.

  2. Itsacon Says:

    The upgrade advisor may be useful if you're running XP. If you're running anything older, you're already out.
    Seems that if you're like me, and stuck with Win2k since XP didn't have any features you felt compensated for the increased overhead, you'll just have to jump in the deep end if you want to try Vista.

  3. RichVR Says:

    It also does not work unless you have XP SP2 installed. Which I don't, and don't intend to.

  4. Jonadab Says:

    Vista is pretty bleeding edge at this point. Well, okay, it's not Gentoo with the riskiest use flags turned on, but it's pretty hot off the presses for a commercial OS. When you move to something that new, you expect stuff to break. If you aren't prepared to deal with that, don't upgrade until the service packs start coming out.

Leave a Reply