Vista cometh…but no ATI OpenGL yet??!!

I’m not exactly known for my patience.  You could probably find my picture next to the Wikipedia entry for “instant gratification”.  If I decide I want a gadget, I’ll usually mull it over for some months, but when I make the final decision…there is no hesitation.  Don’t stand in my way in Best Buy…several Sales Associates have tried that, and they are still recovering.

Some months ago I decided I wanted Windows Vista.  I was performing my annual computer upgrade, and Vista was Release Candidate 2 at that point.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t working with my games at the time.  I had picked up an interest in Second Life, and Second Life (along with a number of games by ID and other manufacturers) requires OpenGL drivers.  Early in Vista’s development, there was some doubt about support for OpenGL, but apparently that was all resolved early in 2006 with Microsoft incorporating full support for native OpenGL drivers through the use of installable client drivers (ICD)

This ICD thing is great news- it means that the video card drivers just need to provide the appropriate OpenGL drivers, and Vista will work with them.  NVidia responded with Vista beta drivers back in September that included this support.  ATI, despite claiming to be ahead in terms of Vista support, did not.  So, in the absence of any real alternative, I shelved the idea of installing Vista for the moment and started to wait for ATI’s release of ICD drivers.

Since then, Windows Vista has been released to manufacturing.  It will be released to the public at large late in January.  That means there isn’t much more than a month to go before the floodgates open.  NVidia has had a couple more beta releases with OpenGL ICD drivers that work with Vista.  But ATI?  Not even one…nothing so much as an early OpenGL beta, or even some word of when they might finally release one.  Instead, absolute silence on the subject.  And in the interim, they’ve had two more releases of their basic Vista video driver, so it’s not like they’ve been standing still.  With each release, I look at the release notes and am saddened to read this:

  Note: The following ATI features are not supported in the Catalyst® Vista RTM driver for the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system:
· CrossFireâ„¢
· Catalyst® Control Center Video aspect page
· OpenGL
· VIVO support
· The capture driver for these products is not being updated at this time

The lack of a beta OpenGL driver from ATI at this point is distressing.  But even worse is their silence- if they said “it will be here in January” instead of just “It’s not supported”, I’d breathe a sigh of relief.  But as it is, I’m wondering if I’ll have to seriously consider replacing my video card in the new year with an NVidia card.  That would be unfortunate, since I really do like ATI. 


10 thoughts on “Vista cometh…but no ATI OpenGL yet??!!”

  1. OMG. I have ATI and want to play Quake3/4 on my VISTA machine. MS has some buggy, slow openGL driver since I could play Quake3 after VISTA installation, but performance was like driving Ferrari with 1,6 L machine. And sometimes gfx messed up while playing. I really hope ATI is taking some actiong regarding this matter. At least tell when OpenGL support is implemented.

  2. Greetings, Tapani! Yeah, the “included” openGL emulator that is part of the basic Vista driver is not just slow and buggy, it is also incomplete. Any software that requires a full openGL driver implementation will fail- for example, Second Life. And even those that do work are incredibly slow.

    I’m pretty sure that ATI will eventually release an OpenGL ICD, but it seems doubtful now that they’ll do so in time for the initial release of Vista (I.E.: by January).

  3. If you really want opengl in vista and don’t care or don’t have support for AERO interface, you can just install the xp driver and go on as normal. You just won’t get the 3D effects or transparency (thats the best part of vista!)

  4. Greetings, Tyler! Yes, I’ve read about “forcing” Vista to use old (unsupported) drivers- unfortunately, for me as you say a big chunk of the appeal of Vista is the new UI.

    I am pretty confident that ATI will have the OpenGL ICD available at some point, but I’m very doubtful now that it will be available before the end of January. I suppose I could take this as a “positive” thing, and delay adoption of Vista on my machine until ATI has their driver- perhaps by the time they do, Vista Service Pack 1 will be released 🙂

  5. Howdy, Moo!

    I have to admit to a certain amount of ignorance regarding video drivers for Linux. All the Linux boxen I’ve built are servers: if the video drivers can support KDE or Gnome, I’m happy. Other than game servers (E.G.: Unreal Tournament server), I’ve never tried to fire up a game on Linux.

    I like ATI. Their video cards have given me a lot of happy times, and they are (or were) nominally a Canadian company. I sort of like the idea of supporting a home-grown technical product. But…I’m starting to feel a little less than completely happy with their recent drivers. Hopefully they’ll pull together a real winner of an OpenGL ICD and I’ll be happy again soon.

  6. you can all stick VISTA up your a** and bill gates’s a** too…

    poor dumb western world consumers blindly lured into using crap software, the system has taken ur brains out … 😛 last viable MS system was server 2003 based solutions: future is Linux distros !

  7. Howdy, Telemundo 🙂 I’m not particularly impressed by people telling me what my choices should be, but it’s great to see you are using Linux and that you are proud of your choice.

    I use Linux on a dozen or more servers at home and work, primarily Red Hat, but a couple of Mandrake distros as well. It is ideally suited for a server environment and, given my druthers, I use it. It’s probably worth mentioning that I’ve been using, installing, supporting and writing code for various Unix derivatives for about the last 25 years, on everything from DEC Vax systems to custom built 68000 processor platforms, from IBM mainframes to pocket PCs.

    On the desktop though…I’m partial to Windows. I could get into a long discussion as to why, but really it boils down to personal preferences. OS X is appealing as well, but at home I spend a chunk of time playing games, and Windows is preferable for that purpose. It is also undeniably the most commonly used desktop environment, which means I have a fairly good selection of applications and supported hardware to choose from. I like having those choices.

  8. I’m a geek, reformed. It’s been close to 25 years since I last did anything beyond the desktop level, and wouldn’t know a server protocol from a hole in the ground. All I use my computers for are various applications, nothing terribly dedicated, but a lot of different things with different people. Which I suppose makes me “dumb.”

    I also am the family “tech support guy”, dealing with a lot of parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings, most of which predate television, much less computers, or whose only experience with a computer is what they are used to seeing at work. I guess this makes them “dumb” as well.

    But, we ( I ) don’t adopt windows editions early. I leave the “bleeding edge” stuff to guys like Kelly with the time, money, and strange masochist tendencies 😉 It will probably be a couple of years before Vista becomes an issue in my life. By the time I adopt a version of windows, and my family follows suit, most of the obvious functional bugs are beaten into submission. For what we use it for, security issues are manageable, if not desirable.

    Put simply, windows is stock. It is a standardized product that is familiar to everyone that is going to use it, it has a vast array of applications for it, and it does what we need it to do.

    Does that makes us “dumb”? Perhaps. What it certainly does is make us “consumers”. Not tech guys, not programmers, not security analysts. When I buy a car, I buy as a driver, not as a mechanic, engineer or stunt driver. Operating systems are no different. Windows products may be the minivans ( or perhaps SUV’s ) of the operating system world, but last time I looked the roads were full of mini vans and SUV’s.

  9. Heya, Chris. Yeah, your perspective is what a lot of Linux guys rant on and on about. Basically, from the point of view of some individuals, Microsoft is the font ouf all evil, and only stupid cows without adequate technical skills use anything but Linux. Open Source Forever! Knowledge is Free! Smite the unbelievers!

    Most people buy a computer to do something, not to make a particular political or philosophical statement. Furthermore, technical proficiency doesn’t begin or end with a particular operating system: some of the most brilliant computer scientists use exactly the “wrong” OS, whatever that happens to be. VM, MVS, OpenVMS, Solaris…or even, heaven forfend, Windows.

    But for some percentage of the computer using population, the choice itself is akin to a matter of religion. And the unbelievers are spat upon from on high by those who know the Truth.

    Frankly, an OS is a tool, not a religious choice. Use what works, what solves the problem you want addressed, what reduces your stress level. In my opinion, people who fail to grasp that are the “dumb” ones, but like the choice of a particular OS, that’s mostly just an opinion.

    One of the problems with PCs on the desktop is that the “requirements” most users have are often terribly vague. If someone plans on writing some documents, sending some emails, browsing the Internet…any OS will work fine, and Linux will make a fine choice. But if that person wants to walk into any store and buy any piece of hardware/software on the shelf, carry it home, and have it work most of the time…well, that’s so vague that the only answer would be to chose the most common/pervasive choice. For most folks, it’s easiest to choose the “default” choice, the one that has it’s own department at the computer store, the one that most folks know and understand.

    Chris put things well: you know how to set things up in the OS flavour you are using, and it works well/reliably for you and your family. Selecting a different OS would not solve any particular problem you are currently facing, it wouldn’t prevent the death of any children/puppies/kittens, and it wouldn’t stave off global warming/economic collapse/the coming of the apocalypse.

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