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Gamers React to Vista Launch 171

Posted by Zonk
from the it-stinks dept.
As cranky as IT folks are about having to roll out new Vista installs, support them, update them, etc, gamers are matching them in irritation. Ars Technica recommends you dual-boot XP and Vista if you want to keep gaming on your PC. Voodoo Extreme explores Vista's crappy audio setup, while Computer and VideoGames reports that some small developers think Vista will ruin PC gaming (a comment we've heard before). C&VG does have a slightly more hopeful article up too, talking about the future of Vista gaming and what the new OS could mean for games ... once all the kinks are worked out.
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Gamers React to Vista Launch

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  • My Reaction is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:55PM (#17819012) Journal
    /me yawns wide enough to drive a truck through.

    What's that? Vista? Oh well, SWG and WoW still run on Linux.
     
    /me goes back to sleep.
    • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:12PM (#17819294) Homepage
      If you're playing WoW (and SWG for whatever reason), then we all know you have no time for sleeping.

      Level 70 yet?
      • If you're playing WoW (and SWG for whatever reason), then we all know you have no time for sleeping.

        He posted at on Tuesday January 30, @03:55PM which is the time a lot of gamers take a power nap or simply crash after a night of gaming.
    • SWG and WoW still run on Linux

      Man, I missed that news! I know WoW runs on my son's intel-based Mac Mini too.

      Hope they get a Wii version soon, cause I'm not shelling out $2000 for a fresh laptop just to play games. My last one cost me $500 with WinXP bundled.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by UnknownSoldier (67820)
        > Hope they get a Wii version soon,

        Having just spent the last few days porting our core engine over to the Wii, I can say "Not Going To Happen." There are is just too much render data, and not enough RAM.

        Remember, the Wii only has 88 Megs of RAM (not including the OS!) -- shoehorning a big PC game isn't feasible without completely butchering the game. (And before some says, "Yesh but the NAND (Built In Memory Card) has 512 Megs of RAM", I'll reply with "That's reserved for savegames, not general usage,
    • And what are you going to do when the next time you want to upgrade your video card, and all you can buy is HDMI or UDI?

      You're missing the point: Vista is stealing the hardware vendors from us. Think about the frog in the pot of hot water.
  • Xbox? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:57PM (#17819046)
    Maybe now that Microsoft has a console, we are supposed to stop gaming on PCs?

    Existing/in development Windows games are most easily ported to the Xbox, provided they use DirectX (which most do), so Microsoft doesn't really have much to lose if developers start to write fewer games for Windows.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sqlrob (173498)
      It has *nothing* to lose.

      You don't have to pay MS royalties for a Windows game. You do for a 360 game. Which do you think MS prefers would be published?

      • Re:Xbox? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:59PM (#17820150) Homepage
        Exactly.

        Windows will have a place in the business world for some time, and certainly on the desktop in commodity PCs. Microsoft is in no danger of losing what is arguably their flagship product (though some would argue that Office is their bread-and-butter).

        Now they want market dominance in consoles. With PCs as gaming systems, they are competing with themselves for dominance (Xbox vs PC), and they flat out don't get any royalties for games sold on the PC. They know that they have dominance on the PC even without gaming, so the easiest way to gain console dominance is to try to move people off of the PC and onto the Xbox.

        Now I don't think they'd blatantly sabotage gaming on Windows--certainly, they're using gaming as leverage for Vista upgrades via DirectX 10. But they probably won't work to maintain it as a viable platform for that much longer. DirectX 10 represents the start of a merger between the SDKs for Xbox and PC. I suspect that soon, we'll see the SDK for the Xbox start to become more advanced than the PC version. Eventually, the main optimizations and improvements will go to the XBox.

        Sneaky people, if this is their strategy, but effective. The PS3 is looking more and more like it's going to flop, and the Wii targets a completely different market (though it's catching up to the 360 in sales, regardless, and despite being released a year later). They've got a virtually clear path to hardcore console gaming dominance.
    • Re:Xbox? (Score:5, Informative)

      by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:52PM (#17819980) Homepage
      now that Microsoft has a console, we are supposed to stop gaming on PCs?

      Nope. Apparently you haven't heard about Microsoft's efforts [gamesforwindows.com] to revitalize PC gaming. Well, now you have.
    • Microsoft would be foolish to surrender Windows PC gaming. Frankly at this point its one of the few reasons why Windows PCs remain superior to Macs for home use -- kill this purpose off, and they've effectively destroyed the home market.

      So yes Microsoft wants more people to game on the 360 than the PC, but they won't orphan the PC yet... there's increasingly less differentiators between a MC and beige box.

  • sound information (Score:2, Interesting)

    by archen (447353)
    One of the articles says that hardware acceleration is no longer available in Vista, but doesn't say why (aside from the fact that MS didn't include it in their sound layer rewrite). Is this mainly a DRM thing?

    Might be a bit ironic if these sound cards target MS operating systems only to have Linux (and Mac?) being the only ones that support the hardware acceleration.
    • It seems to have something to do with Vista's lack of support for EAX [google.com] in sound cards. I will not claim to be a sound expert (on board audio is good enough for me), but it seems to be a big problem for some people.
    • Re:sound information (Score:4, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:12PM (#17819290)

      One of the articles says that hardware acceleration is no longer available in Vista, but doesn't say why (aside from the fact that MS didn't include it in their sound layer rewrite). Is this mainly a DRM thing?

      Actually, MS pulled the API in vista and replaced it with one that did not run in kernel space, which is a good thing in general. The problem is they did not provide properly for backwards compatibility so games that used that API sound like crap. Other games that used OpenAL, still sound fine and at least one card manufacturer is providing a translation layer from the old API to OpenAL (sort of like WINE and DirectX). Some of the games that use the old, MS specific API are surprising. World of Warcraft, for example. I mean they had to write it for OpenAL to get the Mac and Linux versions working and they released the Mac version at the same time as the Windows version. Is support for OpenAL that poor on Windows? guess they implemented DirectX as well as OpenGL too. Is their toolset just built to do both anyway or what?

      • by Aladrin (926209)
        For those unaware, that 'card manufacturer' is Creative Labs.

        http://preview.creativelabs.com/alchemy/default.as px [creativelabs.com]
      • Re:sound information (Score:4, Informative)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @05:38PM (#17820810) Homepage
        World of Warcraft, for example. I mean they had to write it for OpenAL to get the Mac and Linux versions working and they released the Mac version at the same time as the Windows version.

        Blizzard hasn't done jack for Linux, at least as far as development goes. They have worked with Transgaming to help Transgaming fix some issues with Cedega, and to restore accounts of Linux users that were erroneously flagged as bot-users. There is no "linux version" of the game, though. Cedega runs the Windows version of wow, and uses whatever audio driver the windows version uses.

        They did implement both directX and OpenGL, and both can be used under Windows, so maybe it similarly has an OpenAL path on Windows.
        • The WoW beta had a fully functional linux client. It even shipped on the collectors edition CD. When WoW went live, linux support was dropped.

          BBH
          • There is no need to officially support a second OS when users of said os are willing to pay a third party to help them run the Windows version on their OS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ksempac (934247)
      M$ completely changed the way sound is processed on Vista. On Vista, the default system is the shared mode. Every sound of the system will be processed by a single software layer. This allows developers to play sounds regardless of the underlying hardware. However, this also prevents DirectSound and DirectSound3D from accessing the hardware. It also remove EAX.

      There is a solution to that : the exclusive mode. Sound cards makers can create a driver, which will get total control of the sound system. This wo
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        So it is more of a "lazy sound card maker" problem than a Vista problem (NVidia and ATI did make drivers for their card didn t they ?)

        From what I understand the problem is not the cards don't support Vista's new sound APIs, it's that current games don't use them and the way MS has the software work-around function defaults to not detecting hardware. From the article Creative is the only one with a working solution, using a layer to translate to OpenAL. Audigy and Soundblaster cards simply play a lot of

  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:59PM (#17819084)
    I'm a gamer. In fact, the only reason I still use Windows at all is for gaming. And yes, I play all kinds of games, from little java games in a web-browser to WoW, HalfLife2, Medieval 2:TW, etc. etc.

    And my reaction is that Vista is going to have to offer a whole lot more than DirectX10 to get me to switch. There's far far too many items on the minus side, and only one on the plus (for my purposes, at any rate). At this point, I've decided that unless the landscape has drastically changed by the time games start requiring DX10, I'll just be living without those games.

    • And my reaction is that Vista is going to have to offer a whole lot more than DirectX10 to get me to switch.

      Nah not that much. The only thing Vista is going to have to offer you to switch is 1 (one) "Killer game" which is available only in Windows Vista(tm) which k1ckz 4zz and you just *must* play. And I am sure they *will* go for that maybe with Halo 320 or any similar thing.
  • by Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) * on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:05PM (#17819190)
    It breaks WildTangent stuff? Cool. There's a good reason to upgrade to Vista now.

    There might be some other positive aspects. For one, I noticed last night a demo wouldn't install on my PC running Vista x64, because it's crappy copy-protection (and what morons put copy protection in a freakin demo?) couldn't install it's drivers because they were unsigned. Maybe at the least, if we're going to have to live with obnoxious copy protection in games, the developers of the crap will have to be a little more responsible and careful before just crudding up someone's PC.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by TheMidnight (1055796)
      Unfortunately it doesn't break WildTangent. I had to uninstall the stuff off my new Vista HP machine.
    • by Barny (103770)
      Usually they leave the copy protection on demo software because leaving it out gives crackers the chance to see what the core game binary should look like without the kludg and makes it a lot easier for them to "fix" it :)
    • by kalirion (728907)
      It breaks WildTangent stuff? Cool. There's a good reason to upgrade to Vista now.

      If you'd purchase and install an entire OS rather than the free Spybot, sure ;)
    • by Tom (822)
      You really believe Starforce et al will have any trouble whatsoever to get their "drivers" signed? You dramatically misunderstand what this tax-on-hardware system is all about.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iainl (136759)
      On PC games, demos are as much about making sure the thing runs OK on your machine as they are about seeing whether the thing is fun. So I'm glad I know for free if I'm going to hit a copy-protection problem, to be honest.
  • Not that bad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aikouka (932902)
    I already use Vista and I still game. I have absolutely no issues, albeit everything's still a little bit slower at the moment (nVidia never had mature G80 drivers for XP, why would I expect mature Vista drivers ;)). For me, Vista isn't just about my gaming experience, I want my entire PC experience to improve and I think Vista does that well. I could easily throw my old hard drive back in (with the XP partition still available) and go back, but I don't want to. Vista may have its oddities (UAC stopping
    • by SScorpio (595836)
      How long ago did you purchase your copy of XP? There is a Technology Guarantee which will get you a free copy of Vista for $10 s/h if you bought a retail full or upgrade. If you purchased OEM you should have received an upgrade coupon for the same promotion. If you're not eligible for either option, then I guess you're screwed just like if you purchased a Mac just before price drops and new products.

      http://www.microsoft.com/athome/techguarantee/worl dwide.mspx [microsoft.com]
    • Maybe you could make a 4 column list of the Functionality, 'XP, 'Vista, and Ubuntu. List all functionalities in column one. If XP does it, then put a check under the XP column, same for Vista, and Ubuntu. What will be interesting is if as an end user, there is any difference between 'XP and 'Vista. Also, when comparing shells, the OS with the greatest shell handling will be informative. Another area will be that the keyboard can do what the mouse does. Comparing window managers will not be any less co
    • by Dogers (446369)
      So what sound card did you get?
  • Because I can't see shelling out a fresh $2000 just for a brand new laptop with fancy windowing that any MacOS can handle with existing graphics cards or that wouldn't be a good reason to just not bother and switch to a Linux or BSD laptop instead.

    Besides, if a game won't run on my Wii or my son's Mac Mini (intel), it's not worth getting.

    And that includes Spore, which I've been wanting for more than a year now.
  • by Vigile (99919) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:10PM (#17819258)
    Just thought I drop a link to this article that actually looks at current gaming performance on Vista for both NVIDIA and ATI:

    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?type=expert&aid=3 54&pid=2 [pcper.com]
  • by Frenchy_2001 (659163) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:12PM (#17819284)
    Voodoo extreme has nothing to do with this article. They are only pointing to it.
    The real article is at IGN:
    http://au.pc.ign.com/articles/759/759538p1.html [ign.com]

    Please, skip the redirections and ad views...

    And I must say that this decision (no hardwrae acceleration) will badly hurt Creative Labs. Maybe, just maybe, this screw up will restart some competition in the sound card market?
  • Assuming you have the HD space, why would you install a new OS that you have never tested before, and not keep your old, working one? Especially with all the rumours revolving around Vista, its just common sense.

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:19PM (#17819380) Homepage Journal
    Bankers react to Vista Launch
    Claims Adjusters react to Vista Launch
    Baristas react to Vista Launch
    Southpaws react to Vista Launch
    Episcopalians react to Vista Launch
    Underwater Basket-Weavers react to Vista Launch
    Pizzeria Owners react to Vista Launch
    Pre-Op Groin Shavers react to Vista Launch
    etc.
  • The most unpleasant surprise so far has been this snippet from NVidia's Forceware 100.54 driver release:

    * DirectX 9 and OpenGL NVIDIA SLI support for GeForce 6 and 7 series GPUs and DirectX 10 NVIDIA SLI support for GeForce 8800 GPUs will be available in a future driver

    No SLI support at launch. I'm a little ticked that I've spent the last month settling in to using Vista at home (legally, via an MSDN subscription), and now that the operating system has launched, my second 7900GT will continue to be nothing
  • The audio rewrite allows for example per application sound level control so it's not "just because", although I guess the removal of HAL isn't such a good idea. Anyway, Creative has the ALchemy [creativelabs.com] project which translates the old DirectSound instructions into OpenAL, and thus allows some old games to use EAX. IMO, EAX in old games isn't such a huge deal, and all the new ones will work fine.

    The main problem with Vista and gaming are the horrible video drivers, or at least NVIDIA drivers. Not only they are slow,
    • The audio rewrite allows for example per application sound level control so it's not "just because", although I guess the removal of HAL isn't such a good idea.

      While pulling the code out of the kernel sounds like a good thing for stability, why would you need to deprecate the API in order to get per-application sound level control? Doesn't XP support this already?

      Anyway, Creative has the ALchemy project which translates the old DirectSound instructions into OpenAL, and thus allows some old games to us

  • by Idaho (12907) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:25PM (#17819478)
    A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection [auckland.ac.nz] - and yes, an increased cost of video cards is very much relevant to me as a gamer - as is bad sound support, such as lack of EAX.

    The completely spin-doctored reaction by Microsoft [windowsvistablog.com] didn't help much. Be sure to read the comments on that one..they're basically getting slaughtered on their own weblog.

    Just a highlight I'll quote here:

    Question: Will the Windows Vista content protection board robustness recommendations increase the cost of graphics cards?

    Answer by MS: evades the question, but suggests the answer is no.
    Answers from an ATI presentation:

    "These costs are passed on to the consumer"

    "This cost is passed on to all consumers"

    "This cost is passed on to purchasers of multimedia PC's"

    "Costs are passed on to consumers"

    "Costs are passed on to consumers, especially early adopters"
    Says it all for me, really.
  • by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:27PM (#17819532)
    As in the spyware company WildTangent that gets packaged with a number of apps including AIM? Wish a CREDIBLE developer would have said that, and not them, being from the bottom of the barrel.
    • Subject: WildTangent talking about ruining gaming?

      As in the spyware company WildTangent that gets packaged with a number of apps including AIM? Wish a CREDIBLE developer would have said that, and not them, being from the bottom of the barrel.

      Slashdot covered WildTangent's bitching about Vista [slashdot.org] two weeks ago (this story linked to a less relevant /. story). That story's discussion seemed to agree that WildTangent is malware. It's difficult to uninstall completely. WildTangent apparently wants their software to be installable without entering an admin password and wants children to be able to install it without parental consent.

      They can go frick themselves.

  • by Utopia (149375) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:38PM (#17819734)
    ...in one single post. my head is spinning.

    First, I find it extremely disturbing that Taligent wants to automatically install their stuff without consent from users.

    Second, Making DirectAudio flow through CPU is not such a bad move. Hardware based audio made a lot of sense in the old days when the genereal processors had low performance compared to dedicated audio processors. Modern processors are more than capable for providing great audio at a tiny fraction of available CPU cycles. Games now advertise hardware audio for marketting reasons. Nothing stops you from generating EAX type effects using current APIs available in the system.
    Moreover Creative has been bypassing the OS audio layers completely using OpenAL for quite sometime and they have been actively prompting it.
    Once Creative creates the proper drivers for Vista people will get back their EAX support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      As an audio engineer, I'm not convinced that software-based sound is such a great idea. It might work for gamers, but I'm not convinced that it's going to meet the needs of small-time engineers and higher-end home studios who rely on powerful hardware-based sound cards. I also think this trend may exclude PC's from the professional audio world (though considering the fact that Apple already holds the vast majority of that market, that's a small loss).

      Either way, the impact of this trend on small-time and

      • by soliptic (665417)
        You what? No "pro(fessional|ject) audio" users are running Creative cards with EAX, or any other sort of "effects bundled with their soundcard" stuff come to that. Pro audio users might have their effects as native, hardware, Powercore... but either way, their effects will be, er, unaffected by this. And their pro audio software & sound card / audio interface is more likely to be based on ASIO or TDM drivers, not DirectSound.

        However, I agree that the project studio world will probably give Vista a
    • by NuShrike (561140)
      That's what they said about what was "great" about winmodems. At least OpenAL is an open API that's actually cross-platform.

      Then hopefully it should be an easy recompile for people that use Miles or FMOD, if either updates to OpenAL.
    • by Spikeles (972972)

      modern processors are more than capable for providing great audio at a tiny fraction of available CPU cycles.

      So instead of using that "fraction" of CPU to process better AI, pathfinding, physics etc you want to use it to do something i already paid good money for that can do it faster and better?

      Using your logic, we don't need graphics cards or physics cards, or raid cards, or network cards, they can all use the CPU! yes.. i can see it now, no more NVIDIA, let's use software renderers, back into the goo

  • End of gaming? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bastian (66383) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:45PM (#17819850)
    I seem to remember a similar thing being said about the latest version of Windows around about 1995.

    It's not going to happen. Windows and the gaming industry rely on each other far too heavily for either to allow this to happen. Much of what continues to prop up Windows's dominance of the home market is the one home computing activity for which Windows is still undeniably the better choice - gaming. Meanwhile, I seriously doubt that the gaming industry wants to return to the days of market segmentation when they couldn't write games for only one platform while maintaining access to 95% of the market.
  • Vista? Who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amuro98 (461673) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @05:05PM (#17820230)
    Vista is just a conspiracy between Microsoft and the hardware companies to get everyone to spend at least $500 on hardware for an OS no one really needs.

    Could someone PLEASE explain to me why it is that Aero NEEDS a 128MB video card when it doesn't do anything beyond what Stardock.com's Object Desktop has been doing for the past 8 years!?

    • Agreed. I was almost shocked when I saw how much StarDock had done to improve on Windows' aging UI. They've done a lot that people ask for in Windows all the time, but their marketing is so poor, few people realize and even fewer will pay the $10 or $20 registration fee for it. But now people are going to move to Vista for between $100 and $500 for the software alone? Unbelievable.

      I liked Windows 95 and XP a lot. I'm not your usual anti-Microsoft Slashdot troll. But Vista is just bad news from every angle s
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      PLEASE explain to me why it is that Aero NEEDS a 128MB video card when it doesn't do anything beyond what Stardock.com's Object Desktop has been doing

      Hey, all those security holes and networking routines for Aero (look, if print spooler needs to talk to the net, so does Aero!) take up a LOT of memory - especially when they have to be coded to Microsoft specs to ensure buffer overruns that can get your machine taken over for you... Also remember that some managers at MS feel their emplo
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      While they're at it, can someone explain why I can get more and faster effects from Beryl on a 32MB MX400?
  • Gameport = pwn3d (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rizzle (848961)
    Here's one reason: Microsoft dropped support for the gameport.

    Before I say why this means a lot, let me say that I've been playing a lot of Battlefield 2 lately, a game in which using a joystick makes it much easier (and more natural) to flying all the fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft in the game. I've dug up my MS Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro joystick to play the game and let me say it's every bit as good as it was when i first got it.

    IMHO, the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback joysticks are som
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      If I recall correctly there's an adaptor that will convert the gameport connector to USB. I know it exists, because it came with one of my joysticks. Try looking for one, it might be cheaper than getting a new stick. But then again, why bother rushing the "upgrade" to Vista anyway...
  • Does Vista provide any help to programmers in terms of utilizing the power of multi-core processors?
    And if not, why?

    By which I mean some kind of automated distribution of tasks to the separate processor cores. I don't know much about splitting a program into multiple threads...

    It seems like this is what a "next-gen" OS really needs to do for gamers... right?

    • by rbarreira (836272)
      As far as the OS is concerned, hyperthreading, multi-core and multi processor systems aren't much different. Multithreaded programs will benefit from these systems with Windows, and so will users who run several CPU-intensive programs simultaneously (even if those programs are single-threaded).
  • Hello Tim Dean,
    FTA - However, all this talk about hardware and software acceleration raises another big question: is hardware acceleration such a good thing after all?
    No it doesn't. It brings many questions to mind, but certainly not that one. Maybe you should go back to wondering if you left your iron on and leave the thinking to Microsoft. Oh, never mind. As you were.

    Really other than that it was a decent read.
  • Blame Nvidia. We all knew that an across the board 10% drop in performance was coming. New OS=slower by 10%, that's just the way it is. But if anyone is to blame it is Nvidia. Nvidia's crap driver's are causing slowdowns in the effect of 15-50% and thus ruining gaming on Vista. ATI users are in mcuh better shape but they could use some help also.

    Unless your an IT professional and need to learn Vista to keep your skills current plan on staying on XP for a long time. Your simply not missing anything.
  • I've learned to always wait 3 years - a minimum of 2 years - before buying a new Microsoft OS. Hotfix and patch and Service Pack and Driver Architecture releases later, it's finally worth considering - or dead as a doornail as was the case with Windows ME.

    I'm a dedicated Windows user and Vista just like any other OS needs at least 2 years of sitting on the market before anyone should buy it, or they're just getting hosed with buggy, unoptimized software. The gaming benchmarks this round are no different tha
  • If I understand this properly, Microsoft stopped supporting existing DirectSound drivers, because these drivers ran in kernel space and were pretty buggy. Advanced sound card features accessible through the DirectSound API no longer work.

    Why didn't HW developers already have Vista drivers ready to go? Did Microsoft forget to tell them that it was invalidating the old drivers? That doesn't seem likely.

    Obviously, Microsoft must have some way of allowing sound-card drivers to talk to sound card hardware. Why d
  • by Tom (822)
    Ok, I dig dual-booting between OSX and windos for games, and between Linux and windos for games. But between windos and windos for games???

    Does that make even remotely sense to anyone?
  • I must admit, everytime I see wild claims of "Vista breaks gaming", deeper reading usually reveals "Vista breaks our stupid copy protection that needed admin access". I see this as a good thing. Ive had enough computers fucked over by SecuROM, StarForce and friends.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

Working...