Delta Engine Blog

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DirectX June2006 and testing Vista Beta 2

The new DirectX SDK June 2006 came out a couple of days ago. It features absolutly nothing new, but is 60MB bigger than the last SDK, how is that even possible? I couldn't find any new or updated sample, the Managed DirectX documentation is still from August 2005 (but the C++ documentation is updated). As ZMan pointed out (from the SDK readme) on his site The Z-Buffer there are some News about the XNA Framework and the fact that DirectSound will be replaced by XACT and DirectInput by XInput. D3DX will also not be available in the XNA Framework because the XBox360 isn't able to provide the features, which is pretty stupid for a PC developer imo. But there is nothing new in the DirectX SDK for Managed DirectX, everything is unchanged.

The biggest news is that Direct3D 10 works now with the new Windows Vista Beta 2 preview. I tried out some older Vista builds (PDC version and some version in the beginning of 2006), but I wasn't satisfied with it. I thought: Lets give it another try, maybe play around with Direct3D 10 a little. Maybe there are also more drivers around for Vista.
In case you want to try out Vista too, you can get the Beta 2 Preview here (free for everyone):
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/default.mspx

I installed the 64-Bit version of Vista and it did take a little while (~ 1 hour) to install. My multimonitor setup worked instantly, which was pretty cool. My Nvidia card made no problems. However the sound driver could not be installed and all other devices only used some generic driver from microsoft. After a couple of hours installing and testing drivers, this is the result:

  • The interface and graphic effects for the windows are really good. Maybe there are similar things on Mac OS X or opensuse with xgl and compiz, but it doesn't matter if those look better or maybe have cooler features because most of the users will never use those systems (just because most of todays programs will never work on those systems). For me the instant preview is the best new feature, it doesn't matter if you press alt+tab (or windows key+tab), hover over startbar programs, use the internet explorer or use the windows explorer, there are little preview windows all over the place :-)
  • Realtek sound drivers just crash my system or they don't install properly. This drivers (I tried 3-4 different ones, XP 64 Bit versions and Vista ones) were really annoying, especially since Vista told me that the "Installation failed" with stupid things like "Could not copy file" like 500 times. After rebooting installing the drivers suddenly worked, but rebooting again didn't work and after restoring the system everything was messed up again (no sound). I installed another sound card (Soundblaster Audigy) and gave it up with the Realtek sound.
  • The second problem was getting my keyboard layout to work, which turned out to be the most annoying part of Vista for me. It is absolutly impossible to install other keyboard layouts in Vista. It is not just my keyboard driver, but every other driver I found on the internet (even marked as Vista compatible, lol) did not install. You will get always the same error message telling you "Installation failed", which will not help at all. I can still type with german or US english keyboard layout, but it is very annoying and confusing over the time. I just don't feel comfortable. I tried getting the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to work, but only the testing mode did anything, everything else crashed the program, especially creating new installer packages. I also tried to hack into the existing layout drivers and modify one of them, but Vista always restored the original ones. In the last Vista releases (Beta 1 I guess) this seemed to work, but why not remove features?
  • But the problems didn't stop there, I also couldn't get my Sata Raid (silicon image) to work. Installing onto it was impossbile since Vista didn't accept any of the drivers at the installation time (I guess they don't work properly on 64 Bit), but later it was also impossible to use them. Every time I installed the XP 64 Bit drivers or drivers from the internet and restarted a black-screen (Vista doesn't seem to show bluescreens anymore) appeared telling me that the driver could not be loaded. No way to get my raid to work :(
  • But that's not all, most other drivers made also problems or could not be installed at all. For example even the Microsoft Keyboard driver can't be installed because Microsoft doesn't give you any vista drivers for their own hardware, wtf? Other things like my Hauppauge TV card didn't work either, but I didn't expect them to work.
  • To round things up, even in the little amount of programs I installed, there were some essential programs. That just will not install on Vista. Maybe they would work, but if the installation fails, you can't do much about it. Examples are some games and picture viewers like IrfanView.
  • Office 2007 looks really great and you should test out the Office Beta too, if you install Vista. The only annoying thing was of course my missing keyboard layout driver, but that has nothing to do with office ^^
  • I didn't install Visual Studio 2005, other programming tools or other big programs because of the problems above, but I don't think there are major issues with most programming tools. I heard somewere that graphic tools like Photoshop CS2 could not be installed, so maybe check that out first if you are a graphic artist.
Doesn't sound too good, does it? I was really thinking possitively after my Nvidia graphic card worked so good, in the last Vista Beta it didn't work at all in 64 Bit and I had to install the 32 Bit version, which also had its problems. But without keyboard support and so many driver issues it is not fun to use Vista at all right now, let alone work with it. And you might know that I'm pretty happy with Beta software like Visual Studio 2005 last year or Atlas and LinQ right now, but the important thing is they are downward compatible and always give you both the ability to use old code and to switch back to the old versions without much hassle.

I also installed the 32-Bit version of Vista on Virtual Server 2005 RC2, which looks cool too, but just runs way to slow. Vista does too many graphic effects for the virtual graphic card, it is no fun on a virtual machine (windows server 2003 runs 100 times better).

Everything I wrote here today isn't Microsoft's fault, it is just the drivers are not ready for Vista (at least if using the 64-Bit version, the 32-Bit version might be a bit easier to use). Lets hope the device manufactures improve their drivers before Vista gets released and not afterwards. The only thing bad in Vista besides the driver installation (it just makes no sense to tell me "could not copy file" and then it works after restarting) is the missing ability to install other keyboard layouts or change them. I still think Microsoft can make it this year to finally release Vista, but it woundn't hurt if it takes longer until every single driver works perfectly.

Little Update 2006-06-22: I also tested the 32 bit version of Vista Beta 2 now and I got the exact same driver and program problems (sound card, raid, tv card all don't work, many programs don't work, my own keyboard layout can't be installed, etc.). I just wanted to check out the new cool IIS7 (check out www.IIS.net) after watching the latest DotNetShow Episode about IIS7. IIS7 is really cool, but Vista is still unuseable for me (no sound, no keyboard layout are the main issues for me). Check out the DotNetShow for more details about IIS7 and how easy it gets to create, configure and deploy web applications.

Other news about my Visual Studio Boo language addin: I decided to pause the project because I'm currently very satisfied with LinQ and it's features and how good it can be used in Visual Studio 2005 already. I'm thinking about using my Boo language addin code for another addin sometime soon. There is a cool Visual Studio Extensibility Contest, where you can win up to $5000 and you will be featured on MSDN. I read about it yesterday, the contest is already running since last month, but the deadline is the 30 July, so there are still 7 weeks left. Have to thing of something cool though.


And: I just bought Half life 2 - Epsisode one via Steam (20 bucks only for a full singleplayer game) and I like that I don't have to go anywhere, just download and play. I was a big fan of Half life 2 and I like the fact that the singleplayer story now continues. The first mission is really good and I like the commentary mode in the game.

DirectX SDK June 2006


Vista Beta 2 Preview


Office 2007 Preview
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