DirectX 10: Forcing Gamers Into Vista Upgrades?

    February 15, 2007

Many users who have grown accustomed to the functionality of Windows XP have been reluctant to take the plunge and upgrade their operating systems to Vista. Users who are heavily involved in gaming, however, are beginning to find that the choice in operating system has already been made for them.

The whole idea is brilliant from a marketing standpoint. Video game developers are constantly looking to utilize the latest in graphical technology to provide immersive experiences for their gamers. It’s only a matter of time before the newest and hottest titles will all require DX 10.

Consequently, this becomes the point in OS process where the sounds of “cha-ching” from cash registers everywhere come together in harmony, ultimately composing a financial opus of profitable proportions for Microsoft.

But does the exclusivity of DX10 to Vista really just boil down to cash? Or is there something we’re missing?

Microsoft developer Phil Taylor seems to think so. In his blog, he documents the company’s rationale behind the decision to develop DX10 solely for Vista, while leaving XP users out in the cold:

Given the new features in the driver model and hardware (with GPU task switching, GPU memory management and more ) all of which require kernel support – hoisting a driver layer like that on XP is rewriting it to be Vista.

At some point, the question "to serve existing customers" or "to get new customers" is a question every business has to ask itself. Given XP has had a 5+ year run it is hard to see how XP customers have a strong case they were not given good value for the money. Especially when the features in question are ones that are a rewrite of the kernel and the driver layer, and require such a hw leap. Really.

Hmm, there’s a covert message here. Microsoft is essentially saying that customers should feel grateful to have received five years of development and support for a particular operating system and should be happy to shell out the cash for the next upgrade, repeating the process ad nauseum in five year increments.

Perhaps re-writing XP’s kernel to support DX10 isn’t feasible. The technical reasons for Vista exclusivity seem valid enough.

It’s just the financial convenience of the arrangement that leaves gamers skeptical of Microsoft’s motives.

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