DirectX 10 debate

DirectX 10 debate

Summary: Gabe Newell, president of Valve Software, believes that Microsoft made a serious mistake releasing DirectX 10 for Vista only, excluding Windows XP. I have to agree with Newell.

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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Gabe Newell, president of Valve Software, believes that Microsoft made a serious mistake releasing DirectX 10 for Vista only, excluding Windows XP.  I have to agree with Newell.

According to an online survey by Valve Software, only one in fifty players who access download service Steam has a DirectX 10-compatible graphics card and Windows Vista installed. In an interview with heise online, Gabe Newell, president of Valve Software, said that Microsoft made a terrible mistake releasing DirectX 10 for Vista only and excluding Windows XP. He said this decision affected the whole industry as so far only a very small percentage of players can use DirectX 10.

I'm not going to get started on the debate as to whether it was possible for Microsoft to back-port DirectX 10 for XP or whether the decision to make it Vista-only was a crass sales technique.  That's another argument altogether.  But it's hard to escape the feeling that DirectX 10 is both unnecessary for gamers and being shunned by the games industry.

The first weak link in the DirectX 10 chain is, without a doubt, poor gaming performance under Vista.  I won't go as far as to say that gaming under Vista sucks whole lemons (it used to), but it's nowhere near as good as under XP.  I'm not a heavy gamer but I still notice the performance drop on Vista compared to XP.  This is why over 90% of gamers taking part in Valve's survey still use XP (compared to a shade under 8% using Vista).  Hardcore gamers are smart and are usually unwilling to mess with their systems unless that results in better performances. 

Then there are the hardware requirements.  Only 2.3% of users surveyed were using Vista along with a DirectX 10 compatible GPU (the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 being the most popular).  Graphics cards offering DirectX 10 support won't break the bank any more (you can pick up an NVIDIA 8400GS for under $50), but systems not specifically designed for gaming are unlikely to come equipped with a DirectX 10 compatible card.

Then there are the games.  DirectX 10 compatible games are thin on the ground.  This will change over time but that still leaves the fact that DirectX 10 offers little extra for gamers.  From the Heise article [emphasis added]:

The Half-Life 2 Orange Box, which will be released for PC and Xbox 360 on 12. October, uses DirectX 10 functionality only for accelerating some mimics. Visually, however, it was virtually impossible to differentiate between the versions

If Microsoft had managed to release DirectX 10 for XP, this would have acted as a springboard for gamers into Vista and given game studios the ability to show the DirectX 10 advantage to a wider audience.  As it stands, with only 2.3% of gamers able to take advantage to DirectX 10, it's not worth making the effort.

[poll id=171]

My guess is that DirectX 10 won't hit mainstream until Microsoft have stopped talking about Vista and moved onto Windows 7.

Thoughts?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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33 comments
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  • Is it 90% or 8 % that use Vista?

    "This is why over 90% of gamers taking part in Valve?s survey still use Vista (compared to a shade under 8% using Vista)."

    ;-)
    Letophoro
    • ZDNet writers aren't known...

      for their quality publishing skills. Even though they make their living that way.
      bjbrock
      • Let he who is without sin ....

        ... cast the first stone! Your post was nothing more then a cheap shot over an innocent mistake. I hope everyone is as kind with you when you make one!
        ShadeTree
        • *nucrash hurls a chunk of quartz

          Sorry I was standing in for some one else who couldn't be here today.

          You know, Christ didn't toss a rock either, so what does that say about him?
          nucrash
        • In all honesty

          It was a short article and to miss something like that is most likely due to quickly scanning the article and not actually thinking about what was being written.
          Suicida|
          • This is a blog not an article.

            This section of ZDNet is for blogs not articles. That means there is no staff or editor to pour over the writings before they are posted looking for minor typos like this. I just knew when I saw that typo that someone was going to make an issue out of it.
            soonerproud
          • Doesn't mean we should further retard the public

            After looking at Miss South Carolina and her debacle, one can only assume that we should start taking responsibility for our lack of intellect shown. For Christ sakes, we are putting sports stars up for positions of ambassadorship. We elected a movie star to the governor of California, twice. We have become a nation of fat, lazy, blithering idiots. So hell yeah, I think a blog should be correct if I have to read a sentence twice and realize that there was a typographical error that pretty much give the sentence no meaning what so ever.

            Sorry if those trying to correct everything are coming off as anal retentive. They are just trying to help and have no common courtesy on how to properly relay that information to the author.
            nucrash
          • It was a stinking typo

            Seriously, how is a typo dumbing us down? Are you saying you have never had a typo? Get off your soapbox on this as it does make you look anal retentive.
            soonerproud
          • And error hasn't been fixed yet

            I make typographical errors. I never said that I didn't. However, unlike Miss South Carolina who will be referenced for days to come, Adrian can easily go back and update the blog to change any typographical errors. I could be assuming, however since I have bashed others for typographical errors before and they have fixed them accordingly, I can only assume that because Adrian has not as of yet would because this article was the last one before something that would keep him from the computer such as sleep or a plane flight or he is simply to lazy to care. Personally I would assume that he is probably away from the computer.
            nucrash
          • Thank you Adrian

            Or who ever fixed that line of text. I am sure some one out there was reading into Vista becoming adopted across the board and were thoroughly confused.
            nucrash
      • That, plus they aren't gamers

        That, plus ZDNet authors aren't known for knowing much about gaming, period. Most of them are much more interested in the business side of technology. I've never really come across a ZDNet article that I thought did gaming any justice. They all seem to be wandering in the dark, wondering what it's all about.
        CobraA1
  • It is simply Micosoft's way of forcing...

    upgrades.

    I think they made a huge mistake not porting IE 7 for Windows 2000. It prompted me to Firefox and I'll never go back to IE.
    bjbrock
    • I suspect someone still using Windows 2000 ....

      ... is not spending a lot on software upgrades and is of little concern to Microsoft to begin with.
      ShadeTree
      • Depends what he is using it for.

        If he does not need the features of XP or vista why should he upgrade except for the sake of upgrading?

        In my environment I don't use 2000 very much just because it lacks RDP, if 2000 had support for RDP and IE enhanced security (XP SP2) we would have alot less XP boxen around.
        Suicida|
  • Bottom line...

    Right now DX10 is worthless to gamers. Until Microsoft learns that you can't strong-arm the gaming community, they will suffer for the sheer arrogance of believing that they can manipulate how we play.
    I only use Vista because I needed to learn the ins and outs for a radio tech show I'm about to start doing in NW Georgia. Dual-boot is essential if you want the best performance out of your game time.
    jhurst747
    • Right on

      I suspect we will see the new enhancements of OpenGL faster than we will Directx 10 simply because it is backwards compatible with XP, Mac and Linux. I just wished the major games publishers would just dump DX in favor of OpenGL so no one is tied to a particular OS for great gaming.
      soonerproud
  • I think the question is

    whether MS thinks the DirectX brand name will sell itself (and thus Vista along with complementary hardware and software). Personally I think users who are into the high tech latest and greatest stuff knows what works and knows what doesn't, and therefore won't buy into the latest DirectX (and thus Vista) until there is a product out there making it worth their while.

    But of course the companies who make these games and the hardware aren't wont to making a firm commitment to DirectX until the masses buy into it. A chicken and egg situation obviously, but I think in this case it's these companies that have to make the first move, because that's just how the market works. No customer in their right mind will lay out hundreds of dollars on an investment that will not pay off immediately and will be obsolete in six months.

    But that doesn't necessarily mean I think these companies have to jump on the DirectX 10 bandwagon. It's quite possible that they aren't jumping on it simply because they aren't impressed with it. So I guess what I'm driving at is that it's not customer penetration that will drive DirectX 10 adoption, it's going to be all about getting the developers on board with it. If developers don't like DirectX 10, they won't make products driven by it, and if there are no products driven by it, customers will not feel compelled to upgrade to Vista (or Windows 7).

    I think any talk of programmers not making DirectX 10 products (at least at a large scale) because there's little DirectX 10 customer penetration is just a bad excuse. When other good versions of DirectX came out, programmers jumped on it, and customers upgraded as needed to take advantage of all the good games and apps. The programmers knew the customers would be there if they had a worthwhile product. So I say that DirectX 10 will catch on once there is a worthwhile product, and Windows 7 will have no bearing on the issue.
    Michael Kelly
  • More useless bloat from the Bloatfarm

    "...it?s hard to escape the feeling that DirectX 10 is both unnecessary for gamers and being shunned by the games industry...The first weak link in the DirectX 10 chain is, without a doubt, poor gaming performance under Vista...Hardcore gamers are smart and are usually unwilling to mess with their systems unless that results in better performances..."

    This hideaous dingpile is incapable of producing software that its customers really want to use.

    If you get better performance from XP than from Vista, why is that a "downgrade"?

    Only in Bloatfarm speak would it be a downgrade. This recalls the old Orwellian maxim: ?In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.? - George Orwell

    MS is a vast useless Bloatfarm incapable of even improving its own products, even marginally, whose reason for existence has ceased.



    This is why over 90% of gamers taking part in Valve?s survey still use Vista (compared to a shade under 8% using Vista). Hardcore gamers are smart and are usually unwilling to mess with their systems unless that results in better performances.
    Jeremy W
    • I [b]STILL[/b] think . . .

      that you're getting paid per use of the term 'Bloatfarm'.


      Even Linux Geek has a better spiel than you.
      JLHenry
      • No Bloatfarming Way?

        Some ole Bloatfarm getting supported by the Bloatfarm to bloatfarm about a bloatfarm, bloatfarming to bloatfarmer death.

        That is just smurfing smurftacular!!!
        nucrash