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No OpenGL support: Isn't this a huge deal?

Last response: in Windows Vista
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February 5, 2007 3:47:01 AM

Although many games have been written with OpenGL instead of DirectX, many other professional applications and products use OpenGL. Programs like Maya, AutoCad, and even the cheaper Milkshape all use OpenGL. Nvida and ATI have professional graphics cards for both desktop and mobile computers that are designed to work with these professional OpenGL applications.

The reason for using OpenGL is obvious. It allows the comapny to use a common set of software classes to write their applications to run on Windows, Apple, and Linix computers. This also applies to many games we have played, like Warcraft 1-3. So, all they had to do was create separate UI and IO classes for the different OS's.

The lack of OpenGL support is not an accident. I believe that this is one of the biggest power plays that Microsoft has ever attempted to kill their competition. It will force all software companies to re-write their applications to use DirectX. It will kill the market for the OpenGL professional graphics card market, which is based on the use of OpenGL by these companies.

Because of this, the cost of providing an OpenGL version for Apple and Linix computers will go up dramatically. All of those OpenGL applications will become worthless when XP is no longer used. I wonder why Autodesk is so mum about this.

Also, MS has claimed that their .NET libraries are OS independent. I think the gullible people bought this. But they are releasing .NET 3.0 libraries that are specifically for Vista. So, here is another supposedly open platform development tool that won't be usable on anything else. Meanwhile, MS has also attempted to hijack the PDF and XML standards.

So, although Vista may make DX10 games a lot cooler, there is a lot about Vista we should be concerned with.
February 5, 2007 4:17:24 AM

There was no OpenGL support standard in Windows XP either. OpenGL support has almost always come from the graphics card vendors; NOT Microsoft. Why do you think the first thing you do when you install Win XP is trot off to download drivers from ATi / nVidia? It is because the drivers included have NO OpenGL support.

Now, ATi and nVidia have released drivers that support OpenGL. I really don't have an opportunity to test ATi's driver because the only OpenGL app I use right now crashes when I try to run it. (I'm still running RC 2, so I can't speak to whether or not this is fixed with the final release).

I don't know why everyone is surprised by this. MS has never supported OpenGL once they developed DirectX.
February 5, 2007 4:54:10 AM

I also thing that MS would be stupid to prevent OpenGL developing on Vista. My company is not upgrading to Vista because lots of applications can't run. One of those applications is AutoCad which uses OpenGL. It is in the interests of MS to let card manufacturers to provide OpenGL as fast as possible.
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February 5, 2007 7:41:11 AM

The card manufacturers only provide drivers for their cards. It is up to Microsoft to provide the intermediary DLL that serves as the interface between the application programmer and the card driver. MS did provide one with XP, named glu32.dll. Otherwise it would never work.
February 5, 2007 8:27:26 AM

Just to put your mind at ease, I have been testing Autodesk Maya 8.5 on my Vista Ultimate 32bit, using a Geforce 8800GTS with 100.59 driver (with OpenGL support), and I get similar performance and Viewport framerates as in XP. OpenGL is supported by the device drivers, not the OS, so as long as nVidia/ATI give us proper driver, Vista shouldn't have any negative effect on Viewport performance. Maya relies heavily on OpenGL so I would have expected a severe problem if the horror stories were proved true, but nothing like that occured.
February 5, 2007 10:51:08 AM

I ain't worried but if the drivers stop integrating OpenGL then we are in for some fun...
February 5, 2007 11:03:09 AM

Quote:
I ain't worried but if the drivers stop integrating OpenGL then we are in for some fun...


But that is an unlikely scenario. OpenGL is the defacto standard for professional 3D workstation applications. When working with HighEnd 3D apps that rely on OpenGL, already should you consider buying a Quadro or FireGL (professional workstation GFX cards), rather than a gamer card, since these cards are taylored specifically for OpenGL. These cards are built with the sole purpose of providing reliable and fast industry quality OpenGL acceleration, so it is unlikely they will just 'stop integrating OpenGL'. As I mentioned on several different boards, if your PC is 'mission critical' and you earn your money by using it as a professional 3D workstation, there is NO incentive whatsoever to jump in on day 1 of release and install Vista. If your income relies on it, you'd better do some good research before changing an OS...
February 5, 2007 11:07:38 AM

With the computer industry I never say never lol
February 5, 2007 11:29:13 AM

Quote:
With the computer industry I never say never lol


Well if it does happen, then it will be replaced by something better...There is too much at stake for Studios and Card manufacturers alike to simply stop supporting it. Don't forget that nVidia/AMD charge more than twice the amount for the exact same GPU as the gamers get, just for offering professional (read OpenGL focussed) driver support. A Quadro is exactly the same as a geforce, it just has another hardware ID allowing Quadro drivers to be installed. This is a highly lucrative market for the GPU manufacturers with enormous profit margins, so I doubt they'll let go of that because 'Vista doesn't support OpenGL'.
February 5, 2007 7:38:20 PM

Quote:
Just to put your mind at ease, I have been testing Autodesk Maya 8.5 on my Vista Ultimate 32bit, using a Geforce 8800GTS with 100.59 driver (with OpenGL support), and I get similar performance and Viewport framerates as in XP. OpenGL is supported by the device drivers, not the OS, so as long as nVidia/ATI give us proper driver, Vista shouldn't have any negative effect on Viewport performance. Maya relies heavily on OpenGL so I would have expected a severe problem if the horror stories were proved true, but nothing like that occured.


So, THG's tests are totally bogus then? I read this
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/29/xp-vs-vista/page6.html
and
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/29/xp-vs-vista/page11.html#conclusion_ko_for_windows_vista

THG's tests really just bombed because they jumped the gun and ran the tests before obtaining proper drivers for the graphics card they used? So, this whole article is really just a joke then? Vista does support the same old version of OpenGL that XP did, and all we need to do is wait for updated drivers from the card vendors? All they were doing is saying we should not jump on Vista on the day of its release and expect it to shine?

If that is true, then all I can say is WELL...DUH!!!! :x I expected THG to be a lot more inteligent than to devote an entire test and article to state the obvious! :oops:  I guess there really is no OpenGL issue then, and MS has done its job of providing the DLL that allows OpenGL aps to communicate with the graphics card's drivers.
February 6, 2007 7:28:15 AM

Quote:


So, THG's tests are totally bogus then? I read this
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/29/xp-vs-vista/page6.html
and
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/29/xp-vs-vista/page11.html#conclusion_ko_for_windows_vista

THG's tests really just bombed because they jumped the gun and ran the tests before obtaining proper drivers for the graphics card they used? So, this whole article is really just a joke then? Vista does support the same old version of OpenGL that XP did, and all we need to do is wait for updated drivers from the card vendors? All they were doing is saying we should not jump on Vista on the day of its release and expect it to shine?

If that is true, then all I can say is WELL...DUH!!!! :x I expected THG to be a lot more inteligent than to devote an entire test and article to state the obvious! :oops:  I guess there really is no OpenGL issue then, and MS has done its job of providing the DLL that allows OpenGL aps to communicate with the graphics card's drivers.


Well, I tend to try things out for myself after I read a story like that, rather that give up and accept the fact that Vista has broken everything. The THG article is based on Viewspec number, and they don't always incorparate the latest versions of 3D software, and older nVidia drivers. I don't know what happened that made their results so bad, but all I can guess is immature drivers (remember that nVidia has only added OpenGL support in their Vista drivers from 100.54 and up, and apperently ATI are in pretty bad shape concerning OpenGL). Truth is, I use Maya often, so it was in my best interest to see if it worked on Vista, before commiting to upgrade to Vista permanently. So I installed Maya 8.5 and to my big surprise I got on average 90-120 fps in my viewport even with complex geometry. I also tried the nVidia g80 demos Adrianne and Froggy, both of which use OpenGL, and they both ran fine at fps not far off XP, 'box of smoke' gave better FPS than XP (not sure wether that uses OpenGL though). Froggy needed to be run in XP SP2 compatibility mode to get good FPS though.

Thing is I'd rather see things for myself than base my decision on an article I read. THG does good articles, but Vista Drivers are still in their infancy and new ones are released on a very regular basis. Moreover, using Gaming cards to test Professional 3D apps, might give skewed results to begin with even on XP, since driver development is mainly focused on Direct3D. None of the cards tested are in the Maya Hardware Qualification list and none of them has driver support for Hardware Overlay Planes in OpenGL.

The results I got from testing somewhat contradicted THG's conclusion, but you will have to remember that if something doesn't work when writing an article that doesn't necesserally mean that it won't ever work, especially when the article was written before Vista was released to the public and before either the 100.54 and 100.59 nVidia drivers where released, and THG only tried ATI cards (not really known for their OpenGL performance).

Take your own conclusion, buy into the scare if you like, but at least try it yourself before you question my results. Tell me, would I have gone trough all the trouble of posting here (long posts as well) and share my experience, if I had no reason to? The OP obviously read something that made him believe that certain things were deliberatelly left out of Vista to force people into using MS standards, my experience (after testing!) is that with OpenGL at least, that is NOT the case!
February 6, 2007 7:20:47 PM

Based on what you are saying, it looks like THG did a real diservice with that article. The DX tests were OK, but the ones that involve OpenGL should not have been published, or they should have stated up front that the results of the tests were only applicable to the day of the tests using the specific video card they used with the specific drivers. They could have stated that the dismal OpenGL tests were due to the lack of support by the card vendor and not Vista.
February 6, 2007 8:31:19 PM

Quote:
Based on what you are saying, it looks like THG did a real diservice with that article. The DX tests were OK, but the ones that involve OpenGL should not have been published, or they should have stated up front that the results of the tests were only applicable to the day of the tests using the specific video card they used with the specific drivers. They could have stated that the dismal OpenGL tests were due to the lack of support by the card vendor and not Vista.


No, that is not what I'm saying. I am saying that based on MY experience, with a different graphics card, with a driver released AFTER the article was published, I get results that are contradict the Doom & Gloom they got with THEIR testsetup and THEIR Driver release.

To quote from the article itself:

'Both ATI and Nvidia will offer OpenGL support in upcoming driver releases, but it remains to be seen if and how other graphics vendors or Microsoft may offer it.'

From that alone I understand that it is THG's conclusion that your OpenGL Experience may depend enormously on how well it is integrated in the driver for the graphics card, since MS may no longer offer generic OpenGL support. That doesn't mean to me that OpenGL will never be supported, and my conclusion is supported by the experience I have had with my hardware on my System.

I remember way back in the days of Maya 1.0, I was a student running an NT 4.0 system and a Voodoo Banshee graphics card. Maya in those days (as now) really needed proper OpenGL support otherwise in was impossible to work with. This card offered OpenGL, but since it was a 3Dfx (Glide) chip, it could only do so in Full Screen, not windowed. Whatever I tried, I could not get Maya to run properly. The minute I swapped the card for a Matrox G400 DH, I could get Maya to run (still not great, but at least it would work) because the driver had (some) support for OpenGL in windowed (viewport) mode. Remember that NT 4.0 had NO OpenGL support built in. A year later I started a small animation bussines with a friend and we managed to get an ex-demo SGI 320 workstation (with dual PII 450, still running NT4.0) and we got a good deal on a Maya License with that. I couldn't believe how fast that system was, nearly everything I threw at it was handled with ease, and Maya always kept running responsive (within limits offcourse). The reason I'm telling this, is that Vista isn't the first OS that seems to lack (according to some initial articles) integrated OpenGL support, yet with the proper hardware and driver support, it shouldn't make one tiny bit of difference since it isn't MS that should be supporting it, but the hardware itself.

If OpenGL was really not possible in Vista, why is it that nVidia is offering (WHQL) vista drivers for its Quadro range of Graphics cards? Surely, if OpenGL was not possible in Vista, then that would render these cards obsolete?

Clearly the article concludes that OpenGL at the moment may not be very good in Vista on the system tested, but both nVidia and ATI/AMD are hard at work to get it supported in their drivers, and it will be the lower end graphics solution like integrated graphics (that in the past have depended on generic OpenGL support by MS) that will be the big question mark. Will they develop their own support (again I would be surprised if anyone that needed OpenGL would consider these integrated/low end solutions a viable option) or will MS help them out with some form of generic support?
February 6, 2007 9:28:07 PM

IMO it doesn't seem really logical if somebody really needs OpenGL then why would you use an integrated solution?
February 6, 2007 9:30:23 PM

Quote:
IMO it doesn't seem really logical if somebody really needs OpenGL then why would you use an integrated solution?


My point exactly
February 7, 2007 8:03:00 PM

I am not putting words into your mouth. I am just saying that I must have interpreted the article by THG incorrectly to indicate a general problem with Vista not supporting OpenGL. In hindsight I see what you are saying now, but still think it was kinda stupid for THG to do such a test before Vista was officially released and not clearly state that the problem was with the pre-release drivers from the video card maker and not Vista.

Thx.
February 7, 2007 8:14:27 PM

Quote:
I am not putting words into your mouth. I am just saying that I must have interpreted the article by THG incorrectly to indicate a general problem with Vista not supporting OpenGL. In hindsight I see what you are saying now, but still think it was kinda stupid for THG to do such a test before Vista was officially released and not clearly state that the problem was with the pre-release drivers from the video card maker and not Vista.

Thx.


NP, I may be getting a bit edgy myself, what with all the Vista bashers who cannot be bothered to actually try for themselves, but rather repeat nonsense from obscure sources to make their point.

To be honest, going from XP to Vista has been the most painless OS switch I have ever experienced (And I have experienced LOTS).
February 7, 2007 8:30:29 PM

Good point! I am going to wait for DX10, or I may try it if I decide to start playing with the new .NET 3.0 stuff. I need a new PC for Vista though, since my primary reason would still be to have a PC that can play the new DX10 games, and possibly learn DX10 myself. I also have Maya 7.

It is hard to wade through the BS to try and figure out what one's problems may be (ahead of time) before upgrading. I jumped on Win98 and XP when they were released and had no problems with them. I could install Vista now if I had a reason to do so. In fact, it would cost me nothing, since I have a MSDN subscription. I just have no burning need at the moment, and must be sure that the programs I use now, like Visual Studio 2005, will work.

Ta
February 7, 2007 8:35:18 PM

When Maya is concerned I would advise you to run 8.5 if possible, which runs fine in my case. Older versions may have some compatibility issues. Remember, Maya 7 is already about 18 months old.
February 8, 2007 7:04:05 AM

You see? It is not as bad as it seems...Now I would advise you to try things for yourself if they concern you, rather than base your upgrade decision on the FUD spewed out on thse boards.
!