With the launch of Microsoft’s new OS we wanted to look at how it performs in gaming, but also to check if the graphics drivers were ready. We all still remember the painful transition from XP to Vista when it came to gaming, particularly for the GeForces with quite a few months going by, in fact almost a year in the case multi-GPU cards, before NVIDIA got up to speed. What’s the situation with Windows 7?
A calm change up
In contrast to Windows Vista, which marked a clean break with Windows XP, the change-up to Windows 7 is less of difference, this OS being mainly designed to correct all the small faults of its predecessor. Windows Vista introduced a new driver model, the WDDM 1.0, as well as a new graphics API, DirectX10, which required considerable changes in terms of graphics drivers. Microsoft also published quite a few successive updates to try and improve the effectiveness of the OS.
Although Windows 7 also introduces a new API and a new driver model, with DirectX 11 and WDDM 1.1, these are much lighter changes structurally speaking. Moreover, the manufacturers, NVIDIA sadly at their head, have remembered the lesson from Windows Vista and this time aimed to give a seamless transition.
AMD and NVIDIA have had their WDDM 1.1 drivers for Windows 7 ready for some time. Note that the NVIDIA driver already supports Compute Shaders 4.0 for the GeForce 8s and above, which isn’t yet the case for AMD. Only the Radeon HD 4600s, 4700s and 4800s can expect to get support, if AMD bothers to develop such a driver, which doesn’t currently seem to be a priority given the arrival of DirectX 11 GPUs which, for their part, are compatible with Compute Sharders 5.0.