No more (real) OpenGL on the next windows?

Some of you might have read it already, it's now confirmed more and more… Microsoft might be making another push to get rid of decent OpenGL support

on Windows Longhorn/Vista.

See: (most originated in the forum there, and that seems to be down at the moment cause of the attention, they have a frontpage article)

And many more…

Wonderful… got to love the smell of monopolistic actions.

i've been told that some of what was reported is a bit of hype.

for starters, someone with beta access to windows vista said over at the opengl forumes that, and i`ll quote here:

Since I have access to Vista I performed some tests.
- Vista Beta1(AMDx64)
- AMDx64
- ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

After install Aero is the active desktop theme. When I started up a small OpenGL application of my own I got an OpenGL view but with several artifacts. The renderer string gave: OpenGL to D3D. The version: 1.4
Then I activated the classic Desktop theme en ran the application again. However the renderer was the same, no genuine OpenGL.
Next step was to install the latest ATI drivers.
As expected the OS refused to update because it found the drivers to be less suitable, after overriding this they installed just fine.
After a restart and an other run of the app... Now I got normal ATI Hardware support (Renderer: RADEON 9800 Pro x86/MMX/3DNow!, version: 2.0.5220). Performance seemed ok too.
Ofcourse I tried to enable Aero and see what happened. At first glance it looks the same however, all the "fancy" effects are gone (dissolving, tild, etc..)
Conclusion seems to be that Vista in it's current state can have full OpenGL but not with fancy Vista. The install of a OpenGL ICD effectively disables Aero. Is that a bad thing?

also of note:

"Sure. As Barthold mentioned, 3DLabs don't see a problem with making their OpenGL drivers work on Aeroglass without any wrapper at all, at full speed and full feature set. They only need MS to give them the details of the internal driver/Aeroglass interface. Should this become available to them, then both 3DLabs and Nvidia would create a compatible driver in no time. ATI won't have a choice, and will have to join.

The problem is that MS doesn't want to give them that info, because they want to see GL dead. So either 3DLabs & co manage to put enough pressure on MS, or this issue is sorted out by an anti-competitivity lawsuit against MS. At least in the EU, a new directive forces software manufacturers to open file formats, protocols, and interfaces to the competition under certain circumstances. This might come in handy."

and along the same lines, here is a response direct from a 3dlabs employee

As soon as an ICD is loaded the composited desktop is turned off on Windows Vista. If you want the composited desktop Aeroglass experience, you will need to make your application go through Microsoft's OpenGL implementation, which is layered on top of DirectX. As pointed out earlier, this layering can have performance implications. Their implementation supports OpenGL version 1.4 only, without extension support.

We believe it possible to provide an ICD with full composited desktop support while adhering to the stability and security requirements in Windows Vista. But we need Microsoft's help in doing so.

For some more information, you can browse these Microsoft Winhec slides:

"Windows Graphics Overview [WinHEC 2005; 171 KB]"

"Advances in Display and Composition Architecture for Windows [WinHEC 2005; 422 KB]"


All this leads me to believe that windowed apps are gonna be the real pain in the arse, more so the full screen games. In addition, the shear annoyance factor of having to get users to do additional downloads might be part of a strategy to undermine opengl. In addition, by compromising compatability and performance, ms creates the illusion that opengl is an outdated and outclassed api.

so to sum up I dont think its the end of the world, but it shure as heck is an underhanded move by ms. In my humble opinion there are too many apps using opengl for ms to just screw them all royal. I mean id software, alias wavefront's maya, and so on....hopefully something will be worked out with MS, and if not, i`m sure somebody will come up with some kind of clever hack.

That's all from the thread on I pointed to. What it comes down to is you can't run the fancy desktop and (real) OpenGL together properly. That means, sure, if we want to play with jME we turn off that desktop. Maybe professionals can do the same if they want to work with some CAD application.

But how are you gonna ship, for example, an independent game? Are you going to ask users to "change desktops" first? When OpenGL on windows becomes a "niche" what do you think that would do for driver support? That might even affect other platforms for consumer cards.

Of course the real worry is when a final version of this OS ships with this enabled. But keep in mind, Micorsoft made their intention clear, it's not just some rumour (look at the slides). They don't want to open up either. Let's hope industry pressure, or some independant solution will solve this. But just the fear this puts into developers considering OpenGL today, is a very nasty thing to do. How would you like to start developing a large project today that might or might not work on the latest windows version when it comes out?

So I would say this is a very serious situation, which deserves all the hype it can get. It's not the first time either (remember the crippled OpenGL drivers that ships with XP?), but this time it seems a lot more serious.

I dont know all that much about the structure of drivers and other lower level stuff, but it just struck me, why cant ati and company simply develop/distribute opengl with their drivers and therefore detach it from windows and the proposed directx layer…what is stopping them…that i dont get totally?

as far as the free OS/open standards idea…well thats what linux was/is supposed to be.

In the end its all about total cost of ownership to a corporation. Deploying and maintaining linux simply doesnt make finiancial/productivity sense in quite a few situations that i have seen.

from my experience, the computer industry is all about enertia, which windows has in spades.

It seems to me that there are two competing visions for the future.

im not sure whether microsoft's unified/utopian vision is better or worse then the idea of opensource/linux taken to the extreme, but I`m fairly sure that each has their ups and downs and that the economics/momentum of the situation means M$ isnt in big trouble.