Part of the Khronos Group

Windows Vista and OpenGL-the Facts

Apr 20, 2007

The Khronos OpenGL ARB Working Group has received requests for clarification concerning the performance of OpenGL on Windows Vista.  These questions are understandable as Microsoft has dramatically changed the user experience with the Windows Aero compositing desktop and introduced a completely new display driver architecture.  The industry now has a growing body of real-world experience in shipping OpenGL on Windows Vista and the OpenGL ARB wishes to reinforce the positive synergy between OpenGL graphics and Windows Vista in this article.

Category: General

Posted on 04/20 at 07:30 PM


I do not agree with this article.  What about the quality of smoothness.  In Vista there is a lot of jerkiness and juddering.  If you are developing smooth desktop animations you notice it very easily.

And the jerkiness gets much worse at higher resolutions.  This is poor quality rendering and definitely a good reason to stick with XP.

But, I have noticed that full screen applications suffer less jerkiness then windowed ones.

Also, Vista is very memory intensive.  It uses about double what XP uses.  Also, the CPU usage is much higher with Vista.  So it is much less efficient than XP.

I think it is crazy that these issues are not highlighted and Vista is still being promoted as something so wonderful when it is definite a step back for OpenGL quality.

Vista is definitely not yet ready and I personally warn anyone not to upgrade yet.

If you want performance, quality and efficiency, stay with XP for as long as possible, where it is proven.

Someone needs to state the facts here!

Posted by glDesktop  on  04/21  at  10:54 PM

Quote: “OpenGL ARB wishes to reinforce the positive synergy between OpenGL graphics and Windows Vista in this article”

This article is NOT a balanced argument for upgrading to Vista to use OpenGL.

I think the purpose of the article is to say all the wonderful things that are new in Vista.  Regardless of how much we gain from them.  The truth is, Vista hurts OpenGL and OpenGL runs much better on XP or Linux.

This article is definitely not critical enough of “all” the current issues.

I would definitely not spend my hard earned cash on a Vista upgrade that does nothing positive for OpenGL.  And especially giving money to a company that just threatens the very existence of OpenGL.

Posted by glDesktop  on  04/21  at  11:12 PM

i totally agree with glDesktops comment. The problem is that the DWM uses VSYNC, which can not be disabled. So if an OpenGL application renders at high frame rates it firstly introduces lag due to the synching and secondly many frames get dropped and never get displayed by the DWM!
Problem is that this also happens if the basic scheme is used and not Aero.

The result is the laggy and jerky feeling of OpenGL applications (windowed) under Vista.

I wrote to Berthold Lichtenbelt to confirm my worries and he told me that this is exactly what happens.

So i also can only tell everyone to stay with XP till this gets cleared up.

Posted by chrislu  on  04/26  at  07:13 AM

It is not corect. I run some tests, and disabling Aero will disable the forced vsync (+15% to framerate). Still, I must agree on Vista’s ridiculous memory requirements. I never understood why Vista sidebar needs 40 Mb of RAM…

Posted by Zengar  on  05/21  at  04:36 AM

I also do not agree with this article.

I have many problems running my OpenGL C# applications on my new HP laptop:
Pavilion dv9293ea.

- Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 (2 Ghz).
- 2048 Mb DDR2 SDRAM.
- Hard disk 320 Gb (160 Gb x 2).
- nVidia GeForce Go 7600 with dedicated DDR 512 Mb.
- Windows Vista Home Premium

The laptop is using the latest nVidia drivers ...

The only solution I found to get it to work at a correct speed on Vista, was to disable the “desktop compositing” (cancel AERO mode).

You can see it by yourself if you dowload one of my OpenGL C# projects from there:

Try the “Black Box” project on both Vista (with AERO ON) and XP and you will see a huge difference in speed ...

Posted by Patrice Terrier  on  05/28  at  04:17 PM

The problem is in the drivers. Vista comes with stable DirectX drivers out of the box. For OpenGL it’s not so. A lot of home users do not even know what a driver is, let alone how to obtain new drivers and how to update them. OpenGL will not work reliably on their machines. I’m not talking about performances here, I’m talking about 100% crashes.
ATI cards seems to be the most problematic: a lot of OpenGL application and games won’t run with drivers older than Catalyst 7.3 and even with 7.4 there are stability problems. The problem is even more dramatic for laptops, because ATI is not distributing drivers for those and most laptop manufacturers are simply ignoring the issue. I gave an OpenGL application to a friend of mine, who has a laptop with Vista… the application reported *no* OpenGL support (not software emulated, not buggy support, no support *at all*). And there are currently *no* updated drivers that might solve the issue for him. He just can’t run my application.
In this situation, it’s very risky to develop OpenGL applications targeted for the home users (for example casual games). This gives DirectX a huge advantage that the article doesn’t care to mention.
And it’s too late… I don’t see how the situation might get better for OpenGL in the future.

Posted by Alberto Ganesh Barbati  on  06/01  at  08:00 AM

I have tested OpenGL on Vista, and it works just fine. Performance is somewhat lower than on XP, but then DX also has performance issues compared to XP. Most of the laptops (ASUS, Sony, Dell) come with drivers installed and support OpenGL 2.0 out of a box. That said, there are machines without proper drivers installed, but that is corrected when they update the drivers from the graphic card manufacturers site. Note that Vista is relatively “new” OS, and with each version of drivers there are speed improvements.

What is not clear to me is “WHY” MS doesn’t include proper, full featured drivers in standard installation. I mean, the drivers are WHQL certified after all. Maybe it’s part of the MS policy to try to cripple user experience.

It would be good to setup page on that points to the latest drivers for GL, for people that just type OpenGL in google…

Posted by EricWynn  on  06/01  at  09:17 PM

Vista brings us a new experience of florid graphical interfaces. Compared with Windows XP ,  we can see plenty of splendid specially good effect. However, the cost is that you need more memory to run it on your computer. It’s obviously to see that when OpenGL been added, the memory cost could be lower, yet the CPU usage would be higher. Anyway , if your computer is strong enough, you need not to care about all these.

Posted by computeReye  on  09/28  at  03:52 AM

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