Update on the 915 Graphics WDDM Vista Driver Issue

Wow, you guys are really persistent. :-)

Since I posted a comment in one of the previous discussions about the 915 Graphics Vista driver issue, that I was going to talk to the graphics group about the possibility of releasing an open source and/or "beta" unofficial WDDM driver, to let you at least try to get Aero Glass, Movie Maker, and DVD Maker working in Windows Vista, you've been coming here every day to see/ask if there's been any progress. So here's an update:

I haven't talked to the graphics group yet, because I'm trying to identify the right people to talk to. That's hard in such a big company (Intel has almost 100,000 employees, and I don't work directly with anyone in the Graphics group). But I'm going to find someone, eventually.

Why haven't I posted something sooner? Well, besides the fact that there wasn't any news, I was out of town last week for the MIX07 conference, and there's that whole matter of my job and having actual work to do. ;-) So I'm asking for a little patience on your part.

Also, remember that WINDOWS VISTA WORKS PERFECTLY FINE ON INTEL 915 GRAPHICS. It's just some of the advanced "eye candy" features, like Aero Glass, that don't work without a WDDM driver. To my knowledge, such a driver never existed. The fact that "it worked during the beta!" was due to the fact that Microsoft was allowing XPDM drivers to run the fancy stuff - the hard requirement for a WDDM driver wasn't put in place until later builds of Vista. There is no magical WDDM driver that Intel released during the beta, and subsequently pulled out of existence (someone would have found and hacked a version of that by now if that were the case). There is and only ever was the XPDM driver that exists today.

This isn't a ploy to make you all think that Intel "really cares" (sorry, conspiracy theorists!). I stepped in front of this bus on my own, and I intend to see it through to the end. I'm committed to maintaining transparency throughout the whole thing, too, so as soon as I know the outcome (good or bad), you will too. Stay tuned, and remember, there's NO guarantee or promise that anything will come of this! If the graphics group comes back and says they won't or can't release a WDDM driver for 915, then there's really nothing more we can do. At least we will have tried.
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The interesting thing is that Via and S3 have integrated chipsets with WDDM drivers that don't support Aero - they're only certified for Vista Basic (but I believe this allows some graphics acceleration and a 'Windows Standard' UI rather than 'Windows Basic' - see wikipedia). So it's not true that WDDM => Aero.

I've looked (briefly) at the Microsoft cert documents and I think you need a certain stability/speed to get Premium certification. So perhaps Intel could develop/release non-Aero WDDM drivers for the GMA 900?

Hey Josh, all we want is Aero Glass effect. We don't want all the fancy stuff like Flip 3D, Thumbnail preview, Alt-Tab Switching etc. Just Areo Glass. Thanks in advance.

Hey Josh
How can we as the force we all together are, help you to convince the people who's calling the shots on this matter. Intel or Microsoft that releasing a driver or relaxing the Vista requirements in this case would be the smartest thing to do for their interests?

Ricardo, you're doing exactly that. Leave your comments on the blog or in the forum, so I can point people to the direct requests that we're getting on this topic.

Or maybe "outcry" is a better way to describe it. :-)

Thanks for trying Josh, This laptop is 1.5 years old and can't run aero because of the 915 chipset. I don't know about you guys but I don't upgrade computers once a year...

Its really sad to know that Intel is treating us in such a way. It is we the customers who made Intel the number one brand and now Intel is refusing to help us? All we ask is Aero glass and vista aaps to run properly, thats all. We are not asking them to bring the moon.

Slask, James: Did it ever occur to any of you that there might be a real, technical reason for the absence of an i915 WDDM driver? Just because it worked on a far-from-finished beta version of Windows Vista doesn't mean that it works on the RTM version. The technology behind all that is very complex and there's probably no way that a correct WDDM will ever be written for the GMA900.

It might be possible to code a hack to get Aero (or more specifically the DWM) to work, but it would affect system performance, stability and - above all - would probably keep any other application (like games or even Windows Movie Maker) from using the GPU at all. The important thing that's missing from the GMA900 (as far as I know) is a hardware scheduler that would effectively enable the GPU to switch its workload - much like the CPU switches from process to process. Implementing a proper WDDM driver without such a scheduler would mean an enormous amount of work - if it's possible at all.

Also, the glass effect is extremely expensive from the GPU's point of view (see Greg Schechter's blog - especially http://blogs.msdn.com/greg_schechter/archive/2006/03/25/561167.aspx
- for interesting information about that).

If you'd like translucent window borders, you could try Stardock's WindowBlinds, which provides such effects for Windows XP and Vista (with or without Aero). Contrary to popular belief WindowBlinds does not neccessarily slow down the system or hog lots of resources, so that might be a viable alternative for you. You can download a free demo version at http://www.windowblinds.net.

All I want is for dvd maker and movie maker to work on my laptop. Even if it is slow.

ITs funny how I can run Roller COaster Tycoon 3 at a good speed on my laptop but cant run vista aero.

Josh, thanks for looking into this! I'd love to be able to run aero, even if it's slow. It seems a shame to force people to not be able to use something, rather than let them find out for themselves that it's just too slow. I'm sure that by releasing a driver you'd up the view of intel with people, even if it wasn't supported and was slow for some things. I hope you succeed!