can Windows vista run with out Video Card
February 21, 2007 11:25am CST
Can Anyone tell...............
21 Feb 07
Rumours that hardware requirements will be excessive for Microsoft’s new Vista operating system have swept through websites and blogs, causing alarm among PC users. Figures such as a minimum spec being a 4GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of Ram and a 1TB hard disk abounded. But there’s really no need to panic. The new operating system will run even if you don’t have a dual-core CPU and high-end graphics card. Practically all new computers are quite capable of running Vista. However, unlike earlier versions of Windows, the new operating system can scale with the hardware’s capabilities. For example, if you have a high-performance 3D graphics card you will be offered more advanced graphical interface features than if you’re running Vista on a laptop with an older integrated graphics adapter. Direct3D for the desktop Many Windows users look enviously at the transparency and transition effects in Apple’s Mac OSX. You can get effects like these under Windows XP, but only by using special add-on programs such as Windows Blinds or WindowFX from Stardock. However, these effects have nowhere near the same fluid and elegant visual impact as those on the Mac. Windows Vista is supposed to change this with its vector-based graphics engine, codenamed Aero. It takes care of translucent frames and shadow effects around windows, and animated transitions when minimising or maximising windows (see screen 1); it even has a 3D-effect clock speed adjuster. There are two flavours of Aero: Aero Glass is the fully featured interface with all transparency effects, while Aero Express has a similar theme but doesn’t use the demanding 3D effects and is designed for use on older systems. To make use of Aero Glass, your graphics card must support DirectX 9 and the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM), and it should have at least 64MB of memory. If these requirements are not met, Vista will use Aero Express. You’ll also be able to use the ‘Classic’ Windows 2000 theme if you really want to. Benchmarking built in To enable Windows Vista to adjust itself to the hardware in the computer, the developers have integrated a sort of benchmarking tool, the Windows System Assessment Tool (Winsat). This program is run automatically during Vista installation and every time hardware is added or changed. Vista uses the information to work out whether the PC’s graphics card is up to running the Aero Glass interface, what the PC’s 3D capabilities are and whether HD (high-definition) videos will play smoothly. The resulting data, which includes information about the processor, Ram and hard-disk performance, is stored in an XML file and is available to other applications. So a game could read the data obtained by Winsat and set the numbers of AI (artificial intelligence) opponents or the level of graphics detail accordingly. Further diagnostic functions are supposed, above all, to increase stability. For example, defective regions on memory modules can be recognised and excluded from use, to avoid system crashes. Vista is also reputed to be able to detect imminent failures on hard drives, a feature that obviously uses the industry-standard Smart (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) information built in to most hard drives. Under Windows XP, you need third-party software to do this. Changes to the Windows core There are few changes in Vista’s processor support. The main new feature is that all variants of Vista except the Starter Edition will be available in 64bit versions. There are improvements in power management: a new standby mode combines Suspend to Disk and Suspend to Ram, to make resumes much quicker. Superfetch technology uses improved memory management to start frequently used applications more quickly. Windows XP device drivers will only be of very limited use under Vista. The reason for this is that the new driver model moves substantial parts of the drivers from the kernel to User Mode, which is supposed to deliver more stability. Mini-computer in a notebook lid For notebooks, Vista will support a completely new class of device, known as Auxiliary Displays. These are effectively mini-computers with their own small display integrated into a notebook lid. They can also be used to interactively display information when the notebook is turned off. Current notebooks will also benefit from Vista, as Microsoft has refined the power-management features and made them easier to use than those in Windows XP. Support for HD DVDs New features for multimedia PCs include making a reworked version of the Media Center software an integral part of most Vista versions for home use. Microsoft is also working on a module to allow reception of subscription TV services; and Vista will support the new high-resolution HD-DVD format. A wide-reaching system for Digital Rights Management (DRM) when playing videos or audio files is under development too, but this technology is not likely to be popular with many users. Is the change to Vista worth it? Spectacular graphics are only one aspect of Microsoft’s new operating system. Even if your computer’s graphics card isn’t powerful enough to support the new visual effects, the change is worth considering. The new driver architecture makes Vista more stable than XP and provides more functions for notebooks and Media Center PCs. In addition, it’s more secure than any previous version of Windows, as large parts of the program code have been written from scratch, taking into account potential exploits such as buffer over-runs. It’s easier to use Vista without running as an Administrator than it was under Windows 2000 and XP. If you start Internet Explorer 7 under Vista, it defaults to using drastically reduced access rights for more secure surfing. The advanced search functions and virtual folders make working with files much easier. The heart of Vista Not as obvious as Vista’s chic graphics, but nonetheless important, are the changes in the way Vista interacts with the computer’s system components. Vista is based on the NT kernel, now at version 6. This means there’s not much change to the interface between the operating system and the processor. However, in comparison with XP, support for 64bit processors is much better; apart from the cut-down Starter Edition, all versions will be available with 64bit CPU support. This practically forces hardware manufacturers to make 64bit drivers available for all current peripheral devices. To make use of the virtualisation hardware in the new Intel and AMD processors, Microsoft has come up with the Hypervisor. However, this won’t arrive until Vista Server is released in 2007. Vista and EFI Vista is the first consumer desktop operating system from Microsoft that fully supports the replacement for the Bios: the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). As EFI no longer switches the processor to Real Mode, motherboards using the Bios replacement can boot faster. In addition, hard disk partitions can, in theory, be up to 18 Exabytes in size, with up to 128 primary partitions per hard disk. Pre-boot applications replace the customary Dos system tools. These could include diagnostic tools, partitioning programs or software for auto-installing a hard disk image. The first motherboards with EFI support will be on the market soon. Windows XP makes use of Prefetch to keep frequently required program code ready for use in memory, so the corresponding programs can start more quickly. For Vista, Microsoft’s programmers have extended and refined this mechanism. Unlike Prefetch, Vista’s Superfetch does not just load the ‘usual suspects’ when it comes to frequently required programming code; it also makes a step-by-step analysis of program use, thus learning the applications you use most often and what to store in its cache. More stable drivers Windows XP moved parts of the drivers for USB devices and printers from the kernel into the user space. This prevents system crashes if the drivers are faulty. Microsoft Vista extends this technique to graphics card and audio hardware drivers. In Windows NT4, Microsoft integrated the graphics drivers into the kernel in order to get better performance, but at the expense of lower stability. Vista’s Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) represents a partial reversal of this step, as it drastically reduces the proportion of the code that is running in the kernel. This not only makes the whole system more stable, but also allows a new graphics driver to be installed without a reboot. Individual volume controls The audio subsystem also runs largely in user mode and can no longer impact negatively on kernel performance. One new feature is that you can now set the volume level individually for each application (see screen 2). The majority of USB or Firewire audio devices no longer need drivers from the manufacturer, but can use Vista’s own drivers. With Vista, unlike Windows XP, users without administrator rights can install device drivers, as long as the administrator has given them the necessary rights and the drivers are digitally signed. Graphics effects Until now, even with powerful graphics cards and 2D applications, Windows has seemed a bit dull in terms of its graphics. With Vista, that’s about to change: DirectX 9 cards will deliver cool graphical effects. Many users are expecting a futuristic 3D desktop from Microsoft’s new Aero graphics system, because the full implementation of Aero (Aero Glass) requires a DirectX 9 graphics chip. In reality, Vista just uses the graphics system’s 3D functions to generate 2D graphics (see figure 1). The advantage of this is that the strain is taken off the CPU, and the graphics chip’s power is used rather than being idle as it is at present. For example, under Windows XP, a dual-display setup with a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 requires just 7.4MB of memory on the graphics card. As