"Can you hear me now?" - Windows Vista will support EAX, says Creative.
Rumours have been flying for weeks that many current audio technologies would not be available in Vista. Microsoft had to remove the audio hardware layer due to the way it restructured its driver models, and so has chosen only to support the OpenAL audio model. Of course, this means that previous DirectSound 3D and EAX programs and hardware would be of little use...but Creative is now saying otherwise
This is a very good thing, as no doubt there would be a lot of upset people after spending over $200 on an audio board that was supposed to future-proof them for years with its programmability. The limits on DirectX 10 would move all complex audio processes back onto the CPU if the game didn't use OpenAL, which would degrade sound quality as well as reduce performance. Clearly, that was not a good solution for either Creative or its customers.
In light of this, Creative stated that it has been working on a driver for Windows Vista. The new driver will intercept DirectSound 3D calls and translate them into OpenAL on the fly, thus allowing the Creative X-Fi to work its magic. Therefore, all games that are coded with EAX support will continue to play with it enabled on Windows Vista.
Of course, the drawback to this is that the driver will only
be released for the X-Fi, no Audigy or Live models will be supported by Creative in Vista. So, for those of us without X-Fi setups, the "good" news sounds a little bit, well, hollow. But, at least there will be some support. The driver is expected to be finished in December, so it will be out by consumer release.
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