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An In-Depth Look at Vista, Part 2

by Wei-Meng Lee

In my last article, I talked about my first experience with Windows Vista Beta 1. While some commented that it seems that Vista is nothing spectacular, it is important to know that it is still too early to pass judgment, especially because the product is still in Beta 1. Nevertheless, Beta 1 allows us a glimpse of what is to come in Beta 2 (and ultimately RTM), and most importantly, for testers to feedback on what should be incorporated in the OS and what should not. And so, in this article, I will take a closer look at some of the more advanced features of Vista.

Enabling Aero Glass

One of the most compelling reasons to try Windows Vista Beta 1 is the new Aero user interface. The Aero user interface provides a beautiful experience with transition animations. Windows are translucent, ensuring that text is easier to read. There are two levels of Aero user interface:

  • Aero
  • Aero Glass

Aero is the baseline for all computers that do not meet the requirements for Aero Glass. Using Aero, you will not be able to see translucent windows. For Aero Glass, you need a video card that supports DirectX 9. Even if you have the video card with the prerequisites, you need to download the special LDDM (Longhorn Driver Display Model) drivers in order for them to work in Windows Vista Beta 1. At the time of writing, both ATI and nVidia has released alpha versions of their drivers for their cards.

The table below shows the nVidia card supported:

GeForce FX 5100

GeForce FX 5200

GeForce FX 5200SE

GeForce FX 5200 Ultra

GeForce FX 5500

GeForce FX 5600

GeForce FX 5600 Ultra

GeForce FX 5600SE

GeForce FX 5600XT

GeForce FX 5700

GeForce FX 5700VE

GeForce FX 5700 Ultra

GeForce FX 5700LE

GeForce FX 5800

GeForce FX 5800 Ultra

GeForce FX 5900

GeForce FX 5900 Ultra

GeForce FX 5900XT

GeForce FX 5900ZT

GeForce FX 5950 Ultra

GeForce PCX 5300

GeForce PCX 5750

GeForce PCX 5900

GeForce 6600 GT

GeForce 6600 LE

GeForce 6600

GeForce 6800

GeForce 6800 GT

GeForce 6800 LE

GeForce 6800 Ultra

GeForce 7800 GTX

Quadro FX 540

Quadro FX 1000

Quadro FX 1100

Quadro FX 1300

Quadro FX 1400

Quadro FX 3000

Quadro FX 3000G

Quadro FX 3400

Quadro FX 4000 SDI

Quadro FX 4400

Quadro NVS 280 PCI

To test Aero Glass, I reformatted my Dell Inspiron 5150 notebook (which comes with the nVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card) and reinstalled Windows Vista Beta 1. Aero Glass is not enabled by default, because the default driver shipped by Microsoft (for my nVidia card) does not support Aero Glass, so I need to download the LDDM driver from nVidia.

For the nVidia drivers, once the installation file is run, it will try to detect the appropriate drivers for your video card. Unfortunately, it failed to detect my video card and exited halfway through the installation. To fix this, you have to manually update the driver.

  1. Right-click on Desktop and select Properties.
  2. Select the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button.
  3. Expand the Display Adapters icon and right-click on the display adapter displayed under the Display Adapters icon. Select Properties.
  4. Select on the Driver tab and click on the Update Driver button.
  5. In the Hardware Update Wizard dialog, select "No, not this time." Click Next.
  6. In the next window, select "Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)." Click Next.
  7. In the next window, select "Don't search. I will choose the driver to install." Click Next.
  8. In the next window, click on the Have Disk button to manually select the drivers to install. In the dialog window, navigate to the "C:\NVIDIA\WinVista\75.03" folder (created by the nVidia driver installer). Click OK.
  9. You can now choose the appropriate driver for your video card (see Figure 1). Once the model is selected, click Next and follow the onscreen instructions.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Installing the LDDM driver for your video card

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